A reminder of politics of a different time

We as Americans are quick to point at other countries as corrupt- as having barriers to entry for foreigners, of having politicians who must be paid off to be able to do business. Yet, it’s tough to look in the mirror and realize that we too, have become as corrupt and politically immoral.

In a discussion at the dinner table with my father, a political science major,  I posited the theory that the huge expenses of television advertising have helped drive the politicians to graft. This was after reading a piece in the New York Times about corporate gifts to endowments named for politicians:

The donations from businesses to the endowments ranged from modest amounts to millions of dollars, federal records show. And the lawmakers, who include powerful committee chairmen or party leaders, often pushed legislation or special appropriations sought by the corporations.

via Current or Former Lawmakers Linked to Endowments Made by Corporations – NYTimes.com.

This country is paying to play on steroids. My father says it goes back to the days of Boss Tweed and Tammany Hall. I don’t disagree- but, the amounts at play and the openness are becoming more evident in my eyes- either because of the Internet and its flow of information, or just because the amounts required have turned it into a high-stakes game.

What we pass off as political dialogue these days is disappointing- and the art of debate is long lost. Even with our great orator president- the message was “Hope” instead of action.

Up until George W. Bush made his mark on history- Jimmy Carter had the rap of being a bad president because of tough financial times. “It’s the economy, stupid” was the rhetoric that sent him packing, yet- GWB got a hall pass by many for his backing of policies guaranteed to fail. I came across this clip on YouTube- and it made me think- which is what I try to do here with you- and so I’m sharing it: Hunter S. Thompson covering Jimmy Carter.

Now, for many, putting the words Hunter S. Thompson together with the word journalist is a stretch- just as putting my name together with the word electable, but the claims that his exposé on Carter was part of what helped Carter win over Ford make it at least worth consideration.

Watching that clip, and comparing what passes for political rhetoric today- should inspire all citizens of the United States to demand more than the 30-second spot and sound bite politics we’ve come to expect. That Carter was also the first and only president or candidate to interview with Playboy- also speaks to Carter’s willingness to step outside the lines of what a politician is supposed to be and say.

The reason I began writing this blog was to counter the persona painted of me by the Dayton Daily News Editorial board, who’ve done a masterful job of mangling every idea, or thought I’ve shared with them. I’ve often wondered how Rolling Stone was able to publish Thompson- since he didn’t fit the mold of journalist any better than I fit the political mold.

Being honest- and saying what one believes needs to be said- despite the audience, is something I strongly believe in, and have paid a price for doing for the last 20 years in this city. I’m watching with amusement as the Dayton Daily News still offers a link to Bill Pote’s Dayton Most Metro on their site as a local blog- as he starts to solicit advertising to compete with them. So far, despite scooping them numerous times, and running for office a few times (in comparison to scoops)- they have never once linked to this site. For the record- although my stats are on par with what DaytonMostMetro just announced, and have been for over a year- I’ve not monetized this site due to concerns about being attacked legally by the powers that be- preferring to keep this a personal opinion site and retaining protections. DaytonMostMetro- as a feel good, happy news site, with multiple- authors and the support  and endorsement of local non-profits doesn’t have to worry about the same issue.

It’s sad to say that political thought is now limited often by liability, but that comes with the times. It’s not enough to own a printing press anymore to publish- but, having the financial backing to be able to afford one is part of what decides how much risk you can afford to take as a publisher.

As a last thought- I wondered why we have so many quotes from Ben Franklin- and realized it was because, like me, he was a publisher. Considering the economics and costs of distribution in his day- I wonder what his readership was, and how it compares with mine (Wikipedia to the rescue: He sold about ten thousand copies per year (a circulation equivalent to nearly three million today via Benjamin Franklin – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.) So far this year, 202,000 visits by  86,225 unique visitors and about 111 gb of data transferred.

Political speech has changed, journalism has changed, the question in my mind is “when will we change?”

I’d take a Jimmy Carter story by Hunter S. Thompson over what passes for both political speech and journalism any day.

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16 Responses

  1. Dad August 8, 2010 / 10:41 am
    It was not the Carter-Ford election that was decided by “It’s the economy, stupid.”
    That happened in the attempt by George H.W. Bush to run for a second term.
  2. Dad August 8, 2010 / 11:15 am
    I may be the only one to think of Jimmy Carter as a great president, but here are some of the reasons why I think so (despite the Ayatollahs and the Mullahs).
    At his inauguration, he took the oath of office not as James Earl Carter but as Jimmy Carter.
    After the inauguration, Carter and his family walked to the White House.
    As commander-in-chief, Carter ordered the attempt to bring out the American hostages in Tehran. You can’t blame him for sand storms. I praise him for having the courage to act at all.
    He set standards to reduce America’s dependence on imported oil, including a national 55 m.p.h. speed limit and the establishment of an Urban Mass Transit Administration, a huge slap against the auto-highway-General Motors combine.
    He was responsible for the Panama Canal treaty.
    He set up the federal department of education.
  3. Ice Bandit August 8, 2010 / 12:51 pm
    Political speech has changed, journalism has changed, the question in my mind is “when will we change?” (David Esrati)
    As we all know, August is Revisionist History Month and none other than David Esrati kicks off the festivities with an tribute  to a disturbed, troubled and drug addled writer’s homage to a failed presidency. The fact that Hunter Thompson credits (or would the word blames be more approriate?) himself for the Carter election has little substance in fact, for one of Gerald Ford’s first acts as President was the pardoning of disgraced chief executive Richard Nixon. This pardon,  along with Ford’s incompetent “Whip Inflation Now” campaign were incredibly unpopular with the American electorate,  set Ford’s popularity on a downward spiral that would not be countered. Inexplicable to this day is how Thompson was able to gain entrance to the seats of power when it was the worst kept secret in Washington that he couldn’t go for more than 10 minutes without excusing himself to partake in a shot of Wild Turkey or a hit of mescaline or blotter acid.  Thompson’s boasting about what particular drug he was on at the time of his writing would have been the end of just about any other writer’s career, not to mention the question of that scribe’s reliability, professionalism and accuracy. It’s the Old Bandito’s guess that Thompson was tolerated because those in power knew he was going to write flowery, sycophantic and nonsensical blather like contained on the video.  And sorry Dad, but if you weep a nostalgic tear for the days of double digit inflation and double digit unemployment (an almost unheard of economic condition which necessitated the coining of the word ‘stagflation’) then you probably cry alone. The  American electorate did their crying during the peanut farmer’s failed regime and couldn’t wait to replace him with the host of “Death Valley Days.” But revisionist history aside, dear David, there is a answer to your question “when will we change?” And the correct response is “why should we change?”  Let the government that is supposed to be the electorate’s servant downsize and get out of “our” way. And that is change even a revisionist historian can get behind…….
  4. David Esrati August 8, 2010 / 1:19 pm

    @Bandito- and one of these days- you might figure out that the president doesn’t actually make the laws or policy- and that it requires help from 100 worthless senators and 435 worthless representatives- who all gave Ford the keys to the car- and let him pardon Nixon (who GWB made look like a saint in comparison).

    HST may have been drunk or high on something- but at least it wasn’t a ego driven power trip like the kingmakers in DC have been on since…. well…..

  5. Drexel Dave Sparks August 8, 2010 / 2:27 pm
    Even high on a fifth of Wild Turkey, a handful of pills and six-ounces of high-grade weed, HST was still a much better writer than Ice Bandit.
    “an tribute”?
  6. [email protected] August 8, 2010 / 3:29 pm
    When yu guys mentioned HST, I thought it was Harry S Truman. Shows you what a difference some 40 years will make.
  7. David Lauri August 8, 2010 / 10:22 pm
    The  American electorate did their crying during the peanut farmer’s failed regime and couldn’t wait to replace him with the host of “Death Valley Days.”
    While it’s true that a majority of Americans didn’t want Carter to continue as president, it’s worth noting nonetheless that 35,480,115 Americans, or 41% of those voting, wanted Carter to continue in office. Reagan swept the electoral college, but that’s more because of the winner takes all (by state) structure of that body. Reagan got 50.7% of the popular vote, but 49.3% of voters “couldn’t wait” for someone other than “the host of ‘Death Valley Days’ to be president.
    Contrast Reagan’s 50.7% in 1980 with the 61.1% of the popular vote that Johnson got in 1964, the highest percentage of the popular vote in any contested presidential election since 1816 and unsurpassed even by the Gipper in 1984 (with 58.8%, very respectable but not a record).
    Oh, sorry, are these facts inappropriate for Revisionist History Month?
  8. Ice Bandit August 8, 2010 / 11:40 pm
    Contrast Reagan’s 50.7% in 1980 with the 61.1% of the popular vote that Johnson got in 1964, the highest percentage of the popular vote in any contested presidential election since 1816 (David Lauri)

    …and four years later LBJ escaped Washington just a step ahead of the tar and feather mob. and only after handing the keys to the Oval Office bathroom to his worst political enemy. No doubt about it, a single term is more than enough time to brew and ferment a serious and irreversible enmity, and that sure was the case with the Plains Populist. It seems Esrati.com is becoming a rehab facility; last week David tried to give Karl Marx a make-over and this week President Malaise is getting a new ‘do. But unfortunately, dear Davids, there are too many of us who remember such Carterian fixtures as the “misery index” to allow this revisionism to happen. Methinks, dear DL, that you are inadvertantly making the Old Bandito’s argument for him; for after four years in the White House and its’ accompanying power, prestige and publicity, 57 percent of the electorate chose to give a sitting President the bum’s rush. And by electoral standards, that is a beat-down, and a lesson that should probably be studied by the current chief executive….

    And Drexel Dave; thanks for the critique. But your barbs are hardly the most scathing the Old Bandito has received. True story, Norman Mailer once challenged the Old Bandito to a throw-down……

  9. David Lauri August 9, 2010 / 9:00 am
    Bandito, read my comment again more carefully.  Was my statement “it’s true that a majority of Americans didn’t want Carter to continue as president” too difficult for you to comprehend?
    I wasn’t trying to argue anything about Carter but rather to refute your statement about how Reagan won office. Your statement, without any inconvenient facts near it, makes it sounds as if a vast majority of Americans in 1980 wanted Reagan as their president.  I don’t know if that’s what you meant, but I wanted to correct anyone’s making that assumption, in the spirit of combating revisionist history.
    Fully 49.3% of voters in 1980 did not want your revered Reagan to be president.  You said that “the American electorate […] couldn’t wait to replace [Carter]” and if you’d left it there, you’d have been correct, but only 50.7%, barely over half, were yearning for “the host of ‘Death Valley Days'” to be their man.
    By the way, 100 – 41 is 59, not 57.  Not that 59% of Americans voted in 1980 for Reagan.  Only 50.7% did (ever hear of a man named Anderson?).
  10. Drexel Dave Sparks August 9, 2010 / 4:36 pm
    Pretty cool IB. I was once threatened with lawsuit by James Carville and Mary Matalin!
  11. Robert Vigh August 9, 2010 / 5:17 pm
    The state throws done with me every single day in a contest of their guns .vs my money. . . . . . . . Oh wait, that is everyone.

    Really good article today: http://mises.org/daily/4564 

  12. Ice Bandit August 9, 2010 / 5:55 pm
    I don’t know if that’s what you meant, but I wanted to correct anyone’s making that assumption, in the spirit of combating revisionist history. (David Lauri)
    …and in that spirit, dear DL, the Old Bandito pleads guilty to ambiguity in the first degree and concedes your point. And thanks for keeping the Old Bandito honest….
  13. Greg Hunter August 9, 2010 / 7:43 pm
    Ahh the Reagan – Carter debate and guess what it is about?  The Economy Stupid and what specifically lubricates the economy?  OIL.  The reason Jimmy lost is that he told the truth to a group that did not want to hear it and continues its revisionist bs as evidenced by the postings on this site.  Here is the site that posts the data.
  14. Ice Bandit August 10, 2010 / 4:33 pm
     The reason Jimmy lost is that he told the truth to a group that did not want to hear it and continues its revisionist bs as evidenced by the postings on this site. (Greg Hunter)

    The year was 1980, dear Greg, and it was the eve of the presidential election. And where would the Ice Bandit find himself but in Detroit’s still-new Joe Louis Arena at what was supposed to be a Jimmy Carter Pep Rally. But there was little enthusiasm in Hockeytown that evening, for the polls were out, the electorate’s frustration and dissatisfaction measured, and the axe raised and ready to fall on the Carter presidency. So there was a gallows atmosphere permeating the hockey hall that evening, the Dems only hope being a national outbreak of amnesia just before the polls opened. The Plains’ Populist was supposed to be the headliner at that rally, but postponed his Motor City trip at the last minute, with the attendee’s tongue in cheek explanation being he had to stay at the White House to supervise the movers. But in his stead, the president sent Ted Kennedy to address the party faithful. This, of course, was the same person who, in in quest to wrest the party nomination from a sitting president, had been Carter’s most vociferous and outspoken critic. So it surprised no one that Kennedy’s rah-rah get-out-the-vote speech sounded half-hearted, hypocritical and deflating. It was, after all, Kennedy who had just weeks earlier described Carter’s administration and performance as “failed” and even kicked sand in Carter’s face by showing up late for the president’s acceptance speech. No, dear Greg, Carter Malaise was not a brand of salad dressing, it was a combination of a mordibund economy, coupled with a flaccid foreign policy, with a side order of a cartoonish and off-the-chain First Family. No, dear Greg, this was not a single issue election involving oil, though one of Carter’s most incompetent and unpopular episodes was an gas-rationing prop0sal complete with the printing of World War II type ration stamps. This was a total collapse in popularity of a likable but bumbling chief executive who suffered an insurgency by opportunists who should have been the palace guard. But that is not to say nothing good came from the Carter year’s, dear Greg. Billy Carter, the President’s brother, had an affinity for downing brewskis, doing cannonballs in the White House swimming pool, and advocacy for Arab causes, even being forced to register as a lobbyist. But Billy Beer, named after the First Bro, was a hearty yet satisfying brew with a slightly sweet flavor and no aftertaste. Great for sipping, quaffing or, as was the Old Bandito’s then wont, chugging until the lights go out and bladder discipline was no longer possible…….

  15. jstults August 11, 2010 / 10:14 am

    I may be the only one to think of Jimmy Carter as a great president…

    I don’t think he was a great president, but I think he’s probably the best former president we’ve had.  He takes his religious convictions seriously rather than using them as a prop in political theater (work for peace, no really, work.  oh, and also build houses for poor people).  I’d take an authentic leader like that, who I might happen to disagree with, over a standard issue politician any day (an actual public servant, if you will).  I think he was too much of a technician to be a great president though, too much of a product of that nuclear navy training.  His response to the oil stuff that Greg likes to point out is a great example of being too technocratic rather than transformational as a leader.  I agree with you on the Desert One thing though, the services didn’t stand and deliver when the chief said go.

  16. Greg Hunter August 11, 2010 / 9:49 pm
    Ahhh the service not standing and delivering….. Interesting and true or not maybe they did deliver?  The Saudis delivered high oil prices, Bush (EX Head of the CIA) delivered the intelligence operatives and it now appears Israel might have had a hand in Carter’s demise.    Carter upset the balance of power considerably and was taken down by like IB, deluded dreamers that had faith in a B-rated actor who was the puppet of the powerful.  “These are not the ‘droids you are looking for”

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