Nazis, Muslims, miniature painters and morticians

P.T. Barnum couldn’t claim “the greatest show on earth” anymore- nope, the three-ring circus doesn’t hold a candle to the American political campaign season- where almost anything goes.

And while we can easily point our fingers at candidates for their shenanigans; not so easily at shadow campaigns financed by “secret sponsors” we’ve never heard and cannot track down; the one group getting a free pass is the press- who seem to shamelessly goad on the antics- because they reap the benefits of the billions spent on these 30-second mud slings.

Latest lynching in the media circus:

Toledo-area congressional candidate Rich Iott Monday firmly defended his wearing of a Nazi uniform during past military re-enactments, as area Democrats hurled criticism at the Monclova Township businessman and urged local Republicans to withdraw their support for him.

via toledoblade.com — The Blade ~ Toledo Ohio.

Although I find the idea of playing weekend dress-up Nazi repugnant, had he been a Civil War “re-enactor” and played General Robert E. Lee- and run in South Carolina he’d just be another good ole boy. That the South stood for slavery would be overlooked and accepted as much as the Confederate flag- which is still flown with pride in that state.

Next we have Josh Mandel, a young former Marine from Beachwood running for state Ttreasurer, calling incumbent Kevin Boyce, his friends and his hires -a get this epitaph: “Muslim!” He  just about goes on to say that Boyce is ugly and that his mother dresses him funny. Note, this is the state treasurer’s office we are talking about, not a grade school playground.

Josh Mandel, the Republican candidate for Ohio treasurer, has decided to stop airing a controversial TV commercial that associated his opponent Kevin Boyce with a mosque.

via Josh Mandel to stop airing controversial television ad with reference to a mosque | cleveland.com.

Turn the tables- and had Boyce called Mandel a Jew (which he is) in the ads-  there would be outrage from the Anti-Defamation league and others. At least Mandel didn’t call Boyce black in the ads- but, had this been pre 1964- race would have been a volatile issue.

It’s not enough to call a crook a crook anymore- look at James Traficant, who went to prison while in office and then ran for office from prison and received 15% of the vote.

And while we’ve counted on the “Fourth Estate” to vet candidates- the news industry is increasingly reliant on  campaign funds to stay alive, and the cost cutting has made real journalism a rare and endangered species. Today’s DDN had a story “Man pukes in police car” without even giving the name of the sick bastard- that hardly qualifies as news.

In our last race for mayor- the Dayton Daily News Editorial Board took joy at questioning Gary Leitzell’s qualifications to be mayor– after he won, they wrote no less than five editorials questioning his skills. Somehow, his chosen profession as a miniature painter was somehow not as good as being a mortician and the daughter of a powerful politician.

What exactly are the qualifications to run for office in this country? What makes someone qualify? The Dayton Daily News endorsed poor Joe Roberts in the primary– then would barely mention him as even worth a minute in the race against Turner.

The challenge to Rep. Mike Turner is not worth pausing over. Joe Roberts, 25, is a political operative who, after winning a peculiarly undistinguished primary, has not been able to generate much in the way of support or a rationale. Much of his young adult life has been spent outside of Dayton. He can’t possibly argue that he’s the more qualified candidate.

via Editorial: Re-elect Boehner, Austria, Turner | A Matter of Opinion.

Why bother endorsing someone you plan on shooting before the election? Is this a case of manipulating elections?

Their endorsement of Boehner over Justin Coussoule somehow hints that there is a ladder you have to climb to Congress- or the Presidency. Somehow, West Point and serving your country with distinction isn’t good enough- you have to be Mayor of Dayton first or something (never mind that Turner only won because 400 people on the West Side refused to vote for Clay Dixon because of his support of the landfill).

Rep. Boehner does have a worthier opponent than usual. Justin Coussoule is a lawyer and West Point grad who makes a good presentation of a fundamentally Democratic case.

But Congress is a pretty big office for a first-time candidate. All the incumbents discussed here started lower…

Having two reasonably visible candidates is a good thing.

The challenger paints the incumbent as out-of-touch with his district, involved with national affairs, unwilling to pursue funding for local projects the way other legislators do (through those controversial “earmarks”) and used to hobnobbing — and golfing — with business lobbyists and others far removed from real people.

There’s a mix of truth and stretch in that indictment.

But does the 8th District really want to punish somebody for rising in political leadership? Other places have done that, but it seems on the mindless side.

via Editorial: Re-elect Boehner, Austria, Turner | A Matter of Opinion.

I looked up John Boehner on Wikipedia- to see what his education was- and his military service and found a 4F reject from the Navy- who took 9 years to get a bachelor’s degree (all while the draft was going on and our young poor people were fighting in Vietnam):

He has lived in Southwest Ohio his entire life. He graduated from Cincinnati’s Moeller High School in 1968, when U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War was at its peak. Boehner enlisted in the United States Navy but was honorably discharged after eight weeks for medical reasons.[2] He earned his bachelor’s degree in business from Xavier University in Cincinnati in 1977.

via John Boehner – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Which leads me to really question what one needs to do to be a serious candidate in the midst of this circus? Is Boehner somehow more qualified than combat-tested Coussoule? Is a Navy reject more qualified than a West Point Grad? Is it OK to be a Confederate soldier instead of a Nazi, or run for office from prison?

And who are the referees in this melee? Did we ever see the bios of the editorial board? Did we get to vet them? Elect them? I can’t find a Wikipedia page for Ellen Belcher, Martin Gottlieb, Scott Elliott or Kevin Reiley. They don’t even have a real bio on the DDN site. Who investigates those who investigate our political candidates?

Is it time for candidates to turn the tables? (I heard that Ellen Belcher blew her stack when she found out I’d secretly recorded the “interview” of myself, Joe Roberts and Guy Fogle and posted it). Should voters see the credentials of the journalists hired by the big media to vet the candidates? I think so. Is it relevant that despite being here since 1982 or so, Martin Gottlieb lives in a Huber owned home in Kettering? Or that Ellen Belcher is married to Dennis Langer- a Democratic party endorsed judge? Do we know if Kevin Reiley or Scott Elliott were in the top or the bottom of their class in J-school- or if they even attended, never mind graduated?

What did Martin Gottlieb do during Vietnam? They have no problem prying into the lives of candidates- and playing kingmaker with no skin in the game.

I know more about the Nazi, the Muslim, the miniature painter and the mortician than I know about the 4 hacks who tell us whom to vote for. And although I believe until we reform campaign finance laws- and take the money out of politics, the fact that the voters read drivel from the editors without demanding more information on who writes it says maybe the real problem isn’t the editors at all- maybe the voters really are “sheeple” following blindly.

Maybe instead of testing students for proficiency we had it all wrong, maybe we should be testing voters for gullibility instead, with a pass/fail system to give them the right to enter the ballot box- because apparently, this is all just a high-dollar circus, with more clowns than I care to count. But, let’s start by demanding that any paid political writer has to do a full disclosure and open up their lives to the same level of scrutiny that candidates must endure.

I don’t think our local yokels would pass.

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5 Responses

  1. truddick October 12, 2010 / 9:49 am
    Credentials and backgrounds aside, I think the test of journalistic quality is (a) do they edit out the falsehoods and frauds and name-calling as much as possible (b) does the staff show high standards for writing style and (alas) basic grammar and spelling?
    DDN fails on all of those counts.  The editorial pages daily are filled with distortions and even outright lies, not to mention the anonymous character assassinations that predominate “speak up”.  Headlines are often misleading, and spelling/grammatical errors can be located on every page except the comics.  (!)
    The fault for the low level of professionalism must fall on the chief editor, the section editors, and the Cox media conglomerate.

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  2. Dad October 13, 2010 / 3:28 pm
    In my day, when we still used paper and typewriter, a story went from the writer to the city desk, to the news desk, to the copy desk. At each editing, changes were made, stuff was cut out or expanded, spellings and grammar were fixed.
    After the story was set into type, proofreaders checked the type against the edited copy.
    Then came the computers. The writer punched the story into a VDT (video display terminal), and pushed SEND. His desk checked it over, making some fixes if deemed necessary, and pushed SEND. The story now rested with the head of the head of the copy desk (called a slotman) who assigned it to a copy editor. And then guys like me got sick over it and tried to make it into a publishable news story. All this under terrific time pressure. The presses are about to roll.There are no more proofreaders. The copy desk gets to see some pages after they are put together but is afraid to make any changes because experience has shown that in the computer era, any change will result in at least one new error, possibly more.
    The editorial writers have no one checking them. One of them makes up the page and nobody checks it until the papers are published. I once caught an editorial in which our beloved publisher himself had incorrectly referred to President Valery Giscard d’Estaing of France as President d’Estaing instead of President Giscard. I also caught him when he misspelled the names of two Cleveland suburbs. In both instances the copy desks had been ordered not to lay a finger on thge sacred text provided by His Highness the Incompetent.

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  3. David Lauri October 13, 2010 / 4:48 pm
    @Dad: Actually both you and your publisher were wrong about President Giscard d’Estaing’s surname.  According to Wikipedia, Giscard d’Estaing’s father changed their family name in 1922 from Giscard to Giscard d’Estaing.  Admittedly Wikipedia can be wrong, but Le Monde seems to refer to Giscard d’Estaing with the full surname in headlines and subsequent references (here’s a recent example).

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  4. Dad October 14, 2010 / 9:58 am
    I don’t care what a French newspaper chooses to second-reference him, in the United States we lean on the Associated Press stylebook and the one put out by the New York Times. In both cases, second references are to Giscard. I just checked Wikipedia, and it also uses Giscard.
    While we are talking about this eminent person, let me remind one and all that Giscard was a beneficiary of the diamonds strewn about by African “emperor” Bokassa, showing once again that a blue-blooded aristocrat can still be a crook.

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  5. David Lauri October 14, 2010 / 2:08 pm
    There are at least a couple articles on NYTimes.com where subsequent references are to “Mr. Giscard d’Estaing,” but perhaps the authors who wrote those articles and the editors who checked them aren’t following the New York Times’ own stylebook.

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