Voting Rights And Dr Laura

We recently completed a 12 hour multi-state drive to see family for the holidays.  A mostly uneventful trip. Wake up at the crack of dawn, curse that you didn’t pack the night before, drink approximately six quarts of coffee to ensure you have to stop twenty minutes up the road, start driving, turn around because you forgot something, turn around again because you can’t remember if you locked the front door, and then hit the open road.  Much of the route we take is across some of the most desolate country imaginable. Hundreds of miles without towns or the ability to get a venti no whip mochafrappalattechino (with an extra shot). Brutal.

My normal approach to this sort of drive is a two-step attempt to drive my wife insane. First, I find a semi-truck. Then I drive behind it for hours. I don’t like passing on two-lane roads and I don’t like expensive tickets so I’m happy to just set the cruise control and, well… cruise.  For my wife, god put other cars on the road simply so you’d have something to pass. What’s the point of having a gas pedal if you’re not going to pass people?  Step two of my plan to push her over the brink is my music playlist. A bizarre collection of ’70’s funk, Rage Against the Machine, reggae, electronica/techno dance tunes (the 27 minute remix), and Johnny Cash. Somewhere around hour six she’ll have developed a frightening zombie look as she announces “If you’d like to continue living you’ll pass this f*&%ing truck, and it’s time to listen to something else”.

I’m all about self-preservation, so we commence scanning the satellite radio dial for talk shows. Eventually we stumbled upon the Dr. Laura show.  I’d listened to her briefly several times in the past, but this was my first concentrated dose of the original model for Dr. Phil. I must say, it left me… frightened.  All those people calling in? It’s truly a horrible thought to realize that they are out there, walking around amongst us freely – without supervision and in the wild.

“Dr. Laura? Thank you so much for taking my call. You’re my mentor and it’s such an honor to talk to you. My question? Oh, yes… Well, see it started when my mother-in-law accused me of stealing mail out of her mailbox. I told her she was crazy and then I tried to make my husband go talk to her but he didn’t. It’s been eight months now and I’m not speaking to her ’cause I deserve an apology. My question? Oh, well, see the thing is we’re hav’n a party for my nephew who’s gett’n out of rehab and I don’t want to invite her on account of it being all awkward and all. My husband says I have to invite her. So, what should I do? Shouldn’t she apologize to me before she gets to go to the party?”

The global energy gap, fiscal cliffs, John Kerry as Secretary of State, impoverished children without iPhones – there are so many real crises in this world and this woman is worried about in-law party etiquette? It went on. Caller after caller. Imagined insults. Husbands treating wives like doormats but she really does love him. I spent all $9,000 of our savings on powerball tickets and now my wife is pissed. I have unresolved issues because my sister wouldn’t sit next to me on the bus twenty years ago.

These people are walking around amongst us, pretending to be functioning adults. Even worse – they’re voters. Ultimately these are the people who are voting on pretty complex issues that impact the economy, my pocketbook, and whether or not we’ll use federal funds to build the New Jersey Hurricane Sandy Memorial statue and Walmart tribute center.

It’s clearly time we establish some voter qualifications in this country. I propose the following simple requirements you must meet in order to receive your voter identification card:

  • You must either own property or have purchased a vehicle (of at least $5k in value) in the last five years AND be current on all payments.
  • You must have a job working a minimum of 30 hours a week, or have sufficient savings and/or retirement funds to support yourself and family.
  • Students must be paying for their own tuition or through the military.
  • You must be able to identify the number of zeros in a billion (multiple choice).
  • You must be able to identify the current vice president, speaker of the house, and senate majority leader.
  • Lawyers, people who own more than one cat, and drivers of those tiny little roller-skate looking electric cars are automatically disqualified.

Simple solutions that will get us back on the right track. Time for me to go watch Dr. Phil. I understand he has on some guy who talks to his mailbox because he believes it’s really a portal for him to speak to his brother who went missing twenty years ago.  It’s gunna be a good one!

Cliffs, On Driving Over

Today’s topic is the so-called (insert finger air-quotes) fiscal cliff.  It’s a fascinating discussion that warrants many hundreds of paragraphs of insightful commentary.  Or, I could take this salad fork and repeatedly stab myself in the head.  Important etiquette note – when choosing place settings to stab oneself with, always work from the outside in.  Thus, the salad fork becomes the first weapon.  But I digress…

Discussing politics today is like having a debate about the latest episode of Real Housewives.  Extremely strong political factions will have real, substantial disagreements on whether Sue-Ann had the right to not invite Alexis to the black-tie fundraiser because she was like totally mean to Sandy (with an i not a y) for leaving her baby with the maid for a week while she cheated on Benson with Tobin in the Caribbean.  There’s a lot of moving parts to this and you can’t expect to have an informed opinion unless you’re willing to invest time in watching the fifty-six hours of exclusive behind the scenes talk shows aired per week.

It’s easy to become completely absorbed by it all until you realize one minor little point.  It’s not real.  I mean the politics not the Housewives,   don’t panic.  Politicians don’t poop in the morning unless it’s been focus group tested, polls conducted, and K street lobbyists approve.  Every word, each nuanced statement, the appearances on the talk shows… all carefully manufactured.  This may surprise you but all politicians work from a standard book of phrases.  It’s called the APWW (American Politicians Weasel Words) Style Guide and has been updated yearly since Truman was president.  Here’s a brief sample of some of the entries that have been included the last few editions:

  • Taxes – This term is no longer approved for use.  Terms/phrases that are acceptable are:  Revenue; Contributions; ‘those who profited the most can afford to do a little more’;
  • Spending – This term is no longer approved for use.   Terms/phrases that are acceptable are: Investment; ‘improving our infrastructure’; ‘investing in our children’;
  • Liberal – This term is no longer approved for use.  Terms/phrases that are acceptable are: Progressive
  • ConservativeSee entry for hypocrite.
  • Sheep or lemmings – Acceptable for internal memos only. Public documents should use: ‘the American people’; ‘the electorate’; the voices of America’;
  • Austerity – No known definitions of this term can be found. Considered to be a ‘danger’ term. Advise against using.
  • Lobbyist – This term is no longer approved for use. Terms/phrases that are acceptable are: Advisor; ‘the business community’; ‘worker representatives’;
  • Cuts – This term can only be used when referring to projected revenue increases that don’t occur.

As you can see, politicians face a complex world.  This is why it’s vital they hire the best advisors other people’s money can buy.  Just as with reality television, behind the scenes there are thousands of people (hard-working AMERICANS) who spend countless hours crafting an image, a product, that’s sold to the public for one purpose. Money.  As Abraham Lincoln famously said at the Gettysburg address, “…Greed, for lack of a better word, works.”

The most disappointing aspect of the annual fiscal cliff negotiations is clearly a lack of respect for AMERICAN institutions. By that I of course mean Hostess Brands.  It’s a sad day when we’re willing to invest in the US Antarctic Program Blue Ribbon Panel Review, but not a beloved creamy snack cake.  It shakes my confidence as a member of the AMERICAN PEOPLE.  It’s clearly time for the quintessential critical thinker of our time to tell me how to think.  Obviously I’m referring to the oracle of talk, the wizard of image, Oprah.  She alone can unite this great country again.  I urge you to contact your network affiliates and plead with them to allow her to work her magic – to heal the deep divide between the parties before it’s too late.