Board of Mis-Directors and the Global Economy

October 25, 2008

Who is responsible for the current global economic crisis?  We take no small amount of pride in proclaiming that we are.  As proud and pleased as we are with the way the presidential campaign is going (and with the general trend of campaigns and politics over the last many years), we must say that we just burst our little buttons when we reflect on this economic crisis.

Pardon us if we just take this moment to celebrate some of our devoted members.  While everyone out there is looking here and there, in boardrooms and governmental offices, in banks and lobbyists’ phone records, for the person or persons to blame for this economic crisis, we will let you in on a little secret:  We Did It!

Oh, yes, they were our instruments.  Of course.  But we were the power behind virtually every move, every step along the way.

So, today, we will take this space to congratulate some of our members for their roles.

The Rationalizer is our first big star here.  The Rationalizer stands behind every government official or business person who ignored signs that problems were on the way, whether for his or her own benefit or just because it was uncomfortable to notice.   The Rationalizer is also a strong friend of those who got mortgages they knew they probably couldn’t pay, as well as those who created those wacky credit derivatives, and so many others involved in seeding this crisis.  You go, Rationalizer!

But The Rewarder deserves some of the credit there, too.  What a team they make!    Once The Rewarder makes sure folks know about the short-term gains (adjustable rate mortgages!  Credit derivatives swaps! So much more!), the Rationalizer can step in with the Way Around the Difficulties.  Elegant!  Efficient!  Effective!

Now, when the crisis hit and banks started failing, our crackerjack (and experienced) crisis team stepped up to the plate and helped the US administration in its hour of need.  The Realist helped them to create the overall picture of the situation, and The Escalator helped to drive home just how dire the consequences of deliberation (as opposed to immediate action) were.  The Rationalizer and The Rewarder helped everyone adjust to the idea of a big $$ bailout, and additionally The Rationalizer is even now helping to figure out who to blame.  And we send a special shout-out (so to speak) to The Expresser, who is helping those who find someone to blame to do it in the most emotionally scarring way possible.

Excellent job, guys!  Keep up the good work!



Board of Mis-Directors and American Politics: Mud-Slinging Part 2

October 1, 2008

We proudly take credit for the three major tactics used in elections today: pandering, mud-slinging and flip-flopping (Actually, mud-slinging and flip-flopping are specialized forms of pandering – but worth mentioning separately because they are used so heavily and to such good effect!)  Here’s a recent example .

A few weeks ago we saw in the newspaper (yes, of course we diligently read, watch and listen to the news – we enjoy seeing the results of our work) a report about a conflict between our two presidential candidates over some American flags.

Thanks for this gem to William Douglas and Margaret Talev, from McClatchy Newspapers.  This is an excellent example of an effective, yet inexpensive, mudslinging technique!  And, in the great tradition of mudslinging, it really doesn’t matter which part of it – if any – is true!

Apparently the McCain campaign came across some small American flags leftover from the Democratic convention – you know, the kind that get handed out by the thousands, waved for the cameras, and then taken home and bronzed for posterity.  The McCain campaign reportedly took the flags, then had veterans (nice touch!) hand them out at a McCain-Palin rally, saying that they wanted to find good homes for these flags that the Democrats had thrown away.  John McCain proclaimed, “I love those flags.”

This forced the Obama campaign – reportedly – to respond that the flags had not been thrown away at all, but had instead been filched, or pinched, or swiped by the Republicans.  To make sure everyone understood where they were really coming from, in the patriotic sense, a spokesperson for the Democrats said, “American flags were proudly waved by the 75,000 people who joined Barack Obama at the Democratic National Convention.  John McCain should applaud that, but instead his supporters wrongfully took leftover bundles of our flags from the stadium to play out a cheap political stunt calling into question our patriotism.”

You must admit: this is sweet.  The flag, bless her, is one of the most effectively used symbols in the patriotism arena of mudslinging.  Why?  Because it is so incredibly symbolic!  The 13 stripes for the original 13 colonies, the 50 stars for the 50 states.  The White symbolizing purity and innocence; Red, hardiness and valor, and Blue, vigilance, perseverance and justice.  The red might also bring to mind the blood of the soldiers who died for their country.  Power, idealism, sacrifice – It’s all right there. 

And you know what that means: plenty of emotions to play with!  Find your buttons and push away!

Mudslinging makes heavy use of fear. Note how potent fear of thought unpatriotic is in political campaigns.  This is partly because it works on the general public as well as on candidates.  We (we include ourselves as part of the general public out of courtesy) hear that someone has thrown flags away, flags which deserve good homes, and we immediately feel that we ought to be outraged, too, even though perhaps we just threw away the flag we got at the rally last week, lest someone peg us as unpatriotic.  Yes – the power of shame!  It’s one of our favorite tools for helping folks keep in mind what they owe to the rest of society, and how close they are to having their shortcomings revealed for all the world to see – and scorn.  And so, the response is often defensive self-righteousness, which – if done properly – can throw the other party into shame.  And so the cycle continues!

What purpose does all this serve?  A very good purpose!  We noted above that it helps people keep in mind what they owe to the rest of society, and how close they are to having their shortcomings revealed.  The direct benefit of this is it keeps people in line, and assists them in devoting their attention to what’s really important:  proving to themselves and everyone else just how well they are fitting in.  It also makes folks much more susceptible to our other messages – about how they might be falling short in one way or another, or perhaps about how someone has found out about some failing or fault that they thought they had successfully hidden – so many possibilities!

And so, we retain our control.  Thanks, guys!

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