Saturday, August 9, 2008

Get your cat names right here

People are always coming up to me and saying, "The Hawg, I've got a cat and I don't know what to name it. Can you help? Please?"

Actually, people almost never ask me for advice on cat names but they should. Why? I can name a cat like nobody's business. It's a gift and I'll share it freely.

And I'm not talking about any of those cutesy names, either. No, you'll not find me coming up with any slop such as "Mr. Whiskers" or "Madame Fuzzy" or "Wittie Bittie Shmoopy Shmoo" or any such rot. The trick, of course, is to match the name with the cat.

Here are a few examples of great cat names that have received the coveted The Hawg Seal of Approval over the years. I didn't come up with all of them, but they are all spectacular enough to have been developed by me:

1. Meow Tse-tung. That particular name is my all time favorite. It's both a clever pun and a jab at a communist hero (and God knows it's always fun to ridicule communists). Don't want to be the person yelling "Meow! Come here Meow!" through the neighborhood? You could simply nickname the cat "The Chairman." That's one of those can't miss names.

In addition to being a darn fine name, if I had a cat named about Meow Tse-tung, that would prove something very important -- those Chinese history classes I took in college while working on my political science degree weren't wastes of time. It's just too bad my wife has vetoed that name every time we've gotten a new cat. It's her loss.

2. Ol' Yowler. There was a scruffy old cat that used to come around my door yowling for food, so I dubbed her Ol' Yowler. My ex-wife hated that cat, so I started to let her inside to feed her and fawned over her quite a bit. I haven't seen Ol' Yowler since I got divorced and I've always suspected that my ex stole the cat (she took everything else, so why not?)

At any rate, Ol' Yowler may be gone, but the name lives on.

3. Clawful. When I was a kid, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe was a big deal in cartoon land. Of all of Skeletor's minions, Clawful was about my favorite. Why? Because the name is so damned cool, that's why.

While Clawful makes a great name for a cartoon villain, it makes an even better name for a cat. Just say it a few times and see if you don't chuckle. And, folks, the joke doesn't grow old, either.

4. Professor StinkButt. This one will be appreciated by anyone who has ever had to change a litter box. Anyone who claims that cats are "clean animals" is either a straight liar or has never had to haul a box of cat crap out to the trash. So, Professor StinkButt fits a cat very well.

Besides, wouldn't that just make a fantastic comic book hero and/or villain? Just think about it. The Professor could either clear out a room with his stench or torment an enemy thoroughly just by stinking at him.

5. Rasputin. Cats have long been embraced by those fascinated with the occult and/or mysticism, so naming a feline after Grigori Rasputin seems very appropriate. For those keeping score at home, Rasputin was a Russian mystic who had the ear of Tsar Nicholas II. The "Mad Monk" was a controversial character, indeed, and was accused of everything from unduly influencing Nicholas to raping a nun.

To say he was a mysterious figure is a severe understatement. The dark complexity of Rasputin's character fits sneaky cats quite well, indeed. Rasputin might not be the most sunny and optimistic name for a cat, but think about it for a bit and you'll likely agree that it fits.

6. Gracie. We actually had a cat named Gracie once upon a time. She was a calico and the name fit her very well.

"Uh, that name's not that great, The Hawg."

Well, it (hopefully) is if you understand the history behind it. Gracie the cat was named for the late, great Gracie Allen, the person I still regard as the genius in the Burns and Allen comedy team. George Burns and Gracie Allen charmed the U.S. on radio and, later, television for years. So, that particular name was a tribute to a comic genius.

7. Mickey Mouser. More than a name, that particular moniker lets a cat know what you expect of it. My cats are expected to keep the house free of pests, and one of them has become an expert at chasing, killing and eating insects.

I know, I know. "An insect isn't a mouse, The Hawg." Agreed, but a cat named Mickey Mouser should be bright enough to figure out that you want it to cut down on mice and whatever pests it encounters.

So there are seven names that are just dynamite. Just pick any one of them and your cat will stand out in a world of cats named "Fluffy," "Purrly Gates" or whatever cutesy names people slap on their felines.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Support your local brewery

Ever since those Belgians at that filthy InBev company announced they were taking over Anheuser-Busch, I've been mad as hell about the deal.

What in God's name is the country coming to when the American brewery that owns half the U.S. beer market is taken over by some pack of scrubs from Belgium? Budweiser has been touted as the American beer for so long that such a thing seems inconceivable.

But it does appear that InBev's $52 billion takeover of Anheuser-Busch will come to pass, leaving us Americans with a decision to make -- are we going to support this kind of crap? InBev will undoubtedly cut costs and you can bet the axe will fall here in the U.S. That means we'll have more Americans out of work in an economy that is already struggling.

Nope. I'll never buy another drop of anything made by Anheuser-Busch and I hope a lot of other people feel the same way. These days, that's not much of a threat, of course -- my refusal to purchase Anheuser-Busch products will result in the sale of about one less case of beer a month. Now, if I were still in my 20s, I could cost the company a lot more than that.

But I'll do what I can to take a swipe or two at those Belgian corporate raiders. I hope the decision of InBev to take over Anheuser-Busch costs those rascals so much money they can't even afford to put syrup on their waffles in the morning. They suck and deserve to be shunned, forced into bankruptcy and generally humiliated.

Ruining InBev isn't an easy thing to do, of course, as everyone and his dog buys Anheiser-Busch products. When I was growing up, I knew a lot of families that always had plenty of Busch and/or Budweiser on hand. In college, I drank Busch and Busch Light Draft and swilled enough Budweiser in law school to fill several bathtubs. And I've pretty well stuck with Bud over the years. A lot of people are in the same boat. If enough Americans get mad enough to tell InBev to suck rocks, those weasels would pay dearly for their purchase of an American icon.

Fortunately, there are some solid American alternatives to what those filthy bastards at InBev have to offer. Boston Beer Co., assuming the InBev deal goes through, will be the largest, publicly traded American brewery. The Boston Beer Co. produces Samuel Adams, a darn fine beer that tastes better than anything Anheuser-Busch produces, anyway.

Sure a six of Samuel Adams may cost a bit more than the swill InBev is hawking, but what's an extra couple of bucks if it helps an American company and makes the economy stronger?

I've also started purchasing more Diamond Bear -- a beer produced by an Arkansas company. Yes, Diamond Bear is based in good ol' Little Rock and churns out a darn fine Honey Weiss, India Pale Ale and the wonder that is Southern Blonde. You've got some dandy seasonal beers, too, and a couple of off-kilter varieties that wind up served at Arkansas Travelers games (that's a minor league baseball team based in North Little Rock, kids).

So, wean yourselves of that nasty Anheuser-Busch slop and grab some Samuel Adams. Heck, find a local brewery you like and support it. It may cost a little more, but you'll at least be supporting an American company and that is nothing but good for all of us. Tell InBev to go straight to hell and do your part to punish them for a hostile takeover of a company that's absolutely ingrained in our unique American culture.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

What I've learned

Yep. I'm officially a blogging whiz kid.

That's right. I've got, like, one loyal reader and get tens of hits. Daily. Ah, yeah!

That all makes me perfectly qualified to carp about things. Well, not carp. Advise. That's what I mean. I'm perfectly qualified to advise. I've noticed a few things after blogging away for the past few weeks, too.

Digg it!

People who visit blogs love convenience, see, and they may even stop to Digg your article provided you have a nice, big Digg chicklet in an easy-to-see spot. I have so provided such a convenient chicklet and would suggest that all bloggers do the same thing. If I see one of those chicklets on a post, I'm inclined to hit it, thus adding my always valuable "this is cool!" endorsement to the article in question.

I've noticed that a lot of bloggers add those chicklets but don't bother to submit Diggs on their own posts. What gives? I've heard there's some kind of ethical argument against Digging your own stuff, but I say phooey to that. I hate being the first Digger because, hey, what if I don't hit the category the author believes is appropriate or write something stupid in the description for the thing?

Ethics? Feh! What are ethics on the Internet, anyway? It's a medium that allows us to steal music and one that is frequented by scam artists that promise they can make us rich for a small investment of $10 or so. What's wrong with a little self-promotion? Go ahead and Digg your own post.

Moderated comment sections are for sissies

My comment section is wide open, and why not? Open forums lead to a free exchange of ideas and that's dandy fun. Someone might write something nasty about The Hawg, but I'm a big boy and I can take it. I ain't scared.

And that "captcha" junk and all those other "verification" schemes need to go, too. I'm not worried about spam -- there are 6 billion people on this planet and very few of them visit here. This little blog isn't large enough to attract a bunch of spam. Besides, I'd rather keep things nice and convenient for the people who are kind enough to leave a comment.

If things get too spammy around here, then I'll try one of those verification whatsits. Until then, I'll just risk it.

Tread lightly around political blogs

Picking a fight with someone who owns a political blog is more trouble than it's worth. Think about it. If you've got someone who dedicates an entire blog to politics, you're dealing with someone who is pretty serious about it. Poking fun at the individual's views and/or that person's candidate of choice can be on par with insulting a man's wife if you're dealing with someone who is either insane or has no sense of humor (common conditions among the hardcore political types). Opposing views are rarely tolerated -- they're right, you're wrong and it's their forum. Keep that in mind.

An old adage comes into play here -- if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all. That'll keep the political nuts from howling at you, at least. If you agree with the hyper serious political bloggers, comment away. Otherwise, just nod and flee.

By the way, Obama supporters seem to be the worst of the lot. No sense of humor at all when it comes to their golden boy. I'm not sure why that is.

That's about it. Y'all have fun!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Superheroes that didn't make it

My but this summer has been stuffed with superhero films, hasn't it?

That genre, in fact, has been booming for the past few years. Everyone from Bat Man to Spider-Man to the X-Men has been cashing in on America's love of superheroes.

Ah, but we only get to see the exploits of successful heroes. What about those costumed crime fighters that failed utterly? You don't hear anything about them, do you?

So, my loyal reader, I submit to you a list of superheroes that didn't make it. Or, at least, a list of the most reprehensible superheroes I could dream up while bored. At any rate, here it is:


Achtung, evildoers! It's ReichStar, the master race mauler, and he's setting crime back 1,000 years!

Superpowers: The strength of 10 men, thanks to being the product of rigid racial purity; highly disciplined; slavishly obedient to The Leader

Weaknesses: Waning enthusiasm when out of contact with The Leader for long periods of time; heavily inbred, thus prone to disease

Enemies: All but a chosen few

Super Weasel Lawyer Team®

Evil may object when up against the fury of the Super Weasel Lawyer Team®, but it will be overruled every time. And what is evil? That all depends -- what's most profitable to fight?

Superpowers: SuperKwik Suing, RapidFire Objecting and advanced fee inflation techniques. Also, each member slogged through case after case in law school and managed to pass the bar exam, so they are, like, way smart.

Weaknesses: They aren't as smart as they think. Also, grow weak in the face of tort reform and personal responsibility.

Primary Enemy: The Masked Tortfeasor

Kap'n Klan

Here's a hero that died right out of the gate, leaving little behind but the promo that preceded the release of the sole issue of the comic:

"Kareful, Kiddies! It's Kap'n Klan! Be on notice, darky -- Kap'n Klan is the hero for whites only, just like that drinking fountain over there! Look for the Adventures of Kap'n Klan this fall, only from Krossburn Komics!"

Enemies: A better question might be, who isn't the enemy of Kap'n Klan? White folks, and only a few of those. However, the primary enemy is the Darky Knight, a character with the incendiary catch phrase, "Where are all the white women at?"

Weaknesses: The cowardice that plagues men like Kap'n Klan; free thought; logic


Here's how wacky Adsense is. After I posted this, Google fed my little Adsense widget a bunch of ads for attorneys. That's what I call comedy! Yes, rush right on out and hire the Super Weasel Lawyer Team® today!

Come on, Jeff. Give The Hawg a break!

Just over two weeks ago, I sent Jeff Foxworthy the ultimate redneck joke by mail, both "e" and "snail."

I haven't heard a peep out the man and I'm starting to get restless. Has the ultimate redneck joke been buried under an avalanche of fan mail? Has Foxworthy casually dismissed the ultimate redneck joke?

Of course, my regular reader knows that the ultimate redneck joke has evolved since I originally sent it, thanks to the suggestion of one Jay W. In it's current form, the ultimate redneck joke is:

If you lost your virginity in a Waffle House,
you might be a redneck.

Ah, yeah! That's the stuff right there. That's a killer.

Alas, however, I'm destined to wait just a bit longer it looks like. Should I see Foxworthy on television using my joke without getting in touch with me first, however, I'll have to sic the Super Weasel Lawyer Team on him. He doesn't want that to happen, folks -- that Super Weasel Lawyer Team is completely devoid of ethics and they love nothing more than burying hapless defendants in pleading after pleading.

Give The Hawg a break, Jeff. Come on, man!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

All good Americans love rat terriers

What you see here, indeed, is a photo of my dog, Cobb.

I know what you're thinking and you're absolutely wrong. You'll not find a lot of cutesy stories about Cobb nor will I pretend that Cobb is writing this post and talking about life with "his humans."

No, the purpose of all this is to convince you that all good Americans should adore the rat terrier. Cobb and his ilk are as American as baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Budweiser.

Well, not Budweiser. Not anymore. Anheuser-Busch sold out to the Belgians. Therefore, Budweiser sucks and all good Americans should dump any swill brewed by those traitors at Anheuser-Busch in the street and go buy a 12-pack of Samuel Adams. But I digress...

Here's the thing about the mighty, mighty rat terrier. Whenever you see a rat terrier, you should know that you are gazing at a representative of the American breed of dog. That's right. The rat terrier was standardized in the good old U.S. and that's true of how many breeds? As it turns out, a very select few. The rat terrier is my favorite of that small group of U.S. breeds, however.

"But, Hawg? Why should I adore the rat terrier? What's so great about them?"

I'm glad you asked. Here are a few observations about this feisty breed, both good and bad.

Characteristics of the all American dog

Rat terriers come in three varieties -- standard, miniature and toy. Cobb is a miniature rat terrier, meaning he weighs in at about 16.5 pounds. Standard rat terriers are a bit larger. I don't like toy rat terriers because they are bug-eyed and, therefore, creepy.

Rat terriers feature fine fur, mottled skin and their coats are generally mostly white with large patches of black and tan. Their ears are either upright or fold over a bit at the tip. According to the American Kennel Club, Cobb has a genetic flaw because one of his ears stands straight up and the other folds over at the tip. The AKC can go to hell. Cobb's "flawed" ears give the boy character.

Rat terriers kill stuff. Lots of stuff.

I really wish this breed was called "varmint terrier" for public relations purposes. The name "rat terrier" is none to appealing and "varmint terrier" is more accurate, anyway. If something moves and it's smaller than the rat terrier, the dog will try to catch it and kill it. Heck, I've seen mine go after things that are as big as he is.

We live near the Saline River and, as such, we have a lot of snakes show up in my yard. When Cobb was just a little pup, he started to cut down on our snake problem. Yes, he catches them, kills them and buries them, too. That's what I call service!

Some people, of course, will try to argue that a healthy snake population is good for the ecowhatsit and that mother earth cries when one of her creatures is killed and blah, blah, blah, bloppity blah. Nonsense. The only good snake is a dead snake, and the bond between Cobb and me was further strengthened the day that I found out he shares my anti-snake views. God bless that snake-hating little dog!

A concern, of course, is that some of those snakes that Cobb tangles with are poisonous. What if he gets bitten? According to our vet, the best thing to do in such an emergency is to give the pup some Benadryl. Good to know.

A rat terrier may be small, but it's no sissy

Believe it or not, there are some people want a small, house dog but they don't want a temperamental thing that looks like a mop. Rat terriers make good house pets, but they're tough, energetic little critters that like to roughhouse and romp with the best of them. They're great with kids, too.

Rat terriers are fast. Way fast.

Early on, a lot of breeds were cut into the rat terrier bloodline. You can find everything from whippets to Italian Greyhounds lurking in the rat terrier family tree. Why? Because rat terriers were, once upon a time, primarily farm dogs that earned their keep by chasing down and killing varmints. Also, they've put in a lot of time as hunting dogs. So, speed was essential back when the breed was being developed and that means they're turn-on-a-dime speedy.

That can be bad, of course. Rat terriers are also marvelously curious and that leads them to want to explore outside the fence, house or wherever they are confined. Cobb has gotten the door on me more than a few times and he is almost impossible to catch when he gets loose and is running through the neighborhood. He's more than just fast -- Cobb is quick and elusive, too.

Rat terriers are healthy

Because of the rich genetic stew that gave birth to the rat terrier, you just don't get the same inbreeding problems with the dogs that you do with a lot of other ones. Rat terriers, then, are almost mutt-like in their resistance to health problems.

They do have problems with allergies, however, and can break out in rashes if exposed to things like "doggie perfumes" or any of that other rot. It's just as well. What dog wants to smell like a rose, anyway?

Rat terriers are smart

That can be a good thing, of course, because a stupid dog isn't a whole lot of fun. Rat terriers are stubborn, however, and that can be a problem when combined with intelligence. Cobb tends to figure out things, like how to pull of his rabies tag, get rid of that citronella-spraying collar that was supposed to cure him of barking and how to get out of fences.

That little "get out of the fence" trick got him slapped in the dog pound one day. Poor fellow.

Rat terriers have the worst bark on the planet

A barking rat terrier is an awful thing. Cobb is cursed with a bark that's shrill and cutting and he just loves to bark, too. Bark, bark, bark. All the damned time. That's one of the reasons why Cobb spends a lot of time in the house -- I have neighbors and I don't want them to hate me.

One neighbor complained a few months ago about Cobb's barking (it was during the afternoon) and we got a visit from animal control. A friend observed that the heat was just hassling Cobb because he's got a record. Once a dog has been in the pound he just can't live it down.

Rat terriers are friendly if socialized well

Rat terriers get on very well with people and other animals if they are exposed to a lot of people and other animals as pups. Cobb is a friendly type who gets along with our other animals well enough (except for one cat and he can terrorize her all day long for all I care), but he's also intensely jealous.

Why? Because rat terriers bond closely to their owners. If, for example, I'm petting Winston the dog and Cobb figures he ought to be petted, he has no problem with crawling all over Winston and trying to push him out of the way. On the subject of loyalty to owners, rat terriers are extremely sensitive to the moods of their owners -- if you're mad, they know it and cower accordingly. On the other hand, if you're ready to play, the terrier is game. There's a warning here -- if you get a rat terrier, plan on keeping him. From what I understand, they don't adapt well from being pulled away from one owner and handed to another. Once that bond is in place, it's best to make it permanent.

If you want a dog that's both loyal and responsive, the rat terrier is a great choice.

A male rat terrier never runs out of pee

That means that you'd better be ready to let them out of the house often and you'd better be ready to get up out of bed when they wake up and want to go outside. If it's 6 a.m. and you're feeling sleepy, you'd better get to that door and let the dog out. You'll regret it otherwise.

I once thought Cobb had a bladder problem until my wife saw another rat terrier walking down the street and stopping to pee on everything he could find. That's a rotten condition, of course, but it can be turned into an advantage -- when Cobb escapes, we often catch him when he slows down to mark his territory.

Rat terriers are fearless

Yep. They're loud, pushy, hyperactive and never ones to back down from a fight. We have three dogs and one of them weighs 120 pounds -- he's given the aggressive Cobb a scar or two over the years. The big dog is largely passive, but Cobb's not and that can lead to trouble.

By the way, the name Cobb is derived from "Ty Cobb" and it rather fits the breed.


Embrace the rat terrier, America. That little dog is your heritage.

Monday, August 4, 2008

All good Americans love Blue Hawaii

Elvis' Blue Hawaii has been much maligned over the years.

Yes, it's been lumped in with those "other" Elvis movies, but Blue Hawaii really stands out as a piece of art. Well, not really. It's entertaining stuff, however, and I adore the cheesy little film. You should enjoy it, too. Every good American should, in fact.

Elvis has always fascinated me. Back in the bad old days when I made my living as a lawyer, I had a velvet Elvis hanging on the wall in my office. My little brother bought it for me after he found someone selling Elvis paintings out of the back of his car somewhere in Tennessee or Mississippi. The painting featured a profile view of Elvis and if you looked closely enough you'd notice a tear rolling down his cheek. Funny stuff.

One of the more fascinating aspects of Elvis' career is how well his horrible movies did. One of the more tolerable and amusing of the lot is Blue Hawaii.

Before I get into all of that, I need to take a minute to vent my frustration at JD over at I Do Things so You Don't Have To. Her concept for a blog is so brilliant that I'm sickly jealous and I don't mind admitting it. That idea should have been mine, but I'm too late. Darn.

Yes, I could call this post "I Watch Blue Hawaii so You Don't Have To," but no. That's all JD's concept and she's built up a great site around it. Some of us have fantastic ideas while some of us (just me, actually) are stuck howling about how great Arkansas is and rambling about random stuff.

Such is life.

At any rate, Blue Hawaii. This little gem, filmed in 1961, was presented as a comedy and it largely succeeded in that regard. But, here's what makes the film so great -- it succeeded in ways that the writers never could have imagined. This movie is, indeed, so awful that one must wonder if there was any script at all or if the actors just ran around making up stuff between songs. I love this movie dearly, and here are just a few reasons why:

1. Elvis' status as a terrible human being is celebrated throughout the movie. Let's take a look at the facts. Elvis comes back from the Army and his steady girlfriend meets him at the airport. When she catches site of Elvis, he's busily kissing a stewardess. He then launches into a song in which brags about being "almost always true" to her, thus hinting at plenty of infidelities while overseas. Elvis' roving eye is portrayed as just a natural, casual thing.

2. Angela Lansbury. She was 36-years-old when this was made and was cast as Elvis' mother. Elvis was 26-years-old at the time. That's funny stuff.

3. It features one of the worst rock n' roll songs of all time. Of course, I'm referring to "Rock-A-Hula Baby," a song that is so laughably bad that you can't help but love it. And the scene in which Elvis sings the dreadful tune is perfect. Elvis crashes his own party with a bunch of his lag-about Hawaiian friends and launches into song. After the song is over, Elvis and his friends leave the scene of the party, which was at his parents' house. Angela Lansbury turns to Elvis' father (Roland Winters) and asks, "What was that?" Winters delivers the line of the movie -- "Something we're going to have to get used to, dear. It's the sound of youth."

That exchange kills me every time.

By the way, "Rock-A-Hula Baby" was actually a hit, thus proving that Elvis had reached a point in his career where he could have read the ingredients from a cereal box and it would have sold.

4. The stereotypes would be insulting if they weren't so funny. Elvis' Hawaiian friends are portrayed as lazy beach bums who don't wear many clothes. One of them is a glutton. They stand in direct contrast to Elvis' industrious family and most "natives" portrayed in the film are either servants or employees of white folks. Regardless, the natives are fun-loving and considerably less uptight that the white folks, and Elvis finds happiness after striking that balance between goofing off and running a serious business.

5. A lot of this thing is just wildly inappropriate by today's standards. Elvis, at one point, winds up working as a tourist guide and is called on to escort a hot teacher and her underage students (all girls, of course). One particular vixen runs out on Elvis in a huff when he refuses her advances. He winds up bending her over his knee and spanking her. Such contact would get you jailed today.

So, there are a just a few things of note to this great, American film. The budget for this film was so low that everyone except for Elvis must have been paid off with a case of beer apiece and the results are expected. It's still a lot more enjoyable than the rest of his films and there are actually a couple of things here that are so well done that you'll be surprised.

First of all, Elvis shows off his skills as a crooner with the title track. Yes, "Blue Hawaii" was a song originally written for the late, great Bing Crosby. Elvis had long expressed his desire to be a crooner, and he was able to indulge himself fully here. The song just works.

Then, you've got another ballad which stands as, possibly, the best "movie song" ever written -- "Can't Help Falling in Love." When that songs shows up in the midst of the cheese that is Blue Hawaii, one can't help but understand why Elvis is still revered. He was a great talent and that song reinforces that fact to many and proves it to others.

If you're one of those proud Americans who just enjoys the heck out of junk culture, go watch this movie right now. It's so terrible that it's earned a place in our "anything goes" culture. It's more fun than a bag full of cats, too.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Pants on fire!

I've come to detest the flip-flopping ways of candidates over the years.

Sadly, it's almost expected that candidates will lie through their teeth as elections move forward. They used to simply claim they never made certain promises, but the new, more refined politicians claim that they've simply changed their minds on issues due to further study, changing circumstances and etc.

The scary thing is, our current crop of politicians have a slew of apologists who have taken it upon themselves to rush around convincing us unrefined Americans that such position shifting is actually just fine. One gets the clear sense that each party is packed with "true believers" who aren't above backing candidates who will say whatever it takes to get elected.

Apparently, the "true beilevers" are so convinced that their boy is right that there's an odd, Machiavellian justification at work here. If Candidate X must say a few things to convince voters to put him in office, then that's OK. What's good for Candidate X is good for the nation, after all, and since when did people ever know what's best for them, anyway?

Sure, these days we hear such rationalizations as candidates need to move to the center to attract votes, that open-minded views are necessary in a political landscape that's ever changing and etc. It still looks like the same old nonsense we've put up with for years -- politicians say whatever will net them votes, back down from their promises and rely on our short memories so they can get away with it.

As I said, however, things have changed. We're still being fed lies, but one gets the sense that it's OK these days -- that elected officials are expected to not keep their word and that we voters ought to know that. Honestly, that's a cynical view and I'm amazed that it seems to control political dialog these days. We deserve better, but how can we expect better if society reinforces the idea that lying to voters is expected and even necessary to secure votes?

At any rate, my purpose here is to explain how the art of flip-flopping has changed over the years. To that end, I'll pick on two completely despicable politicians, Bill Clinton and Mike Huckabee. As a native Arkansan I know both of those weasels pretty well and bashing on them is always fun.

Oh, and I'll pick on Ray Thornton, too. He's particularly nasty and I'm thrilled that he'll go down in history as a virtual nobody. However, I've just got to take a swipe at him for reasons I'll explain later.

Bill Clinton and Ray Thornton

I'll start with Bubba Bill because he's an old school liar, but he's the forerunner of this new batch of liarheads. Back when Clinton was governor of Arkansas, he was good about making promises while running for office then forgetting them once the election was finished. He flexed his old school liar muscles skillfully back then, indeed, by simply denying he ever made certain promises when they came back to haunt him.

Of course, Bill and his family packed up the truck and headed uptown to Washington a few years later and Wanderin' Willy's lying ways served him well. Back in 1992, for example, Clinton promised a middle class tax cut to every audience that would listen and people loved him for it.

By the time he got in office, that promise was promptly forgotten. To make matters worse, I remember watching Clinton's little toady, that grinning George Stephanopoulos, on one of those Sunday morning political shows. The host asked Georgie about the middle class tax cut, and Stephanopoulos denied Bill ever said such a thing.

Now, that's some first rate lying! To claim a thing, instruct your flunkies to deny you ever said it and then simply get away with it.

Such tactics weren't uncommon of course, and I'll mention one of the more reprehensible candidates to back off an issue of importance -- Ray Thornton. I particularly can't stand that weasel because one of his lies directly impacted me.

Ray Thornton, a Democrat, was running for Congress in my district back in 1990. I was an intern reporter for the Arkansas Democrat back then, and Thornton declared it was time to pull our troops back from overseas bases. He favored the idea of having all troops stationed in the U.S., but to have them ready for rapid deployment to wherever they were needed. I wrote an article about his plan after watching him at one of his campaign stops, and another reporter -- Tony Moser -- wrote about it around a week later.

Thornton's opponent made hay out of his idea, so the man claimed that he never said such a thing. Yes, he claimed that Moser -- a well-known Republican sympathizer -- was merely smearing him (to this day, I'm grateful that Thornton didn't pick on me -- perhaps he figured destroying the reputation of a nobody college kid wasn't worth his time).

At any rate, Thornton's technique worked and he wound up winning the election and taking his liarhead ways to Washington. On behalf of my district, no less. Yay for him.

So, there are two examples from the old school. During Clinton's time in office, however, it seems that people actually started remembering things and were more willing to call politicians to the carpet than they had been in the past. So, the current new breed of liars started appearing.

Mike Huckabee

Now, here's one of the more accomplished liars of the new breed. Huckabee, back in 2002, showed how the new "lie and explain" technique was far more effective than the time-honored, Clintonian "lie and deny" technique that had fallen out of favor.

In 2002, Huckabee was running for his second term as Arkansas' governor. A major issue at the time involved sales tax on food. There was a push in Arkansas at the time to abolish such taxes and Huckabee was one of the politicians demanding that it simply wasn't right to collect sales taxes on food.

So Huckabee ran around the state promising to do what he could to get rid of those nasty old sales taxes. As soon as he won the gubernatorial race, however, he shifted gears and started actively lobbying against an attempt to do away with those very taxes.

He claimed that he had taken a closer look at the issue and had decided that the state simply couldn't afford the revenue it would lose should food be exempt from sales tax. One has to wonder -- could it be that Huckabee had already done his analysis prior to the election but simply jumped on the tax exempt bandwagon in order to get in office? Could be.


We've moved from an age in which politicians simply deny having made promises to one in which they tend to explain why they've reversed their positions on certain issues, thus rationalizing their filthy, lying ways. Regardless of technique, lying is still lying and we ought not put up with this garbage. I find it amazing that it's almost expected that candidates won't live up to their promises. How on earth are we supposed to know what we're getting when we put someone in office?

We're going to hear a lot in the coming months about how McCain and Obama are simply gravitating toward the middle and adopting more rational rhetoric to win over voters. Do we really want a system in which politicians come across as extremely liberal or conservative in the primaries in order to gain votes, then soften their views in order to reach moderates in general elections? Just what is it they believe, anyway, and how are we to know?

I think we deserve better and ought to hold these folks accountable. Then again, maybe we're so used to getting lied to be our leaders that few people care anymore. I hope not. Still, it's a shame that none but a very few know exactly what a leader will do when he gets in office.