Thursday, January 1, 2015

Facing Forward: 2015. Perception, Image, Reality

This time of year brings families together (for better or for worse), evokes joys of Christmases past, kindles fires at office Christmas parties and hangovers after the ball drops in Times Square.  But for Mad Dog, the event he most looks forward to  is the arrival of that distinctive brown calendar in his mailbox. 

You know the one--from the Seabrook nuclear power plant. 

It is one of those reassuring constants in an ever changing world. With the closure of the Vermont nuclear power plant, and with Europe reacting to Fukishima by turning away from nuclear power, it is an anchor in stormy seas to get that calendar.

Chocked full of needed reminders like, "Owners of household pets should make a list of places outside of the emergency planning zone that would accept your household pets, such as boarding kennels, friends and relatives outside the affected area, or pet-friendly motels."  Wouldn't have thought of that. But what I really would not have thought of: "Proof of current rabies vaccination will be required for admission to any shelter."

Other points to review: "If you must go outside (for example to bring in a child playing outside) cover your nose and mouth with a folded, damp cloth. Go back inside as soon as you can."  Why the cloth should be folded is not entirely clear. This also leaves unclear whether to bring a cloth for the child, but some things you just have to figure out for yourself. The calendar people cannot do all your thinking for you, and there is only so much space in the calendar.

So, now we have children and dogs taken care of, so let's be optimistic. If we have time to evacuate rather than "shelter in place" (remember to close your windows!), we have this handy list of things to bring: First on the list--this calendar--which tells you just how important the calendar people think their work is.
Also, "personal items" (and we are reminded eyeglasses and dentures are personal), medical equipment including life support equipment--without this calendar you would have never thought of that--and your checkbook and credit cards. (You may need money to cover expenses not covered by the Seabrook station, like movies at your motel room.)

The one glaring omission, especially in New Hampshire, is "and don't forget to bring your guns." It may sound like carping, but really, how could you forget the most important household item in any New Hampshire home?

Just to fill the void, Mad Dog posts this heart warming Christmas theme image:

Mad Dog is sure this is what your Christmas morning looked like. He certainly hopes so.

Looking forward to "sheltering in place" or evacuation in 2015 is so invigorating, but first, we must remember the past is prologue, so we have to review 2014, which surely has got to be the year of grasping defeat from the jaws of victory.

2014 should have been a great high bubble of good feeling, but there was that one thing--the midterm elections, which served as a concrete example of how perception can trump reality.

The Democrats, and their President, having saved General Motors from collapse, (with all the tidal wave of consequences that would have generated,) having spent enough money to keep the economy rising, if not surging, having finally got Obamacare online and working so people from Kentucky to New York City now can go to doctors and dentists, having presided over a stock market boom, having seen gasoline and heating oil prices fall, having all that good news, the Democrats fled like lemmings racing head long over the cliff, and Democratic candidates refused to admit they had even voted for President Obama. 

What that got us in New Hampshire was this:
Would you go to prayer breakfast with this man?

Frank Guinta, New Hampshire's very own entry into the Senator Joseph McCarthy look alike and reincarnation contest. Mr. Guinta wants to privatize Social Security and Medicare and he is going back to Washington to deconstruct government with his fellow Tea Party Republicans, to vote for the pipeline and to vote to kill Obamacare just as soon as he can.

That effort may not be necessary, as there is a Supreme Court case now which seeks to overturn Obamacare on the basis that the federal subsidies which make it work were not actually part of the law and by invoking them, President Obama exceeded his executive powers. As one of the Republican analysts noted on NPR, this would mean millions who just got insurance will lose it, that pre existing conditions rules will return, that the cost savings to the medical system which have already been seen will all be lost, but all of that is less important than the compelling principle that this President, and future Presidents (but most importantly THIS President) will learn the lesson you cannot over step your bounds. This is a country of laws, after all.

Mostly, the lesson Mad Dog takes from this last election is that Democrats lose when they are too meek, when they fail to state the obvious: Medicare and Social Security are not about to collapse, will not bankrupt the country and in fact work quite well. The federal government can be and often IS part of the solution, not the problem. Obamacare, even in Kentucky, has worked well, better than expected in fact. That government spending in a recession is more important than worrying about a deficit and in fact that our government here in the USA saved us from going over all sorts of cliffs, fiscal and otherwise, while European governments, determined to cut spending when Paul Krugman warned them not to, failed their people and their people paid the price.  

Voters, citizens, need to hear this. Sometimes they figure it out--they did reject Scott Brown, after all. 
And that must have been difficult. They could have perceived him as:
But, instead they saw him as:
And, so at least in New Hampshire, and, unfortunately almost only in New Hampshire, the perception caught up with reality, for reasons unknown.

The most important thing, Mad Dog learned in 2014 is we must extirpate Senator Kelly Ayotte from Washington, and to do that, we have to start in 2015. 
I look so cute in red, and Sarah Palin is teaching me to shoot.

What we found in 2014 is it takes time to change perceptions, and it takes organization and nerve and analysis and it may take new people who can think differently.  Mad Dog was privileged to work with a small group of dedicated, talented people led by a relentless, brave and effective general who tried to change perceptions about Scott Brown, but they were, in the end, unable to bring much firepower to bear. Entrenched party officials among New Hampshire Dems got weak kneed. Oh, we can't say THAT. Oh, we'd stir up things too much. We cannot present something which might be seen as salacious, not to mention, seditious, before a gathering attended by a former President, even if that President is Bill Clinton. Can you imagine offending Bill Clinton with salacious?

So Rush Limbaugh went unanswered and the public's mind was left awash in a tide which swept in from the right.  Perceptions were not managed.

And perception is a mutable thing.
This is how Republicans perceive the leading Democratic contender for 2016:
This is how her supporters see her:
But this is the person Mad Dog would like to see in 2016, mainly because his perception of her is she is a fighter who is not afraid to state the bald truth forcefully, without running every sentence past a focus group. But who knows what any of these people are really like?
Don't know her, but she really looks so decent

But this is the person we may get. And, from what Mad Dog knows of him, while he might be able to win, we may ultimately regret that. It must be admitted, Democratic Presidents do have this thing for getting seduced into long wars. For this guy, that's something he thinks is in the American genome, and he's happy about that. 
James Webb, Who Channels Warriors
Having said all that, Mad Dog has to admit, his own self perception is as rife with fantasy and delusional thinking,  as detached from reality,  as any.  When he looks in the mirror, when he tries to sprint 90 feet, when he whiffs at a slow curve ball, he knows what he really is.  But when he flirts with the fetching blond female canvasser at Democratic headquarters, who is trying to send him out to cover Seabrook in Democratic paper, in a snowstorm, he sees himself thusly:

We all have our blind spots.


  1. Mad Dog,
    Those calendar people do set a high bar for us simple seacoast folk-when we hear the lonesome wail of the Seabrook siren, not only are we expected to flee for our lives with calendar in hand, we are expected to do so in a neat and orderly fashion, even down to the folded cloth for our mouth..Hmm..I agree it would be difficult to forget ones life support system but the rest of the list is VERY extensive-bedding, towels, medicine, medical devices,clothes, pet supplies, pet food-let's not forget the pets-why there are simply too many things for most people to keep in their cars at all times and let's face it, having to race home during an emergency to collect all of these things may be dangerously time consuming. Which got me thinking-this presents a nice little niche market for us. I'm imagining a trailer-the "Save Your Ass Safety Trailer" better known as SAST that conveniently hitches to the rear of your car and contains all the necessary evacuation items. With the SAST safely secured to one's vehicle you are free, from any location, to hit Rte 101 and keep on going in the case of a Nuke emergency-no need for risky stops home..I envision us making a bundle-really every home within the 10 mile evacuation zone should have one...We could use the proceeds to fund our gal in 2016-we'll just have to decide which gal-Hill or Liz--well there's time for all that and the profits could be divided between the two if necessary..I'm still leaning towards the former but have to admit the latter does have her appeal-a candidate that actually says what she thinks and is willing to take on Big Money, what a novel idea....Anyway, right now we just need to get cracking on the SAST prototype-this could revolutionize evacuation everywhere, hey this idea could go global...

  2. Maud,

    As always, I admire your entrepreneurial acumen. Names are so important in branding and you've clearly got a winner.

    As for Rte 101--can you imagine what a parking lot that will become if the siren goes off? On Sept 11, 2011, when they sent people home en masse from Washington, my wife's office was next to the White House, 9 miles from our house, a 15 minute commute, off rush. Took her 5 hours to get home that day, by car. Could have walked it in 2 hours, easily. There you have the value of emergency evacuation routes. Better to get your family on bicycles and don't forget the dog carrier. That might be a better SAST--one for bikes and pets.
    As for 2016, I'm less concerned about the Democratic Presidential candidate than about Kelly Ayotte. The Senate is more important. And she is a lynch pin. I'm hoping you will design a strategy and plan. You do have a track record.

    Mad Dog