Campaign 2004: Star Trek Virtual Politics

Expanded from the Sunday, 8-22-2004, Daily Sparks, Nev., Tribune
and the 8-27-2004 Comstock Chronicle


"I'll bend every effort to win, and I come from a long line of effort benders."

Legendary comic actor W.C. Fields

We are now 52 years into the television age of politics. As an unintended result, reality no longer has anything to do with elections. Perception is reality. It's all in how images are perceived — and how those images can be manipulated. Adobe Photoshop rules the world.


Michael Moore due in Reno on Wednesday October 13

Debate over controversial speaker welcome
Reno Gazette-Journal Editorial

Oscar time for Mike & Mel?

Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 wins the Palme d'Or
at the Cannes Film Festival

Moore film tops $8 million
on opening day

Mike on the road with Crackers the Corporate Crime-Fighting Chicken.

The last couple of weeks have sucked us completely through the looking glass.

How did it get to a point where the deserter is now a war hero and the war hero is now a traitor?

Don't ask 'cause it don't matter. Don't dwell on the process. Just sit back and enjoy the reality TV show.

Here's as good an explanation as you will find.

Walk into any bar in deepest, darkest Sparks. The late Bear Quilici's Copenhagen saloon will do just fine.

It's a lazy Thursday afternoon. Just a couple of regulars and a few construction guys supping a brewski after work.

The Giants' game has just ended in extra innings and the bartender hasn't changed the channel.

"We now join our regularly scheduled program already in progress."

The scene cuts from the baseball park to the bridge of the Starship Enterprise.

"Onscreen, Mr. Sulu."

In all the permutations of the venerable Star Trek sci-fi series, no one has ever explained how Captain Kirk's magic long distance TV screen can zoom in on happenings millions of miles away.

Doesn't matter, it's just TV.

The Enterprise's screen shows grainy footage of small gunboats on a river. On one of them sits a young John Kerry, smoking a cigar and applying tanning lotion.

He cracks a new six pack and passes beers out to his guys.

Suddenly, Kerry looks down at his hand in horror. He has cut his finger on a dangerous 1960's-vintage Budweiser pop-top.

The screen freezes.

Former Sparks schoolboy Karl Rove, in full camouflage fatigues, walks on and says "now you know the real story about how Sen. Kerry got his third purple heart."

The bartender comes to his senses and changes to something important, namely ESPN.

Most of the guys in the Copenhagen weren't paying attention, except for one construction worker who'd been there most of the afternoon. He's not quite sure what he saw, but when he gets home, he tells his wife he just saw a news story about how John Kerry faked getting his war medals.

Once again, Karl Rove has earned his pay.

The above tale may be fictitious, but the effect is real and basically explains how the hero is now a traitor in the minds of many. Reality has nothing to do with it in the "just win, baby" world of virtual politics in the age of Dubya.

Beam me up. I'm outta here.

MORE TV TRAVESTIES. Tune in to SNCAT TV-13 on Sparks-Reno Charter Cable this Thursday at 6:30 p.m., rerunning Saturday at 2:00 p.m. The Reno cable advisory committee, which I chair, will consider some very important issues. One of my board members has discovered a potential flaw in Charter's recently imposed regionwide rate hike. We will also review a proposal to recommend to Sparks, Reno and Washoe County governments that they develop a contingency plan should the troubled cable company collapse.

The meeting will NOT be held in the black tower across the street from the Mapes Graveyard, but at good ole city hall on Center Street.

Please keep in mind that if Tom Ridge takes the nation to Orange Alert, the very vulnerable Stewart Street door on the south side of city hall will be locked in order to keep them nefarious freedom haters from striking at the heart of democracy.

Much more, including additional rerun times, at the unofficial website for these issues at

"Media is the plural of mediocre."

— Jimmy Breslin

ASLEEP AT THE PIZEN SWITCH. Astoundingly, no other Nevada media have picked up the news about the potential Yerington cancer cluster which broke on the front page of the Tribune on July 27. Reporter Kristin Larsen did two followups last week.

The Mason Valley area has cancer rates a third higher than the national average. Despite all the news about uranium in the Yerington water supply, the damning statistics have been ignored save in the pages of the feistiest newspaper in Nevada.

I'm sending it around to civic leaders and selected media and have posted the stories to my ongoing "Nevada's Cancer Kids" section at

The Yerington City Council has reacted in the same manner as the town fathers in Churchill County when the news broke about Fallon's cancer kids: they hired a PR firm to convince people that everything's alright. Alas and alack, minds where the sun never shines.

As part of the web edition of this column, I'll reprint one my Tribune front page golden oldies from the early 1990s: Did fuel-soaked animals get buried alive at NAS Fallon after a jet fuel spill. That came years before aviation gas was targeted as a potential cancer cause in those parts.

Kudos to the Tribune for staying on the story even if no one else will.

Be well. Raise hell.



I tol'jaso 10 years ago
People vs. Corporate Con-Job, 9-4-1994

Franz Kafka defeats Frank Capra

The Silence of the Cows

Father Diamond is Spinning in His Grave

Excerpt: All the President's Spin

The Orwell Diversion by Alex Carey

Review of Alex Carey's "Taking the Risk out of Democracy:
Propaganda in the US and Australia"

ORDER "Taking the Risk Out of Democracy"
Corporate Propaganda versus Freedom and Liberty
By Alex Carey
Edited by Andrew Lohrey
Foreword by Noam Chomsky
University of Illinois Press

CNN's Lou Dobbs' new book "Exporting America" quotes Carey

PBS/NOW with Bill Moyers: Outsourcing American Jobs

Apathy is never having to say you're sorry

Federal Election Commission: Voter Registration and Turnout 2000 | C.O.P. | Sen. Joe Neal
Guinn Watch | Deciding Factors
| BallotBoxing.US
Barbwire Oilogopoly Archive


Copyright © 1982-2004 Andrew Barbano

Andrew Barbano is a 35-year Nevadan, a member Communications Workers of America Local 9413 and editor of and Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune since 1988.

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