Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The "Stuck on Stupid" Dictionary #37

Just when we thought we had addressed all of the productivity issues (one way or the other) with our crew of rather lackadaisical lexicographers, something beyond the inexcusable occurs; creating the kind of thing that drives the senior editorial staff here at 'Just Blowing Smoke; positively berserk.  (This is a journey which I can assure readers does not add significantly to the carbon footprint of JBS.)

It seems that having recognized that the best way to get back into the good graces of management would be to show some form of exemplary effort where their livelihoods were concerned, this shiftless gaggle of glossarians were attempting to purge their work area of its customary level of filth, when they discovered an entry that had become lost in the flotsam, jetsam, and decaying organic matter that normally keeps the rest of us from entering their work area.  It is therefore with the greatest of apologies (on a number of levels) that we belatedly enter this effort into the SOS lexicon.

For those of you who have somehow managed to miss previous postings in this tome of tomfoolery (shame on you, now go back and read all of the postings under the label of dictionary), the SOS dictionary is a reference guide to terms which nominally mean something to the rest of the English speaking world, but which appear to mean something entirely different when looked at through the jaded eyes and rose colored glasses of the SOS dictionary staff.

Substantially Compliant:

1. Compliance with the essential requirements of a law or statute that satisfies its objective or intent without formally complying with same.

2. The curious claim of City Councilwoman Lindsay Webb during her last re-election bid that written acceptance of her nomination 12 days after being notified is acceptable, in spite of the fact that the City Charter of Toledo requires that such written acceptance be submitted within 5 days (making her argument both weak and a week late).

3. The curious action of the Board of Election in accepting Councilwoman Webb's substantially late paperwork and certifying her for election in spite of being notified by one of its employees of the belated arrival of said documents and the Charter violation involved.

4. The equally belated challenge of her opponent in the election Douglas DeCamp when he filed his paperwork with that same Board of Elections; and the subsequent block of a belated review of this belated paperwork by the Sixth District Court of Appeals.  The result of which left all in substantial compliance with something, but no two in compliance with the same thing.

5. The level of failure shown to good order and discipline by the unintentionally postponed posting of this entire embarrassing episode by the inexcusable retardation of normal activities by the loitering (and littering) behavior of the lexicographers of the SOS Dictionary.  (One cannot help but note however, that this dastardly delinquency does seem curiously appropriate, if not substantially consistent with the whole affair.) 


Saturday, September 22, 2012

Decide Dammit!

OK quick!  What's the most frustrating thing in the world?  Now for those fence-sitters out there running through the extensive list in your tiny little minds, let me help you out just a bit.  It's You!  And don't try and kid yourself that we haven't noticed who you are while we're standing behind you in the line at McDonalds (not that you'll find me hanging out at 'The Golden Arches' these days), waiting for you to decipher the intricacies of a menu that hasn't seen significant alteration in this millennium.

Don't get me wrong here, I know that there are sometimes tough choices that need to be made out there.  Yoga pants or pajama jeans, the shortest route or the quickest one on your GPS system, and chunky or smooth peanut butter are but a few of the earth shattering determinations that apparently can only be made after lengthy deliberation by someone with your Solomon-like judgment skills.  Of course there are those looking on from the sidelines who would like to see such resolution proceed at a less glacial pace, but certainly we can wait until you've completed proper contemplation on how much foam they should put on your latte (though the restraint required to keep our hands from your throat is almost crippling).

The problem now however, is that 2012 is a presidential election year; and that brings up even more indecision.  The mainstream media cannot decide how far in the tank it's willing to go for Democrats.  Fox News hasn't decided how far it's willing to go to counter the impact of its competitors on Republicans.  Largely irrelevant daily newspapers can't decide, based on their own past bias and increasing loss of credibility, if endorsing a particular candidate will do them more harm than good. 

Around the world, our traditional allies can't decide if more of what they've gotten for the last 3-1/2 years would be worse than what they might get from four years of the new guy.  Inimical governments and terrorist organizations can't decide if taking advantage of the apparent foreign policy weaknesses of the current White House occupant (especially this close to an election) can be used to their own political advantage, or will simply facilitate the election of someone who might be another game-changer for them, like Reagan was after Carter.

Of course all of this indecision inside the media and outside the nation, is because we are once more being told that this year's electoral process will be decided by ... you guessed it .... 'the Undecideds'.  This apparent group of vacuous voters will, according to pundits and other so-called experts, be swayed in the coming weeks by any public (or private) misstep of the candidates, by who makes a better showing in the three presidential debates (or how badly 'Jokin' Joe Biden performs in his one), and by who can raise the most money and run the most TV ads running up to the election.  (And people complained about how the BCS Championship decided the winner of College Football.)

Ostensibly the fate of the electoral process weighs on a group of people who, after over two years of campaigning, cannot now decide on their national leader.  After a campaign whose length seemingly rivaled that of the 100 Years War, they are still unable to commit to a candidate.  Apparently the fate of the nation will ultimately be decided by those who stand in the check out line at the grocery store, incapable of producing a decisive answer to,  "Paper or plastic?"  

Which of course leads me to my own 2012 dilemmas.  I can't decide if I simply pity those who, with all the information out there cannot apparently complete the deliberative process; or if I just hate their guts.  I'm undecided over whether perhaps if a few more people took more interest in learning about the people they vote for than about the lives and back stories of performers on 'American Idol' or on 'Dancing With The Stars', we wouldn't have Congressional gridlock (another form of indecision) and a $16 trillion national deficit.  I am unable to reach a conclusion over whether perhaps there wasn't a two-party stranglehold on the national election process, there wouldn't be so much indecision in the first place.  I am completely flummoxed over whether, if the education process in this nation spent a little more time teaching critical thinking and little less on fostering self-esteem, we'd have less people incapable of decisions on anything more important than whether they'll super-size their fries.

What I do know however is that there is a real pandemic of 'cranial / rectal inversion' occurring in this country; and it's far past time that people started pulling their aggregated heads out of their collective asses and Decide Dammit!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Best Friends Money Can Buy?

Reading the reports of unrest around the US embassy allegedly caused by a YouTube video that few if any has seen (including me) did not shock me, I'm sorry to say.  Apparently it's OK to insult any other religion in the world without fear of violent assault, but not that of Islam.  Evidently these true believers hold so strongly to their 'Religion of Peace' that it's OK to kill anyone who in any way insults or makes fun of your religious figures.  Now this in itself is a curious contradiction, since there is no iconography in Islam.  As such it seems incongruous that any 'image' can therefore be seen as an affront. (But let's set that aside for now.)

I also noted that an attack on US Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens, led to his death along with three others in a protest that apparently escalated into an attack on the consulate there on September 11th.  In spite of the ongoing reports from the Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and the Administration that there was no plan involved, it would take, in a phrase Mrs. Clinton used back in 2007 when still a Senator, "a willing suspension of disbelief" to accept that guys with rocket propelled grenade launchers just happened to show up at this curiously well organized tactical assault of US sovereign territory. (But let's set that aside for now too.)

This brutal assault on the persons and property of the United States has seemingly touched off a wave of demonstrations and destruction at Embassies from the Western Europe to Indonesia.  It seems that the apparently disenfranchised populations of predominantly Islamic nations across most of the world have decided to publicly share their negative opinions of us by destroying our property and killing our citizens.  Governments in many of those countries, which have seemed perfectly capable of putting out the fires of such demonstrations for many years (even when it required a little extremism and thuggery on their part), seem suddenly unable to protect US territory that they are bound to under international treaty.  Perhaps even worse, US Ambassadors seem unhappy or unwilling to issue Marines guarding those facilities ammunition in order for them to do what these host nations seem incapable of. (But let's set that aside for now too, even if this is getting a bit monotonous.)

Why, because many of these are after all, OUR FRIENDS ....

One might even say that some of these are the best friends that money can buy!  After all, the United States pours out more than $52.7 billion in foreign economic and military aid every year (according to the 2010 numbers I could find), with the economic part of that package coming to some $37.7 billion.  And what a list it is!  Let's look at some of our 'buck buddy allies':

*  Afghanistan topped the list with some $11.4 billion
*  Pakistan got some $2.85 billion
*  Iraq manage $2.1 billion
*  Egypt received a paltry $1.7 billion
*  Mexico got a mere $718 million
*  Gaza (yes little bitty Gaza) managed $693 million
*  And Indonesia got $338 million to spread across almost as many islands

Now lest anyone forget, we have been doing this for many years, under the leadership of both parties.  This may be another of those examples of 'bi-partisan blundering' that those of us looking at Washington DC can't help but notice when we poke our nose under the tent (no camel jokes intended ... well OK maybe there are).  And speaking of poking their nose under the tent, once that nose has found its way in, it seems impossible to dislodge it.  We seem to treat these wayward nations as if they were a ne'er do well brother-in-law.  No matter how much we give them, it's never enough.  And no matter how deep we dig in our pockets, they're never going to like us.  In fact, giving them the money only seems to make them hate us more.  While we're making such comparisons (and forgive me for noticing), but a lot of those nations appear to have significant Islamic populations.  

This is not to say that we carry no blame in these situations.  It was the US after all, who supported the despotic rule of the Shah of Iran; at least until we stopped supporting him.  Oh sure we got rid of Saddam Hussein and his evil persecution of his own people and those of Kuwait, but only after years of supporting him as a bastion against the guys who took over in Iran after we ran out on the guy who ran it before.  We also supported the despotic rule of Mubarak in Egypt before we bailed on him; and there was a time when we liked Gaddafi before we didn't.  Hell we still sell a lot of really cool military hardware to the monarchy in Saudi Arabia, knowing that various members of the royal family have (and probably still do) support a number of groups considered terrorists organizations around the world.

It therefore seems that our foreign policy is little more these days than a poorly planned and totally misguided attempt to get the best friends that money can buy.  It's a policy that's never worked particularly well for us, and in these days when we're all but broke and paying out with borrowed money, it's failing even worse than normally.  It is one however, that appears to be impossible to abandon; though perhaps there is one difference is that the current Administration has decided to exercise which might be worthy of note.  That's the practice of continuously apologizing to the crappy friends we have, and that only hang out with us while we're paying for them; while simultaneously insulting the ones not currently on our payroll.  It's a curious form of diplomacy that reminded me of the days of my youth, and some friends from a little band from Chicago that achieved a modicum of success; especially in the 70's.  Perhaps the President, since he currently chooses to call this his hometown as well, might want to learn from some of its finer poets and bards: 

Now, I'm a jet fuel genius 
I can solve the world's problems
Without even trying.
I have dozens of friends 
And the fun never ends
That is, as long as I'm buying.
Is it any wonder I'm not the president?
Is it any wonder I'm null and void?

From:  "Too Much Time On My Hands", written by Tommy Shaw

Monday, September 17, 2012

Quantity Isn't Quality

One of the joys (sarcastically speaking, of course) of writing about politics is the necessity of listening to the speeches of their national conventions. These carefully crafted efforts have often become the launching pads for future political careers, as well as defining moments in elections, and as such these opportunities are carefully awarded.

Don't worry, I'll spare you any careful analysis of the shaded truth, jingoistic wisdom, and outright lies that we were subjected to in back-to-back conventions to talk instead about the sheer abundance of rhetoric that voters were subjected to by echelons of representatives. There was plenty of analysis during the conventions after all, and thank goodness they're finally over.  As we examine the sheer volume of bloviating however let's at least not that there was indeed a hierarchy to the performers and to the time allotted to deliver 'a few well-chosen words'.

Tier 3
These are the cheerleaders encouraged to whip the crowd into a frenzy with their inspirational orations before the main act, and their time is limited. Former White House Chief of Staff and now Mayor of Chicago Rahm Emmanuel for example, delivered a speech of some 1257 well chosen words; in a modest bit of bombast; and Democratic Keynote speaker San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro delivered an effort of just less than 2100 words at the pinnacle of his convention's Tier 3 efforts.

By comparison, Republicans trotted out up-and-comer Florida Senator Marc Rubio, who graced us with 1735 words. Surprisingly (and perhaps even suspiciously), New Jersey Governor Chris Christie delivered an effort of identical length; apparently not realizing that as Keynote Speaker, he had been awarded a larger allotment. 

Speaking of suspicious, I couldn't help by notice that former Governor of Arkansas and now Fox News personality Mike Huckabee delivered a speech of exactly 1776 words (something which I'm sure should be considered simply a patriotic coincidence for those without tin-foil chapeaus).

Tier 2
These higher ranking spokespeople are normally the spouses of the candidates which are used by them to explain their significant others; and this year both delivered reasonable efforts of greater lengths. Mitt Romney's wife Ann, evidently well-versed in rhetoric and numeric protocol, delivered a pronouncement of some 2331 words. It was greater than her Tier 3 predecessors, while allowing room to grow for those to come after. 

First Lady Michelle Obama, understanding that being is more than seeking, used her slightly greater status to give us about 3034 well-chosen words on her and her husband's behalf.   (Though perhaps such length had to do with the fact that even after 3-1/2 years in office, we know less about her husband than about any other person on the planet.)

Much like the GOP in Tier 3, Democrats had a celebrity Tier 2 speaker this year in the form of former President Clinton; whose status as a former Tier 1 put him greater in this Tier 2 arena (as did his performance). Being a savvy campaigner who apparently missed the big stage, President Clinton held onto the spotlight long enough to deliver 3190 words to insure everyone understood his abilities and his stature (current and former).

Tier 1
Tier 1 is reserved for the candidates and running mates, and they were well aware of it. Mitt Romney's selection, Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan came through with an effort of some 3229 words (slightly more than Clinton even without knowing). Our current VP Joe Biden came in only slight less with 3063 words.  In spite of extensive research, I was unable to discover if this lesser number had to do with feelings of inadequacy where Ryan and Clinton were concerned, or simply the Democratic party's heroic attempt to provide Biden less opportunity to produce a gaffe that even MSNBC couldn't spin.

When the candidates at the top of the pyramid took center stage, they too seemed naturally or artificially constrained to adhere to this unwritten etiquette.  Republican Mitt Romney managed to accept his party's nomination in approximately 4108 words. President Barack Obama took center stage as an incumbent President at his party's convention to accept an uncontested nomination in slightly greater effort of 4371 words.

By now you're probably pondering this statistical barrage, perhaps mildly curious about this even being noticed, and wondering what possible meaning it could have.  Since few of these speeches from either convention were soaring rhetoric and none produced ground breaking new policy, why so much concern over their length. It's the fact that so little was spoke about however, that's the point. Being subjected to hours of null value pontification aroused my curiosity as to how it might compare with other more eloquent and historically significant bits of rhetoric or composition. Here's the short list (literally) that came from the research that I did on the subject:  

  • Ronald Reagan's 1987 “Tear Down This Wall” speech … 2672 words.
  • The Declaration of Independence … 1458 words.
  • John F Kennedy's 1960 “Ask not ...” Inaugural Address … 1364 words.
  • George Washington's first Inaugural Address … 463 words.
  • And what is often conceded as the finest piece of Presidential rhetoric ever publicly delivered, Abraham Lincoln's “Gettysburg Address” … 246 words.
It seems apparent that with the passage of time and in spite of the advantages of our candidates being more well-educated professional politicians, the assistance of media savvy speech writers to help insure a well written script, and computer aided teleprompters to aid in the actual performance; our politicians seem unable to qualitatively deliver the message regardless of the quantity of their rhetoric.

Perhaps in fact, these technological advances have become a crutch rather than an aid to their efforts.  Speaking only for myself after listening to all of it, I am at pains to point out that it's not the quantity of your rhetoric that moves us, but its quality.  If you truly do understand the problems facing this nation as you would like us to believe, it shouldn't take long-winded grandiloquence to inspire us, but instead grand ideas, simply expressed and easily carried out.  So if we seemed a bit inattentive at the conventions or bored at the campaign stops, by all means do take it to heart.  It isn't quantity we ask of you after all, but quality. 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The "Stuck On Stupid" Dictionary #36

As was noted in the previous SOS posting, it was a surprise to discover that it had been some three months since the most recent entry to this tome of tomfoolery used to document the misuse of the English language.  Perhaps in guilty recompense, there were multiple listings in the previous effort, and multiple entries in this effort as well. Being a powerful motivator (almost as powerful as the threats of personal violence), may even account for the multiple efforts this weekend.  

Having thoroughly 'discussed' this ridiculous lack of production with members of the Senior Staff in a way that they are not likely to soon forget, I cannot say I was surprised by their mostly lame attempts at greater productivity.  I expect some level of these increased efforts to continue for at least the next ten minutes (their normal maximum attention span)

Now for those of you who have somehow managed to miss previous postings in this area (shame on you, now go back and read all of the postings under the label of dictionary), the SOS dictionary is a reference guide to terms which nominally mean something to the rest of the English speaking world, but appear to mean something entirely different when looked at through the jaded eyes and rose colored glasses of the SOS dictionary staff.


1.  A contest in which one contestant is unable to compete on an equal basis with another due to an inequality in size, training, or simple ability. While sometimes amusing to watch, such contests are normally viewed as unfair by the inequality of their very nature.

2. The decision of a lawyer or politician to challenge another in public without knowing how that challenge may be responded to.  Lawyers know this as the maxim:  "Never ask a question in open court that you don't already know the answer to."

3. Any attempt by Democratic Toledo City Councilman at-large Steven Steel to challenge or engage Independent Mayor Mike Bell either politically, rhetorically, or even physically; since recent attempts to do so have thus far revealed his shocking inability to compete at this rarefied and more professional level of play.

Religion of Peace

1.  A descriptive term used to designate and demonstrate that a given theology is one which encourages non-violence between believers and non-believers.

2. A descriptive term that cannot be used regarding the religion of Islam; since such such judgments should be made not on the basis of accepted doctrine, but on the actions that result from the application of that doctrine.  Religious Courts, Terrorist acts, and War resulting in the murder, mutilation, and property destruction of non-believers in recent history for no greater fault than non-belief disqualifies followers of this religion.

3.  A descriptive term that cannot be used regarding the religion of Christianity; since such such judgments should be made not on the basis of accepted doctrine, but on the actions that result from the application of that doctrine.  The Crusades in Middle East and the Inquisitions in Europe and the Americas, which were perpetrated as organized campaigns of war, murder, and mutilation of non-believers for no greater fault than non-belief disqualifies followers of this religion.

4. A descriptive term that cannot be used regarding the religion of Judaism; since such such judgments should be made not on the basis of accepted doctrine, but on the actions that result from the application of that doctrine.  The Hebrew Bible (Old Testament in the Christian version) which documents the early history of this religion is itself replete with stories of war, murder, and mutilation of non-believers for no greater fault than non-belief disqualifies followers of this religion.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

The "Stuck On Stupid" Dictionary #35

Fall is upon us and the election rhetoric (among other things) is heating up around the world.  While we have slacked off on our program of "the beatings will continue until morale improves" where the staff is concerned, the occasional 'head slap' or 'kick in the slats' continues to be a regular practice in motivating the lazy lexicographers working on the "Stuck on Stupid" dictionary.  

It was a surprise however, to discover that it had been some three months since the most recent entry to this tome of tomfoolery, used to document the misuse of the English language.  For that reason if no other, there will be multiple listings in today's effort.   Senior staff will shortly be receiving a memo to report for their own 'slap and slat' session as well.

For those of you who have somehow managed to miss previous postings in this area (shame on you, now go back and read all of the postings under the label of dictionary), the SOS dictionary is a reference guide to terms which nominally mean something to the rest of the English speaking world, but appear to mean something entirely different when looked at through the jaded eyes and rose colored glasses of the SOS dictionary staff.

Now you would think that an establishment created to store and lend some of the greatest literature in the world (along with some really hideous Barney videos) would have a better grasp of the English language.  Like that organization in its choice of words and acronyms of common parlance, you would apparently be wrong.  While they are not alone in self-abusive articulation, they are first on today's list.


1.  An acronym of common parlance that stands for Shit Outa' Luck, which for those not up on common parlance means that you either had no luck where this situation was concerned, or if you did, you no longer retain it; placing your odds at a successful result in your efforts in the range of dismal.

2. An acronym currently being used by the Toledo Public Library as a marketing slogan in support of their November levy request, and designed to stand for "Save Our Library".

3. The likelihood that that the Library marketing scheme will be remembered, and if remembered, will not be confused with the term of more common parlance.  Its use will probably be sniggered over as an error in judgment at best, and a massive screw up in their levy attempt at worst (see FUBAR).

4.  The likelihood that the Library levy will pass if this is the level of marketing and political savvy possessed by their organization.

Arab Spring

1. A political resistance movement that began in December of 2010, in which oppressive governments in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Yemen were overthrown; and in which civil uprisings continue in Syria and Bahrain in the hope of one day replacing their oppressive regimes. 

2. A political resistance movement which appears to be so important to those involved that it's capable of being side-tracked by Cartoons, YouTube videos, and public statements by people who only their neighbors have heard of before. (And now no doubt, by this definition.)

3. A political resistance movement which has largely succeeded in replacing oppressive secular dictatorships and monarchies in the region with oppressive 'democracies' that act far more like the oppressive theocracies which most foreign policy experts insisted could never take control.

4. A political resistance movement which has been largely supported by pronouncements from the US State Department and funds from US Foreign Aid; and which has been rewarded for such support by the killing of a US Ambassador and three other Americans (so far) and millions in damage to US Embassy property.

5. Yet another of the current Administration's foreign policy nightmares marked by inconsistency and apology, in which the US pays protection money to governments run by thugs and terrorists, with little if anything to show for it's investment other than hate, murder, and destruction.  (The President's former minister Jeremiah Wright once previously called this "America's chickens coming home to roost.)

Since I didn't manage to put together a good weekend rant, and because I can still hear the scribes appropriately scribbling behind their locked door (I have the key); it seems likely that there will be yet another SOS posting before the weekend's over.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Politcal Energy Policy

Both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions are over now. (Can I get a Hallelujah from the congregation?)  There were a number of things about them that I will undoubtedly talk about as time goes on, but one that stuck in my mind almost immediately had to do with the concept of Energy.  And not the kind that comes from fossils fuels, nuclear power plants, solar arrays, and wind turbines; though they'll be touched on in a roundabout way.

That after all, is what political conventions are really all about, isn't it?  The primary process in most cases picks the candidates before the conventions begin, and gathering the party faithful is designed to generate a little attention and excitement around those chosen party representatives. While the number of delegates for each state is predetermined by each party (Democrats choose more of their own than Republicans), the methods of choosing those delegates is largely left up to the states.  Without getting too far inside baseball here, I don't think that I'd get much argument by stating that those who make the final cut are those who've shown the most energy in working for the party in general and the candidates nominated in particular. (The Ron Paul campaign, almost managed to change a part of that, but its subversion was itself subverted after all arrived in Tampa.)  

The job of those delegates is to take the energy they possess down to the Convention, exhibit it in what is sometimes seen as an almost religious frenzy, and create even more by doing so.  They're then to bring that energy back to their respective states, share it with others of the faithful who were not permitted to attend, and use it to propel their candidate to final victory in the November elections.  While it's a process that's been used successfully for many years in this country, its very reason for being (Energy), may now be its downfall.

We live in a different world these days after all.  One in which we are all striving to be more conscious of our responsibilities to each other and to the planet we live on, more accepting of the diversity inherent in the human condition, and less concerned with the often competitive nature of everyday existence ....  (Sorry, a bit of an earlier meal attempted to come back on me after writing that last bit.)  One therefore has to wonder about the energy expended in a process that is about little more than a competitive spirit that we seem to have long since foresworn.

Cities compete (rather than simply participate) to host these political conventions.  Political parties compete to have bigger, flashier, and grander events than their counterparts.  Speakers compete for greater numbers of applause pauses, soundbites, and good reviews; while simultaneously competing to see who can generate the most energy in the faithful.  (I've heard that there's a side bet going on as to the volume of natural fertilize being generated, but no one will confess to it.)  If an actual floor fight is involved to get to a nomination, even more in the way of energy is expended in choosing between candidates who must be largely the same anyway in order to have reached this stage of the process.  Parties themselves compete for the bigger polling bump that their candidate can get from the convention process.  All of this energy generated and expended however, is nothing compared to the energy that these events consumed.

While both parties eventually get around to talking about their respective energy production policies in these club meetings, neither seems to get around to talking about the energy consumed by holding them in the first place.  We never hear about the carbon footprint of delegates flying into the host cities (let alone that of the corporate jets used by politicians, corporate sponsors, and lobbyists also attending).  We don't hear about what's consumed in convention halls, hotels, restaurants, and bars as party faithful, parasitic pundits and policy influencers (lobbyists), and power seekers burn the midnight oil and both ends of the candle during these events.  Neither does either party castigate the hundreds of mainstream media outlets, each of whom insists on bringing their own power-sucking cameras, generator requiring control trailers, and ponderous staffs to the event instead of following a more efficient policy of sharing and cooperation that often try to force down our throats where everything else in life is concerned.

No one talks about reducing the carbon dioxide expended (even though the EPA would like to limit it everywhere else) nor the hot air contributing to Global Warming that's generated each day on the convention floor. As each party's party closes in the traditional manner, do they stop to consider that in the thousands non bio-degradable balloons that they drop? Will any stop to ponder the environmental impact on landfills that so many rubber-chicken dinners will have, especially after they're piled on the Mt Everest size mound of discarded Starbucks coffee cups and plastic cocktail stirring sticks.  

Neither does any of this touch on the energy expended in vitriol by each major party for the other.  In spite of being largely and surprisingly in agreement on a wide variety of issues, they choose instead to focus 'negative' energy on those subjects on which they in some minor way disagree.  Using veiled threats, horrible misrepresentations, complete mischaracterizations, and shameful character assassinations they castigate each other in ways that would be considered rude and boorish under any other circumstances; while simultaneously extolling the desire for a future spirit of cooperation and compromise.

I cannot help but conclude therefore that while both may have some form of national energy policy, neither of the two major political parties appears to have a 'Political Energy Policy'.  Either that, or neither has one that's logically consistent with publicly stated goals and behavior of their members.  Not only do they appear to be extravagant and wasteful in the use of energy for their own selfish purposes (One which, by the way, is funded in some part by money earned through the expending of energy on the part of taxpayers.), but they seem hypocritical and deceitful in doing so in what should be considered an indecorous effort and an ill-mannered fashion. One could go further to say that such events are indecorous for promoting a spirit of competition that they are trying to stifle in every other aspect of our lives.  One could go so far as to call them politically incorrect for expending so much of what they constantly tell us are precious energy resources that must be carefully conserved in such partisan political events. 

In the spirit of full disclosure, I am obligated to point out that both parties do deserve some conservation credit for recycling candidates from past elections.


Thursday, September 6, 2012

TFP Column: Wait Until Next Year

I don't often get to talk about my beloved Cubbies when writing for the TFP.  So you can imagine my disappointment when I only allow myself to bring them up when they are 30 games out of first in their division with no chance to break their World Series drought (the only drought I can think of that's worse than that here in KC).  Then again, Cubs fans have been looking at disappointing seasons (and getting far too used to them) for over 100 years with a yearning in their hearts for what might have been, and what might still one day come to pass.

It was with this point of view in mind that I found myself writing of what I saw in the aftermath of the Republican Convention.  It seemed to me that just like in 2008, members of the GOP were more excited about the running mates picked and the up-and-comers giving speeches during the convention than they were about the candidate they chose for the highest office in the land.  You may not agree with me (in fact you may violently disagree with me), but it certainly seems like Republicans are to some extent, already looking at their November prospects and telling themselves "Wait Until Next Time".  

One thing you're going to have a lot more difficulty not agreeing with me on however, is that if you want to know what's going on in Toledo and Northwest Ohio, the only real way to find out is to read Toledo's largest Sunday circulation and for the fourth time its Best Weekly Newspaper, the Toledo Free Press.


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Feeling Unconventional

The Republican Convention in Tampa has been over for a few days now and the Democratic Convention is getting ready to begin its first prime time evening as I write this. I watched only a few of the speeches from the ponderous elephantine event last week that I thought would be worthwhile (and one I'll talk about later), so it would be only fitting that I give the jackass pronouncements of this week from Charlotte much the same treatment.  

The marvels of modern technology were in fact created for things like political conventions.  It allows us to use the vast resources of the 24-hour news networks and Internet to surf past the natural fertilizer production, occasional poor writing, and sometimes even worse delivery of some of those trotted onto the national stage for their fifteen minutes; saving ourselves to watch only the Sportscenter version of scoring plays.  Except for the die-hard supporters, monomaniacal detractors, and political camp followers; there is little reason for the rest of us to know or care about in the minute-by-minute goings on at the convention.  After all, the candidates had locked up their respective nominations long before.  It's not like we're going to get a surprise ending.

Oh hell, let's just admit that political parties seem unable to recognize that these events are so boring that Network television thinks that shows about middle-aged women with too much reconstructive surgery and too little sense of shame or caricatures of human beings buying somebody's left over crap out of a storage locker are more likely to garner viewers than the selection process of the national leader. (Sadly, they're right.)  

The organizers of these events have apparently failed to keep up with the tastes of their more technically advanced audience, in spite of their condescension to this 'New America' by showing 'tweets' and talking about blogging (while carefully holding back the elitist gagging).  Where's the Red Carpet?  Where are the vacuous, but pleasant looking interviewers asking the most attractive of the delegates from which designer they got that lovely 'Uncle Sam' stovepipe hat?  And if we have to put up with the 50 state drone of the roll call vote, why can't we have the delegates from each state illustrating what their state is famous for with musical numbers performed by the cast of 'Glee' instead of attempting us to tell us in stentorian tones that they are 'the pickle state'?

And speaking of delegates, did anyone tell the Republicans that they got cheated on the size of their gathering?  Only 2,286 of them got to pick their party's winner (or loser).  The Democrats meanwhile, are going to let 5,556 vote in an election where the incumbent is running unopposed.   Does this mean that Republicans tried to reduce the budget of their convention by comparison or should this be considered a 'draconion cut' in representation?  As for Democrats, does having more than twice as many delegates make them more Democratic, or does it simply mean that their convention will have a bigger carbon footprint?  On balance however, you have to hand it to Democrats for being on point by demonstrating to the nation that letting greater numbers vote is a good thing, and inconsistent by making attendees show a picture ID (something they continue to fight for the November process) before doing so.    

As far as the soaring rhetoric that was and will be delivered in these two weeks, I still think Sam Seaborn and Toby Ziegler wrote better for "The West Wing".  I'm sure however, that those in Charlotte will perform their parts equally as well as their predecessors in Tampa.  Carefully scripted with 'applause pauses' (some of which will be missed) there will be touching stories, fire and brimstone threats, and inspirational moments enough to energize the already faithful to wave their pre-printed signs and chant what are probably well-rehearsed catchphrases (just as the camera cuts away from the speaker on stage to the party faithful).  Test audience reactions will then be carefully weighed by backstage media consultants to decide which ones will be re-used in campaign speeches in the weeks ahead.

And there will be the occasional slip.  Now don't get me wrong here because I have nothing but the greatest respect for Clint Eastwood as a writer, director, actor, and musician.  I likewise believe that the act of going on that stage with a chair as a last minute prop and without a script may have shown more courage than his Dirty Harry character ever showed in film.  I even believe he made a couple of points that needed to be made.  I also believe that Clint Eastwood the director, as a renowned artist behind the camera famous for delivering consummate visual perfection of image and dialogue can only look back at the occasionally rambling performance that he gave and want to yell, "Cut!  OK, let's reset, take it from the top, and shoot another take".   

That too however, is the nature of a political convention.  These are live shows after all, except for the visual images carefully displayed behind the speakers; images to inspire feelings of patriotism, fidelity, and reverence.  Oh yeah, and let's not forget the combination of music, equally carefully chosen so that young voters know that the party is 'hip' (Do they still use that word?); but not so hip that middle-aged and senior voters feel that they've lost touch.

No, the truth of the matter is that political conventions have become little more than poorly directed awards ceremonies.  The political faithful gather in a 'fun town' for a gathering where they can set aside complaints that there's too much money in politics long enough for them to be properly and lavishly entertained.  Each party's delegates can gather together with like-minded people to sympathize with each other about how little the other party's 'stinking, lousy, rat bastards' care about toning down the vitriol and personal attacks in political campaigns; a situation that can only fixed if their candidate kicks the shit of his P.O.S. opponent and their party takes control and shuts up their opposing opinions once and for all.  

Might I dare to suggest that if this is the way the parties are going to conduct their business in the future however, that they might want to seek out proven 'hosts' to keep things up tempo and on track, get the TV ratings back where they belong, and garner more coverage for their respective parties.  For apparently like me, most of the nation appears to be feeling decidedly unconventional.

(I'm thinking Billy Crystal's proven track record would serve the Democrats well, and Dennis Miller could well provide the answer for the Republicans.  If we have to be inspired for 2-3 evenings, the least the parties could do is give us an occasional laugh to blunt the pain.)