Sunday, September 28, 2008

An '-ism' by Any Other Name

I learned a valuable lesson this past weekend about the sensitivity some have for certain words.

Now, as an English teacher and a writer of several different genres, I pride myself on recognizing words which are emotionally charged. One must know the tools of one's trade, as it were, though writing editorials is most certainly more an avocation than profession for me.

After hearing the First Big 'Debate' of this never-ending election season, I chose to respond by pointing out an error by McCain in the exchange of sound bites; an error that clearly illustrated that McCain is out of touch.

(The article The First Big 'Debate' of '08 can be read here at Lexis, Nexus, Solar Plexus.)

I had also submitted the piece to It will most likely not be posted at that site because, even though I was 'strongly advised' not to use a certain word, I went ahead and submitted the article to the editors at OpEdNews with the questionable word unexpunged.

Subsequently, I got a notice from OpEdNews that, unlike the other 22 articles I've posted at that most excellent of sites, ‘The Big ‘Debate’ of ‘08’ was not acceptable; it did not meet their standards. The email rejection letter included some boilerplate blather about suggested guide-lines for editing, grammar, collocation, etc; a softly worded chastisement.

Okay, cool, I sometimes miss things. Nobody’s perfect.

It was the 'PS - NOTE' added above the signature of my rejection email, however, that zeroed in on what I must consider the actual stumbling block for my piece being accepted. It was not poor grammar or fractured syntax or serious failings in style that barred my article from the cyber-soapbox (although, this scribbler has been guilty of the aforementioned infractions). It was the use of that certain objectionable, inflammatory term which I dare not state here, my wrist having been ever-so-gently slapped by my anonymous editor at OpEdNews.

(I can give you a hint though, I suppose, as I imagine you are dying to know what word in this post-Carlin (RIP), gangsta-rap world might induce an editor to reach for the ‘reject’ stamp. It’s a seven-letter word that begins with the terminal letter of the English alphabet, includes the letters, I, O and N and ends in the suffix denoting a system of belief, government, organization, philosophy, etc; 'I-S-M', -ism.)

You can imagine my chagrin. I had been warned before I completed the submission process that the word was offensive and might lead to the rejection of the article. I felt the word was properly used and, in context, did not constitute ‘hate’ speech, so I naively ignored the caveat.

The thoughtful post-script that nudged me back onto the high road of Political Correctness was accompanied by a bit of friendly advice suggesting that perhaps I didn't quite understand the words or the concepts I was attempting to use.

I must commend the effort on the part of the anonymous, hard-working editor to steer me back to the straight and narrow. I must make my commendation and declare my appreciation for his/her taking the time for the sake of good independent journalism here at this blog because the signature of the rejection email advised that it was unmonitored. Any response in defense of my use of an apparently indefensible word would not be received or read by anyone at OpEdNews.

So, here goes…

Dear Anonymous OpEdNews Editor,

My deepest appreciation and very special thanks goes to you, my guardian PC angel.

Kiss-kiss, hug, hug! Good things…

PS NOTE: I would like to say that I do truly consider supportable the notion that a nation and a theory of political governance are two separate concepts and therefore contend that both concepts cannot be encompassed by a single lexical item. The map is not the territory, so to speak.

Friday, September 26, 2008

The First Big 'Debate' of '08

For the record, I am not a supporter of Senator Obama. The alternative offered by the Republican wing of the Business Party, McCain and Palin is, however, as pathetic mentally as it is disturbing morally.

Just heard part of the 'Big Debate' between Obama and McCain - little more than a parlour game with a moderator, not a debate at all but that’s the game.

McCain made a gaffe that some might have picked up on re: the opinion of his advisor, Henry 'I'm-not-dead-yet' Kissinger about meeting with Iran.

McCain vehemently refuted Senator Obama's claim that Henry K favored high-level discussions with Iran without setting preconditions. McCain then reflexively bellowed about Iran's vow to destroy Israel, asserting that any high-level meetings without preconditions would serve to legitimize Iran's bellicose anti-Zionist ravings.

Obama was correct, however. Kissinger stated the night before in a panel interview on CNN with other former Secretaries of State that he would recommend the next US president arrange a series of meetings starting with the Secretary of State without pre-conditions.

For McCain to use the vivid specter of the Holocaust as the prime rationale for continuing the failed policies of undiplomatic belligerence toward Iran is one thing. (Politically expedient. Plays well to AIPAC.)

To openly bluster that Kissinger, his own revered advisor, never said the very things he stated clearly the evening before on CNN points out two things, both distressing.

First, McCain’s out of touch on this most important foreign policy issue with one of his own most respected and experienced advisors. To disagree with his advisors is one thing; to rail on that Kissinger never said what he said and use McCain’s decades-long personal relationship with Henry as his supporting argument to refute the veracity of Obama’s claim is ludicrous. (It’s no wonder real debates aren’t presented. It’s also no wonder that McCain tried to opt out of having this little tete-a-tete; in a battle of wits, he’s an unarmed man.)

Second, McCain (and his campaign staff) are apparently so out of touch with current affairs that McCain would enter the most widely touted ‘debate’ of the campaign without an awareness of important public statements on US policy by his own advisor, Henry Kissinger, on a widely seen CNN special on the presidential election with focus on the very 'debate' for which McCain was presumably preparing.

There’s little wonder in light of this gaffe why McCain would prefer not meeting with Iran or other leaders ‘unfriendly’ to the US. He’d get blown out of the water for simple lack of preparation (if not intellect) and then blow a gasket in the resulting temper tantrum.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Bush explains ‘Free Enterprise’

Bush bails out more of his buddies; McCain still thinks banking deregulation is just peachy and Paulson could give a good-god-damn about the US taxpayer.

Bush explains ‘Free Enterprise’

Simply put: it’s not ‘Free’ – not for the taxpayers, anyway.

President Bush: “Our system of free enterprise rests on the conviction that the federal government should interfere in the marketplace only when necessary. Given the precarious state of today’s financial markets and their vital importance to the daily lives of the American people, government intervention is not only warranted, it is essential.”

Essential to maintaining the position of the unscrupulous wastrels, socio-pathic mega-gamblers, and the morally bankrupt business elite, that is.

John McCain weighed in, as well. The Straight-talking Senator was asked by Scott Pelley of ‘60 Minutes’ if he still defended his support of deregulating the financial industry in light of the fiasco on Wall Street.

Scott Pelley: “In 1999, you were one of the senators who helped pass deregulation of Wall Street. Do you regret that now?”

Sen. McCain: “No. I think the deregulation was probably helpful to the growth of our economy.”

It should be remembered that McCain’s former advisor on economic affairs, Phil Gramm, was one of the principal conspirators in pushing through legislation de-regulating the banking industry.

Meanwhile, on the Hill, Treasury Secretary, Henry Paulson feels that American taxpayers who are caught in the credit squeeze created by the mis-management of investment bankers are not entitled to bail-outs or assistance.

Henry Paulson: “The ultimate taxpayer protection will be the stability this troubled asset relief program provides to our financial system, even as it will involve a significant investment of taxpayer dollars. I am convinced that this bold approach will cost American families far less than the alternative—a continuing series of financial institution failures and frozen credit markets unable to fund economic expansion.”

How Mr Paulson has been able to foretell the future with sufficient accuracy to determine ‘the alternative’ to the American people shelling out an estimated $1,000,000,000,000 (one trillion) to rescue failed businesses when he presumably could not foresee the current financial debacle remains unanswered. Mr Paulson did not elaborate upon whether or not other less extreme, less ‘bold approach(es)’ had been considered.

It is evident that President Bush and his administration are confident of the largesse of the American taxpayer to rescue even foreign banks from the financial calamity brought on by deregulation and the ‘Free Market’. Over the weekend, the size of the proposed bailout grew as the Bush administration said foreign banks, including Barclays and UBS, should be eligible for the bailout. The Financial Times reports some industry groups are lobbying for the fund to grow even larger by including a clause that would allow banks to account for any losses realized over a number of years.

Secretary Paulson is convinced that the American people will be less burdened by this $1,000,000,000,000 (one trillion) bail-out than by any attempt by the Fed or the Treasury to assist those millions of home-owners facing fore-closure, homelessness and destitution. Mr Paulson did not expound upon this irrationality.

His worry is ‘economic expansion’, and those folks in foreclosure as a result of predatory sub-prime loan programs simply cannot be expected to be a viable part of the anticipated ‘economic expansion’. Now, that’s what some wags might call ‘compassionate conservatism’.