Democracy! How the devil have you lived so long?

“I’ll never vote for anyone named ‘Twinkle,’” wife Charlotte announced suddenly, as we perused our ballots in the voting booth on a sunny election Tuesday. “She can’t be serious.”

Char could only be referring to Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh, one of three candidates for the presidency of the Alabama Public Service Commission, protector of our electricity, gas and water rates. Since it was a primary election the competitive trio were all Republicans; two were men.

Twinkle the candidate

Twinkle the candidate

I felt called upon to adopt my best political-science-father-superior persona and assure Char that Twinkle was indeed serious. She had already scaled the Mount Olympus of Alabama politics, chairmanship of the state Republican Party. Upon expiration of that term of office, Twinkle was taken under the wing of no less than GOP Gov. Bob Riley, who made her a senior advisor in charge of furthering free enterprise and the American Way. Now Riley was unleashing her on the stodgy drones of the PSC, who dwelled in their den chanting the incantations of amperes, volts, joules, megawatts, and “no rate hikes!”

“Politicians set great store by their names on a ballot,” I told Char. They struggle for every gimmick to make those names stand out. As practical politicos they know many persons enter the voting booth without the faintest idea of who they will vote for, or even which candidate is running for what post.  Rather than confess their ignorance, they will latch on to the most attractive name in each race.

Clod hassles Aristides

Clod hassles Aristides

How could it be otherwise? It would take a genius or a professional pol to keep track of the maze of judgeships, county coroners, state representatives and constitutional amendments which benumb the average voter every election day.  I once knew a member of the Mississippi Public Service Commission named ‘Norman A. Johnson Jr.’ who vowed to always have the longest name on the ballot. If he ran into an opponent with a longer handle, Norman would spell out his own middle name. If that didn’t do it, he would turn ‘Jr.’ into ‘Junior.’ Though ‘Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh’ sounds like the reincarnation of an Irish fairy, I reckon she will do well,” was my summation. And so it came to pass. I voted for Twinkle, and smacked my lips in satisfaction when learning next day she had got 48 percent of the vote, enough to put her in a runoff with one of the male candidates. Continue reading


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Our Meek Will Inherit the Earth? You’re Kidding! The Dumb Rule

My friend Gregg the security guard is a strange individual as I discovered today when I visited him and noted him pounding his head against the wall while crying out “Drop! Drop! Drop!” with each bump, bump, bump.

Testing a new headache remedy no doubt, I observed while waiting for an explanation.

Pensive new secretary of state

Pensive new secretary of state

“Nothing that simple,” he said, taking a momentary respite from his labor.  “Even though I’m just a dumb old security guard, I’m much too smart for my own good.  If I were just a little dumber I could be rich and famous.  But I’m not, and if I keep bashing my brain maybe my IQ will drop.”

That is a novel way of looking at it, I admitted, but very hard on the face.  Perhaps there are easier ways like watching a little more television or reading the New York Times’ editorial pages.

“I have tried the TV crapola,” he said.  “but it’s much too slow, and  I have to speed up  things considerably if I want to become our next secretary of state.  I have watched that government job for years and it is plain that nobody is going to become secretary of state unless he or she is as dumb as a brick wall.

“Now take our current secretary, Hillary Clinton, who has the absolute best credentials for the job.  Recall that when her husband was elected president he told her to overhaul the nation’s Health Care System.  She

Hillary in taut moment

Hillary in taut moment

produced an absolute fop; never even came up for a vote.  And Bill was hardly out of office for a year when the news media began pumping her up for president. That fizzled when Barrack Obama won the nomination and shuffled her off to the state department.

“Now she’s leaving office after having helped create another calamity. That was the Benghazi attack which got our ambassador to Libya and several of his guards killed.  Hillary and some of her striped pants cohorts seem to think the whole thing was just a Libyan prank which backfired –no terrorism, just naughty fun.  As an added joke they stated flatly the attack was ignited by an anti-Islam video taken by some jerk nobody ever heard of.  Republicans called her up before Congress to testify about the big mess; all they got was a bunch of BS bureaucratic double talk along with some crying and giggling.

“She’s not even out of office yet and already the media is grooming her for a presidential race in 2016.  She’s being replaced by John Kerry, of Vietnam swift boat fame, a guy with the face and voice of an undertaker.  He’s a loser whose main claim is marrying into the ketchup fortune.  I’m not sure he even knows a foreigner much less how Iraq became a nation after World War I.  No, I’ve got the message –the dumber you are the better chance you have to become secretary of state.  I hope to take that job at a cost of about 200,000 bumps on the head.” Continue reading

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Birmingham News implodes, eases into cyberspace

The Birmingham News’ recently constructed and expensive building.

It’s always a messy business watching a large newspaper die.  And this week of June 16, 2011 we saw The Birmingham (Alabama) News scuttle itself, roll over, and began to fold itself into the Internet.

The paper announced that it would cease publication in October except for three days a week.  The rest of news publication would be transferred to The News’ internet version.  One suspects its operation later will segue into total electronic publication.

It wasn’t a surprise to many of us out in journalism land.  Like many American newspapers, The News for decades had been losing circulation and advertising revenue.  The reasons are primarily economic made worse by the four-year recession-depression that has racked the nation. Continue reading

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Sex-abuser moves close by and ‘Lady Godiva’ rides once more

Lady Godiva: Was she another sex-abuser?

There it was in the morning mail, a bulletin from the Birmingham, Alabama, Police Department informing me that a sex criminal had moved into my neighborhood.

What a way to meet the day!  This Sex Offender Notification spotlighted one James Melvin Herring Jr., convicted in 2001 of first degree sexual abuse. He has taken up residence at 8313 on Vassar Avenue in East Lake.  He is described as age 56, sex male, African-American, height five-feet nine inches tall, weighing 165 pounds, hair black, eyes brown, and scar on left cheek.  Now you know as much about him as I do.

Immediately I began looking up and down Vassar Avenue to ascertain if this potential threat to childhood was moving about in public.  Needless to say I failed to spot him.  Sex offenders are notoriously difficult to pinpoint by looks alone.  I watched his house for a while but it was wasted effort.  No one seemed to be coming or going.

Just how vicious a criminal was now living within eyeshot of my house? Quick research revealed the law’s definition:

A person commits the crime of sexual abuse in the first degree if:

  1. a.   He subjects another person to sexual contact by forcible compulsion; or
  2. b.   He subjects another person to sexual contact who is incapable of consent by reason of being physically helpless or mentally incapacitated; or
  3. c.    He, being 16 years old or older, subjects another person to sexual contact who is less than 12 years old.

Sexual abuse in the first degree is a Class C felony.

Continue reading

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Comic Carlin blasted babblers to rescue English language

It is a blooming miracle that the English language has lasted as long as it has, if you consider the number of axe-wielders who had been out to change it over the centuries. Nowadays we have a special class of

Carlin rough on broadcasters

individuals, radio and television commentators, dedicated to that special task, murdering English.

Deceased comedian George Carlin took these people to task during his lifetime for their butchering of the common tongue.  Most persons consider Carlin only a sassy, social-critic comedian who used a lot of dirty words in his act.  But he was also something of a language scholar. In his book Braindroppings  Carlin gave the broadcast industry a bite on the ear for its many linguistic atrocities.  Among their other mistakes he assured them that:

  • A light-year is a measure of distance not time.
  • An acronym is not just any set of initials.  It applies only to those that are pronounced as words.  MADD, DARE, NATO, and UNICEF are acronyms.  FBI, CIA, and KGB are not.
  • Irony is “a state of affairs that is the reverse of what was expected; a result opposite to and in mockery of the appropriate result.” If a diabetic on his way to buy insulin is killed by a runaway truck, he is the victim of an accident.  If the truck was delivering sugar, he is the victim of an oddly poetic coincidence.  But if the truck was delivering insulin, ah!  Then he is the victim of an irony. Continue reading

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Government tax scam works since days of ancient Rome

Tacitus, the gabby Roman historian of 1 A.D., reported a new scam making the rounds in ancient commercial circles:

Gaius Cornelius Tacitus

A tax of four per cent on the sale of slaves was remitted, an apparent rather than a real boon, for as the seller was ordered to pay it, purchasers found it was added as part of the price.

I have a clue for Tacitus, who was probably the world’s first newspaper columnist, judging by the volume of imperial dirt he uncovered and publicized. This tax racket probably had been around since governments first learned to squeeze wealth from working stiffs. Smarter stiffs found a way to make the dumber stiffs do the paying.

And it is still going today, as exemplified by the “make them pay their fair share” philosophy of the Democrat Party. The “them” to whom our proto-socialists refer are mostly corporations, because they are the entities with the most money. As each new tax is levied, manufacturers and distributors simply jack up their prices and John Public does the actual paying.  Politicians love this process because they escape the lethal political onus of having voted for a hated general tax. Continue reading

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Caustic newsman Pegler vanished, couldn’t stop stepping on big toes

Who’s who In 1941 Time magazine polled its readers for candidates for its Man of the Year award. Readers responded: 1. President Franklin Roosevelt, 2. Josef Stalin, 3. columnist Westbrook Pegler.

Westbrook who? Although Pegler had dominated the newspaper columnist business for more than a decade, won a Pulitzer Prize, was the talk of journalism, and became the star of both the Scripps-Howard and Hearst chains, he is today largely unknown.  He was converted into non-celebritywestbrook-pegler status because the affronted nabobs of newsdom and academia have ignored him for decades except for a few disparaging remarks whenever his name came up in print.  He had tread upon too many aching progressive toes to be forgiven. Truth be told, Pegler clomped on nearly everyone’s toes. His hard-bitten philosophy divided humanity into two classes, those in authority and the little people. The big shots were his natural prey. Among the hugest of the VIPs was the family of President Franklin D. Roosevelt and the nation’s labor unions, rapidly burgeoning under the New Deal administration and many riddled with corruption.  Both Pegler targets were the most revered icons of American liberals whose wounded response was, “How can he do this to us?”

They well may ask, because Westbrook was a registered Democrat and one of Roosevelt’s most enthusiastic early supporters.  Unfortunately for the president, Pegler was one of those absolutely honest people who could not abide flaws in persons or institutions he admired.  Regardless of the person’s contributions to the nation, any hint that he had feet of clay, itchy palms, corruption, or a lack of basic humanity brought down the Pegler wrath.

Antics of the Roosevelt tribe soon disenchanted the columnist. Mother Eleanor seemed to be striving for public acclaim and glory while the kids appeared to be trading on the family name for earthly riches. As for papa Roosevelt, Pegler accused him of overruling his military experts to award $40 million in contracts to industrialist Howard Hughes for two aircraft, the F-11 and the HK-1 (popularly named the Spruce Goose, which flew only once). Continue reading

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