Michael P. Ackley has worked more than three decades as a journalist, the majority of that time at the Sacramento Union. His experience includes reporting, editing and writing commentary. He retired from teaching journalism for California State University at Hayward.More ↓Less ↑
Editor’s note: Michael Ackley’s columns may include satire and parody based on current events, and thus mix fact with fiction. He assumes informed readers will be able to tell the difference.
U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., is out with the “Wastebook,” subtitled, “A Guide to Some of the Most Wasteful and Low Priority Government Spending of 2011.”
Oddly, the thing is only 95 pages long, which indicates the good senator from the Sooner State has been economical himself, picking just a few of the most egregious examples.
Perhaps you’d be surprised to learn, for example, that the $3 you so generously allocated on your tax return for the “Presidential Election Campaign Fund,” will go equally to the Democrats and Republicans for the rituals of their basically meaningless nominating conventions.
That’s $17.7 million each for party hats, balloons and confetti.
Will you be pleased to learn that our biggest creditor, China, receives $18 million in foreign aid?
How about our spending $20 million over five years to develop “SimSim Humara”? This is not a new prescription drug plan. It’s to be a Pakistan version of “Sesame Street.” We can just see “Ahmed the Grouch” popping out of a Waziristan garbage dump, AK-47 in hand.
Then there’s the $120 million shelled out annually in retirement and disability payments to dead former federal workers. To be fair, many of these appeared dead while they were on the job, but it seems unreasonable that the son of one such collected a half million bucks by cashing his deceased pop’s checks – for 37 years.
Give the feds some credit, though. They discovered the error when Sonny himself died.
You can find the “Wastebook” online, and will find it by turns hilarious and infuriating. Look up the “Oregon Cheese Trail.” It’s only costing us $50,000.
Sure, there was some cheating at the Olympic games, but there was some beautiful sportsmanship as well.
Consider 18-year-old British high diver Tom Daley, graciously and enthusiastically applauding as American David Baudia bumped him out of the gold-medal ranking.
Then there was 400-meter dash winner Kirani James, trading bib numbers with double amputee Oscar Pistorius.
James told the media, “My hat’s off to him, just coming out here and competing. I just see him as another athlete, another competitor. What’s more important is I see him as another person. He’s someone I admire and respect.”
Compare this kind of grace with the quality of competition in our presidential race. And do not accept the mealy mouthed assertion that blame for the negativity falls equally on both parties. Character assassination has been a staple of the Democratic Party since before Lyndon Johnson spread the rumor that an opponent had carnal knowledge of barnyard animals.
Johnson knew this wasn’t true, but bragged that he would make his rival deny it. Similarly, we have the Obama campaign calling Mitt Romney a tax evader, a felon and a killer, with the aim of making him deny the charges.
What the Dems didn’t anticipate was that Romney would come out swinging, with his characterization of the Obama campaign as one of anger and hate. Republicans haven’t battled back like this for decades, and the Democrats were rocked to the core.
By the time you read this the “civility president” likely will have asked for better sportsmanship, which may be translated as, “Let’s you take the high road,” or, as it says in the Blind Partisan’s Dictionary:
High road: modified noun – in contemporary politics, not responding to the low road q.v. E.G.:
Democrat: You have carnal knowledge of swine.
Republican: You’re a swine.
Democrat: I’m shocked that you aren’t taking the high road.
Republican: Been there, done that.
From the San Francisco Chronicle we learn it now is illegal in Italy to tell a man that he lacks basic sexual equipment.
The case arose when a gentleman so characterized an attorney – in open court – and was promptly sued for defamation. Said Italy’s high court, “Apart from the vulgarity of the term used, the expression definitely also has an injurious quality. It refers not only to the target’s lack of virility but also to his weakness of character, lack of determination, competence and coherence. …”