Friday, April 16, 2010

Why Acronyms Aren't Always a Good Idea in Politics

Acronyms are a common fixture in politics. For example, many people have likely heard the term RINO for Republican In Name Only. However, acronyms can easily backfire on a campaign, especially when the opponent's campaign is filled with clever wisecrackers.

Carly Fiorina's Sentate campaign attempted to brand her opponent Tom Campbell, who is a well-established, fiscal conservative, as a FCINO via her campaign's bizarre Demon Sheep advertisement. What does FCINO mean? According to the Fiorina campaign, it means Fiscal Conservative In Name Only. The Campbell campaign cleverly shot back with Fact Checking Is Not Optional.

Likewise, President Obama's Organizing for America is selling T-shirts proudly proclaiming that "Health Reform is a BFD." What does BFD mean in this context? Exactly what you think. It's a polite version of Vice-President Biden's candid and quiet comment to President Obama, caught on an open microphone. I saw an alternate version of the shirt, slightly modified, that proclaimed instead that "Health Reform is a BFD, Big Financial Disaster." Question: Does anybody know who sells these?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A Hidden Gem: Even Authors Get It!

With Tax Day rapidly approaching, I thought I would share a little gem discovered while reading Steve Martini's political thriller, Shadow of Power, embedded on pages 126 and 127.

As dreaded April 15th engulfs me, I have just finished another frustratingly-confusing 80-plus-page love letter to my favorite uncle, Uncle Sam, who seems in constant need of ever more money. My accountant assures me that all is correct, but how am I to know for sure?

I thought about highlighting the particularly good or entertaining sections of this gem but then realized that I would end up highlighting most of it anyway.

"Only the insane of the eighteenth century could foresee that a bleak two lines added to the Constitution a century after its creation, authorizing the collection of a federal income tax, could result in a seventy-year rampage by government to mentally rape its own citizens with millions of pages of totally unintelligible tax laws, rules, regulations, and forms.

"Today we have special federal tax courts because the law is so convoluted that ordinary federal judges are presumed too ignorant and unschooled to understand the complexi­ties of laws and forms that every citizen down to the village janitor is required to understand, to obey, and to sign under penalty of perjury and threat of imprisonment.

"Nor could it be possible in the Age of Reason to foresee a Social Security system that if run by a private business would result in their arrest, prosecution, and conviction for operating a Ponzi scheme. In the real world, taking invested funds in the form of Social Security taxes, paying current claims, and skimming the rest for other purposes is called embezzlement. When government does it, it is simply called politics. In either case the arithmetic is always the same. When the scheme goes belly-up, its operators, if they're smart, will be in Brazil, or, in the case of Congress, retired, which is the political equivalent of being in Brazil.

"With all of this, the people in what is touted as the great­est democracy on the planet have no effective recourse. They cannot act directly to fix any of the obvious open sores or seeping wounds in their own government, because the founders didn't trust them with the only effective medicine, the power to amend their own Constitution. That is reserved the power to a serpent its creators never saw.

"Short of revolution, something Jefferson urged take place at least every twenty years, the average citizen is left to pound sand by casting a largely empty vote to replace the devil-in-office with the devil-in-waiting and hope that the caustic nature of power to corrupt can somehow be neutralized.

"Praying for the devil to grow a halo, we all plod on, one foot in front of the other, trusting that somehow we will not follow the Soviet Union over the national cliff."