Tuesday, September 30, 2008

VOTING BY THE BOOK: Treeing the Cat

(NOTE: The site has new colors, yet is still the same site to make rude comments about in spare moments. This is called marketing: Change the look and recycle the content so readers in search of the new will log on, and punch in their credit card numbers to buy whatever you are selling. In this way, the economy can grow in the most trying of times. Smart marketers deposit their money in offshore accounts. Domestic banks are not to be trusted, especially those owned by Republicans.)

Many letters have come to THE DOG with the question, “What is an argument?” The most forceful of the queries was written in green crayon on the back of racy postcard from Rio de Janeiro, possibly the work of Mr. Detroit, whose deft comments have been missing from this site. The argument is a literary form whose roots go back to Ancient Greece. Aristotle defined the argument as consisting of three parts: thesis, antithesis, and synthesis. Thesis states the premise, like “red meat is bad for you,” and proves it. Antithesis gathers facts to disprove the thesis, like “red meat has loads of protein and is good for you.” Synthesis weighs the thesis and antithesis, and arrives at a conclusion that proves and disproves both factions, like “eat more fish.” The following illustrates how the contemporary argument is shaped.


Recent brain donor and Alaska governor Sarah Palin has ascended to Republican vice presidential nominee, and promises to bolster a McCain presidency with her own bizarre politics. Questioned about her knowledge of the international scene, Palin replied, “As Putin rears his head and comes into the air space of the United States of America, where do they go? It’s Alaska.” Come on, Sarah. The Russians know about the summer black fly infestation. Besides, they’re not even commies any more.

She began her political life screeching at local Parent Teacher Association meetings and running for mayor of Wasilla, Alaska on a platform that played up her church work, railed against abortion, and said nice things about the National Rifle Association. While mayor, she mentioned her deranged desire to ban books she believed to be morally objectionable. Palin hung in for two terms as mayor before she went on to become Alaska’s governor and demand polar bears be taken off the endangered species list. This is who we want in a Vice President, a candidate whose gender has been recalled by the National Organization of Women?

Let’s take a more reasoned look at concerned citizen and parent Sarah Palin.

While the boss of Wasilla, Palin cut property taxes, improved roads and sewers, and hired more police. The town doubled its population from 5000 to 10,000 under her stewardship, and attracted Target and other box stores. The once messy homesteaded farmland of Wasilla was tidied into a suburb, where the residents enjoy food from cans and vacuum-sealed pouches instead of raised in dirt. Palin loves progress.

She was a mayor that knew the power of the written word. Palin asked the town librarian, Mary Ellen Emmons (now Baker), about banning books from the public library. Emmons promised “to resist all efforts at censorship” if this happened and was fired. Local residents made a big fuss until Emmons was reinstated. Palin protects readers from books that aren’t right.

As the mother of five, Palin has gone out of her way to protect all children. She wants creationism taught in schools alongside evolution so they can make a choice on what to believe. Sex education is another area of concern for Palin. Where children are encouraged to make adult decisions about how the heck humans got here, she supports sex education that only teaches abstinence. This has proven most effective in her family, where 17-year-old daughter Bristol is expecting her first child. Palin puts children first above rational thought.

Since the days of Richard Nixon, the America’s highest office has changed to an imperial presidency, and does whatever it wants without the agreement of Congress and the Senate except when they get snotty and the President has to pay some attention. The two-term reign of George W. Bush has increased the sovereignty to include the Vice President. Richard Cheney has modified the office to include the right to shoot your friends without criminal charges, or make them rich with by privatizing the war in Iraq.

Many people have come forth since Sarah Palin’s nomination. Deepak Chopra has written: “Palin reinforces the overall message of the reactionary right, which has been in play since 1980, that social justice is liberal-radical, that minorities and immigrants, being different from “us” pure American types, can be ignored, that progressivism takes too much effort and globalism is a foreign threat.” Eve Ensler, author of THE VAGINA MONOLOGUES, states: “I believe that the McCain/Palin ticket is one of the most dangerous choices of my lifetime, and should this country choose those candidates the fall-out may be so great, the destruction so vast in so many areas, that America may never recover.”

We have come a long way since President Lyndon Johnson referred to Vice President Hubert Humphrey as, “Hubert who?” This November, make a responsible decision in the polling booth. Your vote may be counted this time, unless you live in Florida or Ohio. Take along the words of Brendan Behan: “I have a total irreverence for anything connected with society except that which makes the roads safer, the beer stronger, the food cheaper, and the old men and old women warmer in the winter and happier in the summer.” Better still, instead of voting against, vote for someone other than yourself. Vote for the doomed and the damned, the dispossessed and the huddled masses we are supposed to care about. Vote for everyone.


GRAMMAR GIRL is a Web site hosted by Mignon Fogarty, and deals with the everyday problems of putting thoughts into words. Mignon has told Oprah about split infinitives and appeared in THE NEW YORK TIMES, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, and USA TODAY. I’m a semi-regular guest writer for her podcast and since she touts my book, I tout hers, the NYT bestseller is GRAMMAR GIRL’S QUICK AND DIRTY TIPS FOR BETTER WRITING (NY: Henry Holt, $14.00). Check out GRAMMAR GIRL here:


NEXT: Trimming the Claws

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