If you can read this, then it means the world has not ended and we are all still here. I’m referring to a column I wrote a couple of weeks ago describing what might happen when the CERN project (in Europe) gets cranked up on September 10th. If we’re lucky nothing will happen, but if they manage to recreate a black hole that swallows up the earth, then my column writing days are over.
So, where to start?
Having nothing better to discuss, I can always turn to politics, which seems to be on everyone’s mind and will certainly occupy our thoughts and lives for at least another couple of months. The country seems to be fairly evenly divided between the two major parties. It certainly will be interesting to see how all of this turns out and who might emerge as the ultimate winner. What we can expect to see in the coming weeks is a veritable avalanche of mud slinging.
The term originated as follows: MUDSLINGING - “wild, unsubstantiated charges; a word, like ’smear,’ used to turn an attack back on the attacker. ‘Calumniate! Calumniate!’ Some of it will always stick,’ advised Beaumarchais in ‘The Barber of Seville’ in 1775. This was based on ancient Latin advice, ‘Fortiter calumniari, aliquia adhaerebit,’ or ‘Throw plenty of dirt and some of it will be sure to stick.’ Sometime after the Civil War, ‘dirt throwing’ picked up some water to become ‘mud-throwing,’ mud-gunning’ and the word that gain pre-eminence, “mud-slinging.’ The New York Tribune of April 13, 1876, disagreed with the Latin dictum: ‘Mud doesn’t stick to Mr. Blaine any better than it does to Bristow. The slander peddlers are having a bad season.’.” “Safire’s New Political Dictionary” by William Safire (Random House, New York, 1993). Page 471.
In our modern society, we’re besieged with news from all points. The radio, newspapers, television, internet, cell phones are all clamoring for content to fill up their otherwise vacant spaces. This political season seems to be taking on the vestige of ‘publish first, verify later’. I’m surprised that one of the parties doesn’t accuse one of the other candidates of being an alien.
And I’m not talking about someone from a foreign country.
It seems as if new allegations about all four of the major players are being dished out to us on an hour by hour basis. No topic is sacred. Family and friends are fair game in the tough world of politics.
I ‘m reading a book on how politics started when this country was first founded. Little has changed since then. Aaron Burr will always be remembered for having killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel over something Hamilton said about Burr during one of the elections. Mud slinging in those days could be fatal. One had to be careful of the words they spoke.
Duels were quite common in those days and were required in order to restore and maintain one’s honor. If the same standard were in effect today, I suspect that not many people would live long enough to be elected to national office. However, in some cases this might well be a good thing.
No, today it seems that the wildest accusation and rumor are thrown out to us to either believe or disbelieve without any source of substantiation for us to review. One candidate can get away with comments having no basis on Monday and then issue a retraction on Tuesday saying that ‘someone in my staff misspoke’. Of course that ‘someone’ is never really identified or required to explain where they obtained their daily mud ration.
It’s somewhat tiring to sit through all of these and try to sort out what is real and what is unreal. What I’d like to see is a clear explanation from all persons trying to get elected about just HOW they intend on getting their reforms put into effect.
Having a plan and then making that plan actually work are two different things. One can speak of great things all day long but without the wherewithal to have them become real, they are just so many empty words. I want to see a description of just how these grand solutions can be converted to reality and the timeframe for these to happen.
Calling someone names is part of the political process, but does little to tell me how we can improve our economy or fix the societal problems that we are faced with in today’s world.
For my part, I’d like a little more rock and a little less mud.
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