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Monday, April 5, 2010


“Addiction” refers to a battle between reason and dependency, in which dependency wins. Regrettably, the term applies to me: reason tells me it’s a waste of my evermore precious time to read the letters-to-the-editor page of the Naples Daily News (or to contribute to it, for that matter). But I am addicted.

Lately, in addition to the letters, the paper has taken to fleshing out its pages with numerous “guest commentary” pieces. Like the letters, these articles often give voice to right-wing positions and enthusiasms. One of them, the Tea Party movement was taken up by a man who, like many in Naples, is retired but once ran Something Big.
Knowing better, I read his rant, then went through withdrawal.

--Were you saying something in here?
--Yes, but not to you.
--Oh. Just thinking out loud?
--So to speak.
--Uh oh, the paper.
--I was reacting to news that “unbridled progressive demagogues” have been inflating the size of government and creating endless new entitlements through health care reform. Worst of all, these same un-tethered progressives have been “either ignoring or arrogantly mocking the tea partiers.”
--I thought you weren’t—
--I know I wasn’t. Newsprint instead of needle tracks. What can I say?
--It’s not good for you.
--No. But on the bright side, it’s not smack or coke. The writer says the mainstream media is demonizing the tea party movement.
--What exactly is the mainstream media?
--Any information delivery system that either ignores or arrogantly mocks the tea partiers.
--All I know are the signs and costumes I see when I drive past one of the rallies. Or what they say when interviewed. They all seem to think we never had an election. “No taxation without representation.” They say Obama’s not an American.
--See? That’s the mainstream media for you. Planting actors among “good, hard-working, nonviolent, nonpartisan taxpayers.”
--Does it say that?
--No, but that’s what we’re supposed to think. Or, that the people with Obama signs depicting him as the lipstick-smeared Joker, or as Hitler are just a few cutups in what is otherwise a solid group of hard-working taxpayers.
--Ah, yes, taxpayers. Let me guess. This one’s about Small is Beautiful government and free enterprise. About core values.
--So you read it.
--No. One of us has to stay clean.
--True. But as you suspect, it’s another rant against big government, in favor of all the core values on which?
--Our nation was founded.
--Very good. And they’re incensed by—give me a synonym for communist.
--Good, collectivist. Another.
--Nazi? They seem to think Nazis and communists are the same.
--No, not Nazi. Wealth redistribution. That’s the real horror for this writer. He doesn’t go on about it, but that’s the core evil threatening our core values for him. I’m sure he thinks it’s outrageous to suggest there might be something wrong with CEOs making three or four hundred times what someone in a plant makes. Actually, it would be much more than that. Because most of our free enterprise now rests on the small but capable shoulders of people in China.
--It’s Easter, not Bill Buckley’s birthday. Why aren’t they printing something about charity and good will?
--Don’t worry, the pope’s in here. Except it’s not such a good time for his cred. Besides, if you’re a solid, core-values person, the whole piece is about charity and good will. Charity and good will for the one quarter of one percent of the population with estates in excess of seven million dollars.
--He gets all that into his article?
--I confess I am expanding a bit. Extrapolating from what’s here. The thing that sets me off isn’t so much the point of view. It’s the absolute dependence on cliché. With few exceptions, the whole thing is composed of catch phrases.
--Isn’t “catch phrase” a catch phrase?
--Uh oh. A tea-party wit, right here in my own sovereign home. In one of America’s “50 sovereign, independent states, each ruled by ‘we the people.’”
--Is there anything about health care being shoved or forced down our throats? That’s a favorite.
--No. “Rammed” takes the place of shoved down our throats. The Democrats are planning to “ram through amnesty for illegal immigrants, cap-and-trade, and union card-check legislation.”
--No, we certainly don’t want anyone being invited to join a union.
--Not unless we favor “America’s slide toward socialism.”
--I sure don’t.
--Good, neither do I. You can go to work on the signs. I’ll get started fixing up our hats.


  1. The letters to the editor make me crazy, too, and yet I keep on reading them. And then, I talk back to them, as though the writers of the letters can hear me. That's how I know they make me crazy.

  2. Well, how can I not love such a wise and intelligent voice? Especially, from a fellow "coffee" drinker. I share your views entirely and your way of expressing them delightful.

  3. What a great post! I love your stuff, guys!
    I always read the letters to the editor. I find them fascinating. I also think Jayne's "coffee drinker" self description is wonderful!

  4. I so very much enjoy agreeing with you and I do, entirely, here. Good, mad, snarky fun...my favorite kind.

  5. Betty-
    Your comment is very close to home. What Barbara too often hears is me carrying on debates with no one else in the room. I'm sure it has to be unsettling for her. Or was, until she accepted it. But you aren't really "there" yet, unless you are stopping for answers before continuing. I mean answers from the Little Friend you're trying to educate. Then you will have arrived at full-throttle looniness.
    Thank you for visiting, and for your generous comment. Until we bought our winter place in Florida, Barbara and I had both lived our entire lives in the liberal atmosphere of southeastern Michigan. In other words, we were ignorant of the "dark side." As far as I can tell, it's become progressively (no pun intended) darker since the first of the great Republican trickle-down carny barkers, Ronald Reagan.

  6. Chlost-
    A conscientious reading of the front section of the paper before I read the letters to the editor is the only comfort I can take from my behavior. If I ever catch myself going to the letters first, I will contact someone in South Carolina and ask her for a short list of therapists in the Naples area.
    If anyone as clear-headed as you didn't agree with me, I'd have to go back to the drawing board.


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