Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Too many homefires burning and not enough trees

I was only mildly dismayed the other day in talking about America's ongoing confusion between meaning well and doing well. I'm a bit more crestfallen today to discover life imitates art instead of the other way around.

One of the local dailies has a relatively short. but intense, letter to the editor this morning from someone about whom I know nothing, except that he cares deeply in this case, about the environment. Sometimes All I Need is the Air that I Breathe and sometimes that just doesn't cut it. The letter, "Earth in Need of a Break After Fours Years of GOP" is a triumph of misspelling (I hope) and bad math, but, and I know this is the important part, the writer means well.

In fairness, it's possible the misspelling in the letter is the fault of the newspaper, "The League of Conversation Voters" should be (I believe) Conservation voters, though the image conjured up by the former is infinitely more amusing and truer to form than the latter. I'm more perplexed by the four years math statement. If Earth is, indeed, in the balance, which is where the letter-writer's homage to former Vice President Al Gore's book seems to be heading, it would appear the first four years of the George W. Bush presidency get a pass and the meter only started in the Doomsday Taxi after he was re-elected.

That should come as welcome news to Newt Gingrich and the Republican majority of 104th Congress which, after being seated and sworn in in January 1995 was then sworn at for a number of years by every environmental protection group in the hemisphere, to include a few created for the express purpose of yelling at them. But it's just the last four years, the writer is concerned about. Color me relieved.

The actual point of the letter is to urge people to not vote for the presumptive Republican Party nominee, but rather 'Vote Environmental.' I have no idea what that notion actually means in terms of daily application. (Should I mention it was a Republican President (Richard M. Nixon, no less) who created a cabinet-level Department of Environmental Protection?)
I suspect I'm not alone in my ignorance but, and again, the cause for dismay (for me) is it makes almost no difference if there is any reality behind a call to arms like "vote environmental" as long as we feel good while making such a grand gesture. In a culture where many of us make a different gesture, involving a single, middle, digit on one hand, we could, I suppose, be grateful for what we can get. That we've allowed our basic spelling and math skills to erode so much that some dweeb on a blog can make a meal out of it is no more than pathetic.
And fortunately, like all criticism right-minded people ignore because of the absence of the old school tie, it's biodegradable. Just like us, a carbon-based lifeform with delusions of immortality.
-bill kenny

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