Carl R. Ramey: All the things that bother me

Published: Monday, January 23, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 20, 2012 at 12:46 p.m.

Call this a post-holiday rumination of things said and left unsaid in today's nonstop bickering over politics and culture. Or, simply, one person's prejudiced potpourri of pet peeves.

With no single topic to flesh out, I proffer only bits and pieces of unstructured, undeveloped thought; perfectly suited, perhaps, to our new "Twitter" world. So, here goes, in no particular order, things, thoughts and traits that get on my nerves.

Any discourse distinguishing "real" Americans or expressing a desire to take the country back, as if the rest of us are "unreal" and "un-American."

People so tethered to their smart phones that they ignore others in their presence, or worse, endanger lives when they practice similar distractions in their automobiles.

Car makers aiding and abetting such distractions by building vehicles that not only talk to us but, shortly, will allow the whole online world into the cockpit, by adding design features for importing the apps and other content from our smart phones into a car's displays and controls.

Devotees of Fox News who think all the subjective, opinionated news resides elsewhere, with Fox standing as a life-saving fountain of truth and objectivity.

Athletes who use their celebrity status and easy media access to promote religious beliefs or advance political views.

The speeded-up, dumbing-down of our most popular news outlets, a phenomenon surpassed only by the fact that most news consumers neither recognize this change nor even care. Recent surveys show that the American news consumer is fast becoming a "grazer," jumping from one platform to another, often reading only headlines.

Anyone trumpeting the irreconcilable belief that President Obama and all Democrats want to create a European-style cradle-to-grave social order; and, conversely, that only Republicans believe in a free-market, individual-opportunity society; aggravating, polarizing posturing that gets us nowhere.

Republican primary candidates catering to special interest constituencies by signing pre-election pledges on a host of issues that even a highly-respected conservative newsweekly like "The Economist" says will "saddle" the party's eventual presidential nominee "with a set of ideas that are cranky, extreme and backward-looking."

The old bromide that laws and sausage share a common trait: neither should be observed in the making. Looking back on last year's legislative sessions in Washington and Tallahassee, this appears to be more of an insult to sausage makers, since very little that's appetizing or productive results from today's lawmakers.

Wrapping oneself in the mantle of "constitutional conservatism" to oppose virtually all nondefense roles by the federal government, pretending that the intent of our framers can be gauged with precision and applied to every specific, contemporary problem.

Americans continuing to die in a 10-year old "nation-building" exercise in Afghanistan, one of the most corrupt, dysfunctional and unrepresentative "governments" on the planet. Meanwhile, the U.S. fails to begin rebuilding itself.

The incessant cry of antigovernment conservatives who say less is more, matched by pro-government liberals who say more is better.

Will there ever come a day when a more moderate force emerges that is willing to make the hard choices that involve identifying not only what should be cut, but what should be preserved and enhanced? In the meantime, one can only dream, compiling lists like this that merely let off steam.

Carl R. Ramey, a former communications attorney, lives in Gainesville.

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