Archive for December, 2015

A column earlier this week by Eric Frazier of the Charlotte Observer raised the idea of moderates banding together to form a third major political party based on their shared interests “in safe, incremental social change, protecting business and the economy, a strong defense and pragmatism in foreign affairs. They want the trains to run on time and the stock market to rise while everybody more or less gets along.”

I can see them now, gathering for their first national convention in Peoria, or perhaps Omaha, a place the party leadership feels is representative of middle America. Some perhaps suggested St. Louis, but that has been too much in the news for all the wrong reasons. Why remind people of all that? Phoenix would have been out because others feel that its vast sprawl and congested freeways seem a bit too much California Lite. Indianapolis would be too urban and gritty.

The party chooses a medium-sized convention hall, nothing grandiose, and fills it with beige banners emblazoned with the party’s interim motto — a temporary selection made as a compromise — printed in a plain, unadorned font, “Can’t we all just get along?”

The first day’s convention action item: Choose a party symbol.

Suggestions for the party symbol, the iconic image that would be the party’s visual counter to the Republican elephant and the Democratic donkey, range from the mythic phoenix and griffin to the more prosaic bald eagle.

As sensible moderates, party delegates agree to hold a series of votes to winnow the selection. Eliminated in the first round are all mythical animals, which are deemed to carry an implication that the party is not realistic, which is, if nothing else, the main thing moderates are all about.

Eliminated in the second are such African animals as the hippo, which many feel would appear to be just a blob when reduced to red-and-blue iconography at the presidential debates, and the rhino, which the moderate former Democrats object is too reminiscent of a Republican elephant. The moderate former Republicans don’t quite agree but want to be reasonable.

Everyone kind of likes the eagle, but the eagle is everywhere already. It adorns sales flyers as much as political pamphlets. Stephen Colbert has helped cement it as the symbol of pistachio nuts, and the moderates agree they should avoid that association.

A large plurality then backs choosing an American wild stallion reared up on its hind legs.

But the moderate former Republicans object that a horse is awfully close to the Democratic donkey. If you reject the rhino, it’s only fair to sideline the stallion. The stallion-backers mildly try to make the case to keep it, but then others also object about the stallion being wild. The party is supposed to be for moderates who favor reason and practicality. “Wild” is another thing. Let the Republicans and Democrats be wild.

Finally the voting narrows to the only proposal not eliminated: a black lab. No one’s particularly enthused about it, but no one hates it either, and isn’t that the essence of compromise? Plus, black labs are tremendously loyal and reliable dogs, and unfailingly friendly to everyone – no decent person would hate a black lab.

That settled, the delegates break for the day and head for an evening at Applebee’s to toss back a few light beers and prepare for the second day’s action item: considering an alternative to the temporary motto. Among the options: “Half a loaf is better than none,” and “If no one ever settled, your mother would still be single.”

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It’s good that the presidential election is nearly 11 months away because I am just lost when it comes to the current political discussions.

I’m especially confused why lately so much of the argument and debate among candidates and on TV talk shows involves fabric choices.

It blew up especially last week after Donald Trump proposed banning from the U.S. all muslin.

I’ve tried to take part in the political discussions locally, but every time I say something like, “Does Donald Trump not realize what that would do to the domestic cotton industry?” all I get is blank stares.

But it’s true. The South was built on agricultural fortunes, and among the largest was cotton. King Cotton, they called it. Generations of Americans have had livelihoods either growing cotton or working in factories that weaved it into fabric or turned the fabric into garments.

Even here in North Carolina, cotton used to be the most lucrative crop after tobacco. Maybe it still is. As I said, I have not kept up on the latest in cotton-related news and developments. Surely if I had I would know why muslin arouses such anger today.

Just the other day my wife and I were out around town and heard a heated conversation between two men who were just ripping into the topic of muslin. As is my habit, I butted in and asked what the big deal was, hoping one of them could explain it to me. They kept saying things about “what happened in San Bernadino.”

Finally, I said, “Yes, but how do you know what the attackers were wearing was made of cotton?”

There were those blank stares again, and for the umpteenth time I was told, “You’re such a complete idiot,” and I’ll be honest, even after nearly 17 years of marriage it still stings when she says that.

Clearly, I needed to do my own research, so like all Americans desperate for reliable information and proper context I turned to the Internet.

I confirmed that muslin is indeed a lightweight cotton fabric in a plain weave. I felt better, at least, that I had a baseline of knowledge.

But no matter where I turned, I could find no information explaining why people are so angry about it.

I also am unsure why banning muslin would help. Wouldn’t people who are prone to violence at least be in a slightly better mood, and therefore less likely to act out, wearing cotton than if they were forced to wear polyester? Or, God forbid, wool? A scratchy collar makes me short-tempered.

And if you’re going to ban muslin, can you stop at just the new fabric and imports? Is the government going to go around to every house and apartment to search all your drawers and closets to find the muslin that’s already here in our country? Isn’t our government big and intrusive enough already without creating a fabric police?

I’m just going to have to keep trying to research this on my own. I’ve given up having any kind of discussion about it even at home. I can’t take the verbal abuse.

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