Friday, September 24, 2010

political addiction

Politics and alcohol are uncannily similar to me. It only takes a sip or two of either to make me sick to my stomach. Perhaps a decade and a half of firefighting has conjured my pragmatic side, or perhaps I was born politically challenged, but either way I can't stomach the ring-around-the-rosie antics that often pass for good government.

Firefighters, especially ones in the peripheral edge of the universe, live down-to-earth, solution driven lives. We are programmed to hit the floor at 2:00 AM in response to a buzzing pager that demands we instantly wake up and respond to Armageddon with our squirt guns and a Handy Andy tool kit. We stagger into the fire hall decked in pajamas and sweatshirts, change into our ragtag Superman costumes, and pile into a motley array of wheeled vehicles. We respond, never knowing for sure what we'll find when we get there.

You've probably seen cartoons of thimble-sized firefighters facing elephant-sized dragons. That's what it feels like sometimes. If we can't run our trusty lances through the heart of the beast, we know we have to at least figure out a way to hold him at bay until he dies of old age. The bottom line: we don't go home until the situation is resolved. That's a great incentive to find solutions.

Political gladiators, on the other hand, have to play cat-and-mouse games to survive. They attack a gun registry dragon, knowing that if they can't kill it they'll at least score political points for the next election. They're scared to allow their minions to vote their conscience unless their conscience mirrors the party line. They don't want a workable solution as much as they want to win the next round of political blackjack. Parliament degenerates into a crew of firefighters that hose each other down, instead of putting precious water on the burning house.

[side note: when I'm King of the World, I will require that every politician serve a year as a volunteer firefighter before running for office (as mentioned in my October 2008 column). I would accept a few rounds in a fundraising dunk tank as a possible alternative].

I don't say that politics is bad. In fact, like red wine, a little is good for the heart. Normal people - even if they are politicians - know to use politics discreetly. It's okay to enjoy a glass or two at election time. Maybe even get a little tipsy while you debate it with your friends. Just don't drink the whole vat while you're trying to steer the ship of our country.

Then there are guys like Mr. Ahmadinejab who act like they've injected straight whiskey intravenously. If he were anything but the semi-legitimate president of a country, he'd have been locked up in rehab years ago. Or dead from political alcohol poisoning.

The problem with political addiction is that truth takes a back seat to agenda. Even in less extreme cases, solutions take a back seat to political posturing. Maybe it has to be that way, but I can feel the nausea welling in the pit of my stomach.

Time for a virtual cup of coffee. Paul Combs new book Drawn By Fire is available September 30. Check out his artwork while you're at the site, and pre order the book here. The first 100 orders get a signed copy. No, I'm not getting a commission, but I really wish I was. I gotta write a book some day . . .

More virtual coffee, or at least a cyber soft drink: here is the article I wrote for New Horizons to promote our calendar fundraiser.

To finish off our line of refreshments, here's a story about Fidel Castro, a political junkie if ever there was one. I don't know if he's truly had a change of heart in his old age . . . or secretly embraced counterrevolutionary ideologies all along and just couldn't bear to admit it . . . or has some obscure political agenda up his sleeve. That's the problem with trying to formulate an intelligent opinion about politics. It's impossible to know.

Hmmm. I think there is still an old bottle of Kahlua on the shelf. Maybe if I had a Brown Cow it would all make sense . . .

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