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Political Autobiographies: Style Lacking Substance

In Entertainment, Local News, Media, National News, Opinion, Politics, State News on August 29, 2011 at 10:24 pm

By Gery L. Deer

Deer In Headlines

 

Between Joe Biden’s spray-on tan and Michele Bachmann’s fashion faux pas, the political stage has never been graced by such a ridiculous cast of insubstantial people. It’s amazing how many people of lackluster quality can gain the attention of so many Americans.

As the kings and queens of shameless self-promotion, each one spends most of his or her time in front of a camera criticizing the other guys for doing the same thing. Of course, that’s part of their job, but running for the highest office in the land should depend more on substance than style. Sadly, however, that’s just not how it works on modern politics. Today it’s all about marketing.

Getting the word out to the mush-brained masses requires use of every media trick in the book, old and new. All those 2012 Republican nomination hopefuls are jetting around the country doing television interviews and giving stump speeches in the hopes that they will be the next tenant at1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Seemingly in three places at once, these people maintain an almost inconceivable campaign schedule. One way to disseminate as much information as possible is by writing an autobiography.

Books are a great way to control what information is given out about a candidate, but they’re almost never written by the politician. When political heavyweights want to write a newspaper column or a book, they often use a ghost writer.

Ghost writers are authors who write material that is officially credited to someone else. The ghost writer does the research and develops the manuscript, sometimes with little or no  intervention on the part of the person whose name eventually ends up in the byline.

Some publishers will print only a limited run of political autobiographies to generate as much revenue as possible while the subjects are in the media headlights. With the help of reasonably good writers, political biographies can be interesting and informative, even though they’re just a 300-page brochure for the candidate. Unfortunately, there are times when the political figure has too much influence over a manuscript.

Here’s an example from Sarah Palin’s book, Going Rogue: An American Life. “I was sitting next to the stove, patching up little Gopher’s North Face jacket, when I got the call (to be John McCain’s running mate), and I figured, gosh-a-mighty, why not? Well, they scoot me down toDayton — and let me tell you, that place could use a new coat of paint…” And she goes on to say that theDayton reporters will, “Twist and turn my words so I look like an idjit.”

It gets worse from there. Did she actually use the word, idjit? Unless she was trying to get a part in a movie opposite Yosemite Sam, the reporters wouldn’t have needed to do much to make twist her words. In fact, it would take more effort to untwist them enough to understand exactly what it was she had said in the first place. Clearly, there are times when a ghost writer is not only an option, but a necessity.

Once released, political autobiographies have a short shelf life and quickly end up in the bargain rack.  Publishers do their best to cash in on these projects while there is still widespread demand for information.

Without question, there is a broad audience for this material and, at least initially, most of these books sell very well – some better than others. Barack Obama’s two books for example, Audacity of Hope (2006) and Dreams From My Father (1995), both of which he wrote before ascending to the presidency, have sold nearly a half-million copies.

In the past, a politician could only get a book published if he or she had made some significant contribution. Today, however, the trend seems to be in writing the book before ever doing anything and cashing in on 15 minutes of fame.

 

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist based inJamestown. Read more at http://www.deerinheadlines.com.

 

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Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over This Labor Day

In Local News on August 24, 2011 at 8:34 am

XENIA – The Greene County Safe Communities Coalition has joined nearly 10,000 other law enforcement agencies nationwide in support of an intensive crackdown on impaired driving August 19–September 5, known as “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.”

The problem of impaired driving is a serious one. Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows the number of alcohol-impaired-driving fatalities in America fell from 2008 to 2009, but the numbers are still too high.

In 2009 alone, 10,839 people died in crashes in which a driver or motorcycle rider was at or above the legal limit, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The age group with the highest percentage of alcohol-impaired-driving fatalities in motor vehicle traffic crashes was the 21-to-24 age group.

“All too often, innocent, law-abiding people suffer tragic consequences and the loss of loved ones due to this careless disregard for human life. Because we’re committed to ending the carnage, we’re in full support of our local law enforcement agencies that are intensifying enforcement during the crackdown. Since twice as many alcohol-impaired accidents occur over the weekend and four times as many occur at night, our local law enforcement agencies will be especially vigilant during these high-risk times when impaired drivers are most likely to be on our roads,” said Laurie Fox, Safe Communities Coordinator.

Across the country, it is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 grams per deciliter or higher. According to the latest data, nearly a third of fatalities in motor vehicle traffic crashes involved a driver or motorcycle rider with a BAC above the legal limit – an average of one fatality every 48 minutes.

The crackdown will include law enforcement officers in every state, Washington, D.C., and many U.S. cities and towns.

The Greene County Safe Communities Coalition applauds our local officers, troopers and deputies foraggressively looking for allimpaired drivers during the crackdown and arresting anyone they find driving while impaired — regardless of age, vehicle type or time of day.

“Their message is simple and unwavering: if they find you driving impaired, they will arrest you. No exceptions,” said Fox. “Even if you beat the odds and manage to walk away from an impaired-driving crash alive, the trauma and financial costs of a crash or an arrest for driving while impaired can still destroy your life.”

According to the Ohio State Patrol,violators often face jail time, loss of their driver licenses, or being sentenced to use ignition interlocks. Their insurance rates go up. Other financial hits include attorney fees, court costs, lost time at work, and the potential loss of job or job prospects. When family, friends and co-workers find out, violators can also face tremendous personal embarrassment and humiliation.

“Driving impaired is simply not worth all the consequences. So don’t take the chance. Remember, Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over,” said Fox.

For more information, visit the High-Visibility Enforcement Campaign Headquarters at http://www.stopimpaireddriving.com/.

Indoors Or Out, Fireplace Safety A Must

In Local News on August 24, 2011 at 8:28 am

By Gery L. Deer

Deer In Headlines

As the weather begins to cool in the Midwest, people will begin to use indoor fireplaces more often. Attractive and warming, a fireplace can provide inexpensive supplemental heat while adding to a home’s value. Unfortunately, it can also cause a potential danger if not properly maintained.

According to the most recent statistics from the Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 25,000 chimney fires each year are responsible for 30 deaths and an average of $126.1 million in property damage.

During the off season chimneys can become damaged or clogged with any number of contaminants including bird nests and storm debris. In order to guard against potential chimney fires, The National Fire Protection Association (www.nfpa.org ) recommends that fireplaces and chimneys should be inspected annually and cleaned after each cord of wood burned.

Incidentally, a cord of wood is a considerable amount, possibly more than many people realize. It measures 4 feet high by 4 feet wide by 8 feet long with a volume of 128 cubic feet. Since a single family might burn two or three cords over a winter season, fireplace cleaning becomes even more important.

Properly cleaning the fireplace and chimney takes more than just removing the ash from below the fire grate. Regular cleaning helps to prevent the build up of creosote, a highly flammable material that starts out as liquid residue from condensed components in smoke including tar and soot. Because of heat, the liquid dries into a solid, flaky glazed form.

Glazed creosote is recognizable by its shiny, tar-like appearance. It is essentially wood tar that has baked onto the walls of the chimney flue or liner. This is also the most flammable and hardest to extinguish once it gets burning.

A hot fire of around 1000 degrees Fahrenheit can easily ignite the creosote deposits into a roaring chimney fire. In addition, burning embers from the substance can land on rooftops or in dry brush or leaves, endangering surrounding property.

Despite some urban legends to the contrary, there is no such thing as creosote-free burning and the kind of wood makes no difference at all. In fact, the danger lies, not so much in what is burned, but how.

A low burning fire will result in incomplete combustion, which is the number one cause of creosote accumulation. An improperly installed fireplace or insert can cause the smoke to cool too quickly and allow the airborne particles to settle inside the chimney flue.

If contaminants begin to build up inside the chimney, they will produce a smell in the house smell similar to a campfire on a damp, wet day. If that odor is present, it is probably time to have an inspection done by a qualified chimney sweep. It is better to be safe than sorry.

Lighting up the fireplace also triggers some folks to start building outdoor fires. In some areas it is illegal to burn yard waste or other items, but for those people who live where it is permitted, the same attention to safety should be paid to outdoor fires as to using a fireplace.

Burning leaves is almost never a good plan. No matter how dry they might seem, leaves retain some water and rarely burn but instead just smoke. A really hot, blazing bonfire can incinerate leaves and lawn material but also creates a danger to nearby homes because of falling embers or excessive smoke.

In addition, outdoor fireplace units, whether metal or ceramic, were not designed for burning trash or yard waste and are often placed too close to trees or buildings. Above all, be considerate of the neighbors if you live in a densely populated area. Many people suffer from allergies during the fall and smoke from yard fires can create serious health issues. Smoke from burning yard waste can trigger allergy and asthma attacks.

Whether sitting around the fireplace or a back yard pit, safety and common sense should always come first. With yards, brush and fields so dry for lack of rain this season, extra care should be taken whether the s’mores are toasting indoors or out.

Questions or Comments? Email Gery L. Deer at gery@deerinheadlines.com. Read more at http://www.deerinheadlines.com.

Local writer, entrepreneur to speak at Columbus fiction conference

In Entertainment, Local News, Media, National News on August 17, 2011 at 9:21 am

The Jamestown Comet.com editor Gery L. Deer will speak at this year's Context fiction conference in Columbus.

JAMESTOWN – Local writer and entrepreneur Gery L. Deer of Jamestown will be sharing his expertise with aspiring writers as a panelist during the 24th Annual Context Speculative Fiction Conference in Columbus, August 26-28. At 10AM on Saturday August 27, Deer will host a session on the business of freelance writing and serve on several other discussion panels during the course of the weekend.

Speculative fiction is more commonly known as science fiction and encompasses a wide range of material including manga, anime, science fiction, fantasy, or horror. Context is a convention focused on speculative literary works and related games, comics, television and films. Throughout the weekend, aspiring writers, artists and graphic novelists attend workshops and panel discussions hosted by working authors and related experts.

Gery L. Deer is best known for his self-syndicated editorial series, Deer In Headlines, but also writes for various other regional and national publications. As a professional business writer with GLD Enterprises Commercial Writing, he provides on-demand copywriting and marketing services to business clients and self-publishing authors, providing editorial and promotional services.

“Literary science fiction events like Context are not the Star Trek conventions people might imagine,” Deer explained. “Conferences like this are geared more towards aspiring writers of science fiction and fantasy and provide the opportunity to meet and talk with well-known writers, agents and publishers.”

Deer will also be attending the conference to promote a new book by a client author. “Images Old and New,” byOhiowriter Sarah Seymour-Winfield, is a scholarly book about Christian Mysticism written from the intellectual and spiritual viewpoint of its reclusive author.

According to reviews, the book offers the reader ground-breaking new viewpoints on religious imagery in Judeo Christian canon. Released in May, it has already been chosen as a supplemental textbook for one religion class at theUniversityofDayton. Science fiction and fantasy authors are making use of the book’s unique perspective when developing new storylines based on biblical concepts.

“The publishing industry is changing rapidly, particularly with regard to electronic press, and authors need guidance during the process,” says Deer, who has published three books exclusively for the Amazon Kindle eReader. “Those dusty manuscripts in the bottom of your desk drawer may get a new breath of life and our job at the conference is to help the author go from idea to publication.”

In addition to his commercial endeavors, Deer serves as the director for the Western Ohio Writers Association and serves on the advisory board of theFairbornCommunity Center. He speaks at schools, civic groups, university business schools and literary conferences around theMidwest. In 2010, he was nominated for the Ohio Public Image Network Award in Media and considered for a Pulitzer Prize in journalism for a Xenia Daily Gazette series on mental health services.

Opening ceremonies for Context 24 begin at 7PM on Friday, August 26th at the Doubletree Hotel,175 Hutchinson Rd.,Columbus. Gery L. Deer will be speaking during the following sessions:

Fri 9pm
Wake Up and Smell 2011 – Self-publishing in Today’s Market

Sat 10am
Freelance Writing To Fund Your Novel Writing  –  presenting this one alone

Sat 2pm
Agents – The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

Sun 11am
Anthologies are for Beginners, Too

 

More information is available at http://www.contextsf.org.

Broadcasting Liberal Guilt and Conservative Fear

In Entertainment, Local News, Opinion, Politics on August 16, 2011 at 10:11 am

By Gery L. Deer

Deer In Headlines

Liberals love to make people feel guilty about success in any form. Even as the country struggles to regain its financial legs, President Obama and his Democratic friends constantly seem to be apologizing for America’s achievements. Business or personal success and any obvious practices of capitalism are severely frowned upon in those circles, reserved only for people named Kerry, Pelosi or Clinton, all of whom are millionaires.

Take public broadcasting, for example, where the liberal talents of cloaking capitalism in good deeds and manipulation through guilt are masterfully played over the airways.

Both the Public Broadcasting System and National Public Radio refer to paying advertisers as “supporters,” and people who give in to their annual pleas for donations in exchange for a tote bag are called, “members.” Insulting the intelligence of their audience with the ridiculous notion that there’s something more dignified about the wordplay, an advertiser is an advertiser and P.T. Barnum would have been able to tell them why pledge drives work.

At local NPR affiliate stations, sound engineers crank the bass, throwing in just a touch of reverb, as a soothing, generally raspy, female voice begins to ply the money out of the wallets of listeners. “Keep the support coming,” the woman says softly, “Your pledge will make it possible for us to tell you the stories of the world.” Yes it will, but they still won’t be able to provide a traffic report that’s less than a half-hour old.

It still seems counterproductive that the only government-sponsored broadcasting services have, not balanced, but staggeringly left-leaning content yet are subsidized by the tax payers. Imagine the firestorm of anger that would ensue if a Conservative radio host like Rush Limbaugh was suddenly awarded federal grant money and began soliciting donations over the air. No doubt the Left would go berserk.

Of course, Conservatives have their own brand of manipulation in the form of, for lack of better terms, fear mongering. Their idea is to scare everyone to death about nearly anything in order to sway voters and promote the American dream, which, in their eyes consists of success in every possible way no matter who is trampled upon in the process.

Exaggerating components of important issues like Mexican immigration or social security, Republicans go on the air and strike fear into their constituents wherever possible. Imagine this scene for example.

The sound of what can only be interpreted as a fist impacting a wooden desk top is followed immediately by a voice kindred only to an evangelist at an old time tent revival. “My friends, we cannot let the socialist commies of the liberal party flush America down the toilet of the world,” the exasperated man says, breathless and loud. Papers shuffle in the background.

“We must protect the Ten Commandments on our court house lawns and keep the Democrats from taxing us back into the Stone Age or handing our country over to their Islamic cohorts.”

This onslaught of right-wing rhetoric is usually followed by the host playing sound bites of some popular Democrat which have been taken thoroughly out of context and cleverly edited to elicit just the right response from listeners. Usually, the desired reaction is anger and outrage.

For the record, it is the opinion of this reporter that Limbaugh and his blowhard buddies are uneducated, uninformed, fear-mongering hairdos. But they still have as much right to the airways as pretentious, know-it-all, liberal “newscasters” like Meeshell Norris and Robert Siegel.

If fair and balanced reporting is what people want, it’s unlikely to be found in a free press. Broadcasters are often at the mercy of advertisers, especially in today’s economy. Once a format is chosen and it gains a following, broadcasters need to meet the demands of listeners by giving them what they want to hear and, subsequently, if no one listens, advertisers (or supporters, if you happen to be a Liberal) will dry up.

Keep also in mind that radio personalities like Terry Gross and Rush Limbaugh are performers, not journalists. Their job is to entertain the listening constituency of lemmings who follow their one-sided nonsense, no matter how ridiculous it might seem to a free-thinking person.

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer based in Jamestown. Read more at http://www.deerinheadlines.com.

Jamestown Grads Share Memories on Facebook

In Local News, Opinion, Uncategorized on August 9, 2011 at 1:37 am

By Gery L. Deer

Deer In Headlines

 

As the school bell begins to ring, signaling the start of a brand new year, I was recently reminded of how fast time slips by and what we miss along the way. Not to mention what we forget about entirely.

One evening, not too long ago, I was lurking on Facebook when I noticed that aJamestown,Ohiopage to which I subscribe was being bombarded by messages. I rarely get a chance to spend more than a few minutes looking at any of this stuff, so, having some free time at the end of the day, I decided to look in on it.

Appropriately titled, “You Know You’re From Jamestown If,” the group page is usually full of nonsense or bad jokes about small town life. On this particular night, however, something more fun and positive was happening.

A group of graduates from the 1980’s were sharing their memories of Greeneview High Shool and growing up inJamestown. I was in the Greeneview class of ’85 and rarely think of my school days. But watching the flood of memories being shared on the chat page was not only fun and entertaining, it was touching as well. Looking back through the eyes of others was a fascinating exploration into perspective.

Memories of people and events long forgotten were being typed and posted as fast as people could think of them. Some things being discussed I didn’t remember at all, while others, the amazing food at our elementary school for example, were clearly visible in my mind.

You know you are fromJamestownif you remember walking to the Pizza Pantry after football games, or if you had a history teacher who hired a belly dancer, or a language teacher that gave A’s to the girls who wore dresses to class. You know you are fromJamestownif you had a shop instructor obsessed with, “Glue and screws,” or a band director who looked like Mr. Kotter.

InJamestown, probably elsewhere too, girls used to wrap their boyfriend’s class ring with yarn so they could wear it on their finger instead of on a chain around their neck. Do they even still do that or has the class ring exchange been replaced with the, “In a relationship with,” notation on Facebook?

Besides their school memories, some people also reminisced about whatJamestownwas like in those days. Before the Wickersham building collapsed and the fires of the early 90’s ravaged the downtown, and before the railroad left,Jamestownwas thriving and busy.

There were gas stations at each end of town, two ice cream stores, and two restaurants: The Grasshopper and Curley’s, where my mother worked. The Jamestown Pharmacy had a soda fountain and while you waited for your ice cream you could go get your favorite candy from the five and dime next door. Back then, you often had to wait for trains to pass by in order to get from one side of town to the other.

Some folks even spent an unusually long time talking about the one, full-time traffic light at the center of town. Though before long, someone promptly noted that there were actually two, reminding everyone that the other one just flashed yellow after school hours.

No doubt we all remember our childhoods in our own way and many posters lamented over easier times. One person commented, “Life back then was so simple.” Another classmate said, “Since graduation I’ve lived inCincinnati,Cleveland,Columbus,Philadelphia,Minneapolis, andEvansville…still the best memories are fromJamestown.” That sentiment was shared by many, including me. Even one of the teachers chimed in to say that he has nothing but wonderful memories about his years at Greeneview.

As the Class of 2012 heads into their finale, here’s a special hat tip to them from the Class of 1985 – and all the classes of Greeneview, and Jamestown High School (yes, there was a “Jamestown High School” at one time), Ross Township, Jefferson Township, and Silvercreek Township High Schools. The Statler Brothers once sang, “Things get complicated when you get past 18.” They couldn’t have been more correct. So thanks for the memories everyone. You made my night.

 

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer based in Jamestown. Read more at http://www.deerinheadlines.com.

 

Martin Arrest Typifies Bad Judgment of Politicians

In Local News, National News, Opinion, Politics, State News on August 2, 2011 at 8:57 am

By Gery L. Deer

Deer In Headlines

Representative Jarrod Martin (R-Beavercreek)

Republican State Representative Jarrod Martin of Beavercreek is facing drunken driving and child endangerment charges following a July 22nd traffic stop inJacksonCounty. Martin was pulled over after swerving over the center line while pulling a trailer without a tail light.

He then allegedly refused a sobriety test claiming that he was embarrassed to be seen on the cruiser’s dashcam. Two other adults and two children were in the vehicle as well.

According to police records, just over a year ago, Martin was found in the early hours of the morning drunk and slumped over a Chevy Suburban that belonged to State Representative William Batchelder, R-Medina, who had left his car in the garage.

State patrol logs indicate that officers tried, unsuccessfully, for more than 20 minutes to wake Martin until medics arrived. He was released to House Republican campaign director Mike Dittoe.

In May of last year Martin and several others were evicted from aBeavercreekhotel after police were called by employees for what they reported to be drunken fighting. Reports indicate that officers found Martin and six others highly intoxicated at a bachelor party. Martin’s parents were called and the men were removed from the hotel. The representative was not charged in either incident.

Martin’s latest problem comes only a few days after another Republican state representative, Robert Mecklenborg ofCincinnati, resigned after he reportedly failed to disclose a drunk-driving arrest.

Let’s face it, politicians are human but at the same time, they should be held to a higher standard. It seems like those who most forcefully argue for stiffer penalties and regulations of alcohol or drugs tend to be the ones who are so publicly misusing them.

Through written statements, Jarrod Martin maintains that alcohol played no part in the most recent incident and intends to vindicate himself in court. However, whether or not he was intoxicated this time, the facts are clear on the previous two incidents and any regular citizen would have been hauled off to jail in either case.

Perhaps some of the officers responding to these incidents simply did not want the headache and paperwork that would come with arresting a sitting legislator. It is possible that they are afraid of being fired or denied promotion and other benefits were they to arrest an important political figure.

Government officials proven to have used their political credentials to avoid prosecution for serious offenses like DUI or child endangerment should be forced to resign. By the same token, law enforcement officers should be fired who ignore their duty because the subject is a politician.

Martin’s guilt or innocence in this most recent occurrence will be determined by the courts, but his records indicate that he clearly has an issue with alcohol. The use of alcohol, or any other drug, is a choice. If he is going to continue to do it, he is going to continue to have problems.

The official reports show that Martin’s republican associates have covered for him time and time again. Is theOhiorepublican party guilty of willingly participating in a campaign of misinformation relating to the sobriety of their members? And what does it say about a state representative whose mommy and daddy have to come rescue him from a drunken party?

The whole situation is disappointing and Ohioans should think twice about returning government representatives to Columbus who they already know to have bad judgment.

Constituents should keep in mind, when it’s time to vote on important issues like alcohol and child welfare, that same poor judgment could be employed on the floor of the state legislature.

Gery L. Deer is a local business writer and columnist. Read more at http://www.deerinheadlines.com.