by David Safier
Words, words, words. They can tell you so much — both by what they say and what they don't say.
Cap'n "Atomic" Al Melvin just put out SENATOR AL MELVIN’S JULY 2010 UPDATE!!! The exclamation points, all-caps and bold face are Al's, not mine.
In any decent Writing 101 course, you learn, when it comes to exclamation points, more is less. They're too often used to camouflage the lack of excitement in your writing. Three exclamation points in a row? That belongs in bad cartoons, not serious writing.
It's less often mentioned in writing courses, because it's too obvious to deserve mention, when you resort to all caps and bold face — the entire UPDATE!!! is in bold face — it means you're SHOUTING AT THE TOP OF YOUR LUNGS!!! As with exclamation points, shouting doesn't make your points any more dramatic, only louder.
Now, on to the content of the UPDATE!!!.
Cheryl Cage has challenged Melvin to one-on-one debates — these two candidates have plenty to debate about — but Melvin said, No. He plans to attend the Clean Elections debate, and he's going to a few candidate forums, but he doesn't want to go head to head with Cage. It sounds to me like he's running away from a direct confrontation with his challenger, but hey, that's his choice.
So what's this section of Melvin's UPDATE!!! all about?
DEBATES: One of the ways we are educating the voters is by participating in a number of debates with Ms. Cage, and those public appearances and comparisons will be very helpful.
"A number of debates"? I guess "one" is a number, but usually "a number of . . ." means more than one. Melvin is being, shall we say, less than honest here.
Later, Melvin accuses Cage of using "false premises" in her attacks, which he goes on to call lies. Here's one of them. Read it carefully. See if Melvin refutes what he refers to as Cage's "lie" about a "smoldering nuclear dump."
Her second lie is that we all want to turn Arizona into a smoldering nuclear dump. Apparently the Progressive Majority training did not include any science classes, because Ms. Cage’s opposition to an increased and improved portfolio of alternative energy products relies on emotions rather than science or fact. Arizona can and should do a better job of harnessing alternative sources of energy and we are poised to reap an influx of high-paying jobs and a real windfall for our education system if we do it the right way.
Let's take this statement apart. Melvin said Cage accused him of wanting "to turn Arizona into a smoldering nuclear dump." That's pretty close to what she has said. She said he wants to turn Arizona into the nation's nuclear waste dump. And, as I've written in other posts, that's also pretty close to what Melvin has said himself, except that he prefers the more genteel term, "Atomic Energy Recycling."
You say "atomic potato," I say "nuclear waste po-tah-to." Not a hell of a lot of difference.
And in Melvin's response to Cage's "lie," he doesn't deny it. He rambles on about "an increased and improved portfolio of alternative energy products" and "harnessing alternative sources of energy," by which he means 3 or 4 more nuclear power plants on the scale of the huge Palo Verde plant outside of Phoenix, and a nuclear waste dump which, in fact, will smolder radioactively for thousands of years. This is according to his own words in a recent op ed in the Explorer.
So what, exactly, is Cage lying about, according to Melvin? I guess it's this: She thinks Melvin's idea that the closing of the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository is a golden opportunity for Arizona to make all that nuclear waste our own (again, I'm not making this up, he's said it) is a bad idea. Melvin thinks it's A GREAT IDEA!!! (my caps, bold and exclamation points this time, because I thought it's what "Atomic" Al would have wanted).
I call that a disagreement, not a lie. It's the kind of thing two people with different opinions might, oh, say, debate about. But Al isn't too keen on the idea of one-on-one debates.