Really ‘Pet-ty’ Politics

Three Dim Bulbs

Writing can present some real challenges, the first being the subject matter itself. You can strain the brain, pumping those gray cells for all they’re worth, sometimes for days on end, with no results. You might start with broad categories such as animal, vegetable, or mineral. Then what? Of the thousands of choices among these groups, which one do you choose and how do you make it work – if you can?

How about something from the news? Whoa! Aren’t we all depressed enough? The latest TV “reality” show? Aren’t we dumbed down enough? Probably not, since another one of these freak shows seems to air every week. (H-m-m-m. There’s a topic worth at least a few hundred choice words; I’ll make a note of that.)

Anyway, I was having one of those literary dry spells recently, even resorting to asking the mutt and the hair ball if they had any ideas. (Things really were getting desperate.) A lot of good it did me, anyway; nary an arf from one or a meow from the other. The phrase “dumb animals” came to mind but, then, I wasn’t doing so well myself.

As Seen on TV!

Then, one evening just as I was about to turn off the TV for the night, an idea presented itself. Yes, out of Newton Minow’s “vast wasteland” came an ad worthy of that dubious territory – presidential candidate Chia planters! I kid you not! The same company that brought you the original Chia pets (Chia kitten, Chia crocodile, Chia cow, and the rest) has just introduced the “Freedom of Choice” Chias – Mitt Romney, Barack Obama, Newt Gingrich, and Ron Paul. (Since these are “Freedom of Choice” Chias, you may have guessed by now that I choose not.)

Each of these planters is the relative likeness of these four past and present presidential candidates. I say “relative” likeness because, aside from the fairly accurate facial features (Mr. Romney looks less like the real thing than do the others and Mr. Paul looks like he just bit into a lemon), each is the shade of an unhealthy pumpkin. The “before” likenesses are odd enough but the green “hair” growth of the “after” images is truly bizarre, if not downright creepy. In fact, all four look more like something dreamed up for trick-or-treating – Remember the Nixon and Clinton masks of past Halloweens? – than to “celebrate the 2012 election year.”

As if the endless campaigns and political ads weren’t enough, now we’re supposed to celebrate this quadrennial public mugging, too? Oh, well.

Caution! Things Can Get Hairy

I decided to check out the website noted on the ad. My server posted this warning: “This connection is untrusted” [sic] and “. . . this site’s identity can’t be verified.”

Uh-oh! Click. Maybe I should stop here. I decided to press my luck, scrolled down, and clicked on Up came the “Chia Freedom of Choice Collection,” complete with American flag. “Each Freedom of Choice Chia Includes: Convenient drip tray (could it be any other kind?), Chia handmade planter, Chia seed packet, Planting and care instructions.” This “Special Edition” is only $19.95 + $7.95 shipping and handling. Eight bucks to send me an empty-headed politician? I can get all of them on C-Span for free. Oh, wait. Buy two or more and shipping is free!

C-Span is still a better deal. And what’s this? No comb? No hair gel? There’s no indication that Rogaine is included in this kit, either. (I mention this because I actually once saw a billboard in Tampa, Florida, that read, “Rogaine: Latin for Chia pet.”) For $19.95 you’d expect some kind of added bonus.

Hang on. The hype continues: “Your chosen Chia will grow its full head of hair in about 3 [sic] weeks and includes enough Chia seeds for 3 [sic] plantings!” Ah! There’s that bonus: two hair transplants! Wow! Such a deal.

Health Food, Too

I suppose that once the “hair” has grown you can cut and style to your taste. Speaking of taste (something this whole idea seems to lack) I learned that Chia seeds are an actual food. According to, “Chia is a whole grain harvested much like wheat and it can be eaten right from the plant . . .” (Does this mean if you nibble on Chia Obama you’ll get hairballs?)

Chia is a flowering plant of the mint family, touted as a complete food containing omega-3 fatty acids, anti-oxidants, and fiber. These nutrients “support cardiovascular, digestive, bone, joint, neurological, visual, skin, and immune health.” Holy macrobiotics! This stuff is actually good for you. Vegan, kosher, and gluten-free, too. Still not sure about the taste or hairball issues but, overall, it sounds like a better investment than presidential Chia pets.

Of course, there will be those who’ll just have to have one or all of these latest Chia collector’s items. So be it. They’ll fit right in with their Scooby-Doo, Shrek, SpongeBob and Homer Simpson Chia Pet planters. What with candidates throwing mud at each other and making the late night talk show circuit hobnobbing with airhead celebrities, their campaigns could use a little dose of dignity.