Political Faux Pas

Administrative Titles at Universities    18 May 2016

Unfortunately, administrators at colleges and universities spend an incredible amount of money, energy, and time creating new positions for themselves and for those under them, partly because heading a large bureaucracy makes one more appealing when being considered for advancement or for employment at a different institution.  Along with the titles come new and innovations that usually recycle former ideas and procedures.  Nevertheless, creating, combining, and splitting administrative units as well as initiating, discontinuing, and reestablishing procedures help build resumes.  All of this takes a great deal of creativity, but now there is a website to help, at least with the titles and salaries. If you are in the market for a new administrative position, all you need to do is to look at the possibilities at http://universitytitlegenerator.com/?r=y.

Smoking in the White House    26 August 2012 (updated 18 May 2016)

This clip contains a conversation, in January 2011, between Miloš Zeman (born 1944), the former Social Democratic prime minister of the Czech Republic, and Valtr Komárek (1930-2013), an economist and Social Democrat. For non-Czech speakers, one must keep in mind that the verb to smoke in Czech also means to have oral sex with a male. An approximate translation of the conversation appears below.  Please note that this film clip has appeared on a number of web sites in the past, and it may disappear (only to reappear elsewhere, at a later date) because it apparently violates the copyright of the broadcaster, FTV Prima.

Miloš Zeman: Shortly after 11 September, I met with George Bush, Jr., in the White House. And as is known, I smoke everywhere. I even smoke in an atomic power plant. So, why wouldn’t I smoke in the White House? But George Bush, Jr., was an ardent nonsmoker. So, I said to him, “Mr. President, a week ago, I was in Texas, and the governor of Texas awarded me honorary citizenship of the State of Texas. So, I am a Texan, and you are a Texan.” So, I pulled a pack of cigarettes and a lighter from my pocked and said, “we Texans have to accommodate each other.” The truth is that Bush did not have a very positive expression on his face, but when he was here last June, he reminded me of that meeting, and he appeared far more relaxed. You know, to convince an American nonsmoker–they are fanatical, those nonsmokers–that a guest in the White House can smoke and to find some kind of convenient excuse that one is some kind of honorary citizen of Texas I consider one of my lifetime achievements in foreign affairs.


Valter Komárek: There is the problem, certainly, only so that we can evaluate the sensitivity and background of Zeman’s story, that, before him, Lewinski had smoked in the Oval Office.

Laughter and applause (Zeman patted Komárek on the back and told him, “good, good,” but it is inaudible).

Source, Youtube, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nXEFl67o2lc&feature=related (the video is blocked). See also http://www.parlamentnilisty.cz/zpravy/Co-ma-spolecneho-Zeman-a-Monica-Lewinska-Resilo-se-u-Krampola-185350?diskuse&parent=196644.

Greek Politicians Fight on TV before Highly-Contested Elections    7 June 2012

In the days preceding the June 2012 elections in Greece, political tempers flared before television viewers.  On 7 June 2012 during a talk show, a left-socialist politician from the Syriza party, Rena Dourou, questioned Ilias Kasidiaris about an upcoming trial regarding his involvement in a 2007  attack on a student.  Kasidiaris is a member of Golden Dawn, an extreme nationalist party that won 21 out of 300 seats in the 6 May 2012 election and hoped to do better in the June elections.  In the midst of the exchange, Liana Kanelli, a member of the Communist party, branded Kasidiaris a fascist, and Kasidiaris called Kanelli, who is 58, an “old commie.”  Kasidiaris further lost his temper and threw a glass of water at Dourou.  As the moderator tried to calm the situation, Kanelli threw some papers at Kasidiaris, who proceeded to strike her across the face three times.

References to the incident are at http://edition.cnn.com/2012/06/07/world/europe/greece-politicians-fight/ and http://news.yahoo.com/greek-extremist-party-member-tv-assault-075138071.html.  The above clip is from YouTube: at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xjVsaEUM2Ws.  The original report at CentralEuropeanObserver.com is here.

Reggie Brown Impersonates President Obama for Republicans    20 June 2011

First Part

Second Part

We all can use a bit of humor, no matter what our party affiliation, and Reggie Brown provides some at the expense of politicians on both sides of the aisle.  For everyone's convenience and enjoyment, I have posted both parts of his presentation on 18 June 2011 at the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans, LA.

A Cultural Misunderstanding with the Dalai Lama    14 June 2011

Sometimes humor simply just does not translate.  Here is a case in point:

Make Me One with Everything

Is President Klaus a Habitual Pen Stealer?    13 April 2012

The actions of the president of the Czech Republic, Václav Klaus, during an April 2011 visit to Chile, have raised the question of whether he is a habitual pen stealer, even though the Prague Castle explained that the pen he pocketed is standard issue to Czech diplomats.  Thoughts of Mr. Klaus as a version of the character in the 1997 Czech film "The Buttoners" ["Knoflíkári"] who can not resist stealing buttons from upholstered furniture is humorous.  Of course, nobody really suspects that Mr. Klaus is truly so desperate that he needs to pull off such heists on a regular basis.  To learn more about the incident, see http://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/apr/13/czech-president-steals-pen.  Information in English about "The Buttoners" is available at http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0128292/plotsummary.

YouTube Video

We Have This Information from a High White Horse Souse    3 April 2011

Under the category of political insensitivity, may I offer this suggestion for activity to avoid, even though sometimes we just can not resist embarrassing ourselves: