Sunday, May 01, 2016

May 2016: Very Busy

There's a couple of things happening this month, so I will be slightly distracted but I will post here when I can.

Above all this is a birth month, so yay, there will be cake.

I am going to be at a Local Authors signing event in Wesley Chapel FL (north of Tampa) at the Barnes & Noble store in the Wiregrass mall on Saturday May 21st, alongside 25 other local authors. It would really be great if a lot of people showed up that afternoon between 2 to 4 PM to help promote local writers, and you may find among the various books and genres something worth reading! I'll be there promoting some of my printed works as well as my ebook stories.

There's always May The Fourth and Cinco De Mayo, but May 4th will have a special connotation this year as an anniversary, so please do attend.

Also, MegaCon is this Memorial Day Weekend, so yes I will go. I've been contemplating going as a Jedi again, but I plan on going different days so maybe that Saturday I will.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Meanwhile On the Soap Opera "As the Florida Churns" A Tense Meeting Goes Full Schadenfreude

This sort of slipped under the radar, but here in Florida things are not well for the King of Unethical Douchebaggery Rick "Medicare Fraud" Scott.

One of the things Scott has been doing throughout his two terms has been to drive out long-time heads of the various state agencies to replace them with his own people. Whether or not Scott's people are/were qualified and able to do those jobs were not really relevant to him.

But this past year, Scott ran into conflict with his own party and the other Republicans in the governor's Cabinet. In particular, Scott's attempt to replace the chief Insurance Commissioner with his buddy Jeffrey Bragg conflicted with Chief Financial Officer (think Secretary of the Treasury) Jeff Atwater's own nominee for that post. And the CFO is the one who has direct control over the office, so Atwater has a kind of veto power over what Scott was trying to do. Scott, as governor, had veto power of Atwater's chance to put HIS guy in that office. Standoff.

So they went through the hassle of having a public review process, interviewing a set of candidates including Scott's choice and Atwater's choice. Once they finished the interviews, Scott just... well, I'll let Tampa Bay Times' John Romano describe it:

In a second attempt at hiring a state insurance commissioner, the Cabinet listened to four candidates speak for a little more than an hour on Tuesday.
When the interviews were wrapped up, Gov. Rick Scott took a few moments to thank all of the candidates, and then immediately launched into a prepared statement that nominated Jeffrey Bragg for the post.
"Is there a second?" Scott asked the other three Cabinet members.
1, 2, 3 …
Scott turns to his left to look at Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, who, like the governor, has to affirm the selection of a new insurance boss. Atwater, avoiding eye contact, looks straight ahead.
The beauty of this exchange is that it has been a month in the making. Four weeks earlier, Atwater had moved to appoint Bill Hager as the new commissioner and Scott immediately shot it down by saying he would not second the nomination. He wanted Bragg.
So, presumably, the four Cabinet members spent the next month looking at new candidates and reassessing Bragg and Hager. But Scott's immediate nomination of Bragg on Tuesday made it clear he expected Atwater to simply bow to his demand.
There was no discussion. No give and take. No pretense of esprit de corps.
4, 5, 6 …
Scott straightens in his chair. Then he reaches for a bottle of water.
By now, the governor must already know his ploy has failed. And the realization has to be dawning that the titular leader of the GOP in Florida, who has already been dissed by a Republican-dominated Legislature on his budget demands, is now being ignored by an all-Republican Cabinet.
7, 8, 9, 10 …

You should read Romano's article, I'm just posting the juicy, sweet early part of it as setup.

Just to note, I've been on committees, and usually most groups are already in agreement on a few issues, and then it's just the nuts-and-bolts disagreements that get argued out, and then a decision is informally recognized, and then there's a call on a vote and a request for a Second. And getting that "I Second It" is a pro forma thing, everyone's mostly good with it, there may be a few dissenters but at least the issue was argued in good faith and done.

Scott didn't even have a give-and-take talk. He wanted the vote then and there and on his terms. That's not how the Force decision-making in a committee works.

Just to add this one more thought Romano puts out there, which I totally agree with:

What's amazing is, six years into the job, Scott still does not understand the art of governing. He has a receptive audience in both the Legislature and the Cabinet, but he sabotages his own cause with edicts and commands.

That is the problem when you put a crook like Rick "No Ethics" Scott in charge of something. He takes on the CEO mindset of "my way or the highway" and eventually finds out that kind of mindset does not sit well with other people who have the power to do their own thing in spite of him.

Sweet, sweet Schadenfreude. I hope the rot boils in Scott's stomach for 1000 years.

According to a follow-up report I found in the Miami New Times, the cabinet finally settled on a compromise candidate, as these things usually play out.

And I'm willing to bet Scott still hasn't learned a lesson. He's probably just thinking up how to get some revenge on Atwater for the public humiliation.

I'd love to see how Scott handles a potential Florida Legislature where the state Senate is under Democratic control thanks to the voting districts being redrawn to weaken the gerrymanders. One can hope. One can definitely keep calling on the Democrats to challenge every district and GET THE DAMN VOTE OUT.

Friday, April 29, 2016

The Danger of Trump's World View

(Update: Oh hey, Crooks and Liars readers linking in from Mike's Blog Round Up! Welcome back. Please check out the latest blog offerings if you can, and by the by I think I got a message from the family of the Port O San guy from Woodstock I blogged about back in 2009 so OMG OMG OMG I am a little distracted at the moment...

Follow-up to the Update: Thank you as well, Infidel753 for the link here!)

You seven - I should be saying eight now - regular blog followers know I am a fan of James David Barber's work on Presidential Character. On how it can determine the basic performance of an incoming or sitting or historical President: on if said President was/is/will be Active or Passive in office, and Positive or Negative about the power of the office towards achieving goals.

What he based that Character on were a set of factors, one of the key factors being "World View": how the person running for the Presidency perceives the world based on previous experiences, learning moments, and developing philosophy.

Barber's own definition from his book Presidential Character goes like this:

A President's world view consists of his primary, politically relevant beliefs, particularly his conceptions of social causality, human nature, and the central moral conflicts of the time... these assumptions or conceptions help him make sense of his world, give some semblance of order to the chaos of existence. Perhaps most important, a man's world view affects what he pays attention to... (p.5)

That World View gives us an idea both on how the potential President views his political allies and enemies, and on how he/she will act on the global stage of the world itself.

Well, we've got a really hard case of Presidential Character with Republican front-runner Donald Trump at the moment. My original estimation of Trump being Active-Negative - and in the worst way imaginable - remains intact: he's been the self-centered, boasting, bullying, ill-informed blowhard that one would find at the most extreme edges of being Uncompromising and Self-Serving (two key A-N traits).

One of the things Trump has been avoiding has been explaining or codifying his World-View to the public at large - at most he's made clear signals about degrading Hispanics, Asians, women, and anybody who doesn't genuflect to the Trump (tm) brand - by usually hand-waving off questions regarding foreign policy. Now that he's essentially the lone runner for the delegate majority count, Trump has to establish more specific policy goals to define the upcoming convention's platform, so he and his handlers decided on making a "bold" foreign policy speech.

To say it didn't go over very well is a bit of an understatement.

If we can refer to Adam Silverman's article in Balloon Juice:

...I will leave the fiskings and point by point takedowns of the contradictions, flaws in logic, petty vindictiveness, and inconsistencies to others. I want, instead, to focus in on the core of the address, which could, perhaps, be referred to the Trump Doctrine. The Trump Doctrine, at its core, can be boiled down to America (we) will be treated fairly. As I wrote yesterday in my initial impressions, this is essentially National Security Narcissism...
...More than that, however, is that the Trump Doctrine is really the animating force or theme of the entire Trump campaign. The other candidates had better treat Donald Trump fairly, the Republican National Committee better treat Donald Trump fairly, the Republican establishment better treat Donald Trump fairly, the media better treat Donald Trump fairly, the state level parties that handle the primaries and all the delegates chosen better treat Donald Trump fairly. And Donald Trump will make them treat him fairly! And the only candidate, nay the only person in America who can ensure that you are treated fairly is Donald Trump. And if he isn’t treated fairly or the US isn’t treated fairly, then he will get even...!
The average American, in some cases even the above average American, really does not know how policy is formulated or strategy is developed for domestic issues, let alone for foreign or defense issues. Donald Trump’s speech yesterday cut through all of that reality – that how the official business of America at the Federal, state, and municipal levels is done is often arcane and messy – and reached right for his supporter’s guts. Donald Trump has consistently been telling Americans... that they are being taken advantage of and that only Donald Trump can stop this. All he’s now done is formally extend it into the realm of foreign and defense policy and connect the pieces together...
The only people that should be happy with Mr. Trump’s foreign policy remarks are Vladimir Putin, the leadership of the People’s Republic of China, and the Islamic extremists running the Islamic State and Al Qaeda. Mr. Trump’s doctrine of America will be treated fairly screams a revanchist approach to foreign and defense policy. Should the US not be treated fairly, the US will then retaliate. Maybe that’s taking our things and going home. Maybe that’s getting even. Maybe its something else, but because Donald Trump’s emphasis is on unpredictability there is no way to really know...

Silverman's point is that Trump is projecting his own World View - his narcissistic belief in his own superiority over everyone else - and applying it to foreign relations that cannot and should not kow-tow to such ego-stroking.

The key question about the Trump Doctrine - America should be treated fairly - should be this: What the hell is fair? Who gets to determine what actions are fair or not? Given the person involved, the likeliest answer of Who determines is going to be Trump himself. If it comes down to it, what Trump is advocating is an American foreign policy where all of our dealings ought to go entirely to HIS favor and not even the American citizenry (who will only benefit by proxy in Trump's estimation), which violates a lot of precepts about deal-making and international agreements.

What Trump is pushing is a World View where everyone else HAS to Respect the hell out of US, while our nation won't have any reason to show any Respect to them.

This is troubling on multiple levels.

Our existing alliances would come under scrutiny, and the political situations in Europe and Asia would collapse over the first sign of slight in Trump's view. Which could be over anything that would tick off his ego.

Said allies would rather cut ties up front over coping with any conflicts with Trump's administration down the road. As Silverman pointed out, that would weaken NATO's stance against Putin's Russia, and it would certainly be a death-knell to any NATO attempt to support Ukraine against Putin's border war with them. The Middle East, another flashpoint where NATO and Russia are occasionally at odds, can turn into a greater cauldron of hell than it already is.

As others pointed out, Trump's dealings in Asia would agitate an increasingly dangerous China, and if Trump were to pull out of our alliances with Japan, Taiwan, even the Philippines it would grant China greater control of the water trade routes of the Southeast Pacific at best (at worst, good God, is full out invasions of Taiwan, Japan, and anywhere they like).

It's a variant of the strand of Isolationism that is common to the United States' political discourse. As much as an "America First" mindset - which has some pretty sick associations - as it is a kind of arrogant Nativist stance that places the nation above all mundane concerns to everyone else's destruction (there's a kind of "Let 'Em Crash" smugness to it).

What Trump is selling here is the argument that the United States is unfairly treated by other foreign powers including our allies, and that our national pride is at stake if we do not elect him to make those foreign powers respect us. What he's not seeing - because his willful ignorance of anything that doesn't serve his immediate needs - is that our foreign policies should not be based on PRIDE but on political and economic stability at a global level. We can't gain that stability if we destabilize our own alliances and create more chaos.

How far Trump can go on this message and World View, all depends on how many American voters buy into the same World View. The best we can hope for right now is that those numbers are way below 40 percent of the electorate currently backing his run.

This is not good politics. This is not good foreign policy. This is not good for America. And we're two steps away from being stuck with him.

All that joking about what a Trump Presidency would look like? It's not funny if he gets elected. Not one damn bit funny if that happens.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

BREAKING NEWS: Ted Cruz Assumes All His Eggs Are Chickens, Puts Cart Before Horse, Rearranges Titanic Deckchairs Into Pleasing Patterns

Is this seriously happening?

Via CNN:

Ted Cruz will name Carly Fiorina as his vice presidential running mate on Wednesday, according to two sources -- a last-ditch move to regain momentum after being mathematically eliminated from winning the GOP presidential nomination outright.
The Texas senator will make the announcement at an afternoon rally in Indiana, which votes Tuesday in the next GOP contest. Cruz must have a strong showing in the Hoosier State to help block rival Donald Trump from securing the 1,237 delegates necessary to win the nomination, and keep alive his hopes of a contested Republican National Convention.
Cruz is trying to recapture the narrative and keep himself relevant after Trump seized momentum in the 2016 race with a sweep of all five East Coast states on Tuesday, which puts him closer to having enough delegates to win the Republican nomination. The unusual move from the Cruz campaign also comes just hours after the billionaire businessman, who is trying to look like the presumptive nominee, gave a high-profile scripted speech on foreign policy...
Okay, having lived through the past year of absolute crazy political campaigning news, even with half the crazy stuff Trump has thrown out there and some of the more embarrassing things Jeb? ever tried before he disappeared, THIS has to be the craziest WTF moment yet.

How is this crazy?

For starters, Cruz doesn't have the nomination locked up.

You're supposed to pick your Vice-Presidential choice once it's been confirmed you have the delegates in place to win the Convention. Traditionally, the Vice President was picked at the convention itself as part of the back-room deals the party bosses worked out to keep the factions happy, but ever since the Primary system eliminated such deal-making the Veep choice has been left to the winning nominee.

Cruz is not the winning nominee. Granted, neither is Trump at the moment, but at least Trump has the chance to be.

Second of all, selecting the likes of Carly Fiorina does not help Cruz's case that he is capable of making sound decisions. He's going with a choice with a failed political campaigner, in that Fiorina lost both her earlier Senate campaign and her recent attempt for the Republican Presidential nomination. Fiorina's resume of being a "successful" businessperson is itself flawed: she's well-known for having mismanaged Hewlett Packard as CEO and was ignobly fired from that job. There's nothing there of merit or confidence for voters to like.

Third, this move reeks of desperation. The CNN report itself is claiming Cruz is doing this to jump-start his campaign and regain momentum to win over the few remaining states not yet siding with Trump. Problem is, who's going to buy this move? Carly's home state of California? She couldn't win there as a Senate candidate. The number of people who are moved to switch votes based on a Veep choice are few: nobody is going to run away from Trump all because Fiorina is teaming up with Cruz.

The only way this move makes any sense is that Cruz is convinced he already has his path laid out and he's already winning that July convention. Either that means he's already planning on cheating with the delegates to turn on Trump even if Trump wins outright, or he's convinced Trump can't win enough delegates period.

Either way, Cruz is courting self-destruction. If he steals away the nomination from Trump, it'll be civil war within the GOP. If he wins out a legitimate fight over unbound delegates because Trump didn't cross the threshold, Cruz still has to answer to a majority of Republican voters who believe the candidate with the most delegates ought to be the nominee.

This is too crazy for even this Florida Man to contemplate. I'm going to go wrestle a gator or something to bring myself back to my senses.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Fantasy of a Third Party Savior... AGAIN

As I write this, Donald Trump is crushing the Cruz-Kasich coalition in five state primaries and pretty much making it impossible for Cruz in Second Place to ever reach the needed delegate count. Trump hasn't won outright, but he's the only one who can.

As such, the Conservative Beltway Media Punditry of Both Siderism and Dubya-Never-Happened have moved their freak-out to Defcon 2.

Terrified of the likelihood of an amateurish, bullying, Id-driven, failed businessman becoming the Serious Candidate of the Republican Party that these pundits cannot honestly shill to the general electorate, more and more of them are pushing more and more their incredible fantasy of having a "respectable" True Conservative rise up from the shadows of history and declare for a Third Party independent run. This True Conservative can then rally all the Honest Common Man voters crying all for a REAL LEADER to drive away the horrors of a Trump or Hillary or Bernie Presidency, and bring the nation back to a united harmonious new era of Reagan-esque patriotism and nostalgic delight.

Insert headdesking here.

Never mind the obvious evidence that if there were such a candidate - a True Conservative to save the Republicans from their Trumpian fate - don't you think he'd (and it's usually a guy) have run by now and was stopping Trump already in the primaries?!

The Republican Establishment had their chances: Hell, they have five of them in Jeb!, Rubio, Scott Walker, Chris Christie and Kasich. If that was the cream of the crop, the BEST that the Republicans could rally to run for 2016, and they STILL couldn't outpander and outwit and outrun Trump... there is something seriously wrong with the quality of Republican leadership today.

And yet here we are with the likes of Jim VandeHei - a founder of media outlet Politico and writing in the Wall Street Journal op-ed - dreaming up a scenario of a military general (and it's always a man in a uniform that attracts the fantasy) coming in as a Third Party savior to mock the legacy of 98-lb weakling Obama and bitch-slap Trump into a whimpering heap. But lemme have Daniel Drezner at the Washington Post point out all the follies:

Over the past few months and years, the hard-working staff here at Spoiler Alerts has tried to make a few useful suggestions for improving the quality of punditry during this campaign season. For example:
Don’t use Donald Trump as a vehicle for your particular hobbyhorse — you’ll just get tarnished.
Don’t call for a military leader on horseback to rescue the country — the ones interested in the job are probably the last ones who should be president.
Don’t use Silicon Valley buzzwords to describe anything with respect to politics or policy — it means those words have been played out.
Don’t assume Americans care too much about foreign policy or national security. They don’t.
Don’t call for a third-party candidate to enter the race because: (a) that candidate won’t win, and (b) even if the candidate wins, the new president still needs to cope with a Congress that will remain a product of the two-party system.
To be fair, I never actually wrote that last point up, mostly because I thought it was so obvious that it did not need to be said out loud.
I bring this up because Politico co-founder Jim VandeHei’s Wall Street Journal op-ed manages to ignore all of these warnings. Praising the plain language of Donald Trump? Check. References to disruption? Check. Calls for an “Innovation Party?” Check. VandeHei also leans hard on the “Normal America vs. D.C. bubble” trope, which will be a topic for another column...
So the poster boy for VandeHei’s new leadership is … a recently retired admiral who challenges civilian control of the military. I would be uncomfortable with this person in charge of determining the proper allocation of war powers between the different branches of government. By exploiting the fear factor...
I get the suspicion VadneHei didn't do any research or any due diligence, or have any concern to the actual inability of his Dream Candidate to bring the nation under the united banner of a kinder gentler machine gun hand.

What's really happening here is projection. These insulated Beltway media types, thinking themselves the only sane ones in a kingdom of madness, are fantasizing about their ideal leader playing out a game-plan that makes perfect sense only to themselves. Each one of these pundits aren't really selling a military hero, or a political savant, or a philosophical genius: they're selling themselves as the God-Chosen Savior. It's only the realization no one will take THEM seriously as a candidate that they're forced to call up General McAwesomesauce as the Insert Savior Here guy.

But I've noticed this before: this fantasy is just that, and it's a fool's fantasy to think that this unheralded Insert Savior Here can just show up and have 60 million Americans swoon for him. It's a fool's fantasy to think there IS such a Conservative candidate after more than a year finding out the Republicans don't have anyone like that anymore. It's a dreamer's denial to think that this Third Party Insert Savior Here can break the Electoral College enough to bring this Pundit's Paradise to the Real World.

And how disappointing is it going to be if said Insert Savior Here guy does show up on the stage and turns out to be yet another dud?

Not disappointing at all. All these pundits will do is wail the lost opportunity and move on to the next sucker willing to pose for their fantasies.

I wasn't joking four years ago when I said there needs to be a term limit on the MEDIA more than on our elected officials. At least we can kick the officials out by vote. These pundits will not stop until they drive their publishing agencies into bankruptcy, and then move on to the next million-dollar book deal.

It's a good racket like Driftglass notes over and over again, if that exclusive club of always-wrong media elites invite you in. Problem is, you pay out your integrity as you go.

April Mini-Super-Tuesday Primary Today, Just Saying

There's five states from the mid-Atlantic/Northeast voting today, most of which are kind of foregone conclusions for both parties: Trump's polling has him sweeping Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Connecticut and Rhode Island; Hillary's poised to secure four of those states while Bernie is in the lead in Rhode Island.

The way the math works, a Trump victory in even one state - especially a big one like PA - should pretty much eliminate Cruz from outright delegate victory. All that is at stake from this point is Trump needing to clear the delegate majority hurdle and secure the nomination on the first ballot.

Clinton's not going to win outright tonight, but a solid win in delegate counts in most of the states will pretty much affirm her inevitability as the nominee: this is the point where her momentum does kick in and the later states - California especially - will lean for her just to wrap things up. It will also wreck the narrative that the Sanders' followers have been pushing: by winning in obviously liberal-leaning northeastern states, Hillary will prove her broad appeal to the party as a whole and not by region (so SHUT UP about the Deep South states not counting).

Tonight's broadcasts are going to be drawn-out media back-patting affairs as usual, and likely the Fox Not-News people and fellow media elites on CNN and MSNBC (sorry, folks, this ain't your daddy's librul channel anymore) are gonna be spoon-fed the narratives about Trump becoming more "presidential" for some godforsaken reason. Just keep the channels on to watch but put the volume on Mute, and finish writing that damn novel everybody (or is that just me?)!

I'll be writing something else later today. Damn, I have blogged like a mofo this month...

Monday, April 25, 2016

Missing the GOP Queue For the Lifeboats

I've been seeing the other bloggers listing this as "too little too late," such as Rude Pundit:

In a display of too-little-too-late-ism that ranks up there with "Flowers from a cheating husband," John Kasich and Ted Cruz have agreed on a kind of alliance of f-ckery, a Megazord of fail, if you will. Said a spokesturd for Cruz, "To ensure that we nominate a Republican who can unify the Republican Party and win in November, our campaign will focus its time and resources in Indiana and in turn clear the path for Gov. Kasich to compete in Oregon and New Mexico..."
...And after Trump wrecks both of them in Pennsylvania and mocks them relentlessly for this strategy (which he's already doing), it's gonna be pathetic watching those campaigns limp around until they finally have the sense to just lay down and fade away...
I can see the intent by Cruz and Kasich to try and generate enough delegates for themselves - and not trip over each other to do so - to prevent Trump from winning outright, but this sort of move is almost impossible to coordinate because voters are going to make up their own damn minds in these primaries and they may not want to play this game.

It gets more interesting when Jennifer Rubin at the Washington Post considers the ramifications:

...It emphasizes the degree to which the most likely alternative to Trump — Cruz — has failed to unite the GOP. He can either work hard at crafting an agenda and message directed at “somewhat conservative” voters, or he can make the case that Republicans are not going to win Oregon, New Mexico, Maryland and the like in November, so it shouldn’t matter...
...Cruz’s perceived weakness in turn leads to another unintended consequence of the deal: It will heighten interest in a third candidate. It is now evident that neither Cruz nor Kasich is a sterling candidate. The odds of a Trump nomination are high, so shouldn’t backers of a third candidate get cracking...?
The argument for there being a Third Party candidate that can SAVE the Republican Party from itself is getting more dire: and it turns out there ARE deadlines for a Third Party to file that are due BEFORE the July convention in Cleveland. From what I'm reading here on the Ballotpedia page, it looks like you have to file as an Independent in Texas by MAY 9th! That's two weeks away.

Before all this, there was the fear among Republicans that Trump would go Third Party on them out of spite and ruin their chances to secure any Electoral College AND Popular Vote wins. NOW the fear among Republicans is that they're going to have to run a Third Party candidate because having Trump run at the top of their ticket will (not could) ruin the entire ballot for them. Even though if they do this Third Party move, the Republicans run the very real risk that Trump will - again out of spite - tell his voters at the least to refuse to vote for ANY Republican down-ballot.

Very much a Lose-Lose situation at the moment. Time to remind the readership about the phrase involving the deck chairs of the Titanic.

The only thing the Republicans can hope for now is out-and-out voter suppression, and even THAT can blow up in their faces.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Poll: Throwing Out Book Title Ideas

I've mentioned once or twice before that I'm putting some of the essays I've written here - good lord, I'm almost to the 10-year anniversary - into a collection for print as a book. I decided to use the stuff I've written about Obama, his administration, and his tenure against a wall of GOP obstructionism that future historians may want views on.

As such, I'm a little stumped for a possible title for the work, so I'd like to waste more time creating a survey and asking all seven blog followers to tell me what looks SHINY AND CHROME and what is MEDIOCRE.

Create your own user feedback survey

I've wrapped up a few of the other writing projects I've been juggling - the story to Florida Writers Association, getting something published to teach the self-publish class I taught last week at the library, etc. - so I have time to finish collecting and editing the essays (also adding endnotes to cover the fact print books don't link to websites of info) hopefully by next month.

Oh, and I'll need to hire a cover artist. If there's a cartoonist who can draw Obama standing atop a pile of GOP elephants whilst waving the American flag and flashing the Vulcan salute, I'll pay about $49.95 for the cover rights...

Update: Creating an alphabetical index in OpenOffice Writer is messier than it looks.