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by Fred Cederholm
Fluff in the news is the whipping, frothing, and spinning the insignificant in the effort to divert attention. This past weekend, THINK why our planet hung in the balance on the pathetic saga of “poor” Paris Hilton’s return to jailed custody, while news of Turkey amassing of 250,000 troops along the Iraqi border was largely ignored.
I’ve been thinking about fluff. Actually I’ve been thinking about distractions/diversions, the news, global conflicts, immigration, the presidential debates, investments, and “the Golden K.” Anyone familiar with my columns knows that I am a CPA, forensic accountant, and a news junkie who vents his frustrations and concerns about events, policies, and topics in the effort to alert and to inform my readers.

You see accounting trains you to achieve fair presentations, to seek substance over form, and to disclose an overview of what is real and important. Fluff, on the other hand, is whipping, frothing, and spinning the insignificant or the inconsequential in the effort to distract/ divert attention. Given the excess of newsprint, airtime, and web space devoted over the weekend, one might TH*NK our planet hung in the balance on the pathetic saga of “poor” Paris Hilton’s return to jailed custody. Fluffers are highly active in “segments” of the motion picture industry, the news media, politics, product marketing, and investment decisions. Fluffers are everywhere because, face it, fluff sells.

In the preparing/ researching this column a “Google” news search revealed 9,100 news entries about the 2007 Immigration Bill, 4,800, entries about the Paris re-incarceration, 4,100 entries about the G8 summit in Germany, 1,800 entries about Putin’s threatened missile posturing and a possible return of the “Cold War,” 980 entries about the 2008 presidential debates, 540 entries about the opening of “Oceans 13,” 380 entries about ousting US Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Pace, and barely 90 entries about Turkey’s recent amassing of 250,000 troops along the Iraqi border.

We have upwards to 170,000 young service men and women now actively serving in Iraq. Their situation is already perilous given the violence within the confines of the occupied zones and borders. Last week’s amassing of a quarter of a million Turkish troops on the Iraqi border (plus any completely undisclosed equivalent by Iran) should certainly be more newsworthy than the miniscule coverage it received this weekend. Did everyone forget what happened on June 25, 1950 in Korea?

The compromise of the recent bipartisan immigration “fix” did come in first in this non-scientific ranking of what was newsworthy - but only selectively so. The public’s support for this “fix” is minimal and the lame fluff attempts by its supporters are waning. The Coburn amendment (Senator Tom Coburn R-Oklahoma) which would require the US to enforce existing immigration laws was shot down on June 7th when 54 US Senators effectively voted not to enforce the US laws.

Thus far in this earliest ever run for the White House in 2008, there have been four debates of the candidates – two for each of the two major political parties. There are already upwards to twenty candidates – both declared plus a couple more lurking in the wings. If you watched the debates, or read the on-line transcripts of what was said, you were probably under-whelmed by both message and performance. Most danced around the issues/ problems facing this nation and even fewer proposed any solutions what-so-ever! The two noteworthy exceptions were former Senator Mike Gravel (D-Alaska) and Representative Ron Paul (R-Texas). These two were clearly not the ones favored by the party power brokers, or the media – despite their highly exceptional showings in the subsequent polling of who scored best on identifying the issues and proposing the solutions.

Last week the equity markets continued their highly volatile roller coaster spiking and dipping. Many financial pundits “explanations” behind the swings went beyond fluff to boarder on the ludicrous. Were the markets not both over-bought AND over-sold but shared trading valuations based upon some historical norms of their asset worthiness, or the predictable future cash flows from earnings; trading pricing and transactional volumes we saw would have some “semblance” of order.

On Thursday, June 14th I’ve been asked once again to be the breakfast speaker for the weekly meeting of the “Golden K” chapter of the Rochelle. Kiwanis Club. My topic will be an overview of “money” – specifically the US dollar. The late Clara Peller had her 15 minutes of fame by “fluffing” the question “Where’s the beef?” Remember that in terms of fluff, the questions are twofold: Where’s the substance? And... what’s the complaint?

I’m Fred Cederholm and I’ve been thinking. You should be thinking, too.

Copyright 2007 Questions, Inc. All rights reserved. Fred Cederholm is a CPA/CFE, a forensic accountant, and writer. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois (B.A., M.A. and M.A.S.). He can be reached at

Copyright © 2007 The Baltimore Chronicle. All rights reserved.

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This story was published on June 11, 2007.