For the creamy red pepper polenta: Combine the butter with 6 cups water in a pot and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
Combine the paprika, cayenne and cumin into a 4.5-quart Crock-Pot(R) slow cooker.
Add the butter mixture to the slow cooker. Stir in the cornmeal, salt and red pepper. Cover and cook on HIGH for 1 to 2 hours or on LOW for 3 to 4 hours, stirring occasionally. Taste and season with salt.
For the beef short ribs: Sprinkle each short rib with salt and pepper and coat with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil.
Heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a large saute pan. Sear the short ribs until just browned, 2 to 3 minutes per side.
To a 6 quart Crock-Pot(R) slow cooker, add the bay leaves, garlic, carrots, celery and onions. Add the tomatoes, vinegar, wine and some salt and pepper. Add the seared short ribs. Cover and cook on LOW for 8 to 9 hours, turning once or twice, until the meat is tender and easily falls from the bone.
Remove the ribs from the slow cooker. Using an immersion blender or traditional blender, puree the sauce, leaving some chunkiness.
Pour the sauce over the ribs and serve with the polenta.
When blending hot liquids, first let cool for 5 minutes or so, then transfer to a blender, filling only halfway. Put the lid on, leaving one corner open; this will prevent the vacuum effect that creates heat explosions. Cover the lid with a kitchen towel to catch splatters and pulse until smooth.