Monthly Archives: August 2005

>OBSERVATION: Government bans Opa!

>I said “opa” not Oprah! Let me explain.

My friends at the super secret Liberal Imperious Beneficence Society (LIBS) are at it again. In this case, they have quietly done in a great American culinary tradition … well … at least a great Greek-American culinary tradition. (This is the very same LIBS responsible for the banning of rare hamburgers, chocolate milk in schools and attacking the Oreo cookie, by the way.)

The case in point.

I recently took the family to dinner at one of Chicago’s famous Greektown restaurants. We requested seating on the outdoor patio in order to enjoy the dwindling number of perfect summer evenings. As is our custom, we ordered saganaki, that wonderful grilled cheese served flambé to a chorus of “Opas.” To our dismay, the yummy appetizer was served in silence, and without the searing flame.

Seeing our bewilderment, the waiter explained that city official banned the traditional pyro platter except inside the eatery. The theory seemed to be that wind might fan the flame, causing nothing less than the second Great Chicago Fire.

Well, at first blush, the bureaucratic logic seemed backward (nothing new there). Personally, I would have predicted the banning of indoor ignition, where errant sparks could spread to table clothes or draperies. That would have made more sense – though I aggressively oppose ANY banning of saganaki burning.

When I am faced with such occurrences, I make it a habit to call my LIBS contact, Ms. Lee F. T. Nojoy. In her best clenched lip response, she condescendingly explained that if LIBS can save one person from injury or death from a saganaki conflagration, the ban on outdoor saganaki burning was well worth it. (She also intimated that this was only the first step toward total banning of public cheese charring.)

This “if it saves one life, it is worth it” is the droning mantra of LIBS – their standard rationale to the elimination of anything that is fun. For the cowered, it is an intimidating response. How can one argue against saving a life? I place a very high value on life, but I refuse to be cowered by LIBS. So I say, no. No, this new government edict is NOT worth it.

The fullness and glory of life is enjoying things that, on tragic occasion, cause death. If limitation of our free choices for fun and entertainment were predicated solely on the saving of lives, we would ban motorcycles as non-essential modes of transportation, and drop the highway speed limits to 20 mph. We would close all amusement parks — nothing necessary there. Mountain climbing would be banned. Car racing. Skate boarding. Skiing. Virtually all sports. Even fishing. I mean, people do fall out of boats. Of course the list is endless. Everything we enjoy has a risk.

I say, if you are afraid of getting singed by flaming saganaki, stay out of Greek restaurants. Order out, so the rest of us can celebrate the kind of freedom that allows for adventuresome risk talking (even stupid risk taking, like the guy who lived among grizzly bears until he was consumed, literally, by his hobby). Unless we stand up in opposition to LIBS, we will be condemned to life without any hope of pursuing happiness, and where the only permissible earthly exit strategy is death from boredom.

Advertisements

>OP Ed: Mayor Daley in no win position

>I sense the general mood regarding Mayor Daley is shifting from adulation to disappointment on the part of his admirers, and from fear to glee for his detractors. They both have one thing in common. They well recognize that this latest round of Chicago scandals is different. This is more than a momentary sputter in the Democrat machine that has governed Chicago since that GOP corruption poster boy, Big Bill Thompson, left office in 1931.

The current scandal is different in scope and magnitude — even compared to past corruption eruptions that would, themselves, be considered huge in any other major city. Chicago has been renowned not only for corruption, but for the electorates tolerance of it. Over and over, the citizens paid the hidden corruption taxes and pretended they believed Da Boss was not culpable. Part of the automatic absolution of the mayor has been the countervailing belief that Chicago was a well run city.

Furthermore, the public saw Mayor Daley as “one of us” – a common neighborhood guy who loves and lives Chicago above all. The current mayor inherited that widely held sentiment from his father, who seemed to have truly lived it. However, this Mayor Daley may have squandered that legacy.

This round of corruption is different. The “never befores” are most telling.

Never before has publicized and provable corruption been on this scale. It is like the southeast Asian tsunami that stunned a region despite a fore warning history of lesser disasters.

Never before has the “corruption tax” been estimated to be so costly. Penny ante stealing, featherbedding, and city work crews spending afternoons in taverns instead of on the job were tolerable. After all, this was the “city that works,” even if all the pay rollers didn’t have to. However, seeing rich and powerful insiders making millions in complex scams, while folks in the neighborhoods are being slammed by property and sales taxes, has eroded public tolerance.

Never before has the family of the mayor been associated, even remotely, with front page scandals – at least not since that tempest in a teapot when the “Daley boys” benefited from city insurance business more than a generation ago.

The role model of the first Mayor Daley’s wife, Sis, as the quintessential wife, mother and homemaker made the family untouchable. On the other hand, Maggie Daley is seen more as a socialite, bit of a snob, and not beyond using pillow talk to achieve some civic goals — such as that sweetheart O’Hare deal for a few of the “ladies who lunch.” One, maybe two, Daley brothers now have there names connected to portions of the ongoing investigation. John Daley is a county commissioner and, more importantly, boss of the 11th ward, where many of the indicted officials reside. No fire yet, but the smoke is billowing.

Never before has the mayor of Chicago gone so upscale. The incumbent’s father lived in the same family bungalow his entire adult life, Bilandic lived with his mother, until he married during his brief term, Byrne even moved into public housing, and Washington, raised in public housing, maintained a modest apartment. The current Mayors move from Bridgeport to trendy Printers Row, and soon to the elite Millennium Park, ended his image as the neighborhood good old boy – and with it, some of his political armor. At the precinct level, urban myth blames Maggie for that, too.

Never before has the mayor been subjected to so much media scrutiny. Like the citizens of yore, the Chicago press often minimized scandals, and showed no desire to press investigations that rose above low level employees or political figures with whom Daley was indifferent or adversarial. The relationship between publisher and politician was social, civic and friendly. Daley’s privilege of deniability was always protected. He now faces aggressive reporters and columnists, and no longer has the proactive benefit of sycophantic columnists, like the late Steve Neal, to support City Hall’s public relations strategies.

Never before has the mayor’s very management been questioned. “But it is a well run city…” is not selling. Congressman Rahm Emanuel tried to keep that argument alive with a ringing pro-Daley speech at the City Club. Judging from the candid off-the-record after lunch chatter (this author was there), the largely Daley-friendly crowd was not buying it. Tinged with sadness, for sure, the audience could not find a way to absolve Daley of management blame. Their usual arrogant optimism about his political future was notably absent.

Never before has there been a political “death watch” on the mayor. For the first time, an inability to get re-elected, resignation before the completion of his term, and even the possibility of an indictment, are suggested in news stories and street talk. Neither ignorance (“I was not aware…”), indignation (“I am shocked and hurt …”) , nor future intent (“This will not be allowed to go on …”) are sufficient answers.

Whether Mayor Daley is the reigning king of corruption, or merely the minister of mismanagement, he is a gravely wounded political figure. His moral leadership is evaporating. He has passed the point of any winning strategy. He cannot deny that he has presided over an unprecedented era of mass corruption. Whether it existed by his leave or by his direction is of little matter in terms of his public reputation. He has lost that battle already.

His only defense is in the hope of convincing the public that he is not personally dishonest, but rather (by inference), an incredibly aloof and incompetent manager of municipal affairs. His problem is that the latter is not a credible argument after years of wallowing in, and promoting, a reputation as an outstanding micromanager. Past image polishing makes his only defense incredible and unsaleable.

As far as his legal situation, public opinion is of little importance. Whether the mayor is found to be only politically damaged, or found criminally culpable, will be played out behind the locked doors of the U.S. Attorney, the FBI and the grand juries. Like observers at a bridge tournament, we will only see the previously dealt cards as they are played out by the professionals. But … never before have the words “indictment” and “target” even been speculatively associated with the name Daley.

And of course … never before have we had a truly independent, aggressive and effective public prosecutor.

And this is only today’s world. It does not take a fortune teller to predict a lot more bad news is coming for Hizzoner.

>REACT: Animals vs. humans at London zoo.

>AOL News (Aug. 27) decided that the lead window story of the day was the London zoo’s new exhibit displaying humans in a natural setting. Newpapers all around gave at least a photo and caption to the event.

First of all, let me say that the zoo’s mountainesque diorama does not look like a natural setting for humans for at least a million years — with the possible exception of the outdoorsy camper types. Personally, I never understood the lure of spending eons to progress to our high human standard of living just to go out in the woods to act like a cave man. I prefer to camp out where a there is a bellhop to carry my luggage.

Of course, there are some reasons why modern young human creatures may find a brief visit to a secluded forest worth the mosquito bites. That, however, was not part of the London exhibition. Had it been, I think a trip to the zoo might have been more alluring. Now, I assure you I am only thinking of science and the fullest study of all aspects of human nature.

On the other hand, and despite my concern for complete scientific accuracy, I do hope that the humans on display are more discreet than elephants or water buffalo when they find it necessary to relieve themselves. Somehow, even the majesty of an elephant is compromised by the sudden and unexpected excretion of large amounts of digested vegetation.

The effect of the exhibit is seriously compromised since the human specimen are not naked, or even in some scanty shredded patch of garment with titillating glimpses — like the costumes seen in those 1950s prehistoric movies featuring tall Scandinavian women and highly buffed Arian cavemen.

Rather, the British exhibits are wearing swim wear of sorts – sometimes with paper fig leaf appliqués of the type elementary school children make in art class. Of course, there is enough flesh to yearn for more on a couple of the specimens. The others would be better more conventionally attired. And, by the way, what mammal beside homo sapien has figured out that the right clothes can make an average body look sexy? Every homo knows that … or is it sapien.

Unfortunately, the London creatures’ attire of bathing suits and gym shoes (with socks, in some cases) undermine the “au natural” effect. They look more like a group of high libido young adults resting during a rafting trip down the Colorado River.

To enhance the effect, the humans ape apes — crouching down and picking at each other. Not at all sure of the educational value of humans imitating apes. Their actions may be the weakest argument in my contention of human superiority.

In attempting to justify this … well … call it like it is … this cheap publicity stunt, zoo lady Polly Wills said that seeing people in such an environment “teaches the public that the human is just another animal.” Way no!! I think Polly needs a cracker.

I refuse to dishonor a few million generations of ancestrial evolution to place humans as “just another animal.” My great-to-the-127th-power grandfather did not drag himself out of the swamp by his stubby fins to have his progeny compared to the lackards who were too lazy to mount the evolutionary escalator.

One zoo guest, Tom Mahoney, bought into Polly’s perspective. He said that “lots of people think humans are above other animals … (this) kind of reminds us that we are not that special.” Maybe not you, my Neanderthal friend, but those of us who took sociology at a non-public school know we ARE very special. We are not “just another animal.” What more do you need to know than we humans do not defecate in public like that elephant.

Let me ask you, Tom … ever see a zebra cruising the Internet? You ever see a Jaguar driving one? We make clothes out of their skins, for goodness sake. You ever see a mink wearing a hairy human floor-length coat?

When given the chance, THEY eat us raw. We have evolved to know the culinary delight of cooking them with delicate herbs and spices at precisely the right temperature. And still, some cannot see the incomparable status difference.

They are known widely as “dumb animals.” Do we affix that appellation to huma … uh … bad example.

I understand that the members of PETA, and no few lonely old ladies, give parity to members of the animal kingdom. Their obsession with the lesser kingdoms is best handled by therapists – which is yet another thing the lowly animals never thought of. The only animals to see shrinks are those brought to human practitioners by … members of PETA and lonely old ladies.

I really do not want to open the entire spirituality debate – the human soul thing. Partially, because I think the case for human superiority of compelling without resorting to leaps of faith. But, I must remind you that “All dogs Go to Heaven” is just a cartoon. It is not theology.

Speaking of cartoons, we should never forget that the only animals that come close to our superior human level are cartoon characters. They are make believe creatures provided unnatural human skills for the amusement of our children. Name an animal that shows humantoons to the litter on Saturday morning.

Even after sharing millions of years of evolution, these poor creatures cannot come close to human talents and traits. Oh sure, there are a few things like Polly approximating human words without any comprehension of there meaning – referring here to a parrot, not Ms. Wills.

Dolphins and great apes can be trained to mimic language with a couple of instinctive synapse connections after intense training. But no dolphin has ever delivered a commencement speech, and no ape has ever written an alphabet.

Judging from the play the London zoo story is getting in the international press, I assume the British royal family has not done anything embarrassing lately … you know … like maybe Charles and Camilla being part of the exhibit. And now don’t going pointing to the royals in refutation of my “human superiority” argument. Remember, there has been a lot of inbreeding among that aristocracy.

If you do not think we humans (royals not withstanding) are leaps and bounds ahead in the race for evolutionary superiority, then flap your wings to the London zoo and see just how out of place humans (even silly ones) look in the animal domain. For my part, I am about to put on my leather shoes and suede jacket, and head out for some ground steer meat on a bun — medium rare.

>SPIN: Anti war news reporting — news or propaganda?

>Can anyone explain to me why the major American news establishment is so determined to promote Mrs. Sheehan into a counterpoint to the President of the United States — other than a deep trench of philosophic bias against the incumbent? Even given the well documented liberal slant of the majority of the news media, this is a remarkable alliance. Mrs. Sheehan is a minor story on the legitimate scale of newsworthiness, hoisted to prominence by editorial decree. The news rooms of the elitist press are not reporting Mrs. Sheehan, they are promoting her.

Even with such promotional support, she lives each day as proof of her minor league status. The attempt at self proving prophesy – that Mrs. Sheehan is a catalyst for a growing anti-war movement – is evidentially not working. Her activities attract only a hand full of fellow travelers – hardly the longed for fulfillment of the prophesy.

Mrs. Sheehan is the personification for a small band of anti-social misfits determined to spread their self hatred to the greater public under the ruse of a noble cause. They are the extremist edge of that portion of the population that abhors the war. I do not brand all, or even most, who intellectually and rationally oppose U.S. policy – or even disdain Bush – as misfits. There is ample room for honest disagreement and rational discourse. It is just that the Sheehan contingent is the dregs of the larger opinionate. As the strident subculture’s icon, she is a sham and a shame.

One can proffer, without fear of refutation, that the extremist/media propaganda combine works to undermine our military policies, and therefore emboldens our enemies. It encourages them to recruit more aggressively and fight more viciously in the belief that eventually American resolve to defeat terrorism will evaporate.

These protesters believe that immediate withdrawal will spare future American lives. Though not true, this over publicized anti-war rhetoric will have its impact and, in fact, cause the deaths of more soldiers and civilians at the hands of a more determined and optimistic adversary.

There is no reason to believe that surrender to the maniacal factions will create stability or peace, as these misguided dreamers seem to think. In fact, the argument and history weigh heavily to the likelihood that pacifism and appeasement will only create more terrorism. This world wide battle is NOT a response to U.S. military action. Ours is the response of an unrelenting effort by fanatical extremists to destroy the infidels wherever WE exist — man woman and child.

But how is it that so much of the national news media can be so tittled by the prospect of U.S. defeat and humiliation, and the victory of truly evil people, so as to become the public relations arm of the international murders, and their witless and unwitting allies in America? How is it that Mrs. Sheehan chooses not to direct her venomous wrath at the very people who compelled her son to volunteer for dangerous, but noble, duty? Why is it she chooses to point the finger at the person she accuses as a symbolic killer, while aiding and abetting the very people who really killed Casey Sheehan?

>REACT: My bet? Edgar takes a pass on the run for governor

>The burning question in Illinois politics is who is the next jail bound official. Oooops! That is not the burning issue at the moment. The issue de jour is the awaited decision by former Governor Jim Edgar as to whether he will make a comeback to take on Democrat Governor Rod Blagojevich.

I can only see one factor that makes a run tempting for Edgar. He could sit smugly in Springfield as his political nemesis in Chicago, Mayor Rich Daley, is twisting in the winds of scandal and controversy. There is no question, they do not like each other. I know that from personal experience (a story for another time). But ambition based on negative motivation is never a good idea, and especially true in this case.

My own guess is a big fat “no,” but only after Edgar milks the publicity for all it is worth. This is not uncommon. The late Governor Dick Ogilvie used to encourage speculation about a mayoral run every four years. He would never say “no” until the last moment — and I was never wrong predicting his final “regrets” despite hints to the contrary from “reliable sources.”

You have to understand that the Jim Edgars and Dick Ogilvies of the world are afflicted with very large egos — as are most successful politicians. When out of office, they suffer from “the phone doesn’t ring much anymore.” They miss the daily press inquiries soliciting their opinion on everything from Iraq to West Niles Disease. And of course, the perks of office.

Every so often, these retirees have an opportunity to re-enter the speculation game. The phone starts to ring, and their thoughts are again grist for the media mill. For the most part, however, the post-office life is too comfortable, financially rewarding and with just enough publicly narcotic to asuage withdrawal symptoms.

That is the general case. Then there are the specific Edgar issues.

First and foremost, he left office with a much better reputation and legacy than he every deserved. He can do nothing but harm his lingering public image with another residency in the executive mansion.

He came to the governorship at much better times. The state was in better financial condition, and the issues were not as controversial or confrontational. In addition, he had a mostly supportive GOP controlled legislature.

Edgar has never been one to rise to a tough challenge. He was tapped for the Secretary of State office by his powerful friend and mentor, former Governor Jim Thompson. His road to the first gubernatorial nomination was paved by party bosses, including Thompson (much to the chagrin of indicted former Governor George Ryan.) This time Edgar would face a strong incumbent in a state that has tilted to the point of collapse to the Democrat party. He may even trigger a primary fight. Though an odds on winner in a primary, a bull dog right winger could bruise Edgar pretty badly.

Of course, not much has been said recently about the opinion of Brenda Edgar, who was reported to have loomed large in the decision to retire. Part of that was due to Edgar’s heart condition — still a consideration. Despite the calm exterior, he is reported to be a stress-prone guy.

In his two terms, all the prosecutors were politician friendly. Sure there was an indictment here and there — usually guys out of favor with the GOP/DEM central power structure. These cases provided an appearance of independence, oversight and reform. Now Edgar would face a truly aggressive and independent U.S. Attorney.

Why should Edgar care? Because … swept under the good publicity carpet of Edgar’s incumbency are a number of troublesome issues. Despite the carefully burnished choir boy image were a number or ethical “irregularities.” The influence of the mobbed up New Republicans in his administration and a questionable $100,000 donation about which Edgar claimed to know nothing — even as he dined privately with the donors. His political intimates include recently indicted insiders John Glennon and Stuart Levine, the already convicted Don Udsten, and the unindicted, albeit infamous, Cellini clan.

In addition, Edgar would have to dip into the campaign fund he made off with. He has more than $1 million in unspent campaign contributions as a sort of retirement annuity for his personal benefit. Raising money would not be as easy this time since hs is not a shoo-in, and he could wind up liquidating that slush fund.

Another run would rewrite the closing act of his political career. Maybe from a “last hurrah” to a humiliating defeat. Or, if elected, from a popular governor to a failed chief executive. Perhaps he would wind up presiding over the indictment of friends and allies, wonder of his own fate.

Edgar would be a fool to run, so what could overcome all the negatives and make him decide to go for it. Oh yeah! That enormous political ego. THAT could trump good judgment and common sense any time.

I still say to those contemplating a run for the GOP gubernatorial nomination, do not pause for a second. Run like there is no Edgar.

>UPDATE: The never ending annoyance of Mrs. Sheehan

>I am afraid Mrs. Sheehan is a bit of a fraud, supported by a fawning press. I was around Washington in the Vietnam era, when 250,000 people descended on the city to protest the war – more than once. Huge anti war rallies in almost every major city. THAT was significant. The fact she draws only a few hundred “Bush bashers” after weeks of intense media promotion suggests more hype than reality. She draws less than one-hour attendance at the Crawford country fair.

I guess there is just too much “cry for the cameras” to be sincere. The fact that she has a controlled blog and public relations firm suggests a carefully crafted image. It is almost never reported that she had referred to Bush as a “lying bastard,” filth spewer,” “evil maniac” and the world’s “biggest terrorist.”

And … she already had a meeting with Bush and another with top aides. She poses no real questions that remain unanswered. She is a person seemingly driven more by obsessive hatefulness and virulent vanity than sincere sorrow. She dishonors the heroism of her son, and will cause more deaths of soldiers and civilians by emboldening the truly evil killers. How dare this phony demand more – and shame on the press for building this mole hill into a media mountain.

>REACT: Another reason to hate the education industry

>The Chicago Tribune (Aug. 25) did a front page feature on the high cost of text books. As a typical example, they noted that an average freshman at the University of Illinois (Chicago) pays $931 for textbooks (an unbelievable $698, if used). I am not making this up, folks.

If you travel through any commercial book stores, you are hard pressed to find any books in the $150 range of so many school texts. Since textbooks and enjoy brisk sales because they are “required,” common sense and free market forces should keep prices down. (Yes, I know that means higher “demand,” but the supply is unlimited and the purchases are imposed.) In other industries, the red flag of anti trust and price fixing would be waving vigorously.

The whole world of school books is as seamy as organized crime. Payola and lavish gifts for purchasing committees. In one case a bunch of nuns accepted bribes to purchase from a certain publishing house. Professors often pump sales by “requiring” their own books. The cut throat business of achieving a national standard text book — with “political bias” playing an important role. While used books go for high prices, the sell back will net the student pennies on the dollar.

Maybe be prices are to compensate for the fact that almost no textbook will be turned into a highly profitable movie or television mini-series.

Instead of talking more expenditures for the silk lined pockets of the education industry, our lawmakers should be investigating just what makes textbooks so expensive.

>REACT: Congressman Rahm Emanuel defends Mayor Daley

>Having witnessed Congressman Rahm Emanuel’s (D-Ill) vote of confidence speech for scandal-ridden Mayor Richard Daley, I have to say he is a brilliant defense attorney — having honed his skills as a top aide to President Clinton, no doubt.

He spoke eloquently of a mayor so attuned to details that he personally could deal with traffic congestion at six corners and specific need for a new neighborhood park. Of course, that is the mayor we have all come to know.

Methinks, however, that Emanuel damned the mayor by great praise. So compelling was his recitation of the mayor’s intimate knowledge of all that is Chicago that I became convinced such a micromanager could not have been, at best, unaware of, or at worst, culpable for the pandemic scandals surfacing like sky rockets at Grant Park on the Fourth of July.

Though exquisite in style, Emanuel’s “argument to the jury” fell short.

First, many of the cited accomplishments were refutable, such as when he spoke of Daley leading to a secession of racial politics and tension or holding the line on property taxes.

Secondly, Emanuel’s case for a schizophrenic mayor – the micromanager and ultimate decision maker on “issues” and the mindless, inattentive executive who “outsourced” politics – is not sustainable. There is no separation between “issues” and “politics” any more than one can separate “conception” and “implementation.” Also, these scandals are not the singular result of an errant worker, a freelance corrupt official. This is wide spread institutional corruption manage by, and for the benefit of, the political machine by his closest allies and family members.

The fact that virtually everyone knows how “the system” works in Chicago makes it impossible for the political scion — reared in “the system” and promoted by his manipulations of “the system” — to be oblivious. He has been forewarned about “the system” by past scandals that served as foreboding tremors of the coming earthquake. Editorialist, community activists and friends have repeatedly pointed to the sleaze beneath the polished civic image. Accepting the mayor as oblivious would only damn him to being remarkably inept and dangerously incompetent.

For such massive corruption to occur, top management cannot be oblivious. Management creates the culture. Underlings not only do as the boss “says,” but what they know the boss wants. For the mayor to say he never told anyone to do anything illegal is inadequate. Minimally, he apparently never told any one to stop it.

In the final analysis, Emanuel’s speech in the court of public opinion is irrelevant. Public opinion will not change the course of events. The fate of the mayor rests in his own culpability, if there be such, and the skills of the U.S. Attorney. Like bridge, I suspect the cards are mostly dealt. It is only for us bystanders to see how they are played out.

>REACT: The ultimate attack on American culture

>In recent month, increasing evidence points to an unprecedented assault on our American culture by the far left. It is their goal to transform our country from a land of personal freedom and opportunity to a nation in subservience to political correctness. We are to be force marched to a cadence set by a cadre of self-appointed elite.

Their mandate is not granted neither by a supreme God nor an elected public guardian, but imposed by the ruthless will of the oppressor. It is their arrogant sense of noblis oblige that compels them to manage the life affairs of those of us less intellectually capable or spiritually enlightened.

Yes, I warn you that this latest aggression in the battle for our future is among the most sinister and most dangerous. Defeat will strip us of our most basic rights, our most cherished freedoms. Liberal success will condemn us to a life of bland obedience within the sterile environment of a well regulated society.

Liberals recognize this issue as the fulcrum upon which our ideological debate teeters. We are now engaged in what could be the determinant battle — the conflict that will empower its victor for generations to come.

I suspect that many of you already know of what I write. Surely, you have seen the battle clouds looming on the hueless horizon.

What? The Supreme Court? The John Roberts nomination? Iraq?

No! No, no, no! I am referring to the conspiratorial assault on the Oreo cookie. Our very right to eat as we please is being threatened. Not only is the Oreo sustenance of life, but it is the very fulfillment of the founders’ promise of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

The left wing strategy, hitherto under the radar, has come upon us like the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor with a Chicago Tribune front page series condemning the popular snack. Each feature article in the series reinforces the other’s bias against the greatest American cookie.

The anti-Oreo movement claims to be protecting our children (a most common liberal ruse). The left wing diet Nazis would snatch that scrumptious treat from the tender fingers of smiling youngsters — fingers so sweetly coated with a mixture of milk and brown crumbs.

What life is not enhanced by the availability of those dark brown two-inch disks held together by a confectionary “glue” of creamy whiteness? Can milk even be contemplated absent the possibility of submerging an Oreo on occasion? Will we never again enjoy the chilled treat of Oreo bits entrapped in the milky perma-frost of ice cream? Will we again be doomed to consume cheese cake with only graham cracker crust?

The strident left wing activists have chosen their battle well. Passing up McDonald’s hamburgers, fried rice, flan and Twinkies — and cheese cake — they have made the humble Oreo the main target in this latest battle for the heart and soul (and stomach) of America. They know full well that the fall of the Oreo is the fall of the republic for which it stands.

If we, as a nation … a people … cannot defend the Oreo, is their anything in our culture that and bring us together in common cause? This is our Armageddon .. our Appomattox … the battle that will decide forever more the course of human events.

Our nation is predicated on the necessity to compromise. But, unlike the Oreo, this issue provides no happy center. It is the uncompromisable choice between liberty and death. The attack on the Oreo is not unlike the attack on America, itself. It is the most successful cookie in the world. It is number one. To topple the Oreo is to fell the flag of freedom from atop the patriotic parapet.

The liberal enemies of the Oreo are emboldened by the knowledge that this dietary delight was brought forth in a free market — the product of corporate America, which the left wing so loathes. Had the Oreo, by chance, been produced by government edict, our current adversaries would be providing samples at every school lunch counter, and demanding taxpayer subsidies for distribution to the poor. It would be the subject of public service advertisements featuring the brown mustachioed grins of Martin Sheehan, Barbara Streisand and Michael Moore.

I come to this battlefield not as a theorist. I am a devout devourer of both freedom and the Oreo. I LOVE the Oreo. Well, I am compelled to confess, I really love the double stuffed variety. It is the perfect proportion of crispy wafer and soft creamy filling. When allowed to absorb its full measure of milk, tea, or coffee, it naturally melts into a slurry of indescribable sweetness with a distinctive chocolate flavor.

As a child, I would twist off one cookie and scrap the filling into my mouth with my upper two front teeth. Now, I usually consume the entire cookie in tact. On occasion, however, I remove the “caps” from two Oreos, then press together the two white surfaces to produce one quadruple stuffed Oreo — to be relished almost as a religious rite, a communion between man and Eros, the god of love, romance … and chocolate. (Why do you think “chocolates” is the gift of seduction?)

The very authoring of this call to arms has engendered such a craving, that upon completion of my writing, I shall be compelled to visit the all night convenience store to de-shelf a package of Oreos – double stuffed, to be sure. Hopefully some will remain for morning milk.

So in closing, let me call on all patriots to seize the moment as you recall our founder’s admonition that the price of liberty – the right to consume that Oreo – is eternal vigilance. I may disagree with what you eat (and what you eat may even disagree with you), but I shall defend to morbid obesity your right to eat it.

>BECAUSE YOU ASKED: What is with that transportation bill?

>President Bush came to House Speaker Denny Hastert’s Illinois district to sign the transportation bill. That was appropriate since a lot of money from the bloated legislation is earmarked for Mr. Speaker’s homeland.

The transportation bill stands as testimony that big spending and pork barrel politics are not the exclusive domain of the Democtrats. As I watched the President signing away billions in unnecessary expenditures, the image on the small screen seemd to be morphing into Bill Clinton. And, that may be unfair to Clinton.

For all his other faults — and they are many — he was not the worst fiscal chief executive in recent times. I suspect many liberal Democrats were as pained by his surprise conservative approach to some money matters as I was by George Bush’s willingness to praise that which he warned against so recently. Despite the fact that the appropriations for the transportation bill exceeded the President’s ceiling, he signed it anyway.

This would have been a good time for him to take out his never used veto pen.