Monthly Archives: September 2005

>UPDATE: Cindy off to the clinker.

>You ever get the feeling you’re watching a Saturday Night Live parody of a war protest. The arrest of the mourning-after mother, Cindy Sheehan, is almost that funny.

It is widely reported that she took up her position in front of the White House for the sole purpose of getting arrested — or, more accurately, for the sole purpose of getting lots of publicity for getting arrested. But, give her credit, she accomplished her mission.

Hey! Is that a big grin on her face? Yes! Yes! Cindy Sheehan is smiling — one of those really self satisfied smiles. She is one smug happy lady. And, why not? She just got the gift she had hoped for. A real arrest. She is now a bone fide member of the great Civil Protest Society of America. She has proven herself so dedicated to “the cause” that she will endure the swift sword of justice. Not that it is a terribly sharp sword.

She will suffer about as about as much as getting picked up for a DUI. A trip to the station, then out on the streets awaiting a trial date. Maybe a fine, no jail time. Actually, she will be treated much better than a drunken drive … even though her actions are likely to kill a lot more people.

Perhaps she will come out of the police station with a couple of self inflicted bruises, and a tale of the brutality of the cops. Remember, she is the one who cautioned about the coming violence during her camping out vacation outside the Bush ranch. I say cautioned, but her delivery suggested a certain hopefulness. I am not talking people getting killed, or badly hurt — she just could have used a bit of rough stuff to further her woe-is-me victim charade.

Well, it is good to know she can smile. Quite a difference from all those other photos of people getting arrested — crouching down, looking angry or scared. Then there are the folks who hid behind hats and newspapers. Not Cindy. She knows a good thing when she sees it. You go girl!! Directly to jail … do not pass “Go.”

P.S. I could have made some wise crack about that police hand between her legs as the sources of that smile, but that would be beneath my dignity.

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>SIDEBAR: Barenboim to leave Chicago Symphony

>Note: SIDEBAR is the term I use when talking about my personal experiences that relate in someway to news of the day. In news reporting, it refers to a secondary feature, usually in a “box,” that highlights a facet of the primary news story. It is borrowed from the legal profession, when judges and attorneys stand to the side of the public “bar” (judge’s bench) to engage in an unrecorded private discussion.

Internationally renowned musician and conductor Daniel Barenboim will surrender his baton at the Chicago Symphony.

I am way too much of regular guy to have more than a passing interest in the goings on in the hoi polloi world of the symphony. I do enjoy classical music of the type that most snobs consider schmaltzy. I like Liszt … sway to Strauss … like Beethoven basically … Mozart mostly … Hayden religiously … and I think Rachmaninoff rocks. However, I am cool to Copland … boycott Bartok … and Mahler makes me moan.

None of this takes anything away from the professed genius of Barenboim. In fact, I have no frame of reference with which to comment or pass any sort of judgment on his talent. I can only accept the written word of music critics that he is, in fact, a talented genius.

Hence, this is not about Barenboim the music maker, but Barenboim the man — at lease from my anecdotal acquaintanceship with him as a short term neighbor. You see, for several months he lived across the hall from us, in an apartment often used by great figures from the symphony and the Lyric Opera. We had the pleasure of friendly hallway encounters with such people as Eve Marton and Boris Godunov. Among the most frequent residents of the neighboring apartment were Maestro Bruno Bartoletti and his wife. He was musical director for the Lyric Opera. They were two of the warmest and most charming people on earth. Every music superstar we met was a wonderful neighbor.

Let me stress that we were not looking for social interaction with these celebrities, but did enjoy a gracious “passing in the hallway” relationship – maybe a bit more personal with the Bartolettis, who doted on our younger son and took a professional interest in our older and very gifted opera singer son.

Then there was Barenboim. All due deference to him as a musician, I can only say that the pejorative phrase “pompous arrogant insufferable jerk” seems to pop into my head whenever I see his name. This is a guy who would not so much as acknowledge a passing hello in the hallway. Even such a common courtesy would earn a scornful look, as if you had gotten a cell phone call during Debussy – and your ring tone was something from Led Zepplin. If Barenboim was about to enter the elevator, and saw someone coming down the hall, he would actually press the door closure button before they could enter.

I am not an anti-smoking zealot, but his late night cigars wafted smoke into our kitchen enough to put our noses and ceiling smoke detector on alert. The problem was somewhat ameliorated by the building management providing an air purifier.

Barenboim did not have one apartment. He had two. While he and a lady friend seemed to be ensconced in the luxury two-bedroom corner unit, his wife, kids and servant or nanny (as it appeared) were crammed in a one bedroom apartment down the hall. On those rare occasions when we actually saw him interacting with his family, his brutal authority over the family was, shall we say, discomforting — bad enough to conjure up feelings of pity for the wife and kids we never got to know.

At least Mrs. Barenboim could still say “hi” in the hallway — unless HE was with her, of course.

They eventually moved out of that apartment, and we moved to a higher floor in the building. The up close and personal Daniel Barenboim vanished from our daily life, thank goodness. The only aftermath is my insignificant, but self satisfying protest. While I still enjoy a good classical CD, I will not purchase any where Mr. Barenboim is conducting or playing.

>REACT: Sheehan and Jackson find common bond

>There they are. Anti war protester Cindy Sheehan and serial activist Jesse Jackson in the very same newspaper photo, brought together by a deep common bond. No! I am not speaking of their opposition to the war in Iraq or their mutual genetic aversion to George Bush. I am referring to their lust for the lenses.

The photo captures them in their best crafted poses — a smiling Jackson surrounded by cameras and Mrs. Sheehan drapped on his shoulder giving the photogs her well rehearsed vulnerable look. It is almost too intimate to observe, as each tenderly shares their most precious possession, the limelight.

If there were Academy Awards for “theatrics as news,” these two would win hands down. In their case, paparazzi have no challenge in seeking and shooting their prey. In fact, I can even imagine charges being filed against Jackson and Sheehan for harassing those otherwise annoying shutter buggers in “turn about is fair play.” I can see Jackson and Sheehan ambushing the photogs at ever opportunity, chasing cameramen down the street and jumping in front of their lenses without warning.

While Jackson is the experienced camera hog, Sheehan has one advantage. She is focused (no pun intended) on one issue. Jackson, like an ambulance chasing attorney, shamelessly shows up for every news event that garners more than three cameras.

To that extent, Jackson has made so many appearances on so many issues that his messages are becoming an irrelevant white noise (again no pun intended). Even worse for the good reverend, he is becoming more of a comedic character. Even his son, Congressman Jesse Jackson, makes fun of his father’s publicity craving — noting recently that he (the junior Jackson) had only had five press conferences in 10 year, but his father has that many a day.

On the other hand, Jackson has an advantage over Sheehan. As the war issue ebbs, as surely it will one day, Sheehan will disappear like the Cheshire cat in Alice in Wonderland (leaving for last that perma-pout instead of the enigmatic smile). The omni-issue Jackson will continue to find cause in every camera.

>REACT: Christians and gays at it again

>Just read an item about a Christian school in California that booted out a kid because his “parents” are a gay couple. Methinks the school officials should learn a bit more about being Christians.

Let us respect the right of the Christian school to proffer the belief that homosexuality is an immoral life style for the moment. Rather, just focus on this issue.

I see nothing Christian about booting a kid out of school because his PARENTS do not perfectly represent the life style of the faith. They are punishing the child for the perceived “sins” of the parents. Punishing the innocent is not a good thing to do, in my judgment — and does not seem consistent with my understanding of Christianity.

In addition, I would think the school would be happy to have that young soul within the bosom of the faithful every day, instead of exiling that youngster to the totally secular world. Because it is likely that the child loves both parents, the example of the school can only drive the youngster away from Christianity in the belief that all the faithful are as bigoted and shortsighted as the local school leaders.

Thirdly, it is obvious that the parents were faithful enough to send their child to a strict Christian school. One must assume that they value Christian doctrine and religious education. In setting aside the Christian admonition to “hate the sin, but love the sinner,” these school officials can only alienate the person from the body of the faithful. They are guilty of both judging others and acting hatefully against the perceived sinner.

Should Christian schools expel kids of parents who do drugs, commit adultery, drink, smoke, or maybe not even be Christians believers? What level of parental orthodoxy or moral precision is necessary to assure a young person a proper education within a loving Christian community?

This is not an abstract issue for me. My 12-year-old son attends a Christian school where at least one child is parented by a gay couple. Rather than boot the kid out, our school has no problem with the situation. The administrators, teachers, parents and children all seem quite comfortable in welcoming and interacting with the child and the parents. Of course, it is the subject of discussion, but only in that it is newsworthy. I have sensed no prejudice or malice in the observations.

How is it that some Christians can be so zealous in their Christian belief that homosexuality is toally immoral by the word of god, and yet be so oblivious or rejecting of Christ’s clear admonition not to judge others? From whence do THEY get the right to pick and choose from the buffet of moral mandates? In deciding which moral transgressions are to be followed, and which are to be ignored, they arrogantly supersede Christ — imposing themselves as the godly decision maker.

Christianity teaches that we are ALL sinners. This means that every parent in that school, and the very people who expelled that student, are, themselves, sinners. By what yardstick of relativism to they then determine which “sins of the father(s)” requires punishment of the child, and which are exempt.

I have to say, whatever anyone thinks about the gay issue, I deeply believe that our school has out “Christianed” the one in California by a long shot. We may hold varing beliefs on the quesiton of homosexuality, but we are not about to judge others in our midst — or to treat them in a hateful manner.

>OBSERVATION: The new Spanish-Indian war

>The Spanish proved to be fair weather friends. Based on a narrow and selfish view of themselves and the world, the Spanish elected a government with an anti-American bias, and then proceeded to make an ignoble retreat from Iraq. I cannot help but wonder if there is any connection between that and the recent installation of Indian warrior Po’Pay in a place of honor in the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. Po’Pay’s claim to fame is the brutal slaughter of about 400 Spaniards?

>OBSERVATION:Supreme Court — balance schmalance

>With the ascension of John Roberts to the tallest of the tall-back chairs of the Supreme Court, all attention is now focused on President Bush’s nomination to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. If he sends the the Senate a person even slightly to the right of Justice O’Connor, the Court will likely course to the starbord for a generation to come.

In response to this potential, the liberal legions have lockstepped to the cadence of the “preserve the balance” drumbeat. It is their claim that somehow the court is currently in balance — perhaps a bit of a conservative lean. For the sake of public debate and their own credibility, however, they will proffer a currently balanced Supreme Court that serves the public best by remaining without a teeter.

Of course, when President Clinton held authority over Supreme Court appointments, the word “balance” could not be found in their vocabulary. The liberal mission was to correct the “imbalance” by securing seats for only leftist jurists — and that is exactly what they did.

The left wing’s balance argument is no more valid than their argument that the person nominated must support certain icon planks of the liberal agenda. They argue against a “litmus test” so long as they can be provided with up front assurances of fixed philosophic postions on self-selected issues — and they see no inherent hipocriscy in the illogic of it all.

Of course the liberal’s view of balance would put the Court even further to the left of the national philosophic fulcrum. Since they see themselves as the natural ruling class, however, the norms of a less enlightend populace are not to be favorably considered in conjucntion with liberal superiority … the arrogance of that notion buffered by their claim of noblis oblige.

Of course, we all want a balanced Supreme Court. The problem is our philosophic definition of IMbalance. Liberals assert that the old Court was in some sort of balance, or at least as far right as is tolerable. To appoint a jurist to the right of anyone would creat an imbalance.

On the other hand, I personally think the Supreme Court has been effectively imbalanced for almost my entire life. To appoint a strict constructionist conservative would go a long way to finally correct much of the imbalance.

It my impression, and hope, that the President will appoint to the right without consideration to the languashing liberal voices that demand adherence to their own self-defined version of balance. This is his among Bush’s greatest potential legacies. I trust he will seize the opportunity.

Despite the fickle popularity polls, it is clear from the 2000 election that Bush was given a mandate to move the Court to the right. Democrats campaigned hard, using the next President’s likelihood of naming several justices as a centerpiece issue. The public clearly took notice of that potential and overwhelmingly endorsed Bush in person, and conservative principles in general. The only way Bush can keep faith with the public, is to use that mandate to send the Senate another conservative — maybe even more like Scalia or Thomas. Contemporary popularity polls, and the threatening barks of the left, should not trump the manifest will of the people. Bush has no re-election to compromise principle with political practicality.

Of couse, since this is the seminal moment for the left, we can expect their most brutal partisan attacks on the nominee. They are not looking to advise and consent. The Senate liberals want nothing more than to appoint by default. There only hope is to make the President believe that only a candidate acceptable to them will avoid a political donnybrook that will further sink his political fortunes.

In his next appointment, Bush will affirm his legacy with a philosophic nomination, and will fight to the mat to achieve confirmation, or he will succumb to the illusionary benefit of acquesence to the wilting assault of the left. I am betting on Bush to do what is right — in every sense of the word.

>OBSRVATION: What is with Cindy Sheehan?

>I have been involved in public issues for two score, and like to think of myself as one of those who can respect opinions I do not share — and even like the people who express them.

I generally support President Bush on the rationale and necessity of the war in Iraq. I have many good friends who disagree. I have had many a civilized debates with such friends, leaving the discussion with the same friendship and respect with which I entered it.

Then there is Cindy Sheehan, the crusading mother of one of our fallen heroes. I would rather spend eternity tied to my old school desk while tormentors scratch the blackboard than to listen to her shrill voice screeching out inanities. Her camera-petrified dropping face is an assault to my eyes. The intelligence quotient of her argument is as close to zero as is humanly possible.

She brings out my least generous side. I even wonder if her son’s enlistment was not a means of getting away from “mommy dearest,” and if the flight of her husband was not a rational act of self preservation. Oh, I know these are terrible thoughts, and I am at a lost to know why she so readily conjures them.

It is not as if I have to deal with her real person on a day-to-day basis. I need no military enlistment or divorce to keep her at distance. I am fortunate to only have to turn the page or change the channel to have her removed from my presence.

As I ponder my own reactions, I know that part of it is my belief that she is now overtaken by her own ego — caring no longer for the cause, those other soldiers, the truth, or even her son. She has defined her whole being in her narrow mission. Everything else is a pretext.

Virtually no one in authority agrees with her “pull out now” position. Certainly not those of us who believe that the war was necessary, weapons of mass destruction not withstanding. But, even those who originally opposed the war reject instant withdrawal. They, too, understand that abandonment now would create not a safer world, but rather would give reign to an orgy of political violence, the collapse of Iraq into a terrorist anarchy, destabilize the middles east, wreak havoc on the world’s oil-dependent economies and increase acts of terrorism within these United States.

While I take comfort in the fact that her pleas will go unheeded by the rationale and responsible world, the fact that she would give aid and comfort to our enemies maybe at the root of my uncharacteristic animus. Or maybe my realization that her egotistical malevolence or pathetic stupidity will only embolden the madmen to step up their killing efforts. To the extent she gives hope to those maniacal killers, she will cause more of our soldiers … and more innocent civilians … to be brutally and ruthlessly slaughtered.

The war in Iraq will … and must be continued. Cindy Sheehan’s only contribution will be to increase the number of American soldiers returning home in body bags, and the number of unsuspecting men, women and children blown to bits.

Maybe the fact that I have a grandson in the front line in Iraq … maybe that is why I find her so very offensive. I do not want him to be one of Cindy Sheehan’s victims. I wish she would have the decency to go home in silence … and stay there.

>LMAO: Getting into jail is not difficult for some

>A guy goes to the Cook County Courthouse to find his attorney. When confronted at the security station, he glutches and asks the guards to track down his attorney on an upper floor. When they check with the courtroom, the guards are advised that there is an outstanding drug-related arrest warrant for the visitor. He is then detained and searched. The guards discover more than $45,000 worth of herion on his person. Now this guy REALLY needs to see his lawyer — and probably a good shrink to deal with his diminished mental capacity.

>OBSERVATION: No wonder some think blacks look alike

>There is an old thing about all blacks looking alike through caucasian eyes. Well, artist Simmie Knox is not helping matters, and he is black.

Let me preface my observation by saying that I think Simmie is one hell of a portriat painter. If I were famous enough or rich enough to have an official protrait, I would ask Simmie to do it. For one thing, his portriats actually look like the real people … only even better. That is what I want … realism, but better.

Anyway, when researching the background of U.S. Representative Josepth Rainey (R-SC) and Senator Hiram Revels (R-MS), the first blacks to serve in those respective bodies, I noticed that the recently dedicated portrait of Rainey looked a bit familiar. When I checkout our Revels old portrait, my confusion was understandable.

Check out Rainey on the left (being admired at his dedication this week) and Revels on the right. One gets the sense that Semmie was not going for originality when casting the setting for his study of Rainey. Same pose. Same chair. Same table. Same flag.

They are so similar (maybe that’s what Simmie stands for) that you can play “pick out the ten differences.” I’ll give you some hints. Different ties … one has crossed legs … and the hair length … and a window. I can’t find anymore. Can you?

>SPIN: Bias by omission?

>In covering the unveiling in the U.S. Capitol of a portrait of the first elected Black Congressman, Joseph Rainey, of South Carolina, the Chicago Sun-Times (September 22) noted the attendance of Congressional Black Caucus members, fairly well known as a Democrat lobbying group, and the ever camera ready Jesse Jackson, a Democrat. It then quoted a Democrat congressman noting that Rainey is the first “person of color” to have a portrait installed among the hundreds of paintings on the House side of the Capitol.

Since most might assume, from the reporting and “prevailing wisdom,” that Rainey was a Democrat, I searched perused the story for that pro forma information. When I did not find it, my gut instinct predicted that Rainey was a Republican, and the omission made to keep the story in line with current liberal mythology. I found an online biography that confirmed my suspicion. Rainey was a staunch Republican.

I am not a terribly cynical person, but the article begged for the inclusion of the partisan designation as a relevant biographical fact. It is almost unheard of for the media to not identify a legislator’s affiliation, making the omission that much more glaring. It is not something that can be simply overlooked, or thought irrelevant to the article. This exception to newspaper tradition gives credence to existence of a subtle and pervasive or media bias.