Monthly Archives: January 2008

>REACT: Brattleboro gunning for Bush and Cheney

>Just when you think the folks in Brattleboro, Vermont cannot get any nuttier, they out do themselves. You will recall from my earlier blog that the Kurt Daims is leading a movement to have the town issue an arrest warrant for George Bush and Dick Cheney for crimes against the Constitution. In most communities, I suppose he would qualify as the proverbial “village idiot.” But, not in Brattleboro. In fact, he is a bit of a community leader, now having persuaded the Selectboard to buy into his fantasy.

Of course, the Brattleboro town attorney has no authority to write up the indictment and arrest warrant. The police have no legal authority to pick up the Prez even if he were to get lost on the highway and wind up in Brattleboro by accident. The whole idea is unconstitutional, according to the Vermont Attorney General.

I sort of like the irony of the disregarding the Constitution to file a petition against the President for … disregarding the Constitution. So, if it passes, should the people of Brattleboro go arrest themselves?

Showing that Brattleboro is without a firewall of sanity anywhere to be found, the selectboard (photo) has voted to put the measure on the ballot. I suspect that the vote was mostly intended to get little lost Brattleboro some national attention – like a child acting badly.

According to AOL News, Brattleboro is getting a lot of nasty emails and phone calls sprinkled with suchs words as “nuts” and “wackjobs.” The emailers wonder if the good people of Brattleboro have been standing out in the cold too long, or if something has seeped into the town water supply. Personally, I am betting on a bad crop of maple syrup.

No all this reaction has some town’s folk mighty worried. Town Clerk Annette Cappy said that they “have some concerns about safety. After reading some of these emails, you can’t help it.”

Of course, no one can overreact like a town constable with very little to do. Police Chief Eugene Wrinn promised that any threats against the town or people of Brattleboro would be taken seriously. Fortunately, Wrinn can keep his pistol holstered since no threats have been received. Whew!

Because it is a meaningless insult to the President, Vice President and common sense, I suspect the media will enjoy giving Brattleboro’s referendum more publicty than a Paris Hilton fashion mishap.
I think this is one of those situations where the President looks better by the character of his enemies. But, ya gotta love a country were a guy like Daims and the people of Brattleboro can parlay nothing but cold winters, nice scenery and succulent sap into 15 minutes of fame on the national stage. In their case, maybe only three and a half minutes.

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>REACT: Obama’s race card could be a joker

>Barack Obama wins an impressive victory in South Carolina. No doubt about it. His victory assures that he will never be putting his feet up on the desk in the Oval Office – at least not his season.

What, you say? Since when does a big victory portend defeat? Answer: In the other-side-of-the-mirror world of politics. Remember, this is the Democrat primary and South Carolina is not a typical state – southern or otherwise.

Obama played the reverse race card brilliantly. The campaign that was alleged to NOT be about race was all about race in South Carolina. Why not? He learned the advantages of the race card in arguably the most racist political machine in American. He saw how it was used to advantage to bring in Harold Washington victory in a three-way primary race – with two white candidates (ironically, a man and a woman) to split the vote. And, he was there to witness the restoration of white supremacy in Chicago by making all issues a matter of black and white.

With more than fifty percent of the Democrat voters in South Carolina being black, this was more of a slam-dunk than an upset victory for Obama. Jessie Jackson, in hopeless pursuit of the Democrat presidential nomination, came out on top in South Carolina in both 1984 and 1988.

Having released the rabid dogs of racism from their cages, Obama has made race an issue – more than just the obvious fact that he is running as a black man. Dividing blacks and whites in South Carolina may have been good hardball politics for the day. However, as the Democrat primary moves to other states, there is likely be a backlash against Obama, who has shifted from the promise of a president of all the people – the uniter – to the activist representative of the black community. To some degree, he morphed himself a bit into the type of black candidate (a la Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton) who get rejected by the broad base of voters.

In this latest primary, Obama got three-quarters of the black Democrat vote, leaving Hillary and Edwards to divide up the remaining 25 percent. The white vote was the reverse. Only race (read that racism), as the number one issue, could have produced that result.

These figures also show that Democrat voters a quite, shall we say, racially driven. The racism card would be a useless deuce if it did not win the hand. The South Carolina Primary was a black verses white contest. So much for the party of inclusion.

The backlash from South Carolina’s racist vote, and Obama’s pandering, is so significant that several left-wing bloggers accuse the Clintons of putting the race card face up – cynically surrendering South Carolina for gains in the big states coming up in a matter of days — sort of anticipating the racist response of white Democrat voters. Okay, I said it was cynical, and I am just reporting what some of the more liberal bloggers are saying.

Considering the black community votes disproportionately – way disproportionately — in the Democrat primary, Obama’s pleas for racial solidarity provide an edge. If he were to make it to the general election, he will have to somehow undo his black activist message. South Carolina now makes that a little more difficult.

>REACT: Is McCain able?

>I rarely take political recommendations from movie stars, and other uninformed celebrities. So, when Chuck Norris said John McCain is too old to be president, I could care less about the action movie actor’s opinion. However, if posed as a question, it is a whole ‘nother thing.

Is a guy 71 years old too old for the rigors of the most powerful office in the world? After due deliberation, and slipping over 60 myself, I have to say a definite “maybe.”

I can already hear the AARP chorus bellowing “ageism!” and trotting out some genetic oddity who is an 80-year-old pole-vaulter. We are just not supposed to suggest that an older person is incapable of taking on any task – except maybe driving a car – even though we know getting up after falling down can be a challenge for a lot of folks McCain’s age.

Two issues that should encourage us to at least examine the question. We know that as even healthy people age, they change. They lose memory and some strategic thinking ability. As we age, we simply do not have the same energy level to maintain the mental and physical activity we did at 40. I have seen younger candidates become zombie-like at the end of a long busy day of meetings and speeches – their brains and bodies unable to function.

Another age factor is temperament. Stereotypically, we refer to older men as “grouchy” and older women as “cranky.” This is not without just cause. The pressures of aging, and the chemical and psychological changes, often make older people more short-tempered.

With McCain, the behind the scenes whispers already suggest a man with a volatile and sometime irrational temperament. I can speak from some experience with this. The only time I met McCain was when I was asked by a friend to pick him up at his hotel and bring him to a private fundraiser.

At the time, as a total McCain fan, I relished the thought of meeting him. For about forty-minutes I had the wannabe president in my car along with two of his aides. At about the half way point, I was ready to pull over to the curb and invite the senator to walk the rest of the way. His maniacal self-serving rant, his mistreatment of his aides, and his incessant gibberish was enough to turn my opinion of him 180 degrees.

I cannot say if he suffers from age-related issues, the affects of his Vietnam War confinement or just your run-of-the-mill mental issues, but from that day forward I could never feel comfortable with the thought of him in the Oval Office. (Least you make an erroneous assumption, his behavior toward me was normal. I did not draw my opinion from anything personal between us.)

Second is the issue of future health. McCain can look as vigorous and energetic today, but at his age, he is in the red zone of life. It is a time that you notice that most of the people in the obituaries are younger than you. Those in the 70-plus group are at high risk for heart attacks, strokes, cancer, Alzheimer’s, and other debilitating diseases. The prospect of an incapcitated president is even worse constitutionally than a dead president. In this age, we are not likely to allow a near dead president to govern through the First Lady, as was the case with Woodrow Wilson. The chances of McCain completing two terms in office without a major health crisis is on the slim side. Based on most calculations, his odds of surviving the office for eight years are less than 50-50.

He can get all the “permission slips” in the world from his spry 95-year-old mother. But her longevity has little bearing on McCain’s own prospects. It is a cute and charming campaign ploy, but tells us nothing.

Pointing to Reagan as an example is equally useless. The age difference of three years can be viewed as insignificant if they were 45 and 48 years old on Inauguration Day. But once you hit the seventies, a LOT changes in three years. Some, even fans, would argue that Reagan was starting to show signs of mental deterioration in the last years in office. A dotting staff and momentum kept it from showing in public – much like Franklin Roosevelt’s crippled legs and declining acuity. (Some argue that the Cold War was the result of Roosevelt’s lack of mental acuity at Yalta). And just because we got lucky with Reagan, does not mean we should tempt the fates a second time.

I know each individual is a unique case, and it is possible McCain will live to be a healthy 100. Just not likely. The only good thing about a McCain presidency is that he at least he would not be driving on the highway.

>OBSERVATION: Life and death in Camelot

>Within two seemingly unrelated events, I found an interesting common thread.

The first was the highly coveted endorsement bestowed on Barack Obama by the distinguished senior senator from Massachusetts, Ted Kennedy. Media affection for all things Kennedy assured this event would receive maximum publicity of the most favorable kind. The second event was the tragic death of television anchorman, Randy Salerno.

What possible connection?

Salerno was accidentally killed while riding on a snowmobile driven by his best friend, Scott Hirschey. Hirschey had been drinking. The badly injured and overwhelmingly remorseful life-long friend was charged with a number of civil and criminal offenses, the most serious of which is vehicular homicide – murder, more simply put. He faces the potential of decades in prison.

Kennedy did far worse. The inebriated playboy senator, carrying an expired drivers license, drove his car off the Chappaquiddick bridge in Martha’s Vineyard late one night, abandoning a potentially still alive young woman, named Mary Jo Kopechne, to the last breath of oxygen in an air pocket just inches below water. Testimony suggested that she may have survived up to two hours on available air. Uninjured himself (forget the “for show” neck brace), Kennedy left the scene of the accident to confer with family and aides in an attempt to escape both the scene and responsibility. When that was impossible, the Kennedy machine went into action, making the Watergate and Lewinsky cover-ups look like an episode of True Confessions. Every step of the way was marked by fabrications, payoffs and terminated investigations. Kennedys are never brought to justice in Massachusetts.

One man’s life in ruins and another is formally addressed as “the honorable and distinguished.” I just ain’t right.

Obama expressed great pride in the endorsement from Kennedy. Perhaps the deadly philandering sot of a senator is in good company with Obama’s indicted wheeler-dealer pal, Tony Rezko, who helped launch the Senator’s career with jobs, money and introductions. They both put themselves above the law.

>OBSERVATION: Abortion: Death takes no holiday

>(NOTE: This blog item contains graphic photographs of aborted fetuses. I provide this alert not to discourage your viewing them, but to draw your attention. No discussion of abortion can be complete without such compelling graphic evidence of its wrongness.)

Today is the 35th anniversary of the infamous Wade v. Roe decision that allowed the promotion and practice of abortion as an acceptable means of terminating more human lives than THE Holocaust – and a few lesser genocides added on. I prefer to think of it as the yet unnumbered year until humanity regains its moral, ethical, civil and common sense equilibrium and bans the arbitrary procedure that is currently based solely on the simplistic idiocy that it is merely “a woman’s RIGHT to choose.”

My personal aversion to abortion is not religious based. I am far to poor of a Christian (if at all) to rely on church decrees. It is a matter of a secularly moral, just and civil society. Healthy cultures do not just go around torturously slaughtering their progeny. I oppose abortion, not from dogma, but from the fact that I love children and respect the enormously miraculous (in both the secular and theological sense) means by which they come into life. Once conceived, their humanness is caste. The pairing of the DNA establishes all the criteria that defines humanness. The new life’s unvoiced rights exist regardless of the opinion of society in any particular millennia.

To provide the woman with exclusive right over the very life, or death, of an unborn child requires legal, ethical and logical blinders. The fetus is among the most precious “commodities” of life. It is clearly the “product” for two individuals, both with well established legal liabilities. Even if you do not accept the inalienable right to life of the fetus as a human person, it is irrefutable that at least two individuals have legitimate claims.

Most offensive of all claims is the mantra that it is the woman’s body to do with as she pleases. The fetus is not a necessary or natural part of the female anatomy. It is a host function, with codified responsibilities and liabilities. Ironically, if a woman desired to have her healthy kidney removed (no question a part of her own boy), it would be unethical and, in some cases, illegal for a doctor to perform the requested operation.

The feminists’ claim to legal and biological authority and superiority, simply because Providence or evolution placed the early stages of development within the female body, is a preposterous and arrogant fallacy – but a necessary fraud if one is to attempt any justification for abortion on demand.

It is also important to keep in mind that humanness is not something we, as a society, are ever to determine. Humanness is inalienable. It exists as its own reality, not by the opinion of society. It cannot be granted or taken away by the edict of a despot, the opinions of scientists, the vote of a democratic majority, or the judgment of nine justices. It is not our moral obligation to make a determination of the moment of humanness, but to discover it through knowledge, logic, belief and general enlightenment.

Thanks to medical science, a fetus that was once too premature to be “viable” now survives. Only human ignorance allowed those earlier “viable” fetuses to be destroyed.

We should never think of abortion as a right. It is not. It is an infamous privilege. In reality, abortion exists as a selfish convenience – for the woman (or man), for a powerful segment of the medical community, and, to large extent, for our current society. Like all the other horrors of human history, it places convenience over life. In all cases, some humans must be dehumanized, become chattel, for the benefit for the ruling class. They are to be owned or controlled like lesser animals, or slain for their benefits to medical science, their perceived threat to the “superior” culture, to be eaten as game prey, or eliminated as a threat to the resources of a theoretically overcrowded society.

No matter how pathetic the claim — poverty, immaturity, stress, etc. etc. etc. – the so-called woman’s RIGHT to choose is an argument of convenience. Or inconvenience, if you will. The only “right” involved is the pervasively ignored right to life, itself.

We know it is wrong, theologically or civilly, to kill another human. We know that our protectable humanness begins BEFORE birth. But, at what moment in the human gestation period does the newly conceived acquire the civil rights and protections to which all humans are entitled, if not always granted? That is the essential question.

Apart from conception, there is no moment, no event, that can be cited as the transition from a worthless growth to a protectable human. Since there is no clear moment in pre-natal development when we can persuasively declare the commencement of humanness, we should err on the side of life. While we demand to be assured of guilt “beyond all reasonable doubt” before the execution of a criminal, we do not apply “reasonable doubt” as a protection against the wrongful killing of a guiltless human at its earliest stages of life.

Abortion is not our connection with an enlightened future, but some lingering barbarism from our primitive past. I am confidant that future hindsight will reflect on the era of abortion as a hideous era of an ignorant culture — no matter how sophisticated it may appear to so many intelligent people today. It will take its place alongside the other horrors of human decadence, such as cannibalism, human sacrifice, slavery, Nazi medical experiments and periodic outbreaks of genocide. All were justified by the influence leaders of the cultures in which they existed. All were seen as beneficial to the perpetrating society.

Today is significant, not as a national day of celebration, but as yet another Memorial Day – a day upon we should sadly reflect on the loss of so many lives cut short by surgeons with disregard to the basic elements of the Hippocratic Oath. Unfortunately, we have no great cause to declare that these poor souls have not died in vane. There are no heroes yet, only victims.

>REACT: Iowa caucuses are quaint, but un-American

>I almost made huge embarrassing blunder. Yes. It is true. I almost made a mistake … but only almost.

You see, I checked the Iowa returns on Google. I was stunned to “discover” that Barack Obama only got 4688 votes, while GOP winner, Michael Huckabee, got 40,000. Noting the apathy on the Democrat side, I hastily sent off letters-to-the-editor.

Then my brain kicked in. There is no way Obama could have gotten so few votes. The press kept talking about “record turnout.” Then I recalled that the Republicans and Democrats play a completely different game. The sensible GOP tells you the vote count, while the Dems have some convoluted formula to express the results in delegate count.

In my investigation, I also noted that there is another very telling difference in the Iowa caucus methodology. Republicans rely on a secret ballot – you know one of the most important and most basic of our essential freedoms as set forth in the Constitution by our really smart founders. Not so the donkey party. In the Democrat caucuses, every person has to publicly profess his or her choice. (This is the same concept that congressional Democrats support when they want to eliminate the secret ballot in union elections – a measure opposed by 9 out of 10 Americans.)

Now, I can go on and on about how publicly declared voting can subject the participants to intimidation and corruption, but go check out the opinions of the founders who put it into the Constitution. They are pretty articulate on the subject.

That is not the only un-American feature of the Iowa caucuses. Consider this. All the caucuses have to take place in a fixed two hours. Hardly enough opportunity for broad participation. There is no provision for absentee balloting, so travelers and all the Iowa troops overseas are disenfranchised. That’s right. The good soldiers, who arguably have the most at stake in terms of the presidential election, have no say in Iowa.

Even with a bumper crop of caucus participants, as was the case this year, the voting base is so small and so unrepresentative of the general population that the grandiose conclusions drawn from the results are mere ethereal hype. The Iowa caucus exists like the wizard in the Emerald City. Behind the big, bellowing voice we hear in the media is a very puny, and deeply flawed, institution. Put another way, Iowa is a very small tail wagging a very large dog.

Oh yeah. I had to sheepishly rescind my letter to the editor least my ignorance be too well publicized. You know, I do everything possible to keep it hidden.

>REACT: Children’s museum or mausoleum?

>Even after 9/11, I have not been one to cower in fear. On the other hand, it is prudent to take whatever precautions seem reasonable.

I was reminded of this when officials of the Chicago Children’s Museum announced a new location for the facility. They would move it from Navy Pier to the north edge of Grant Park, near the Harris Theatre and Millennium Park.

Given the congestion in that area, and the Chicago tradition not to clutter the park (as Daniel Burnham advised), my initial reaction was negative. Seems to me that there are a lot better locations for this very excellent museum.

These concerns pale when you consider that the new site is just a bomb’s throw away form the Aon Building – an edifice that law enforcement officials often designate Chicago’s second mostly like terrorist target. The first is the Sears Tower, of course.

Gads! Had those good folks at the Museum even given this a thought? I think not, or the proposed location would have been eliminated at the onset. Fortunately, it is not to late.

I know. I know. The likelihood of a devastating attack on the Aon Building maybe be rather low. Maybe. Not sure how to even calculate that. But, it doesn’t matter. In a worse case scenario, Aon is close enough to come down on the Museum like a sledgehammer. Mayor Daley, himself, believes that section of the city has potential as a terrorist target. He said so when he demolished Meigs Field. Look at how the Aon Building has been fortified and security pumped up dramatically since 9/11. The Aon folks obviously recognize the danger. Since there is no compelling reason to put the Children’s Museum at what could be Chicago’s ground zero, why take any risk at all. Like I said, there are plenty of even better places to put it.

You may recall in my blog item of September 21, 2007, I proposed that the Museum be put on the south end of Grant Park, where there are no serious terrorist targets. But hey, that’s only my opinion. I am sure the Mayor and the people at the Museum can come up with any number of better, and safer, locations than in the shadow of that Aon Building.

Least you think I am making too much of the terrorist thing, let me tell you. My family was living in the Loop on 9/11. I still vividly recall the high anxiety (you might even say terror) my wife and I felt as we raced to retrieve our son from his school near the Sears Tower – even as we listened to news accounts (inaccurate, thank God) of a possible hijacked jet liner flying towards Chicago’s tallest building. It is not the kind of experience one forgets, and I see no reason to put other parents needlessly in that situation – ever.

I hope the good people in charge of relocating the Museum will not be so ego committed to their plan so as to put the children in harm’s way. Chicago’s children need a first-class museum, not a childen’s mausoleum.

>OBSERVATION: Iowa and New Hampshire (yawn)

>Well … finally we are in the home stretch of the Iowa caucuses, to be quickly followed by the New Hampshire primary. Like Paris Hilton, they seem to enjoy an enormous amount of publicity solely because they exist.

The “first in the nation” status gives them unique advantage. First, the start off position provides them with disproportionate publicity for many weeks leading up to the votes. Succeeding primaries have to wait to receive press attention until the results of earlier votes. In some cases, the national media spotlight does not hit a state until a week or two before the vote.

Secondly, they have an appearance of importance that is belied but hindsight. Rarely do the outcomes of these states provide any real insight or advantage to the future candidacy. In fact, they are venues in which the most obvious front runners do well or where the future losers seem to look like winners for a very short time. In either case, the impact of Iowa and New Hampshire on the race is dubious at best.

This may be due to the fact that, despite chest beating to the contrary, the folks in Iowa and New Hampshire are not representative of the American fabric. For one thing, they don’t have any big city, urban citizens. Their “opinion” of the candidates does not carry much weight in the rest of the country. These two small states produce warm homilies and pretty imagery – classic Americana – but little political capital.

After all, what is the importance of a win in Iowa and New Hampshire if a candidate is going to take a drubbing in states like California, New York and Illinois? Conversely, what is the importance of a win in Iowa and New Hampshire if a candidate already is poised to carry states like California, New York and Illinois? We tend to give a lot of importance to Iowa and New Hampshire prior to the vote, and then completely ignore the results as the contest heads to the big delegate states.

Iowa and New Hampshire are like the coming attractions at the movies. No matter how interesting they try to make them, you’re glad when they are over and you can move on to the main feature.