Friday, September 21, 2007

SIDEBAR: Sex and theology are a putrid mix.

Freedom of expression means that we, as a society, must endure the offensiveness even of the dysfunctional sociopaths. I was reminded of this, when one of my computer searches came across the crucifix dildo. This let me to a site of religious hate products compiled by a wacko named Jim Walker. (You can click on photo, if you care to read that ad copy.)

Now allow me to make myself clear. I have the utmost respect for different opinions, and I am more of critic of organized religion than an adherent. However, it is hard to imagine anything short of human violence that could be more repugnant to any concept of civility, tolerance, understanding and decency than the garbage offered on this site. To sugggest that this site should be taken as an overall expression of satyrical humour is ridiculous. Granted, there are a few things that are edgy funny. (In view of the headlines, the stained glass window of the priest being serviced by the alter boy IS funny in an editorial cartoon sort of way). Unfortunately, the collection as a whole reveals too much hatred to be listed under "humour." People who can only claim fame by shock value are pathetic creatures -- deserving of more pity than scorn.

Walker's anti-Christian obsession is not benign. It is a disservice to society by offering a rallying point for similar sociopaths. His "no beliefs" would more aptly be called "no decency." If Christians were as maniacal as the fundamentalist Muslims, the creators of this type of pornography would have met Allah a long time ago – and no 40 virgins. Not even one. Of course, Walker is a non-believer, so he will spend his newly discovered eternity without a god --- and definetly no virgins.

Oh! I noticed his collection of anti religious crap did not include any Muslim products. No Allah pornagraphy. In addition to being a sociopath, our dear dememted Mr. Walker is a coward. He is like the bully who only picks on the little kids.

Afterthought: I never quite understood the Muslim promise of a gaggle of vestal virgins as an eternal reward. If I have my druthers, I would prefer a room full of sluts. I mean … we are talking eternity, here. Also, if we leave our bodies behind as we enter heaven, do we still have the equipment to enjoy carnal pleasures? Don’t scoff! These are important theological questions.

REACT: Better place for Chicago Children's Museum

Mayor Daley and Gigi Pritzker have done a great disservice to Chicago by falsely accusing opponents to their proposed Grant Park site for the Chicago Children’s Museum of being motivated by racism. Using concocted racism as a straw man, they have promoted what they feign to oppose. The location they have selected is simply a bad idea. It places the kids in the most congested location in Chicago, and is a significant intrusion into the limited open space at the north end of Grant Park. The Daley-Pritzker site already serves the children (of all ethnicities) through the Richard J. Daley park house. The wrongness of the site and the accusations are evident in the overwhelming indignant public response.

Now having cursed the darkness, let us light a candle. I have an idea.

Why not put the Museum in the area around Michigan Avenue and Roosevelt Road? This would bring it closer to the “museum campus,” and to an area targeted for substantial development in the coming years. It already has a significant residential community (and more to come), and has excellent transportation routes – surface, el and train. This would bring the venue closer to three significant minority populations, Black Hispanic and Asian – and take it out of the center of the Loop congestion.

In this south-end location, the Museum also would function like a second park house, serving the children of the south and southwest sides, just as the Daley facility serves the north side. Even the modest use of Grant Park land would be less intrusive. That corner of Grant Park is currently under utilized.

How about two campuses? Actually, the Navy Pier location is a good one. The south Loop site can be a second location. After all, we are a very big city, with lots of kids -- and Gigi's family has a lot of money.

One of the mayor’s strengths is to fix problems, not create them. It is very possible that the Daley-Pritzker combo can force their will on the City Council. However, they cannot win the approval or respect of the good citizens of Chicago, who know a bad idea when they see one. On the other hand, the mayor can teach the children of Chciago a great lesson – that public opinion does matter. So far, the mayor has only tripped. Let’s hope he does not totally fall down on this one.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

REACT: Gigi Pritzker follows Daley into the racism muck

Well, first it was Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley calling his constituents racists for not supporting the move of the Chicago Children’s Museum to one of the most congested parts of the city, and violate the open space covenant of Grant Park.

Now wading in the same muck is billionairess Jean “Gigi” Pritzker, president of the Museum. According to news reports, she is heartsick over the alleged intolerance of the common people of Chicago. Well, in the case of this particular neighborhood, the more affluent common people – but still below Pritzker’s Lincoln Park crowd.

The reason Gigi and the Hizzoner have chosen racism as their excuse for the public ourcry is very simple. To consider the more valid reasons would suggest that their noblise oblige scheme is nothing more than a very bad idea. – and you know, the rich and powerful just do not get bad ideas. Just ask them.

In raising the race issue, the Daley-Pritzker team have provided a rallying point for racists and pandered to the paranoia to those who see racism in every event. They have made this a racial issue by nothing less than irresponsible rhetoric.

You know, Daley is a pretty savvy mayor in many ways. Gigi Pritzker is quite a nice lady, I have been told. The Chicago Children’s Museum is a great institution. So, how is it that these good elements can produce such a bad outcome.

OBSERVATION: Giuliani could be a drag on the ticket.

As I was thinking about the chances of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani of becoming the Republican presidential nominee, I decided that there was one issue that would drag him down (pun intended). The photo says it all -- and no, this is not a computer creation. This is the guy doing his best imitation of Mae West. Despite the growing acceptance for a woman President, I think Giuliani’s attempt to be all things to all people is over the edge. Hmmm? Maybe he could bring in the religions vote as well as the female vote by dressing up as a nun. Ya think? Memo to Rudy: When they told you to show your feminine side, this is NOT what they meant.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

REACT: Daley plays the race card … and it’s a joker

In his attempt to bully support for a new Grant Park location for the Children’s Museum, Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley deals the race card from the bottom of the deck. He accuses the citizens living in the highrises adjacent to the proposed location of being racists, who do not want “black or brown” kiddies to be drawn to their Loop neighborhood.

How low can the mayor go?

He blatantly calls tens of thousands of his citizens “racists,” when in fact that region of the city is populated by some of the most tolerant individuals in Chicago, including a bunch of “black and brown” parents. I would remind the mayor that this is the 42nd ward, not the old 11th.

The Mayor fails to note that the new Museum site is adjacent to the Chicago Park District field house named after his father. It is a field house, which hosts summer camp and other events for thousands of children – including many of those black and brown youngsters. Far from protesting the interracial kids’ programs and events, the neighbors include their own children among the enrollees.

If Chicago is a racially confrontational city, it is largely due to the historic race baiting tactics of the political machine. Using concocted racism as a straw man, the mayor actually promotes what he feigns to oppose.

This baseless accusation comes from a man whose family has presided over the most racially divided city in America, whose early elections were advanced by engendering racial fears over the possibility of a second black mayor, and who has successfully driven the low economic black and brown people out of the city to be displaced by suburban yuppies.

This shameless effort is designed to divert public attention away from the very legitimate reasons to deny the Children’s Museum the proposed site. It is the long-standing Grant Park covenant of keeping the lakefront as open space for the benefit of all the people, and to resist the eroding imposition of commercial venues.

Ironically, it is the mayor who has sold out to the mostly white upper crust of Chicago society. The overly costly Millennium Park was an elitist concept that gave more than ample opportunity to provide “naming rights” to the hoi polloi. It is a “park” that maintains 24 hour security guards to make sure the common folk do not bicycle, skate, run, walk dogs or trod on the sod – pleasures usually associated with urban parks.

Under the civic delirium of Millennium Park, the mayor provided space for a commercial restaurant -- and yet another opportunity for the politically favored. The Harris Theatre was then allowed to intrude into the people’s commons – again for the glory and entertainment of the Windy City elite.

Another issue is traffic and parking. The mayor flips off this legitimate concern over congestion with “this is a city” -- what every the hell that means. Development in that section of town is already overtaxing the transportation infrastructure. Perhaps his motive in jamming more people-attractions in that small area is to help the Grant Park garage fulfill its failed mission to finance the park.

The Children’s Museum is a wonderful thing. My family has enjoyed it over many years. There are innumerable sites where it can serve the public. How about on the south edge of Grant Park, for example? Or, to the west of the McCormack complex? Or hey! How about on underused Northerly Island (see Meigs Field).

The new 42nd ward alderman, Brendan Reilly, opposes the site, and as tradition would have it, professional courtesy should prevail in the City Council. However, it appears that the mayor is willing to throw out that tradition along with the long-standing covenants and traditions protecting the lakefront. Reilly may get his toes stomped on by the compliant City Council, but in the long run, he will have been the voice in the wilderness.

LMAO: College Young Republicans trump the “Toad”

Have to admit. I thought the Tammany Toad Award my civic group gave Governor Rod Blagojevich was a bit “in your face.” Well, not as much as the College Young Republicans. They presented the floundering governor with a gift bearing a much more succinct message: “Blagojevich sucks.” I guess that says it all. I do not know the name of the young lad bearding the lion in his den in the photo, but given the governor’s propensity to punish political adversaries, I hope he is an out-of-state student.

OBSERVATION: What’s wrong with the Right

I recently wrote a friend about what appears to be the shattering of the old conservative coalition that dominated American politics for a generation – and the unique ineptitude of the Illinois conservative movement within the Republican Party. Like all coalitions, The “Reagan majority” relied on the obfuscation of fault lines between the component factions. Like a marriage, coalitions generally start out overlooking “minor differences.” Eventually, those differences become points of contention.

The Illinois conservative movement is unique in that the old Reagan coalition is not shattering, it was never formed. Reagan proffered the 11th Commandment, which forbade speaking ill of fellow Republicans. In Illinois, the GOP establishment and the largely GOP conservative wing maintains a state of constant warfare – and to make matters worse, the personality driven right-wing leaders have a penchant for tossing hand grenades into each other’s foxholes. The Reagan revolution that routed the old left never got a foothold in Illinois --- his ancestral homeland.

To fully comprehend the sad state of the GOP in Illinois, just seek an answer to this question. How is it that the GOP continues to lose in the face of the unprecedented number and severity of corruption scandals besetting the Democrat machine?

The result of all the internecine warfare is that many solid conservatives -- and I include myself in that description -- are feed up with the strident right pontificating over all-or-nothing-at-all litmus test issues and self proclaimed moral righteousness.

I am pro-life. I believe that the protection of individual human life is a VERY conservative position. However, I think the flag burning amendment is the work of statists in defiance of conservative philosophy. I see no problem with civil unions for gay couples, since ALL marriages are civil union under the law. Let the churches be free to bless the unions or not with the ritual of “marriage”. I think we should bestow swift citizenship on the vast majority of the technically illegal immigrants by developing a system to quickly matriculate the good guys -- and toss the crooks and gang bangers back across the border from a speeding car.

While it is obvious that the Illinois GOP continues in its long history of ineffectiveness, we cannot look to the conservative movement for help in Illinois. It is largely in the hands of egomaniacal miscreants. Nowhere in the nations, is the conservative movement so damaged by its own malignant leadership. They are political terrorists primarily engaged in tribal turf battles against the imagined ideological apostate within their own ranks.

The gross failure of the GOP and the in-house conservative movement to achieve relevancy for at least three decades has had enormous ramifications on the national scene. If either the GOP or the conservative establishment had been even modestly effective, we might have a Republican governor, Republican county board president, control of the legislature, and a couple U.S. Senators … and no Richard Durbin or Barak Obama. Obama has reached presidential ranking more to the folly of the GOP (remember Alan Keyes) than to the impressiveness of his resume or the power of his backers.

I would see myself as some sort of ideological malcontent if it were not for the fact that I have had the true pleasure in working with conservatives in other states. By comparison, one can only conclude that the Illinois conservative movement is some horrific political mutant. My criticism does not apply to all Illinois conservative leaders, by any means, but is focused on those who have earned it by their incompetence and malevolence. Add this to the Keystone Kop-like floundering of the GOP establishment and the pandemic corruption of the Democrat machine, and you can see why many see Illinois as one of the more putrid cesspools of American politics.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Blagojevich and Jones share “Toad” award

A civic group with which I am associated, the Public Policy Caucuses, recently presented one of you dubious honor awards to Governor Rod Blagojevich and Senate President Emil Jones. I thought I would share the press release with you incase you missed the extensive coverage in the press.

Tammany Toad Award to Governor Blagojevich and Senator Jones

The Public Policy Caucuses has presented its dubious honor recognition, the Tammany Toad Award, to Governor Rod Blagojevich and Illinois Senate President Emil Jones. According to PPC President Larry Horist, the award is presented to public officials “for extraordinary disservice to the American political system and the tax-paying public.”

Horist said Blagojevich earned the derision of the public for abusing the line-item veto to slash almost $500 million dollars from the state budget, passed by the legislature, in order to fund his unlegislated and unauthorized healthcare plans.

“His action will result in a needless, prolonged and expensive legal battle that will in all likelihood support the overwhelming opinion that the money grabbing veto is not only brazen and contemptible, but unconstitutional. The Governor demonstrates a total lack of appreciation for the legislative process and an arrogance of action that is usually reserved for despots,” Horist charged. In what Horist described as “particularly egregious political crassness,” the governor appeared to target pet projects of his political enemies. “He is using his public office to engage in political warfare,” Horist added.

Jones shares the award for his support of the Governor’s scheme, promising to prevent an override of the veto in the Illinois Senate even though he concedes that the re-appropriation of the funds is probably unconstitutional. Horist said that the award for Jones is based solely on this issue. However, he added, “it appears the Governor is on his way to a life time achievement award in this category.”


I feel very badly about this. So, I hereby apologize to all the pond-dwelling toads for any slander I may have committed by associating them with the recipients of this award.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

REACT: You can’t “fix” the CTA with money

Governor Blagojevich has another “Dumbo” scheme to get money to the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA). I hate to tell Rod, but you cannot really affix wings to an elephant and make it fly.

The governor’s so-called $24 million “bailout” is supposed to prevent the CTA from making highly publicized (read that as politically harmful) cuts in service and increases in fares.

The problem is, it is not a bailout at all. The plan merely advances or loans money from next year’s budget subsidy from the Regional Transport Authority (RTA) to cover the current shortage. This means the fix is a borrowed-band-aid to cover a cancer.

It does not take a rocket scientist or a corporate accountant to figure out that the scheme will only create a $24 million problem for next year’s budget.

There is only one possible fix, but it is something for which government agencies have no talent. It requires cutting fat out of the budget and streamlining operations. It means using technology to reduce payroll. Increasing ridership. The system has to be made to run more efficiently. Yes, more service for less money. Not only is that possible, it is the ONLY way to solve the problem.

Financial “fixes” and “bailouts” are like narcotics. They alleviate the current pain with the foolish belief that some how the dependency and destructiveness will be miraculously resolved in the future In fact, the future problem will be worse.

The governor would believe that the laws of economics can be ignored like Disney’s elephant ignored the laws of physics. The only difference is that Dumbo is a cartoon, and Blago is a joke – a bad one.

REACT: What’s next? An eleven-inch ruler

If you do not believe government bureaucrats exist in a nether world of surrealism, then consider this.

The new contract between the Chicago public schools and the teachers’ union shortens the school year by approximately two weeks – essentially knocking off the June weeks.

At a time when America is losing the educational edge to the populous “backward” nations like China and India, the pressure is on to expand the school year. The most progressive education advocates talk of year-round schooling. Not only is this an educational advantage, but in today’s society, full time schooling conforms better to the career life of two-income families. The traditional school schedule is predicated on the anachronistic requirement to have the kids home for the summer farm chores.

Now cometh the Chicago Teachers’ Union and their cronies at the Board of Education. They have an explanation as to why less time at more money is better for the children – and the taxpayer.

This ought to get a really good belly laugh out of you.

By adding a marginal 15 minutes to each school day, the students will receive greater educational benefit than those two weeks on the eve of summer vacation. So, school administrator, Arne Duncan, suggests -- with a straight face and I suspect crossed fingers – that the public school kids will get better quality time out of those few additional moments a day than two weeks of full time tutoring.

He proffers the idea that those two pesky weeks in June are really rather useless – not a lot of good quality education going on. After all, the kids are daydreaming of summer plans and the teachers are suffering from a form of “exit attitude.” Duncan does not explain why this same form of psychological meltdown would not occur in the last two weeks of May.

Also, the logic that a few minutes at the fudgey end of a school day can be equated with several full days of academic requirement is lost on me. How does that work? You add three minutes to each class? If you do the math, even those silly add-on minutes do not compensate for all the lost time.

(Hey, this gives me an idea. I am going to have my family add ten minutes to each meal, and then completely skip eating for a month or two.)

Furthermore, how professional are our Chicago teachers if they simply “lose it” when the weather warms up? My children were blessed with suburban public school educations or, in one case, a private school education. I do not recall a similar seasonal dysfunction in those institutions. Just this past June, we noted that our son’s teachers were pedal-to-the-metal within 24 hours of the close of the school year. It would appear the year-end malady is unique to Chicago public schools.

Basically, the new contact deal is grounded in the same philosophy that has produced all the old deals. It is very simple. The union fights for more money and less work – the children be damned.

Arguably, the group most responsible for the shameful and tragic decline of the Chicago school system is the union. With the complicity of weak or duplicitous administrators and cohort politicians, the union has been able to rape the public treasury of every well-intentioned new dollar the taxpayers coughed up. It is not about funding education. It is about funding union demands, and the political clout of billions of dollars in expenditures and pension investments – and those millions in campaign contributions.

As a person who was involved in several contract negotiations for both the Chicago and Detroit boards of education, I will tell without fear of refutation: I have never seen a time where the school unions placed the welfare of the student in the classroom above the narrow demands designed to strengthen the union. Never.

I like to remind people that the teachers’ union is not an educational institution. It is a private membership organization. Greater membership, more dues and growing pension funds are their objective. The public treasury is the means. Education is just the vehicle.

Once again, the school children of Chicago will be harmed for the sake of union peace – at any price.

LMAO: Russia produces politically correct bomb

The Russians, legendary inventors of almost everything, have developed the most powerful non-atomic bomb ever. A literal blockbuster. One of the bomb’s advantages, according to the Russian news announcement, is that IT WILL DO NO HARM TO THE ENVIRONMENT. That opinion might not be shared by the flora and fauna that once existed in the moon-like crater produced by “Big Boris.”

Anyway, I thought you would be happy to know that warfare is going green. In fact, the bomb is even painted environmentalist green. Nice touch. Oh yeah! For those of you not at full mental power-up at the moment, I feel obligated to disclose that my super graphics guy, Xiong, used computer magic to make the explosion green -- just for the fun of it.

OBSERVATION: Labour Loves Lost

While I owe the title of this blog item to Shakespeare -- well, at least a bastardization of his “Love’s Labour Lost” -- the subject is quite different from the Bard’s.

The week following our Labor Day celebration, I am still reading stories about the importance of unions … the need for unions… the power of unions … etc.

The power of unions depends entirely on the definition. In terms of real political power, they are paper tigers often claiming victories that are more coincidental than contrived. On the other hand, it is fair to say that they do exercise more power than their numbers and place in society deserves.

At this writing, they represent less than 12 percent of the American work force – and they continue to lose ground in the private sector. The only place where there is true union growth and excessive power is in the public sector. The dangerously powerful American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees union is a threat to the democratic process. It is the vehicle that assures the continued growth and unaccountable power of the Fourth Branch of our government – the bureaucracy.

Many see unionism as a borderless expanse that covers both the private and public sectors. This is not the case. The issues that separate the public and private sectors on the business side generally apply at least as much to the union side.

Private sector unionism in America is a dying enterprise. This is due to the fact that American workers are treated pretty damn well, by world and historic standards. Credit trade unionism for the improvement, if you like. I will not counter the argument. But like the buggy whip, it has lost much of its purpose in modern society.

Only in the public sector, were “management” is the political Siamese twin of “labor,” is there growth. As special consultant to the Chicago and Detroit boards of education, I experienced the neutering effect of having union member sitting on the “management” board and public officials beholding to the raw power of union money and precinct workers. To this day, schools flounder under union dictate contract provisions and excessive union influence in policy and operations. It is no accident that the deterioration of the urban school systems tracks perfectly with the rise of union influence.

We need to look at unionism in two ways and with two responses. For the private sector, we should treat them to benign neglect. Despite the bellow of labor leaders, such as the ALF-CIO’s John Sweeney, they are more like the Wizard of Oz, attempting to enlarge their “roar” by public relations trickery.

Public sector unionism is a whole ‘nother game. The power of unions to shut down critical government services is a threat to the democracy. Because government is susceptible to acquiring of inordinate power, it is critical to prevent any all-powerful union to “control” our public sector.

If ever a group of workers did not need representation, it is government workers. Without union solidarity, they already created tenure, high wages, primo benefits and cushy retirement plans.

Personally, if I had my magic wand, I would make all public sector unions disappear – and outlaw strikes against the taxpaying public. A free society cannot endure the oppression of institutional power groups. Ronald Reagan was right. Air traffic controllers should not be afforded the right to shut down the world aviation system. There is not a teacher strike in America that EVER helped students. Police and firefighters, noble as is their profession, cannot be allowed to walk off the job.

The danger is not just to the obvious. Paper pushers in obscure bureaus can wreak havoc on individual lives by blocking the flow of their work through strikes and other “job actions.” A missed welfare check or a delay appointment at a public health clinic can be deadly.

OBSERVATION: Obama a danger to black churches

When I served as campaign media guy for Mayor Gene Sawyer’s 1989 attempt to retain his office on the fifth floor of City Hall, it was my pleasure to travel with Hizzoner as he made the Sunday rounds of black churches. It was an all day event.

I say “pleasure” because I am a total fan of black gospel music. I cannot get enough of Mahalia Jackson. Having grown up in the sonorous monotones of Gregorian chant, I find the foot stomping, hand waving, and sweaty swaying of the black Baptist tradition entirely uplifting. In terms of religious preference, I am as black as Bill Clinton, John Kerry and Father Michael Pfleger. Okay … maybe not as black as Pfleger.

Traveling with Sawyer was also politically enlightening. At each stop, Sawyer was presented to the throng in characteristic black minister style, with the over-the-top introduction punctuated with endless audience responses of “amen” and “you tell ’em, bother.”

Typically the minister would praise the good work of the Mayor, remind the audience that he is a “brother.” He would call on the assembled to spread the word to all the neighbors. It was not the word of God he was promoting, but the message of the campaign. Get out and vote “for our man Gene.”

The Mayor would then say a few words about the campaign, the issues, and the need to get out and vote for him. In some cases, a “special collection” was taken to be handed over to one of the Mayor’s aides.

Often during these Sunday services, three little words would pop into my mind – Internal Revenue Service. Clearly, the black churches were grossly violating federal laws governing 501(c)(3) tax exempt institutions. To be tax exempt, you must avoid partisan politics.

Despite this common knowledge, the black ministry has always enjoyed an informal political exemption from the law. Black churches were routinely used by candidates, Republican and Democrat, as political platforms. We were just too politically correct to call in the feds. After a couple hundred years of slavery, and another hundred years of segregation and prejudice, we were entirely too guilt ridden to point an accusatory finger at the black God merchants.

Now cometh, Barack Obama. Obviously, he is the darling of the black ministry. However, he brings more public and media attention to the black churches than any previous candidate – even the Almost Reverend Jesse Jackson. This in turn is raising the questions of propriety and legality to new heights.

Ironically, it is the liberal attack on Jerry Falwell, and the religious right, that will make the case against the liberal and black churches today. Barry Lynn, the head of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, lead the successful effort to get Falwell’s tax exemption canceled for a couple years. Today this unabashed left-winger is parsing his own eloquent arguments in an incredulously inept defense of churches serving as liberal political platforms. He is trying to sell a difference with out a distinction.

REACT: Senator Larry Criag

If truth does indeed have a certain “ring” to it, then the explanation of Utah Senator Larry Craig is a definite cacophonous “clunk.” The I-said-he-said reports of Craig and the arresting officer needs some common sense analysis.

Perhaps the described toe-touching and under-the-stall hand “swipes” are meaningful signals to the gay casual encounter crowd. Since my own lusts do not involve anonymous public bathroom sex (or even public bathroom sex not so anonymous), I cannot comment on the meaning of the hand signals. If I were ever to see a hand waving beneath the partition, my first instinct would be to hand the poor stranded soul some toilet paper – definitely not my… ah… well… you know.

Craig said he was simply reaching down for some unidentified piece of paper. Did it float into the other stall? And what was this errant piece of paper? An “eyes only” intelligence report from the CIA? Or, a piece of toilet paper? Nothing less than the former would have me groping the floor under an in-use neighboring stall. Moreover, what ever happened to verbal communication? “Excuse me sir. I dropped a top-secret CIA intelligence report on the floor by your feet. Could you retrieve it for me?”

If it were only a piece of toilet paper who, in God’s name, would retrieve it? I have, I must confess, occasionally dropped a sheet or two of poop paper on the men’s room floor. It happens. However, I have NEVER scraped my fingers across the smudged tiles to retrieve it. No. No. No. That is why we have janitors with mops and rubber gloves.

As for the toe touching, Craig claims to have a “wide stance,” and the footsie-wootsie stuff was inadvertent. This is where his story goes down the drain, so to speak. Now, I know those macho men of the once wild west tend do fix there feet to the floor a bit farther apart then the effete metrosexuals in New York. However, making contact inadvertently, as alleged by Craig, is a stretch (no pun intended) – even if the guy in the next stall is also one of those “wide stance” cowboys.

I have seen macho men sitting with their legs at a seemingly uncomfortable ninety-degree angle. I can even imagine them sitting that way on a toilet (and I am way not happy with that image in my mind, thank you every much, Larry Craig). Even in my wildest imagination, I cannot figure how two people’s feet, even “wide stance” people, can come in contact under the stall partition without some sort of unreasonable and inexplicable acrobatic contortion. Sorry, senator, I ain’t buying it.

There also is the alleged peeking through the gap in the stall wall. According to the arresting officer, one of Craig’s beguiling blue eyes was seen peeping into adjacent stall housing the officer. I am not clear if this was before or after the toe-touching and hand-swiping.

(As an aside, I have to tell you that this is the most terrifying part of the story. I am one of those bashful bathroom guys. I mean, I lock the bathroom door when home alone. I hate stalls that leave points of visual entry. It may only be a one inch space between door and frame to you, but to me, you might as well take off the door and set up a camera crew. My anxiety is not unreasonable. The internet if filled with videos taken secretly as people using the potty. Not only do I prefer my own privacy, but also, what is so exciting about watching people dispense with bodily waste. To me, seeing people using the “facilities” is a huge turn off … like seeing an accident you wished you hadn’t. But, I am not Larry Craig.)

What is missing from the Craig version of the story is plausibility. Peeking into stalls, playing footsie, and weird hand signals demands a credible explanation. This is where Craig fails. His abject denial of homosexuality, or bi sexuality, still leaves his actions unexplained.

That leads to the final mystery. Why did he plead guilty? Why didn’t he contact his lawyer? Tell his confidants? His wife? Did he believe his arrest and guilty plea to a lesser charge would forever escape public notice? Apparently. But, this makes Craig not only a bit weird and kinky (both eminently forgivable human traits), but incredibly stupid (not so forgivable).

Ironically, whatever he did in that men’s room and however he expresses his sexuality, he is a cooked goose politically – not as much for his actions, but for his stupidity. His attempted cover-up failed – and it is usually the cover-up, not the “crime,” that brings a person down. Keep in mind, neither Clinton nor Nixon were “punished” for their “crimes.” Only for their failed cover-ups. It is a lesson Craig never learned.

Friday, September 07, 2007

REACT: From one bitch to another

Billionaire hotelier Leona Helmsley died August 20th. The principal benefactor of her will was her female Maltese mutt named Trouble. The bitch (the dog, in this case) will receive $12 million. She will be entrusted to the care of the bitch’s (Helmsley, in this case) brother for the remaining few years of Trouble. That is more money than needed to take good care of three humans from cradle to grave. After death, the dog will be laid to rest next to the bitch’s mistress.

(Hmmmm. That means that Trouble will literally follow Helmsley into the afterlife – and deservedly so. Of course, I am only joking, since dogs, contrary to Disney cartoons, do not go to heaven … or where ever the Queen of Mean is residing these days).

Now maybe you think of me as unkind for referring to that late Leona as a “bitch.” However, no one familiar with her treatment of human beings would argue against me tagging her with that title.

Even in death, Lady Leona could not resist using her money as venom. While the four-legged bitch is lavishly rewarded, Helmsley completely disinherits two of her four grandchildren “for reasons that are known to them.”

The other grandchildren are provided about $5 million each, but of course, there is a catch. They must visit the grave of their father at least once each calendar year or loose the money. Not sure how that works if they already have the money, or is it being doled out for each visit. In any case, the ugly control freak that the world knew as Leona Helmsley is no more appealing after death as she was before.

It is my recommendation that in honor of Helmsley devotion to Trouble, and symbolic of the mutt’s future resting place alongside, her headstone should be carved into the shape of a fire hydrant, and ultimately used for the relief of any roaming canines. Oh, the wonderful irony of it all. And so appropriate.