-- C.A. Beard
On last month's Fix;
the answer to last month's Fix,
"Given the last election where the party of admittedly greater dishonesty won back seats in the house, and that the world's richest human has gotten so by being a better thief and liar than his competitors, how can parents conscientiously teach their children that honesty is the best policy?"
There is a way out of this seeming morass, but it requires that children are taught correctly in the first place. The "wrong" way is to teach children that honesty and integrity will be rewarded, and that evil doers will be punished. That is manifestly NOT true, and it implies that the world is a fair place. We may wish such a world for our kids, but we do them no favors in preparing them for such a fantasy.
I am constantly shown examples of people who do think this way, however. Some case examples: a woman slaps her toddler when the kid tries to steal a piece of candy saying, "What if you get caught?" Or a wife tells her loud mouthed husband not to comment so loudly about the geeks next to them in the restaurant because, "What if they hear you?".
This "be good or you'll be punished" approach loses all validity in the face of Clinton and Gates. Of course, the Catholic Church realized this long ago so they invented the concept of heaven and hell and an all knowing God who will judge us in death. Thus the reasoning goes, "Well, that ^%(^% so and so will get his just desserts when he dies." And no doubt this thought comforted ignorant slaves and peasants for centuries. However, this tack fails in the face of an increasingly atheistic/agnostic society.
There is another way of course, and the Catholics even invented a
name for it although I think the concept pre-dates the existence of
that Church. It's called the Golden Rule or "Treat others as you
would wish them to treat you." A recipe for exploitation? Possibly.
But it means giving the other guy the benefit of the doubt - at least
once. Granted, if someone has given you a track record of deceit you
are no longer bound to be reasonable in return, but at least everyone
should be given a chance. And the corollary of the Golden Rule is
"actions speak louder than words."
And that folks is the closest I get to "Peace on Earth, Good Will Toward Men."
On the Impeachment;
In the September issue I made a confusing statement because I mis-applied the meaning of the word "Impeach." From detnew98.sep
"Clinton admitted he lied about the Lewinsky affair. You've been proven right once again. How could we ever have doubted you?" True, true. But nailing Bill for this is like Elliot Ness settling for tax evasion on Al Capone. And it won't remove him from office. Oh no. Please disabuse yourself of the notion that Clinton will be impeached."
I didn't mean to confuse the word "impeach" with the concept of
removal from office. To impeach simply means to indict the president
on charges. Impeachment itself does not remove the President from
office. That requires a 2/3 vote of the Senate and since that isn't
going to happen, Bill will remain in office.
On the Resignation of Bob Livingston;
During the past week (Dec. 16) the news has run hot and heavy that Hustler Magazine's editor Larry Flint, with his million dollar bounty, gathered evidence that Rep. Speaker Elect Bob Livingston has also had affairs in his life, and thus it would be hypocritical for him to judge the president during impeachment hearings. First, let's get a couple of things straight.
That said, I agree that Livingston had to go because he was hurting the Reps. politically - as was Newt Gingrich. So did these men cower and lie? Did they hang onto every last shred of power that they could as long as they could? Did they risk the lives of men and women on a military operation just to forestall an impeachment vote? No. Bob Livingston admitted his affair, admitted he was not the best candidate for the Speaker, and stepped down. Gingrich stepped down to make way for a replacement because he thought (probably incorrectly) that he was too much of a lightening rod to represent Rep. interests effectively.
Note that these actions fly in the face of those whose defense of Clinton rests on the "everybody does it" argument. Putting party and country above self is an act utterly alien to Bill Clinton. He's cost the Dems. the Congress that they had held for 60 years. He's seen most of his business allies go to jail, and he's shamed his family on numerous occasions.
Putting aside their politics entirely - who would you rather trust
the lives of your loved ones to? Oh that's right, we already voted on
that in November.
I am Older than you and I can remember more Christmases, and though I'm not a sentimental person - this year I'm serving turkey enchiladas and a cranberry salsa and I'll be downloading a tree from the Net and singing carols in a chat room - I still like to recall bygone years, such as 1986, when I experimented with lighted candles on the tree. Very memorable. And then there was the year I cooked a goose. A couple of guests turned vegetarian that year. And there was the Christmas when my wife was great with child and our holiday was very spare, a light lunch, a few candles, no gifts, because why would you need all that symbolism if you were in possession of the real thing?
I'm not writing a memoir here, I am only talking to myself. Someday you'll have that privilege too.
Most of a person's Christmases get tangled up into one pleasant skein of memories - of glittery ornaments and singers with scarves on TV specials and old overstuffed uncles slumped on the couch and gingerbread houses with frosted roofs and a globe that when you turn it upside down snow falls. It's all one warm blurry holiday. Some Christmases, however, stand out in brilliant detail years later, such as the Christmas of the Great Flu.
I was fifteen. I was six feet, three inches tall, and weighed approximately one-hundred-thirty-six pounds, a sensitive lad who spent many an hour in the garret, writing in my journal, recording emotions and profound thoughts as they came to me ('We contain within ourselves the seeds of all that we were and all we will be,' for example, just to quote one). I did this so that if I were to die young, as I expected to, the world would know that I was a poet and not just a schlump.
I lived in a big white house with two younger brothers and a sister - of course our parents were there too, jangling around, muttering to each other, anxious frazzled, the way parents tend to be ('What is this doll doing in the freezer? Why does the washing machine smell as if there were deceased rodents in it?'). As Christmas approached, the little kids pored over the Monkey Wards catalogue and lusted after the Junior Chemistry Set and the Little Housewife Range with realistic pots and pans, and I sat in gloomy splendor on my bed and wrote, 'I have suddenly realized that I will be alone for the rest of my life because I cannot bear the company of those who do not understand me. This is a fact that I must live with.'
My mother worried about the Christmas tree bursting into flames and killing us, and so a pail of water was kept at the ready at all times. And my father worried about bankruptcy. 'Where is the money going to comer from to pay for all of this?' he cried out when he saw my mother filling out the Monkey Wards order form. (Nowadays, children, money comes from credit cards, but back then they had to write out checks and mail them to the Monkey Wards store - there were no 800 numbers at that time, it truly was the Dark Ages.) My father felt that if his bank balance fell below zero, we would have to go live in a public institution where we would wear striped clothing and eat baloney sandwiches for breakfast.
I wrote in my journal that I vowed never to be obsesses with petty materialistic concerns.
It was Christmas Eve afternoon when the little kids complained of feeling feverish and achy. My mother and I hung the last of the tinsel on the tree and plugged in the lights, which didn't light up, so I had to spend an hour screwing and unscrewing bulbs to find the bad apple, and when I got the tree lit up and stood back to admire it, I could hear little feet in the upstairs hall making a run for the bathroom.
I went to my room and wrote that I felt strangely listless and depressed in the midst of the joyous season. and then my mother shouted that I had left the lights plugged in. She was beside herself. She had three sick children and dozens of gifts to wrap and supper to make and Aunt Marie was coming.
Aunt Marie was actually an unmarried cousin of my father's, and she was free for Christmas for the simple reason that everyone avoided inviting her. Every year, the Sunday before Christmas, she would corner someone after church and say, in a choked voice, 'I guess I'll have to go to a cafeteria for Christmas.' Some relatives would tell aunt Marie that they had heard that cafeterias served delicious food and that she should have a wonderful time, but Mother had a soft heart, and so we got Aunt Marie.
Mother bought her a box of cream-filled chocolates for a gift, and wrapped it in white tissue paper and tied it with a red ribbon and curled the bow.
When aunt Marie arrived for supper, the little kids were in their beds upstairs, whimpering. Two had made the trip to the toilet, and one was about to, and the two were beginning to realize that one trip might not be enough to do the job. It was a sad scene up there. Mother sent me upstairs with 7-Up and toast, and the look of misery in the little tykes' eyes was quite touching. 'Will Santa still come?' one of them asked in a tiny trembly voice.
'I frankly doubt it,' I said. 'I don't see how you can expect Santa to come and get your germs and spread them to every other boy and girl on this planet. Do you? No, of course not.' They burst into heart-wrenching sobs. I closed the door behind me.
Mother served a hearty supper of Welsh rarebit on toast, and Aunt Marie, a good eater, reminisced about her happy younger days that would never come again, and we gathered around the tree and plugged in the lights and turned on the radio, where Fibber McGee and Mollie were decorating their tree and Fibber remembered one ornament that he was sure was in the closet. I opened a gift from Mother, a shirt (wrong color, wrong style, wrong in every way), and as Dad opened a gift from me (a copy of Civil Disobedience by Henry Thoreau), I felt a queasiness ripple through me.
Aunt Marie opened up her chocolates and immediately started to weep. They reminded her of something precious in her past, and she ate one and burst into tears and ate another and another and another, and seeing the chocolates disappear into her made me even queasier.
'Would anyone like to sing?' asked Mother. She was already on her way to the piano. She started in on 'Away In A Manger.' My father looked at me in a thoughtful way, and I recognized what he was thinking. He was feeling queasy too, and not about the thought of financial instability. He swallowed, and so did I. that unmistakable salivation that precedes the dreadful moment - well, you know what I'm talking about.
Mother sang 'Away In A Manger' in her clear alto voice, thumping out the accompaniment, and it didn't inhibit her one bit to be singing solo. Mother loved Christmas with all her hear. She and Charles Dickens were two of a kind. she truly believed that on this night of all nights, mankind was able to put aside its meanness and jealousy and express generosity and kindred love. She sailed on into 'It Came Upon A Midnight Clear'.
I felt a certain turgidity in the lower intestinal tract, and I was thinking about that Welsh rarebit. I could see that Dad was in the grip of a similar experience. Aunt Marie, on the other hand, was weeping for the happy days of yore and stuffing cream-filled chocolates into herself, hand over fist. She closed her eyes and sobbed and her mouth opened and it was brown and gooey inside and that was when I rose from my chair and headed for the bathroom.
When I emerged, pale and perspiring, I went straight to my journal and wrote in it - wrote a lot - and what I wrote was rather joyous, not moody at all. Somehow, my convulsive experience had clarified my thinking. My vague sense of gloom was relieved by a specific misery, and when that misery was over, I felt a little burst of euphoria.
I have come to inherit some of my mother's love of Christmas and
every year I feel that lovely wash of sensations and memories, of
sounds and smells that are pure Christmas, the good things of
childhood relived. And if I should start to feel anxious - is
the turkey big enough for twelve? should I have made the wild rice
dressing instead of the bread-crumb kind? will Uncle Bruce really
enjoy the wind-up dog that does backflips? - I think to myself, 'It
is Christmas and I do not have the great flu,' and suddenly I have a
horizon and everything is back in perspective.
1. Doug WIlken writes from MN.
Date: Sat, 26 Dec 1998 10:27:32 -0600 (EST)
From: Doug Wilken <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: lastcall
> "Given the last election where the party of admittedly greater dishonesty won
> back seats in the house, and that the world's richest human has gotten so
> by being a better thief and liar than his competitors,
> how can parents consciensously teach their children that honesty is the best
So what has changed in the world? Don't you think that
been asking this question for millenia?
The reason that things continue to work (after a fashion) is that
majority of people *are* honest. (Intelligence is another issue BTW.)
P.S. Merry Christmas.
Ed: Yes, but Doug you haven't grappled with the question which is, "Why are most people honest?"
2. Jeff Thorne pens
Date: Mon, 28 Dec 1998 10:09:34 -0500
From: Jeff Thorne <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: lastcall
> "Given the last election where the party of admittedly
greater dishonesty won
> back seats in the house, and that the world's richest human has gotten so
> by being a better thief and liar than his competitors,
> how can parents consciensously teach their children that honesty is the best
I. The party of "admittedly greater dishonesty" ?
Politics in the U.S. are
so full of dishonesty that trying to determine which is the least dishonest
party is a waste of time and energy. Give me a list of 10 politicians who you
believe are honest. Choose them from whatever party you want. The
10 politicians should be Congress people, Governors, or presidents. We can
watch the dirt accumulate on these people over time. I'll bet your list doesn't
survive unscathed for as much as 1 year. I can't come up with 10 people.
Russ Feingold (Democratic Senator from Wisconsin) is the only politician
who I believe is honest. Jessie Ventura is a possibility but I don't know
enough about him yet.
II. Parents should teach their children that people are honest or dishonest.
Political parties cannot be "honest".
III. Bill Gates for President! The case against
Microsoft is a witch hunt.
The government subsidizes it because Microsoft has not supported political
lobbyists or paid into political slush funds. Bill Gates has succeeded
at capitalism and his wealth inspires jealousy. It is politically correct
to want to bring Bill down but I had hoped you were above political
IV. Leigh and I are still working on holiday greeting
cards. In fact, we
are still working on the ones from 1997. So, for anyone
who we should have sent one, please accept our apologies. We're working on
Happy holidays, Jeff
Ed: Geez Jeff you're wrong on so many points it's scary. If you think Russ Feingold is honest ... Geez, next you be holding up Chuck Schumer as a Sterling example. Second, I tend to agree with you that there are damn few honest pols, but whose fault is that? The shitty press and an apathetic voter.
Next: True, "parties" cannot be honest, but their members can and should be.
Next: I agree that others who may be as corrupt as Gates have gotten off because of political contributions (the President of Loral, who got Clinton to OK sending top secret missiles to China in exchange for Dem contributions, comes to mind). However, if you think that Bill G is as clean as the wind driven snow I suggest you read The Microsof File pp. 90-160. If you havn't paid attention to the articles I've written on BG over the years, this may help you to understand just how illegal his actions have been.
Last: Yeah well, this isssue is late so don't feel bad.
"I feel fine"
- President CLinton's response to a reporter's question on , "How does it feel to be only the second President in the History of the US to be impeached?"
The 2'nd president of the US has been impeached. Does it matter?
1. Jan 1-3, Hilton Head; The left wing elite, including the
Clinton's, are once again meeting for the annual Renaissance
Festival. Some of the speakers include: Sidney Blumenthal, James
Carville, Maxine Waters and Ann Lewis. Among the talk titles (and I'm
not making this up): "A Path Toward Personal Empowerment: How Perjury
Can Work For You," and "Understanding the Politics of Personal
1. Dec. 11, am: On the eve of the day when the House is set to vote on impeachment of President CLinton, Clinton unilaterally instructs the armed forces to begin a cruise missile attack on Sadaam Hussein of Iraq. Most of the members of the House Armed forces committee were taken by total surprise, as were the members of the UN. Cynics wonder "Why now?"
2. Dec. 11, pm : Clinton holds a press conference where he says that Iraq's continued defiance of the UN Inspector's team has finally reached an actionable stage. Critics wonder, "Didn't Clinton say this just two weeks ago? And two weeks before that?"
3. Dec. 12: The House meets on Saturday and votes to impeach Clinton on one count of perjury and one count of obstruction of justice.
4. Dec. 16: With CNN covering the bomb damage assesments, we learn that 750-1000 cruise missiles were launched at Sadaam and were of marginal use in "taking out" his underground facilities for producing weapons of mass destruction.
5. Dec. 17: FInding himself impeached despite his "Wag the Dog" move, Clinton quitely suspends the Iraq bombing raid. It probably also didn't hurt that every member of the UN security council except Britain was outraged that they were not consulted in advance of the raid and threatened political and economic reprisals against the US.
6. Dec. 18; The White House attempts a new law suit against the Congress, claiming that it is unlawful for a lame duck House to impeach the president. And no, CLinton responds, the timing of the Iraqui raid had nothing to do with the Impeachment vote.
7. Jan 2: Clinton, who benefitted greatly from the Bush
deconstruction efforts of the military (and in fact deepened them) in
his efforts to reduce the US deficit, has now altered his view.
Heeding warnings from the nation's military chiefs, President Clinton
has decided to propose the first real increase in the Pentagon's
nearly a decade and the largest since the cold-war buildup of the mid-1980's, Administration and defense officials said.
The proposal represents a significant political shift for Clinton. A Democrat who has often had an uneasy relationship with the military, he came into office in the wake of the cold war, focused more on his domestic initiatives than on the military. It is unclear, however, how he would pay for his proposals, setting the stage for what is sure to be an intense fight with the new Congress over military spending.
1. A long, long time ago when I was but a wee undergrad at the Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, I occasionally read this underground newspaper called "The Onion". You can imagine my surprise when I saw an article about it in the Seattle Times this Jan 1. Formed by Tim Keck and Chris Johnson who were undergrads at about the time I was graduating, there are now about 14 staff and the Onion has a paper circulation of about 360K across Madison, Milwaukee, Chicago and Denver. The growth began after Pete Dikkers bought the magazine in 1989 for $16K. However, the Onion really took off when it began publishing on the Web in 1996. For a sample see below:
14-Year-Old Collapses Under Weight Of Corporate
A local teenager was in stable condition Monday after nearly being crushed to death by the 263 corporate logos he recklessly wore at one time. "The patient was admitted to our emergency room unable to breathe," St. Joseph's Hospital chief of surgery Dr. Lyle Wilson-Scheidt said. "His chest was collapsed under the weight of nearly 150 pounds of company and product logos, including Tommy Hilfiger, Abercrombie & Fitch, Pepsi, Nike, Adidas, Fubu, Taco Bell, Nintendo, MTV, Budweiser, the Chicago Bulls, the NBA and, for some reason, Aetna Life Insurance."
Hospital workers used a jaws-of-life device to extract the 14-year-old from the deadly crush of insignias. The AMA strongly warns individuals against wearing more than one logo for every five pounds of body weight.
If you like cutting edge satire, you can read more at theonion .
2. The following has become an annual tradition, and was originally submitted by Rene' Sanger-Redman.
Well, Virginia there may have been a Santa Claus...
SOME NUMBERS ON THIS SANTA CLAUS GUY...
1) NO KNOWN SPECIES OF REINDEER CAN FLY
But there are 300,000 species of living organisms yet to be
classified, and while most of these are insects and germs, this does
not completely rule out flying reindeer which only Santa has ever
2) THERE ARE 2 BILLION CHILDREN (persons under 18) IN THE WORLD
But since Santa doesn't (appear to) handle the Muslim, Hindu, Jewish
& Buddhist children, that reduces the workload to 15% of the total -
378 million according to Population Reference Bureau. At an average
(census) rate of 3.5 children per household, that's 91.8 million
homes. One presumes there's at least one good child in each.
3) SANTA HAS 31 HOURS OF CHRISTMAS TO WORK WITH
This is due to the different time zones and the rotation of the
earth, assuming he travels east to west (which seems logical). This
works out to 822.6 visits/second. This is to say that for each
Christian household with good children, Santa has .001 second to
park, hop out of the sleigh, jump down the chimney, fill the
stockings, distribute the remaining presents under the tree, eat
whatever snacks have been left, get back up the chimney, get back
into the sleigh and move on to the next house. Assuming that each of
these 91.8 million stops are evenly distributed around the earth
(which, of course, we know to be false but for the purposes of our
calculations we will accept), we are now talking about .78
miles/household, a total trip of 75.5 million miles; not counting
stops to do what most of us must do at least once every 31 hours,
plus feeding & etc.
So Santa's sleigh must be moving at 650 miles/second, 3,000 times
the speed of sound. For purposes of comparison, the fastest man-made
vehicle on earth, the Ulysses space probe, moves at a poky 27.4
miles/second. A conventional reindeer can run, tops, 15 miles/hour.
4) THE PAYLOAD ON THE SLEIGH ADDS ANOTHER INTERESTING ELEMENT
Assuming that each child gets nothing more than a medium-sized lego
set (2 lb), the sleigh is carrying 321,300 tons, not counting Santa,
who is invariably described as overweight. On land, conventional
reindeer can pull no more than 300 lb. Even granting that "flying
reindeer" (see #1) could pull 10 times the normal amount, we cannot
do the job with 8, or even 9 reindeer. We need 214,200. This
increases the payload - not counting the weight of the sleigh - to
353,430 tons. This is four times the weight of the ocean-liner Queen
5) 353,000 TONS TRAVELING AT 650 MILES/SECOND CREATES ENORMOUS AIR
This will heat the reindeer up in the same fashion as a spacecraft
reentering the earth's atmosphere. The lead pair of reindeer will
absorb 14.3 QUINTILLION joules of energy.
Per second. Each.
In short, they will burst into flame almost instantaneously,
exposing the reindeer behind them, and creating deafening sonic
booms in their wake. The entire reindeer team will be vaporized
within .00426 of a second. Meanwhile, Santa will be subjected to
centrifugal forces 17,500.06 times greater than gravity. A 250 lb
Santa (seems ludicrously slim) would be pinned to the back of his
sleigh by 4,315,015 lb of force.
If Santa ever DID deliver presents on Christmas Eve, he's dead now.
Steve & Sheryl