Friday, November 28, 2008

The Day I Met Limbaugh

When I was teaching onboard the USS Inchon, I met a Petty Officer Limbaugh, who told me he was Rush Limbaugh's nephew. PSYCH!

I probably had a whole *bunch* of people frothing at the mouth. For people outside the United States, I think it is safe to say that people on the leftwing in America really, really, really, REALLY *HATE* Rush Limbaugh. As in if you put a leftwinger in an auditorium with Rush Limbaugh, Osama Bin Laden, and 20 terrorists, each of whom was going to set off a nuclear device that would kill a million Americans, gave the lefty a Glock with a 21 bullets in the magazine, the lefty would shoot Limbaugh 21 times, then pistol-whip him til rigor mortis set in.

Back in December 1998, I happened to be visiting my father- just as the House impeachment vote was going on. On a historic day like that, I was eager to hear what everybody, and I do mean *everybody* had to say- so I had turned on a radio, and happened to turn the dial to a station that carried Rush. My father overhears this, and starts telling me that he is *shocked*, and *appalled*, and *disappointed* cetera, et cetera,...

I did not bother to tell dear ol' Dad that he had all kinds of *nerve*, *gall*, and *chutzpath*, speaking to me, a 43 year old man at the time, with three college degrees, like he'd caught a third grader with a copy of Playboy (or maybe an East Berliner listening to Radio Free Europe). Instead, I let him talk himself out, and then said, 'Gee, Dad, wasn't it *YOU* who taught me that an important part of being an educated person is getting exposure to multiple points of view?'

DEAD SILENCE.....(sounds of crickets chirping)

And finally my father said, 'Touche'

Marc Christian

Does anybody remember Marc Christian? He was at one time, Rock Hudson's boyfriend/POSSLQ/Significant Other (take your pick.) After Rock Hudson's death, Christian sued Hudson's estate for Rock exposing him to AIDS without his knowledge/consent, and won a multimillion dollar judgment. (Editorial comment: sounds fair to me. I think exposing someone to AIDS is a *really* rotten thing to do.)

I once saw Mr. Christian give an interview in which he stated that he was done with men. I thought to myself: very good looking young man with millions of dollars, history of gay behavior- somewhere there are a lot of women who'd like to try straightening him out- now, there's a disaster aiting to happen.

Apparently Mr. Christian dodged the AIDS bullet- he's still alive 22 years later. And he's stayed out of the spotlight, except for one small historical footnote. Several years ago, Barbara Streisand produced a biopic of Ronald Reagan. It as not a sympathetic portrayal, to put it VERY mildy. There as one scene in which the screen Reagan, upon hearing of the deah toll from AIDS, says, 'Those who lived in sin, shall die in sin.'

That's when Marc Christian came back for his 16th minute of fame. He announced that when Rock Hudson was gravely ill, President Reagan and Nancy called Hudson to wish him well. Hmmm...that hardly sounds like the act of the homophobic monster Streisand depicted.

That is, unfortunately, an all too common feature of our current political discourse- it's not enough to disagree with someone, demonize them.


In April, 1945, less than a month before the end of the war in Europe the German submarine U-234 set sail for Japan, carrying two Japanese naval officers, a Staff Judge Advocate, two dissassembled Me-262 jet fighters, and 1,200 pounds of metal. They were in the middle of the Atlantic when they got the order to surrender. The two Japanese officers took overdoses of sleeping pills (I guess they didn't have any swords handy to commit seppuku) and the U-234 surrendered to the US Navy. In Nov. 1947 the US Navy used the U-234 as a target and sank it with a new torpedo.

If I had unlimited resources, I think I'd raise U-234 from the bottom and put it on display on the National Mall. You see, the 1,200 pounds of metal the U-234 was carrying was *uranium*. Is there *anybody* who can not figure out what that means? There are people who believe that we should not have insisted that Japan surrender unconditionally, and be totally disarmed at the end of WWII. They are *WRONG*.

Chevy Chase and Miles Browning

Occasionally, I come across a bit of history that makes my jaw drop. I've read enough WWII history that I'd heard the name Miles Browning before. He was one of the US Navy's first naval aviators. He graduated from the Naval Academy in 1918, served as a test pilot, and by 1941, he was a Commander serving as Admiral William Halsey's Chief of Staff. He served under Halsey from the day of Pearl Harbor through the Doolittle raid on Tokyo, and when Halsey was hospitalized in late May of '42, Davenport served as Admiral Spruance's chief of staff during Midway. I've read one account that Spruance originally wanted to wait until the American aircraft carriers got within 100 miles of the Japanese fleet to launch an attack. Browning, however, urged an immediate strike that proved to be a spectacular success- the Japanese lost 4 aircraft carriers at Midway, and most of their best aviators.

In October '42, when Halsey took command at Guadacanal, he asked to have Browning again assigned as his chief of staff.The following months made Halsey a legend in the US Navy. In that first year of the war, the Japanese had inflicted so many shocking defeats on the Allies- Pearl Harbor, Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines, Burma- that they seemed invincable. Churchill once said of his own leadership during WWII that the English people had had the lion's heart-and that he, Churchill, had had the good luck to be asked to sound the roar. That was often Halsey's role in the Pacific. Immediately after Pearl Harbor, Halsey commented (for publication) 'When we get done out here, the only place Japanese will be spoken will be in hell' A sign over the front door to his headquarters in the South Pacific read, 'Kill Japs, Kill Japs, Kill More Japs!' (Halsey never lost the common touch. In one battle his flagship took a near-miss that knocked Halsey off his feet. As he struggled to regain his footing, his legs were shaking, and he noticed a sailor suppressing a laugh at his discomfiture. Halsey demanded to know what the sailor's rate was, and upon learning that it was Quartermaster Second Class, Halsey replied, 'Not anymore- now it's Quartermaster FIRST class! Any man brave enough to be laughing while my knees are knocking together deserves a promotion!' It may have been that same day when Halsey overheard a young sailor comment, 'I'd go through hell for that old bastard' to which, legend has it, Halsey replied, 'Son, I'm not *that* old!' Unfortunately, Browning had *none* of his bosses charm. He was a hard drinker who was quite unpleasant (at least that's what his first three wives would report) and caused a scandal when he had an affair with the wife of a fellow officer. (She later became his 4th, and last wife) Browning managed to get on the bad side of both Chief of Naval Operations Frank King, as well as the Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox- so, eventually he got transfered off of Halsey's staff- over Halsey's objections. Sad to say, while Halsey never lost his flair for morale boosting, he made some grievious operational mistakes in the last year of the war that certainly gotten a less popular figure relieved. If he'd had the benefit of Browning's counsel- who knows?

Browning served as the Captain of the aircraft carrier "Hornet" until Spring of '44, when he was relieved after a crewman died in a noncombat accident, then got sent back to shore duty for the rest of the war. He retired and got a "tombstone promotion" to Rear Admiral. He died from lupus in 1955, at the age of 57.

Browning had one child, a daughter, who married a guy named Chase, and they had a son named Cornelius, who very early on picked up the nickname "Chevy", and who achieved considerable success as as a comic and actor (In past 15 years or so- well, not so much) Chevy Chase got to attend all the best prep schools, (his brother went Harvard) and when it came time to go before his local draft board, Chevy, clever lad that he was, convinced them that he was a homosexual. So some kid from Appalachia, or from the barrio, or from the ghetto, went to Vietnam in his place. I once read that Chevy Chase now claims that his mother abused him. (In my opinion, NOT NEARLY ENOUGH) It's sad that a great hero like Miles Browning died so young, but at least he was spared the ignominy of learning what a liar and a coward his grandson turned out to be.

Ralph Bunche

Ralph Bunche was an American diplomat and a distinguished professor at Howard University. He also happened to be a very light-skinned black man. Once, at a party in the early 60s, the subject of Civil Rights came up, and an elderly white woman (who did not realize that Ralph Bunche was black), said to him '*Well*, would you want your daughter to marry a Negro?'

He considered that question for a moment, and then said, 'Well, not just *any* Negro.'

That's pretty much my read on the current Presidential Contest. How do I feel about America having a black President? Fine, just not *any* black President. I recognize that America electing a black President would certainly have a major on America's image throughout the world- whether Senator Barack Obama is the best person for the job- time will tell. (If he doesn't win, it will be the biggest political upset of the century.)

When I was at Notre Dame Law School, one of my classmates as a fine black fellow named Richard Blackmon. He grew up in the Chicago projects and had attended Southern Illinois University at Carbondale on a football scholarship. He was smart enough to figure out he wasn't going to play in the NFL- so he got into Notre Dame Law School- and though he struggled- he got some Cs and Ds- he made it through. When he graduated, I told him, 'Rich Blackmon, I'm very happy for you. Now that Rich Blackmon has graduated from Notre Dame Law School, Rich Blackmon is going to get to become a rich black man.' Rich was quite amused.

A few years later, I heard that Rich had gotten married (a friend of mine had attended the wedding), so I called him up, and 'Rich, I hear you got married.'

He said, 'Yeah, man- it's great!'

And I said, 'Rich, I know exactly what you should name your first born'

'What's that?'

I said, 'If you have a kid, name'em 'Highly Qualified'.' Rich was very amused. I mean, can you image the career prospects of a guy named 'Highly Qualified Blackmon'?

There's a sad postscript of my story about Rich Blackmon. In Legal Ethics class, if there is *one* thing that you are going to remember *decades* later, it is to not comingle your client's funds with you own. That makes clients funds vulnerable to a judgment against you. Rich comingled a client's funds with his own, and got a five year suspension from the Illinois Supreme Court.

Patton -- Aspie?

Recently, I read an article on General George S. Patton that made my jaw drop. It speculated that Patton might have had Asperger's syndrome-or something very much like it. Patton has been in his grave for over 60 years now, so we'll never know for sure, but it certainly makes a certain amount of sense: brilliant intellect, terrible temper, uncanny ability to make grievious social gaffes....who knows?

I have always admired Patton for his self-confidence. He once said, 'There are people who disagree with me. They are wrong.'

Patton's political views certainly do not pass muster today. In his diary, he once wrote 'I met Cardinal Spellman. Anti-British, anti-Jew, Anti-Negro. what a guy!'

While Patton's politics and personality grated on a whole lot of people, he was an *excellent* battlefield commander. He was also a great trainer. One of his best, and truest maxims about effective traing was 'a pint of sweat will save you a gallon of blood'.

There's one story about Patton that I do not know if it is true or not, but here goes; during the Great Depression, Patton took command of a post, where, he soon learned that the local townspeople were not kindly disposed to his men. So, after a brainstorm, Patton arranged to have his men paid in two dollar bills. Very soon after payday, the townspeople adjusted their attitude.

In the closing days of WWII, a unit of Patton's 3rd Army found the secret location of the 3rd Reich's gold reserves- and a whole bunch of stolen artwork. After reporting this to Generals Bradley and Eisenhower, Patton admited that he had considered hiding the cache away until after the war when Congress started cutting defense spending- or dividing the loot among every man in the 3rd Army. That as pure Patton. He did not give a damn about money for himself (he was independently wealthy); he cared about his men and his unit.

Finally, upon occasion, Patton had a sense of humor. Anyone who has seen George C. Scott's portrayal of the General in the 1970 movie has probably wondered what Patton would have thought of it. I once in Reader's Digest (I've often looked for further corroboration, but haven't found any), that there was a young officer in the 3rd Army who could do a spot-on impersonation of the General's speech to his troops. This made this young officer very popular amongst his buddies. One night, he was doing his Patton impersonation on stage at a 3rd Army Officer's Club, when ol' Blood and Guts himself showed up. The young officer did his act, and later, went over to Patton's table, and asked him, 'Well, General, how did you enjoy the show tonight?'

And...there ....was...a...very...long....pause. And finally, Patton said, 'Son, I'm *not* going to say just who it is....but *one* of us is a *terrible* ham!'

Letterman's Top Ten

For the benefit of Friends on both sides of the Atlantic, I'm offering one of David Letterman's Top Ten Lists: Ten stupid things Americans say to English people.

10. Is it Halloween, or are those your real teeth?

9. Do you know the Queen?

8. What language are you speaking?

7. Do you eat *anything* that isn't in pie form?

6. *Seriously* are those your *real* *teeth*?

5. When are you going to come over to pick up Posh and Becks?

4. What do you mean, 'Let's go smoke a fag'?

3. Are you speaking English?

2. OK, say that one more time- *in* *American*

1. You know what? England should have its own version of 'The Office'!

Ohio Decides

In a refreshing change from 2000, and 2004, it appears this year's presidential election's result became clear at 9:18pm EST, when Ohio was called for Obama. OK, here's hoping there wouldn't be any gloating or nastiness. I think Senator Obama is a decent man with a great deal of intelligence and very, very little experiece. He has run an extraordinarily skillful campaign- I hope he does as well as President. He is certainly going to have to deal with some very unpleasant, very ruthless people throughout the world.

Ronald Reagan and Jerry Parr

Ronald Reagan made some fine films- "King's Row" and "Knute Rockne, All-American"- some that were...not so much. Reagan once said that perhaps the worst film he ever made was one in 1939 called "The Code of the Secret Service" in which he played Secret Service agent "Brass" Bancroft. The film did not get any Oscar nominations.

However, it did make a *big* hit with a grade school boy named Jerry Parr, who not only loved the film- he begged his father to take him to see it again and again- but the young fellow decided that when he grew up, he wanted to become a Secret Service agent- just like good ol' Brass Bancroft. Wonder of wonders, that is exactly what he did. What is far more extraordinary is that Jerry Page was head of the Presidential Security detail on the afternoon of March 30, 1981, and was standing next to President Reagan when John Hinckley shot the President. It was Agent Parr who shoved the President into the limosine, and ordered it to take the President directly to the hospital. That quick thinking almost certainly saved Reagan's life.

I think it is fair to say that the Agent's conduct that day was well above Parr.

Chad Henne/Joke

For four years, Chad Henne was the starting quarterback for the University of Michigan Wolverines, the archrivals of my alma mater, the Ohio State Buckeyes. In those four years, the Bucks beat UM all four times, a scource of great rejoicing amongst Buckeye fans (and in the process, handled Mr. Henne very roughly indeed.) Earlier today, I am delighted to report that I *thoroughly* kicked Henne's derriere, or at least "Chad Henne 1011", the youtube name of a guy on a site who posted a list of nasty OSU insults, and asked to have more sent his way.

He *asked* for insults?!?! BAWAHAHAHAHA!!! So, I took a minute to send him the lyrics of all four verses the Dead Schembechlers' classic, "Chad Henne is a joke" You can view my comments on "Ohio State Sucks", or hear the Dead Schembechlers on "Chad Henne is a Joke" It is very, very funny, but be advised that the lyrics are VERY VERY raunchy. (Rated R- you *have* been warned)

Sir Michael Jackson

Several years ago, , I read that Michael Jackson, "the king of pop", tried to divert attention from some the charges against him by buying himself a knighthood. Apparently, his advisors convinced him that if he made a eight figure donation to the right charity, he'd get an invite to Buckingham Palace, and get to listen to people calling him "Sir Michael". What was *completely* beyond the pale was that he wanted recognition for his "Contributions to Children" Nope...I'm not even gonna go there. Apparently the people in charge of putting together the Queen's Honors' List decided that they weren't buying any. (Maybe they told him, "Hit the Road, Jacko, and Don't You Come Backo, No Mo', No Mo', No Mo', No Mo'!") Yes, kudos, congratulations, and thre cheers, and three cheers more, for Buckingham Palace. They will NOT sell respectability and prestige to some creepy pedophile- even if he is (or *was*) a billioniare.

(I'm sure that came as *really* bad news for Gary Glitter!)

Anyhow, imagine my momentary shock, surprise, and *horror* when I read recently that Michael Jackson had received a knighthood. Imagine my relief a few seconds later that the new Sir Michael, was *Lieutenant* *General* Michael Jackson, who had just retired after an outstanding career with the British Army. ooooohh...that's *different*! Never mind! (And Congratulations, General Jackson!)

Jim Brown's Psych

Jim Brown played nine seasons in the National Football League, and by the time he retired, before the beginning of the 1966 season, (to embark on a career in third-rate action movies) he held the NFL records for most career touchdowns, most yards gained in a game, in a season, and in a career. In 8 of those 9 seasons, he led the NFL in rushing yardage- this, despite the fact that every defensive coordinator in the league stayed up late, trying to find a scheme to stop him.

For the benefit of non-football fans, Jim Brown was 6'2", weighted about 230, looked like high-grade steel come to life, and was *fast* on his feet. I've read many accounts of men who played against him. The concensus was that if you tried to tackle *that* guy, you grabbed 'hold, and fervently hoped that two, or three, or four, or *five* of your teammates showed up *real* fast. Contrary to what Brown's friend Richard Pryor once said in a comedy routine, there was never an incident of Jim Brown carrying ten guys on his back for 50 yards- but that tells you something about his reputation.

In addition to his atheletic gifts- which were *spectacular*- Jim Brown was also an astute student of psychology. One of his gambits was obvious to anyone who ever saw him play. *Every* time Brown got tackled, he'd...*very*...slowly...get....up...and...*very* The guys on the other team would be thinking "Well, we got him *that* time didn't we?" They couldn't be sure.
That was clever of him, but his *master* stroke was a psych job he pulled on his teammates, and the entire NFL, for *nine* years. Any man who makes a living as a professional athlete knows that it is essential to check out any possible injury, for fear it might get aggravated and develop into a career ending disaster- and perhaps a lifetime of pain. So, after both practices and games, Brown's Cleveland teammates ould form a line outside the trainer's office to get checked out. But *not* Jim Brown. He would pull off his uniform, take a shower, dress, and walk right past the trainer- and his *dumbfounded* teammates- and out the door, without a single word. Every practice, every game- exhibition, regular season, championship games, the ProBowl- same routine. For nine seasons. News of this habit of Brown's got around the NFL, as his teammates would tell anyone ho asked, that Jim Brown was not just the best running back in the league (as he certainly was), but as something Not of This Earth- the *Terminator* in *Shoulder* *Pads*.

It was not until Brown won election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1971, that he gave away his secret- he saw the trainer every day. At 6 o'clock in the morning, when nobody else was around. Shrewd move by Jim Brown.

One Day at the Wall

One day back in 1984, while I as still on active duty, at Fort Meade, I visited the Vietnam ar Memorial on the National Mall. What immediately caught my eye was the sight of a black gentleman, dressed in the uniform of a full colonel of the US Air Force, kneeling down. I also noticed something very few people not in the service would have picked out- I noticed that the mass of ribbons over his left uniform breast pocket included the Purple Heart. He noticed my gaze and said, "I'm looking for my navigator. I got shot down and spent three years in the Hanoi Hilton."

I said, "Sir, you have paid some awfully dues for your country"

He said, quite cheerfully, "Yes, I'm one of the lucky of the unlucky, I guess." I didn't get the Colonel's name, but I've seen him on a History Channel special- and I certainly thought of him on Veteran's Day.

Samuel Whittemore

Whenever writing about the events of the American Revolution, I always like to mention the story of Benjamin Franklin. He spent eighteen years of his life in London, serving as the colonies' agent in the UK. What he advocated as that the colonies should have proportional representation in Parliment, until that proportion reached 50%, at which point there could be a peaceful split, rather like the eastern and western Roman Empire. To Franklin in 1774, a war between Britian and the colonies represented a tragic civil war within the Anglo-Saxon world. Franklin was more than a century ahead of his time- what he advocated was almost identical to the Modern British Commonealth. The Franklin family experienced its own civil war- Franklin's son William, the Royal Governor of New Jersey, stayed loyal to the Crown, and the two men only reconciled after the war. In 1775, when Franklin learned that the Royal Governor of Massachusetts, Thomas Hutchinson, was seeking to limit "English liberties" for the colonists, he leaked that information, in an effort to get Hutchinson replaced, and the policy changed. No such luck. So, at the age of 69, Benjamin Franklin became a revolutionary. I tell my English friends that if you look at it that way, they should take the American Revolution as compliment. Why did colonists take up arms against the Crown? Because the Crown, and Parliment were messing with their rights as Englishmen, they'd rather risk death than put up with that!

On that fateful afternoon of April 18, 1775, a grey haired gentleman in Massachusetts named Samuel Whittemore heard about the fighting at Lexington and Concord, so he got out his rifle. and his dueling pistols (note: I think it is a good idea *not* to mess with people who keep a set of dueling pistols), and a sabre, and took up a position close to the road to Boston. He was a former British officer who had served in the sieges of both Louisberg and Quebec, and then "went native", buying a farm and raising a family in America. At close range, Samuel Whittemore fired his rifle and both pistols, killing three British soldiers. He was trying to swing away with his sabre when a group of extremely irate redcoats set upon him, shot him in the face, beat him on the head with a rifle butt, and bayoneted him *thirteen* *times*. After the battle, the local doctor took one look at Whittemore's wounds, and declared that there was nothing he could do. Well, Samuel Whittemore had surprised the British, and he managed to *astonish* that doctor. He lived another 17 years ten months- he even got to shake hands with President George Washington, and to be realized as the oldest man to bear arms in the Revolutionary War. On April 19, 1775, Samuel Whittemore was just three months short of his 80th birthday.

In reading up on the Battles of the Lexington and Concord, I came across a coincidence that amazed me. I do not envy the lot of the British soldiers who got sent on that mission that day. Form up at 8pm, do a night march of 18 miles to Lexington, get in a skirmish, march another six miles to Concord, get in a *serious* firefight, and then start marching all the way back to Boston- with everybody and his second cousin sniping at you from behind stone walls. The only reason why they didn't get wiped out, was that early in the morning, the Colonel in chare of that 700 man unit sent a messenger back to Boston, requesting reinforcements. The Commander of that 1,400 man relief column was General Hugh Percy, later Duke of Northumberland. The Percy family goes *way* back in English history- to William the Conquerer. Percys are prominent in Shakespeare's histories, and one as executed by Elizabeth I. General Percy served for another two years in America, then returned to England (He disapproved of Lord North's war policies.) Hugh had a 23 years younger illegitimate half-brother, who unlike the rest of his family, stayed out of the military and politics, instead pursuing a carrer in science, achieving great deal of success as a chemist and mineralogist. By the time he died, heirless, in 1829, he had amassed quite a fortune. Although he'd never been to America, he left his entire estate to the United States government, asking that it be used to advance the study of science. Of course, James did not go by the name of Percy. His birthname was Smithson. And 180 years after his death, if you visit ashington D.C., you can visit the result of the bequest- the Smithsonian Institution.

Perfect Justice

Perfect justice is a beautiful thing!

I hear somebody is putting out a Michael Vick chew toy for dogs. If I find a scource, I know exactly what to get for all the dog owners on my Xmas list.

Mountbatten and Jones

There are a great many things I admire about Lord Louis Francis Albert Victor Nicholas Mountbatten, not least the fact that he had a sense of humor. When he was the Captain of the HMS Kelly, one of his sailors, (legend has it that he was a Cockney named Jones) Jones decided that he did not want to participate in the Church of England services held on Royal Navy ships on Sunday morning, (I guess he wanted to sleep in) so he put down on his religious preference form "Jewish", and then, just to make assurance double sure, added "Atheist".

This came to Mountbatten's attention. Lord Louis figured that Jones was trying to pull a fast one, and he wasn't going to let that happen- so he called Jones on the carpet.

"Jones, I understand that you have stated on your religious preference form that you are a Jewish atheist. Is that correct?"

"Thas roight, Ahm a Jewish atheist"

"Jones, don't you realize that the Jewish people were the Light of Civilization whilst the entire population of Europe was painting themselves blue and running about naked in the forests? And now *you* have strayed from the faith of your forefathers! I am APPALLED! And for that reason, I have arranged that for the next twelve Saturdays you shall meet at 0700 with Royal Navy's senior Jewish chaplain for an intensive program of instruction in the Jewish religion. DISMISSED!"

The story continues, (I allow for a touch of the apocryphal here) that for the rest of the time Jones served on the Kelly, whenever Mountbatten saw him, he would say, "Ah, Jones! Shalom!"

Three Rabbis (Rated C for Clean)

Readers advisory- nothing nasty follows.

Once upon a time three rabbis- one Orthodox, one conservative, and one reformed, met, and the Orthodox rabbi said, "My friends, I have a problem. I have a son. I raise him to be a good Jewish boy: I read to him from the Torah, I take him to shabbot, I have him bar-mitzvahed...and what does he do? He goes out and becomes a *Christian*!"

The Conservative rabbi says, "That's amazing. I have a son, I raise him to be a good Jewish boy, I read to him from the Torah, I take him to shabbot, I have him bar-mitzvahed...and what does he do? He goes out and becomes a *Christian*!"

The Reform rabbi says, "Far out, dudes! I have a son. I raise him to be a good Jewish boy: I read to him from the Torah, I take him to shabbot, I have him bar-mitzvahed...and what does he do? He goes out and becomes a *Christian*!"

At this point the three gentlemen decide to pray for a Divine Answer. And to their surprise, the rosebush outside their study bursts into flame. So they call out to the burning bush, "Lord, what the answer?"

And a voice from the burning bush says "DON'T ASK ME- I GOT THE SAME PROBLEM!"

Michigan Game

Attention everyone! This year's Ohio State-Michigan game has been cancelled- because Michigan not only can't show up in Columbus...hell, they can't even get past TOLEDO! BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

In other developments, Michigan has a new mascot, replacing the wolverine with the Pastry Chef. This is altogether fitting and proper, since every Saturday, they had out abig bunches of turnovers!

And finally, scUM has a new school song, replacing "Hail to the Victors" with "I'll be Home for Christmas"


Jerry Kramer: "It's a tough league" (rated M for Mature)

One of the anomalies of American football is that while many footballers achieve great fame, some of the most important people on the field- the offensive linemen- are all but anonymous to all but the most devoted fan. One of the *very* exceptions to this rule, as the great offensive line of the Green Bay Packer teams of the 1960's. When John McCain as interrogated by the North Vietnamese, he named the members of the of that line as his squadron's pilots. In the movie, "Runaway Bride", Julia Roberts' character's third fiance, played by Chris Meloni, is a sports nut, who at one point asks Julia, "Who was that great right guard for the Packers, back in the 60's?" To which she replies, "Jerry Kramer". I thought to myself, dang, even "Pretty Woman" knows who Jerry Kramer was!

For the benefit of nonfootball fans, Jerry Kramer is a very nice, well spoken gentleman, who stands six foot three, and during his playing days weighted about two hundred sixty pounds (18 stone to our English friends; 120 kilos in metric). For a man that size, he was exceptional light on his feet, and apparently he had a pain threshold that I find mind boggling. (*Wimps* do NOT last long in the National Football League- Jerry Kramer played *eleven* *years*)

Right before the start of the 1967 season, Jerry Kramer had a really good idea. He decided to keep a journal of the season, and get it published. No Hollywood screenwriter could have possibly imagined. Green Bay made it to the NFL Championship game that year against the Dallas Cowboys. Since Green Bay had the best record, they had home field advantage. In Lambeau Field, Green Bay, Wisconsin. In January.

I once read an account by Lance Rentzel, one of the Dallas Cowboys who played in that game. He related that the night before, he called time and temperature and got a recording "The temperature is 15 degrees. the wind is from the north at two miles an hour." He thought, it's cold, but no problem. The next morning, he called again, and heard, "The temperature is 15 degrees below zero. The wind is from the north at thirty miles an hour."

Later that day, the Cowboys and the Packers played what is still remembered as the epic Ice Bowl. With seconds left to go, Green Bay was behind, but had driven to the Dallas one yard line. On the final play, Jerry Kramer threw a crushing block on Dallas defensive tackle Jethro Pugh, enabling Gren Bay quarterback Bart Starr to sneak into the endzone for the winning touchdown. Jerry Kramer enjoyed some spectacular luck that day- the Ice Bowl was one of the first televised games to feature Instant Replay, so every football fan in America got to watch Jerry Kramer throw that key block over...and over...and over...and over...and over....and over...and over...and over again. Shortly afterward, he published his book, and entitled it "Instant Replay"

I read "Instant Reply" when it first came out, and recently looked throught it again. I was quite surprised at how well it stands up 40 years later. A couple of bits stand out: one was Kramer's description of the how he held out for an additional ten thousand dollars one season, and how the Packer's management completely raked him over the coals for *weeks* (today, an All-Pro lineman of Kramer's calibre would get a multiyear contract worth low eight figures.) The labor/management disputes from those days sound like something from the 1880s.

My favorite Jerry Kramer story was in his second book "Farewellto Football",which he wrote after he retired- at the ripe old age of thirty-two (that is *ancient* by American pro football standards). In one chapter he recounted all the injuries he'd suffered- broken fingers, broken ribs, a broken ankle,a couple of concussions, a detached retina...pretty standard stuff. The *worst* thing he ever faced came as the result of a childhood mishap. He'd been chasing a calf on his father's ranch, when the calf stepped on a board which flew up, and Kramer ran right into it, getting a really nasty splinter in his lower abdomen. Many years later that splinter shifted,caused complications- and Kramer's doctors told him that he probably had cancer and was going to die. Well, not quite- but he *did* have to get a colostomy. *Incredibly*,even thought it took him months of rehab, Kramer got himself back into shape, and showed up to defend his starting job at the Packer's summer training camp. After one day's practice, Kramer was taking a shower when he noticed that the guy next to him in the shower- a rookie- was staring slack-jawed at the gaping one inch-diameter hole just below Kramer's sternum. Jerry Kramer smiled and said with a straight face, "It's a tough league, kid."

Plane Pooling

I saw that the CEOs of the Big Three automakers came to DC to plead for an *ADDITIONAL* TWENTY FIVE BILLION DOLLARS from the Federal Government.I don't think they helped themselves at all when they let it slip that they had all flown to DC in corporate jets. They couldn't share a ride???As I watched them it occurred to me that in Stalin's regime, incompetent managers were simply lined up against a wall and shot. (Or maybe they could be forced to seep and buff the floors for the next twenty years). At the absolute minimum, I say take away their "Golden Parachute" retirement plans, and as for their compensation, put a tip jar at the front gate.

Soviet Elephants

There's an old story from the Soviet Union that one day Stalin announces that elephants are counterrevolutionaries and are to be shot as enemies of the people. Later that same day, a Soviet border guard sees about a million mice lined up outside his post.

"So what do you want?" He asks the first mouse in line.

"Exit visas" replies the mouse.

"Why do you want exit visas?"

"Because Stalin has ordered the execution of all the elephants in Russia."

"But you're not elephants, you're mice"

"Yeah? Just try telling that to the KGB!"

Great idea!

Dear Friends What follows is a *G*R*E*A*T* idea that makes entirely too much sense to be implemented:

Hi Kent,
I know that in D. C. they think every plan must be a minimum of 800 pages. Usually accomplishing nothing. I have a bail out plan for the banks and auto makers. It takes about three sentences.

If your company takes any money from the bailout you and the top ten officers of your company must resign immediately without compensation. You must agree not accept a position with any company for a minimum of three years. You caused the problem therefore you are not going to be a part of the solution.

CEO's signature

I can almost guarantee you that very few companies would be grabbing our money with these conditions. Semper Fi, Mark

Rachel Getting Married

Dear Friends, Back in September, 1991, I attended the wedding of Jean, a dear friend from law school. She wore a orange (?) dress and we had carrot cake at the reception. Not everybody does things that way, but, hey, Jean is Jean, and she does things *her* *way*. No problemo. Anyhow, last night, I went to see "Rachel Getting Married". Anne Hathaway plays a woman who gets out of rehab to attend the wedding of her sister Rachel (played by Rosemarie DeWitt, my favorite- I hope she wins an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.)

Anyhow, Rachel and her fiance Sydney have chosen to put on a wedding with an Asiatic Indian motif- the bridesmaids are dressed in purple saris (I thought, OK, it's the bride's day- kinda like Jean to the Nth power) and the wedding cake is *blue* with a huge blue elephant on top.

At that moment, I let out a perhaps inappropriate cackle. I kinda expected Anne Hathaway's character to let out a blood-curdling scream, and shriek "GET ME BACK TO REHAB! I'VE NEVER TRIPPED THIS BAD! I"M SEEING A BIG BLUE ELEPHANT ON THE WEDDING CAKE! AAAAIIIIIIIIEEEEEEEE!!!!!!

Seriously, it is a fine film and I highly recommend it.

The Desk in the Oval Office

Not many people know the story of the British contribution to the Oval office. Clear back in 1850, the Royal navy obtained a 500 ton sailing ship to take part in an artic expedition. It was named the Resolute, and had a polar bear for a figurehead. In 1853, it got stuck in the ice, and it's had to abandon ship.Over a year later, an American found the Resolute, somehow managed to free it from the ice, and sailed it back to the States.By the this time, Her Majesty's government had abandonded any claim to the vessel. Well, HMG got a pleasant surprise- the American government fixed the Resolute up, and in 1856 sailed it back to the UK, and presented it to Queen Victoria as a goodwill gesture. Give Queen Victoria (and her government) some credit- when the Resolute was finally decommissioned in 1879, somebody salvaged enough timber to make a *really* fine looking desk- which Queen Victoria presented to President Rutherford B. Hayes as *another* goodwill gesture. Almost every American President to the present day has put it to good use.

November 22nd

On November 22nd, I usually call my Honorary Nephew, Bryant to wish him a Happy Birthday. I vividly remember a beautiful sunny day in March, 1990. Bryant's mom was bundling him up and putting him in the stroller, preparing for a visit to SeaWorld- and his six year old sister was indignantly proclaiming "You're keeping us waiting!" to her 4 month old brother.

Time flies, and they grow up SO fast. That adorable little kidster is now in college, and recently hit the midway point between six feet and seven. (Having some familiarity with his Mom's cooking, I'm not at all surprised he reached six foot six, and I won't be the least bit surprised if he doesn't pick up a few *more* inches.) I kid his parents that on the first day of classes K through 12 he no doubt brought all the new kids in school home for cookies. (I mean, if you're a new kid, and you see a guy *that* huge, if you make friends with him, who is gonna mess with you?) He's smart, well-mannered, and kind-hearted (he takes after *both* his parents) and very good looking (he takes after his mom :). I look forward to seeing him again; I just hope he doesn't feel the need to bounce me on *his* knee. I can heard his mom now: "Bryant, put Uncle Kent down!"

I'm glad I've know him, partially because I now have an *entirely* different association with November 22nd than I did for the 26 years before he arrived. On November 22nd, 1963, a fellow 3rd grader named Greg Sopp told me that President Kennedy had been shot. I ignored him. A few minutes later, they let us out of school, and I ran home just as fast as my eight year old legs could carry me, because I as absolutely certain that World War III had begun, and Russian missiles were flying toward Columbus, Ohio. When I got home, and my mother gave me the bad news from Dallas, for about a second, I felt profound relief. President Kennedy was dead, but I wasn't going to die that day. This is still a dangerous world, but as least today's gradeschoolers don't have to deal with that kind of fear.

Phillip Goldslager

I once had a client named Phillip Goldslager. I thought of him as a kid, because as a small guy with a baby-face, but he was about thirty. The first time I met him he was in Orient Correctional Center doing time on a cocaine possession charge. Before he was sentenced on that charge however, he had managed to pick up a theft charge. He had (or at least the state accused him, of stealing a guy's bag of golf clubs and fencing them. On top of that, apparently the victim had left his *wedding* *ring* in the golf bag. The golf bag was recovered, but the wedding ring was not. (Did I mention that the victim as NOT in a forgive and forget mood?) I went over the case with him (they had him dead to rights) and told him that it was his call- if he wanted to take it to trial, we'd go to trial, or I could try to get him the best plea bargain possible. He was OK with a plea bargain. Before I left, I told him, "Phil, I think I can get you probation, but you better stay away from that cocaine, because that s*** can *kill* you."

I talked with the DA, yep, they were OK with him getting probation, so I went back down to Orient to give him the good news.I said, "Ok, you're getting out in a week, we'll have your plea hearing a week after that. But remember, Phil, you better stay away from that cocaine, because that s*** can kill you."

The day after his release date, I called his mother and asked to talk ith Phil. She said, sorry, no, Phil is dead. Phil had died of a cocaine overdose the day after he was released from prison. She was nice enough to tell me that her son had told her good things about me. (That's a nice change from being called everything but a Precious Child of God- which has happened more times than I can count)

I think Johnny Cash had the right idea when he rote "The Cocaine Blues" (written from the point of view of an inmate serving a 99 year sentence in San Quentin) "Lay off that whiskey, and let that cocaine be!"

Goldwater Goes Golfing

Barry Morris Goldwater served thirty years in the United States Senate and was the Republican nominee for President in 1964. People with a solid knowledge of history and a sense of irony will tell you that it is a good thing that he lost in a landslide- otherwise, the United States would have become involved in a war in Viet Nam.

His vice-president running mate that year was Congressman William Miller of New York. His son, William Miller Jr. was a classmate of mine (2 years behind me) at Notre Dame Law School, and my upstairs neighbor. (And yes, his sister Stephanie Miller is a left-wing radio personality.)

Senator Goldater accomplished a great deal in his life (He was one of the founders of the Air National Guard, and retired as a Major General) He also managed to keep a sense of humor. Goldwater's father as born Jewish, but became an Episcopalian when he married. (So Senator Goldwater was Episcopalian, but he was eligible for Israeli citizenship, and would have been in a world of hurt if the Nazis had won WWII- almost all his cousins died in the Holacaust.) One time a friend took Goldwater golfing at a 'restricted' club (this as *many* years ago) so Goldater asked the manager, "I'm only half-Jewish. Is it OK if I play nine holes?"

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Wookie Discrimination

Carl Sagan once gave an interesting review of "Star Wars." He pointed out that in the 1978 film, every important character was:
1. human
2. white, and
3. English-speaking

Professor Sagan opined that the universe would probably have a great deal more diversity in that regard. He further pointed out that at the end of the film:

Han Solo got a medal
Luke Skywalker got a medal
R2D2 got a medal
C3P0 got a medal
but *Chewbacca*, the *Wookie*, did NOT get a medal.

Now that Peter Mayhew, the actor who played Chewbacca, has now become an American citizen, it seems the *least* we can do is to have Carrie Fisher put on her Princess Leia outfit one more time, climb up on a stepladder (Mr. Mayhew is 7'3") and give Chewbacca his medal.

It is totally unacceptable to discriminate against someone- just because of the color of his fur!