There's not a joy the world can give like what it takes away,
When the glow of early thought declines in feelings dull decay.
- Lord Byron
With apologies to Trees poet Joyce Kilmer:
I thought that I would never see, lawmakers side with you and me; Nor did I eer expect to hear, Geraldo give me so much cheer,
When in a burst of patriot pride, I leave my show! he hath decried.
And Rosie, too? Ive heard it all: A Bushie now, her latest call.
I toil and cry or write all day, and people rarely shift my way.
Oh, columns are made by fools like me, but only God -- or fear of war - can set minds free.
Hold the applause. A Charles Osgood, the reporter who delivers his news in rhyme, Ill never be. But so many unheard-of developments have occurred that I couldnt help myself. In case you missed them, lets recount the following - mercifully, in prose.
A recent Associated Press report on the education bill now being debated in Congress includes the following: School districts that unlawfully restrict student prayer could lose their federal funds....
I had to read that one several times to convince myself the word really was restrict and not require. After years of separation anxiety each time the school prayer issue came up, I couldnt believe Congress was finally agreeing with most of the country. Reminding us that the First Amendment allows informal prayer by pupils when not engaged in school activities or instruction, the reporter also mentioned a recent decision by the lawmakers to allow Boy Scouts, military recruiters, and religious groups the same access to school facilities as other groups and recruiters already have.
Where have all the feminists gone? Before she was a presidential speech-writer turned columnist, Peggy Noonan was an outspoken member of the women-rule-the-world-and-who-needs-men club. Yet just days after the Twin Tower disaster she wrote a column for The Wall Street Journal hailing real men, adding her tribute to New Yorks suddenly adulated firefighters and police officers.
First she apologized for all the years she hadnt noticed how important the (male) blue-collar segment of America really is. Then she downgraded athletes, politicians, rock and movie stars - except John Wayne - to lesser roles, and elevated brawny public servants to the heroic positions they proved (to her) they deserved on Sept. 11.
The Duke, however remained on the top rung, not so much for himself, but for the swashbuckling, he-man roles he played on the screen. (Funny, but I thought we had police and fireman doing heroic duty before Sept. 11.)
And when was the last time you heard anything from the anti-gun lobby? According to Boston talk show host Howie Carr, The threat of terror has mushroomed gun sales in the U.S. and silenced the anti-gun lobby to less than a whisper. The debate used to be about banning assault weapons. Today its, "Do I buy a revolver or an automatic?
Other changes in the news you might include:
Longer unemployment lines, but also more new cars. Both Ford and GM have announced a nearly 30 percent increase in auto sales over the same period Last year.
Perhaps buy-American patriotism is on the rise, or more people have a fatalistic view of the future and are choosing to throw thrift to the uncertain wind.
Business is also up at pet shops and any place that sells teddy bears. People are looking for something to cuddle, a spokesman says.
And finally: The shift by prominent celebrities from anti-everything to pro-Bush/war/government and all things patriotic has baffled both sides. Hearing Rosie ODonnell declare, I love President Bush! and Geraldo Rivera announce his decision to eave CNBC and join the Fox News Network to become a war correspondent in Afghanistan, has some of us reaching for the smelling salts.
Even in the midst of horror and uncertainty, it seems, there are still some reasons to say with the late, still-adulated Jackie Gleason, How sweet it is!
(Barbara Seaborn is a local, free-lance writer. E-mail comments to seabara@ aol.com.)
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