James Buchanan was the American president from 1857-1861 and is credited with that description of the United States Senate as a place for respectful, intelligent and impassioned debate. Such luminaries as Henry Clay, Daniel Webster and John Calhoun forged a senate known for its ability to get hard jobs done well. Those three served when the annual pay was $5,000. Today, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky earns $174,000 per year as one of our one hundred senators.
Henry Clay represented Kentucky also. Clay was called the Great Compromiser due to his ability to get senate consensus on such volatile issues as war, then peace, with Great Britain in 1812-1814 and preservation of the union during ante-bellum days. Anthony Fauci is not a senator but he is our highest paid federal employee, $434,312 per year, as the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and as the chief medical advisor to the President of the United States. On July 20, 2021 Senator Paul and Dr. Fauci sat in the hallowed chamber where Henry Clay used to orate. Their exchange about the Wuhan China laboratory funds received from America was notably different from issues concerning war and slavery. It went something like this, “You are a liar!” and “You are another!” If the famous Ohio River brawler Mike Fink (c. 1770-c. 1823) had been involved, either Paul or Fauci might have been challenged to knock a red feather off the other’s shoulder. Or if two twelve-year-old boys during a school recess had been at odds one might have shoved the other and kicked dirt on him.
For several hundred thousand dollars in salaries and such seeming trivialities as a world pandemic involved, one might expect the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body to be, well, more deliberative. As reported over the cable news networks, Paul and Fauci were each claiming the other was not just incorrect on the arcane science known as gain-of-function research; the direct accusations were that both public servants were deliberately misleading their employers, i.e., you and me, Gentle Readers.
Further, Paul accused Fauci of perjury before Congress and Fauci pointed a bony finger at Paul and yelled that Paul was intentionally confusing the facts. I do not know about you but I have found this Wuhan gain-of-function thing confusing enough on its own. Our leaders need not obfuscate things further. Research into how science can manipulate the genetic code of the coronavirus in order to create new more deadly ones sounds ominous enough. And according to some reports, the mysterious Wuhan Laboratory “Bat Lady”, Shi Zhengle, has already combined the genes of two bat viruses with genes from a SARS related strain to make a new and even more deadly virus. I am thinking we all might want to step back a way. Supposedly the good reason for such research is to prepare us for some future deadly disease. Unfortunately, history teaches us the altruistic motivations do not always win out.
Paul got his medical degree from Duke University and Fauci got his from Cornell University. They should know better than to bandy about with such concepts as world plagues, present or future. I respectfully suggest we may want to use the resources of the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body for good and not expend our precious and limited resources on schoolboy shouting matches while Washington, D.C. burns.
The national media push a highly addictive drug called paranoia. If one wants to get a reliable weather forecast or find out if a local kitten is not lost, local T.V. and regional newspapers are the best source. But if we are in need of a rush brought on by fear of catastrophe or schadenfreude, we flip the remote incessantly between CNN and FOX. CBS, NBC and ABC are available but boring. PBS can be interesting but is about as exciting as a library. No, if we want cataclysm or the satisfaction of seeing the rich and powerful fail, we must have cable. You might wonder about MSNBC but we can only take so much self-indulgent cynicism.
Gentle Reader, if you were awake, as I was at 4:00 a.m. staring at the peach-colored ceiling and wondering if I should use the restroom again or make a cup of coffee, you may have defaulted to cable T.V. That is where I saw the bobbleheads of CNN and FOX fervently seeking our advertising eyeballs by continually ratcheting up the partisan rhetoric. In between the machine gun fire of five minutes of adds were crammed five-minute exhortations camouflaged as news. Today, as usual, CNN was frothing about Donald Trump and FOX was exorcised about Cuba and communism, which FOX posited was one and the same.
CNN was giddy with the no-so-breaking story that former President Trump was unhappy about the last election, so much so that General Mark Milley, Trump’s choice for Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the military, was concerned about a peaceful transfer of power. FOX apparently either did not know who Milley was or did not care. FOX made no mention of this “bombshell” possibility. FOX was excitedly showing Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ campaign coozies which attacked Anthony Fauci as FOX repeatedly rolled film of protests in Cuba. CNN did not take note of Cuba nor communism as its commentators were busy extolling the virtues of giving away trillions of dollars of borrowed taxpayer money.
What came through quite clearly, even as I dozed in and out while desperately seeking facts hidden among the rushes of opinion, was that CNN and FOX both believed that Chicken Little was correct. Each of their favorite evil acorns that fall upon us is a harbinger of the sky’s collapse upon America. We must eliminate all vestiges of Trumpism, and now DeSantisism too, along with President Biden and any federal help for poor people. Of course, we can do this by buying the products hawked among the invective spewed by the incredulous news anchors. Just as grade school teachers emphasizing that we children should obey the crossing guards, cable news claims it is our best source for gospel; critical analysis is just too much trouble and no fun besides. Most importantly, run out and buy more stuff before prices rise again.
Charles Constantine was a Greek immigrant who relocated to Pawhuska, Osage County, Oklahoma in 1905. Charles bought the Pawhuska House Hotel that had been opened in the 1880’s and he converted the business to the Constantine Theater in 1914. After Constantine sold the theater in 1926 it was renamed the Kihekah Theater. It operated as a movie house from 1926 until it closed in 1981. It has been beautifully restored by the community and once again serves the public as The Constantine Theater. Numerous volunteers have donated money and countless hours of their time to preserving this iconic community asset. The Constantine will be open to the public free of charge for several hours during the Cavalcade Rodeo weekend of July 16th to 17th, 2021. The Redwine family will be having a family reunion jam session, art exhibit and new book launching event during parts of each day and The Constantine will open its concession stand also.
Mr. Constantine was furthering the Greek theater tradition that began with the western world’s first theater about 500 B.C. It was located in Athens, Greece on the side of the high hill upon which the Acropolis was built and it was named in honor of the Greek god of wine, Dionysus. Playwrites such as Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides and Aristophanes began the ancient tradition of entertainment and enlightenment that carries on to today. Along the way such giants of literature as William Shakespeare in England drew upon the wisdom of those marvelous Greeks. Shakespeare’s theater, The Globe, in London is where Hamlet, Act II, scene 2, said “The play’s the thing wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the King.” Hamlet used a play within a play to expose his uncle’s murder of Hamlet’s father. Human nature has often been examined through art but sometimes art is just for fun; not every play is a tragedy. The weekend of July 16th & 17th is to be one of the lighter variety.
The Constantine has been the scene of countless performances over the years and Peg and I were honored to have been invited to exhibit our homemade movie and preview our historical novel JUDGE LYNCH! at the first Ben Johnson, Jr. Film Festival that was held at The Constantine Theater June 11, 2011. Our new novel Unanimous for Murder is a sequel to JUDGE LYNCH!. We are looking forward to once again enjoying the historic atmosphere of the Constantine and maybe re-showing our 19-minute movie. We do not need any extras.
Pawhuska’s favorite son, Ben (Son) Johnson, won an academy award for his portrayal of the owner of the sole movie theater in a small Texas village. The movie, The Last Picture Show, was a metaphor for lost innocence and a declining town. When the theater in that small community closed the town died as did the hopes of its residents. But thanks to the efforts of numerous volunteers, Pawhuska’s theater remains vibrant and forward looking. As someone who grew up attending the Kihekah Theater countless times, it feels good to have it still be an integral part of our lives.
Maybe we will see you at The Constantine Theater July 16th or July 17th between 12 noon and 6 p.m.; an informal musical performance will take place between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. on July 17th. Admittance is free to all events.
Aesop (620–564 BC.) was a slave in ancient Greece who told morality tales. Aesop’s fables generally used irony and experiences from everyday life to illustrate their lessons. Negro spirituals provided the same type of psychological relief for slaves in America. Each Fourth of July as we celebrate our country’s freedom from Great Britain in 1776 we honor the principles of democracy handed down to us by those brilliant and courageous ancient Greeks. But the Greeks from c. 2500 years ago and our Founders from 245 years ago were seeking a perfect society, not establishing one.
Athena was claimed to have sprung full-grown from the mind of Zeus and the United States is often claimed to have been born free and equal when we adopted our constitution. However, the goddess of justice and justice in America were ideals not reality. We know there is more work to do and we are doing it. Independence Day celebrations are a good time to reflect on the hard work remaining.
Each Fourth of July our family, probably much as your family Gentle Reader, get together to renew and reminisce. This year we are gathering at the Constantine Theater in Pawhuska, Oklahoma on July 16 and 17 during the wonderful Cavalcade Rodeo event. Shirley (Smith) Redwine has graced our family for well over half a century after she competed as a queen contestant and barrel racer in the Cavalcade. You can see her in the painting she created. You go Cowgirl!
Shirley’s husband and our eldest sibling, C.E. Redwine, is a wonderful professional musician and is coordinating a family jam session at the Constantine. We will have saxophone, ukulele and guitar players of various persuasions as well as singers and talkers. We will not pay you to attend nor will you have to pay to come visit with Pawhuska High School graduates from 1954, 1955, 1960 and 1961 on July 17th from 2-4 p.m.
This same group got together at the Constantine in 2011 when we showed the movie we made of my historical novel JUDGE LYNCH!. That horrific tale of injustice and its brand-new sequel Unanimous for Murder involve the legacy of slavery, segregation and integration in Posey County, Indiana and Osage County, Oklahoma. Those sad stories also involve an Aesop-type irony from 2011. It reminds me of the bittersweet years when we had Colored Folks and White People.
When Peg and I wrote JUDGE LYNCH! I borrowed, with his prior permission, the name of one of my childhood friends. Travis Finley is a sports legend, minister and former Pawhuska City Councilman. I used his name for a character in JUDGE LYNCH! When we returned to Pawhuska from New Harmony, Indiana in 2011 to show the movie we made we invited Travis and his wife Edna to attend the premier. As I was up on the stage of the Constantine explaining the book and movie, I looked out in the audience to find Travis and Edna; they were not visible. After my introduction I searched the downstairs of the theater then went to the balcony. There, just the two of them, sat Edna and Travis. I went up to them and said, “What are you doing up here?” They reminded me of what America has been and what it was meant to be when they answered, “When we were kids we weren’t allowed to sit downstairs so now we don’t want to. Besides, you can see better from up here.”
Happy birthday, America. Let’s keep perfecting!
Margaret Thatcher said the problem with socialism is you eventually run out of other people’s money. Thatcher noted this truism long before ’Ole 19 brought about payments of trillions of dollars to people to not go to work. These trillions were not created as a gift from the gods but are borrowed from future generations. Such largesse with the earnings of contemporary small business owners and yet to be born taxpayers may cause warm fuzzy feelings but the concept of something for nothing is a zero-sum game. It can lead to an attitude of entitlement. Unlike teaching folks to fish, entitlement can instill a belief that fish will hook themselves and that if someone else has caught a fish they must share it. A moral society has an obligation to care for those who cannot care for themselves. But it is immoral to foster an attitude that the able bodied have no obligation to contribute. Even worse is the idea that those who do have means must not deserve them so it is okay to take their property without paying for it.
According to the office of the Attorney General for the State of California a large number of folks who frequent retail establishments such as CVS, Walgreens and Target in the San Francisco area simply take items off the shelves and leave without paying. This attitude of “what’s mine is mine and so is thine” may be infecting the American psyche beyond the land of free love and tent cities on the public streets. Evidence of this creeping social virus can also be found on our public roads and byways.
Some people apparently assume all the world is their trash can and dump their refuse on the rest of us. How difficult could it be to carry a trash bag in a vehicle and occasionally put the filled-up bag in one of the large containers that populate every public park or roadside rest stop? Once again it is the entitlement thing. The thought process may go something like this:
“I am going to shoplift some items or buy some beer or fast food and then dump the refuse on my fellow citizens. It is okay because I should not be expected to be responsible for my own mess. After all, I either didn’t pay for it to begin with or bought it with COVID-19 money I didn’t earn and may not need.”
Perhaps there is no direct connection to socialism, COVID-19 and people who are too lazy to properly dispose of their own trash, but my guess is it’s an apt tautology. Anyway, in a few more years of dolling out other peoples’ money our federal, state and local governments will run out of ink and maybe our society will then care for those who cannot care for themselves but will respect others who can work enough to require them to do so. Also, that newly engendered sense of self-worth might encourage them to pick up their own trash.
Peg’s recent, and successful, hip surgery has been a rewarding experience, for me. I have learned much and feel an almost female need to share. About half of the human race pretty much already knows what has been recently revealed to me but the testosterone half may profit from my force-fed lessons. Okay, class, let’s begin to lift the veil. Wives might be upset if husbands are made aware that the arcane lore of traditional house hold tasks need no longer be shrouded in mystery, But husbands have a right to know there may be more than one way to clean a house. Just as the insane strictures of military basic training have proven to have no relationship to national defense, much of what many wives demand are the only way to clean house should be relegated to the dustbin of history. May we start with dust itself?
Until Peg was rendered temporarily non-ambulatory a normal weekend at JPeg Osage Ranch might begin with Peg saying, “We (she meant me) need to get rid of all this dust! I saw a mote lurking along a baseboard in the back bedroom closet. What if someone from the roving movie production company wants to use our place for a scene? How humiliating that could be.”
I pointed out to Peg that the spic and span movie company covered the streets of Pawhuska and Fairfax, Oklahoma with dirt and horse apples. It does not appear dust is a problem for them. I suggested we could simply follow the movie’s example and set up a couple of green screens and project pictures of constantly clean rooms. Peg did not see the efficacy of such a modern approach. By the way, the Killers of the Flower Moon (Gray Horse) production uses blue (green) screens.
Anyway, back to dusting lessons. Another rigid requirement for housewives, at least Peg, is that every item in the house must be moved and dusted under. I have found that if one does not move an item it is less likely that anyone can tell where there is any dust. Therefore, husbands, just leave things in place and only address any dead flies that may have accumulated nearby. Those probably should be removed as Peg and most other wives can see dead insects even from their convalescent beds.
Now what about laundry? Peg’s laundry system would put the Nazi army to shame. Each item of dirty clothes must be separated by either white or color, by heavy versus light dirt, by delicate versus hearty material, etc., etc. There is a container for each category and only like items may be washed together with scientific analysis of soap, bleach, and water temperature. I say “poppycock”. Dump ‘em in, turn it on and if every now and then a color runs that’s why there’s a Walmart.
But if washing in lockstep with Peg’s delusional belief that the gods of wash day actually care if a white sock mates up with a dark one, her approach to drying and putting things away is truly in need of some husband rationality. Husbands, do not fold the clothes! No one can’t tell once a tee shirt is in a drawer if it was folded with military creases or stuffed away. And do not waste time on separating items until you want to take something out to wear. You’ll know then what is underwear and what is outer wear.
Well, that’s enough common sense for now. I hope you can see the wisdom of my discoveries but mainly, I hope Peg is still under her meds when this article comes out. By the way, Gentle Readers, thanks for all the well-wishes. Peg is a true trooper and is doing fine.