Let's face it -- these are tough times to be a cow. Either your sanity is
being questioned over mad cow disease -- by the very people feeding you
ground up sheep for dinner, no less -- or the farmer who owns you is
oiling up his shotgun over reports of foot and mouth disease. Ah, for the
good old days, when cold hands at the milking stall were a bovine's
Speaking of cold hands at milking time -- have you noticed how certain
members of both political parties are now wondering aloud whether we can
"afford" a tax cut? It kind of makes one wonder if mad cow disease hasn't
been in the U.S. and at work for a lot longer than anyone is letting on.
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Let me help you out, folks: a tax cut just means we send you less of our
hard-earned money. You don't have to "do" anything; and there's nothing
to "afford." Just mark the next few checks you get from the treasury
"return to sender," and the rest will take care of itself! Of course --
with this Congress -- it's always possible that you and I won't be able
to afford what they will call a tax cut when they finish gerrymandering
it together for the president's signature.
Politicians, however, aren't the only ones here in America suffering from
a prolonged onslaught of mad cow disease. Bovine spongiform
encephalophathy (BSE) as it's known in the academic community, does its
work silently, over a number of years, by opening up large, empty air
pockets in the brain. Thus it is that the people who run our institutions
of higher learning -- in sharp contrast to only a few years ago -- have
reversed, almost en masse, their advocacy of affirmative action and are
now firmly against using this unfair tool to benefit women and minorities,
which account for nearly two-thirds of the U.S. population, according
to just-released Census figures. But they are in favor of using
affirmative action to lower standards for women and minorities because
that promotes diversity on the college campus and benefits all of us --
especially the one-third of us not covered by AA.
Part of that diversity was evident last week when David Horowitz placed
an ad in college newspapers around the nation denouncing the idea of
reparations for slavery (well, tried to, anyway). The diverse student
body at Brown University and the University of Wisconsin at Madison
demanded the newspaper shut itself down, pay reparations, and promise
never to let another politically-incorrect thought not vetted in the
halls of higher-learning be published in its pages.
The newspaper refused, of course -- because all reporters and editors
have read the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution -- but not many
have ever followed through to the Second and beyond. Whereupon the
students, acting in the single-minded tradition of the diversity that
benefits us all, gathered stacks of the newspapers and shredded them, to
prevent distribution of the contagious ideas housed on the pages therein.
One college president said the ad raised an unwelcome dialogue at the
school. Diversity, it appears, is only skin deep in academic America. Now
we see the effects of academic inbreeding: BSE in the academy is
hereditary -- you get it from tenure.
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No one, it seems, is immune from the ravages of BSE. Air pockets of
light-headedness stirred vague memories in minds at the Rev. Jesse
Jackson's Rainbow/PUSH coalition. There, their chief financial officer,
Billy Owens, revealed haunting memories of lines still unfulfilled on
federal tax forms 990 from previous years -- the ones that would have
listed payments made to Mr. Jackson's mistress. This led to an act of
contrition -- release of an internal financial report -- followed by an
onslaught of foot in mouth disease, the deadly post-cursor to BSE.
Sadly, there is now evidence that BSE's air pockets of vacuity have
crossed denominational barriers, too. The Rev. Pat Robertson, who has for
years railed against government hostility to religion, attacked President
George W. Bush's offer of funding for religious charity work in the
nation's communities. Mr. Robertson denounced the new initiative as an
evil plot by government to take over organized religion. Better check the
lines on those form 990s, Pat.
All of which brings us to the media. Due to a massive vaccination program
rumored to have been ordered by the New York Times and The Washington
Post, journalists and commentators have been blissfully immune from those
BSE-induced air pockets of light-headedness observed in so many prominent
segments of our society. We have, however, from time to time succumbed to
a variant of the follow-on illness, foot in mouth. So, if this column has
offended you or anyone you know, keep in mind that those of us suffering
from foot in mouth disease are protected under the Americans with
Disabilities Act -- and you have to accommodate us.
Anyway, it's not our
fault that the world is in the condition it is. After all -- we only
report (some of) what we see and hear.