Archive for the April 2009 Category

UP WITH SECULARISM

The Merriam-Webster dictionaries that we have in this house describe faith as a belief not supported by fact. When this country was founded, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, and the rest knew that faith had to do with subservience to the Anglican Church which had as its head the King of England.  And so they set off to establish this country as a secular one.  In spite of what southern politicians may tell you and in spite of what Antonin Scalia, the Supreme Court Justice, may allege, this is not a Christian country.  It is not a Jewish country nor is it a Pentecostal country.  At heart, the United States is a secular country. 

What disturbs me at the moment is the tendency by religious organizations, primarily Christian, to turn their beliefs into laws.  Thus when a woman finds herself with an unwanted pregnancy, if she lives in one of the majority of states in this country she will have no option but to carry the child to term.  Similarly, if two people are deeply in love and wish to be married, and if they are of the same gender, they will find that their marriage is banned by about 45 or 46 states of the 50 that comprise this country.  This law comes about as a result primarily of Christian beliefs that only males and females may contract marriage.  Prohibitions of this sort fly into the face of the reason this country was established in the first place.  No one is contending that we should all be free to do whatever we like regardless of the expense to others.

In this essay, I propose to comment on four restrictions that originated with religious organizations that resulted in laws or customs that now apply to every citizen.  I have in mind abortion, same-sex marriages, stem-cell research, and divorce.

 

I am unable to think that any woman would regard abortion as a birth-control device.  I would suspect that most abortions come about because of the financial circumstances faced by the woman and her partner of the opposite sex.  Beyond that, I am painfully aware that cases of rape and incest take place.  The law of the land in the case of Roe v. Wade is that a woman’s choice will be honored if she desires an abortion.  In point of fact, abortion is under attack in most states, so much so that few facilities are provided.  If the woman resides in New York, there are several places where she may take her case.  If, on the other hand for example, she resides in the great state of Arkansas, she will find that no facilities for an abortion are provided.  Lacking the money to travel to New York or Chicago, she will be forced to carry the child to term.  This is particularly regrettable in cases of rape, incest, and deformities that are noted in the child before birth.  But this is one case where law and custom defeat the forces of logic and good sense.

For those who might be interested in the opinion of an aged essayist, I would say that I am fully in support of a woman’s right to choose.  I hope you will notice that the people who make the laws and customs outlawing abortion are almost invariably male.  Generally speaking, males are not subject to the inequities of unwanted pregnancies.  I strongly believe that if the male side of the equation were subject to pregnancy, there would be a quick change in the law and custom.

 

Now having said what we have had to say about abortion, let us turn to same-sex marriage.  The forces of religion generally frown upon such unions.  Recently, however, there have been some liberalizations flowing from such places as the great state of Iowa.  It is possible that New York state will soon permit such unions as will, in time, the state of New Jersey.  But be that as it may, in about 45 states in this great union, same-sex marriages are prohibited.

As in the case of the abortion issue, I might offer a personal observation or two.  I am attracted to my wife as a heterosexual man should be.  It is entirely logical for me to believe that a homosexual couple could be attracted to each other.  Are we to contend, foolishly, that attraction is permitted only in heterosexual relationships?  Of course not.  Homosexual couples have long and lasting relationships.  I do not understand what brings about homosexual behavior, but I am willing to believe that it is possible for one man to be attracted to another similarly situated man just as I am willing to believe that a lesbian woman can be attracted to another of the same gender.  So we start with the thought that in homosexual relationships that result in marriage, there could well be a long lasting attraction.

My second thought would be that it is utterly stupid and foolish to contend that people become homosexual through some failing of their own.  They are born that way and can do nothing about it, even if they wanted to.

 

Now let me inject another personal thought.  The Carr family carries the genetic makeup that causes glaucoma.  So far, it has embraced in its vile clutches four generations of this family.  My grandfather became blind from this ailment.  My father lost his sight at age 65, while my elder brother lost his sight somewhere in his seventies.  My sight disappeared when I was 83, and I am sorry to report with great discomfort that I have passed the gene on to my daughter.  I can do absolutely nothing about the existence of glaucoma except to treat it.  Similarly, I would suggest that men and women who are born with homosexual tendencies can do nothing about it and should make the most of it.  My final thought is that I have no prejudice whatsoever against homosexuals, male or female.  I would advise those who have such prejudices to admit their error and join the rest of us in the real world.

 

Now that we have dealt with abortion and same-sex marriages, let us go to stem-cell research.  I do not pretend to know anything about how stem-cell research is carried on.  I know only that it has the promise of lifting some of the most baleful illnesses from mankind.  Laura Bush, the former President’s wife, was sent out to make a political speech not long ago in which she contended that stem-cell research had produced no results.  Obviously, it is in its infancy, and with the restrictions placed on it by her husband’s administration, it is difficult to make it work.

One of the illnesses that it is hoped will be alleviated is Parkinson’s Disease.  Parkinson’s struck three people who were close to me.  They were my elder brother and two neighbors.  Each one of those men was confined to bed for a significant period of time.  During that time, they suffered bed sores, catheters, and other assaults on their dignity.  Anyone who has observed the travails of those dying from Parkinson’s could not be called a human being if he insisted, as the Bush administration did, on restricting stem-cell research.  I tend to forgive Laura Bush because she was reading a speech written for her by someone in the Republican political organization.  I simply hope that Parkinson’s or some other disease that might be cured by stem-cell research does not happen in the Bush family.

 

Finally we come to the issue of divorce.  As far as I am aware, divorce is permitted legally in all 50 states of the American union.  But in religious circles, there are those that frown on a divorced person.  Again, a personal comment.  No one can ever know what takes place in a marriage.  What hurts and slights may take place are generally never recorded.  There comes a time when love no longer exists.  When that occurs, there is no point in keeping a marriage between two people who dislike each other together.  And it is at this time that the rest of us must permit civilities to extend to those who have suffered the indignity of divorce.  Divorce is not a happy circumstance.  It marks a failure.  But those who are able to make a new beginning should be greatly encouraged.

 

In each circumstance that is described in this essay, it is to be noted that organizations based upon faith have at one time or another attempted to legislate their views into laws affecting the rest of us.  For my own part, I am very much in debt to the Jewish faith which seems to tend to its own business.  If the Jews were as piously exuberant as Protestants and Catholics who support such issues as banning abortions, same-sex marriage, and stem-cell research, we might find it illegal or immoral to be uncircumcised.  Furthermore, if the Jews were as inclined as the Christians to enact their beliefs into law, we might see the end of the shellfish industry as well as those who raise hogs for a living.

Finally, it is a good thing that my mother could not make her beliefs into laws and customs.  She believed, for example, that anyone who did not undergo total immersion upon baptism would be denied entry into Heaven.  She was also a chewer of snuff.  If her beliefs were enacted into law, there would be one hell of a rush toward the Baptist religion by folks whose teeth were stained by chewing snuff.

 

Well, there you have my thoughts on abortion, same-sex marriage, stem-cell research, and divorce.  The predicate of this essay is that I deplore faith-based religions’ attempting to turn their beliefs into laws.  Those laws affect the rest of the citizens of this county and are to be resented.

Under the Obama administration, I suspect that there will be many fewer attempts to turn faith-based beliefs into laws.  Faith has a place in American society but it should always be remembered that this country is a secular union.  Secularists understand the desires of those who subscribe to faith-based groups.  But it is the secularists who are intent upon preserving the rights of women and gay and lesbian folks.  In that case, my vote will always be for the secularists.

 

E. E. CARR

April 20, 2009

Essay 379

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Kevin’s commentary: This is a pretty edgy essay for Pop! Really hit several hot-button issues which, annoyingly, are still hot-button issues. Thankfully gay marriage is getting legalized in more and more states by the month now, which is great news. The southern states are still a long way from it, but no gay people want to live there anyway. Hell, no people in general want to live there anyway. The American South is largely just a bad place to be.

Stem cells have been out of the limelight a bit though recently. I’m not sure why — I’m guessing it’s either a legislative or technological wall but your guess is as good as mine.

THE WRATH OF GRAPES

Those of you who shop for produce may have noticed over the years that grapes never come from Arab or Muslim countries.  The reason for this is fairly simple.  The petroleum reserves in those countries are so great that they tend to rise to the surface, which proves infertile to the grape-growing industry.  And so it is that among the Arabs, including the Muslim nations, grapes are highly prized.  In the old days, grapes were  often given as wedding gifts or, in other cases, were used to mark a wedding or a retirement.  So the significant fact is that, while the Muslim countries admire the grape-growing countries such as Chile and Argentina, they are unable to grow their own grapes.

This situation has existed since the time of the Prophet Mohammed.  When the Koran was written, it noted the absence of grapes from the Arab culture.

On the other hand, the Koran took notice of the fact that virgins existed in unbounded numbers.  Some were young and some were middle-aged and some were elderly.  But they all had notarized certificates attesting to their virginity.

These two facts about the absence of grapes and the plethora of virgins came into communion with the writing of the Koran.  Specifically, the Koran promised that when a martyr approached the gates of Paradise, Allah would welcome him to those lofty heights and promise to reward him with a varying number of virgins.  According to the Koran that one might read, there would be offered somewhere between twenty-five and nearly one hundred virgins to each martyr.

But the issue of virgins being allotted to martyrs again became quite sticky a few weeks back.  It seems that learned scholars in the Arabic language had concluded that the reward to be offered to martyrs was not virgins but rather grapes.  So if a martyr presented himself high in the clouds to Allah with a certificate of martyrdom, he, under this interpretation, would be rewarded with grapes, not with virgins.  It seems to me that a person contemplating martyrdom through blowing himself up might be hesitant about doing so.  In these days, grapes can be imported from this country or from South America, which makes them much less valuable.  But when the Koran was written, they were inaccessible and highly prized to the point that each person was limited as to the number of grapes he could consume.

The author of this essay has a fertile and understanding mind when it comes to the issue of virgins and grapes.  Let us suppose that a newly-minted martyr who had blown himself to smithereens in the market at Baghdad then approached Allah.  After the welcoming ceremony, the new martyr would strongly hint to Allah that he was ready to get going with his virgins.  My guess is that he would say to Allah, “Your Majesty, I am hot to trot.”  Like most gods, Allah would be unfamiliar with this Americanism.  He would tell the new martyr, “You came here to enjoy eternal life, which I hope we can do as soon as we put all of the millions of pieces of yourself back together.”  And then Allah would be obliged to tell the martyr that he was going to spend this eternal life without the comfort of virgins.  He would say to him, “Here are your 25 grapes.  Congratulations.  And be as happy as you can be in your eternal celibacy.”

If the martyr became belligerent with this “hot to trot” business, Allah would be obliged to remind him that the College of Cardinals has existed for 2,000 years, childless and in celibacy.  But the martyr would say that he had not come to Paradise in quest of celibacy.  He had come to Paradise with the thought that he was going to have a romp with 50 or 70 virgins.

When Allah would explain to the new martyr that this was a misreading of the Koranic verse, the new martyr would then say, “I came here hot to trot, but I wind up being screwed.”

What all of this boils down to is that from time immemorial, Allah must have known that the religious writings of his faith promised virgins to those who became martyrs and proceeded to Paradise on that assumption.  From this it must be concluded that Allah might well be a bait-and-switch artist.  It might well be that Allah will call to account those scholars who insist that grapes will be the reward of martyrdom.  But I am not a Muslim and I do not believe this business about the virgins or Paradise.

On the other hand, the romantic interests in my soul tell me that the mistaken impression in the Koran that has existed for hundreds of years should continue.  For all we know, it might be that potential martyrs may even fall in love with one of their imaginary virgins.  Perhaps he would provide her with some imagined Chilean grapes.

 

E. E. CARR

April 29, 2009

Essay 380

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Kevin’s commentary: This is in my top 10 Essays of all time. It’s also the second official recipient of the “Outstanding Title” tag.

For more serious commentary on the subject at hand, you can look here: https://ezrasessays.com/?p=689

That said, this commentary is over; this essay easily stands by itself.

SEX, SEX AND MORE SEX

It may seem unseemly for a man of my advanced years to write an essay about sexual matters.  On the other hand, it also seems to me that I had no choice in the matter.  If my mother were to reprimand me for having thoughts about ungodly matters, I would be forced to tell her, “Look, Mom, it ain’t me.  It’s all these other fellows talking about sex.”

In the past week or so, we find that the Governor of New York State is proposing to introduce a bill in his legislature to authorize marriage between people of the same gender.  That was followed quickly by the announcement from the Pentagon that the military services are going to rid themselves of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.  And finally there was the controversy stirred up by the announcement that Mr. Obama is going to deliver the commencement speech at Notre Dame University.  The controversy is anchored in Obama’s thoughts about permitting abortions.

I propose that we start with the proposal by David Patterson, the Governor of New York, to introduce a bill that would permit marriages between homosexual people.  Governor Patterson is a little late to the dance in that there seems to be a movement toward permitting such marriages in this country.  A week or so ago the great state of Iowa passed a bill in its legislature to permit such marriages.  There are now four or five states that permit such marriages and we have the great state of New Jersey, where I now live, threatening to do the same thing.

My views on this matter are well known to the readers of Ezra’s Essays.  It is my belief that a good number of people are born with homosexual tendencies just as there are people who are left-handed or who become bald.  Fundamentally, I believe that there is no such thing as acquired homosexuality.  In short, a person who has homosexual tendencies can do nothing about it.  Beyond that, there are those who would argue that nothing should be done about it.  I belong in the latter camp.

If a lesbian couple or a gay couple lived next door to me, it would have absolutely no effect whatsoever upon my marriage.  It would seem to me that Christian charity would have a complete understanding of this situation.  But, unfortunately, the misunderstanding originates with Christian conservatives.  Curiously, they cite an obscure reference in Leviticus which holds that a man should not sleep with another man. It is of great significance that female homosexuals are not mentioned at all.  To a large measure, the opposition to homosexual marriages is confined to gay people of the male gender.

In the Episcopal Church, a bishop in New Hampshire is a gay man named Gene Robinson. He has lived with his partner for many years.  In my humble opinion, the Reverend Robinson seems to have shown great love for his longstanding partner.  Yet the Episcopal Church is now threatened with a schism which would split the church apart and which could endanger the Anglican Communion under the Archbishop of Canterbury.

It escapes my understanding totally that a religion that embraces love of one’s fellow man should condemn a man because he suffers from a condition over which he has no control.  To repeat an argument that I have used on previous occasions, according to Christian beliefs, all of us are manufactured in the image of God.  Are we to conclude that in the case of gay people or lesbian women, God made a hell of a mistake?  At this point, may I say that God made no mistake, even if those words come from a person with no religious affiliation whatsoever.  Governor Patterson will have a monstrous battle on his hands because his proposal will arouse all sorts of religious opposition.  I have no intention of seeking a gay partner to take into New York to realize the benefits of the Governor’s bill.  I am just a straight man in New Jersey, transplanted from my Missouri roots, who wishes David Patterson God speed in his efforts to overcome a ridiculous bias.

 

Now we turn from a matter of religion to the military.  In pursuing this subject in the military, I am on firmer ground having served a hitch in the American Army.  During my period of service, there was no formal policy against gay people in the military.  It was after the war ended that the conservatives on the right demanded that the military should have a policy excluding gay people.  The debate ended when the military accepted the idea of “don’t ask, don’t tell.”  If I may say so, based upon my experience with the American Army, this is a preposterous solution to this question.

During my service, I was never propositioned by a gay soldier.  I suspect that, in all likelihood, there were gay people who served with me.  But there were never any overtures made to engage in a sexual romp.  No one ever snuck into my bed or cot in the tents or barracks and said, “Let’s make out.”  That didn’t happen.  In other words, the government set out to address a problem that really didn’t exist.

In its application, the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy has resulted in the discharge of thousands of people who are badly needed.  For example, there were several hundred translators skilled in the use of the Arabic language who were dismissed under this policy.  As a result, I am told, there are thousands of pages of documents that are untranslated because the interpreters have been fired.  This is nothing less than cutting off your nose to spite your face.  And it is a national disgrace.

The Secretary of Defense, Mr. Gates, now says that it will take as much as five years to make the new policy effective.  I see no reason why it should take as much as five years to do what is right and should have been done all along.  But in the final analysis, I should be grateful that the American Army and the other military services are now doing the right thing.  That is an accomplishment in and of itself.

Now we return to the proposed commencement address to be given by Barack Obama to the graduating class at Notre Dame University.  As is widely known among the readers of Ezra’s Essays, I have failed to attend a college of any sort.  However, in the bargain as a child of Irish parentage, I have followed the fortunes of Notre Dame very carefully over the years.  When I was a youngster growing up, autumn Saturday afternoons were reserved for hearing the broadcast of Notre Dame football.  To a large extent, I lived and died with the outcome of Notre Dame football games.  I suggest that there are millions of other people of Irish ancestry who are similarly affected.  In the final analysis, the Notre Dame football club is called the “Fighting Irish.” Perhaps that name says it all.

Now it seems that the fact that Barack Obama supports a woman’s right to choose, which is in accordance with decided law in this country, has made him ineligible to deliver the commencement address at Notre Dame University in 2009 which includes an honorary doctorate.  It has always been my belief that universities exist for the purpose of the free exchange of ideas.  Under Father Hesburgh, who guided the fortunes of Notre Dame for many years, that would be the case.  His successors extended the invitation to Barack Obama in the same spirit that Father Hesburgh originated.  There is now a movement that would seek to deny Obama this opportunity to express his views and to receive an honorary doctorate.  My guess is that the movement to stop Obama’s speech will fail miserably and that the talk will take place.

 

I suppose that those who are opposed to the speech only approve of a speaker who produces the standard Roman Catholic line of opposition to abortion in all circumstances. But that is not the purpose of having a great university like Notre Dame.  In the end it is quite likely that those who oppose a Roman Catholic’s right to choose will still hold that view after his speech.  And those who want freedom of choice for women in their pregnancy will probably still hold that view as well.  So in all likelihood, Obama’s speech will change no minds.  But on the other hand, he deserves to be heard, which is in the spirit of a great university such as Notre Dame.

Well, now I have told you about Governor Patterson introducing a same-sex marriage bill in New York and the lifting of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.  And, finally, I have mentioned the commencement address by the President at Notre DameUniversity this coming June.  I know that this essay started out to talk about sex, sex, and more sex.

If I may offer a thought in conclusion, it might be that homosexual arrangements, in marriage or in the “a cappella” arrangement, might be beneficial to all concerned because lesbians and gay men do not impregnate each other; thus the issue of abortion is completely avoided.

This then is my solution to the problem, which seems to antagonize so many of those on the Christian right.  And to readers of Ezra’s Essays, I apologize for the thought that the title of this essay might lead one to believe that this was an essay about salacious thoughts.  But seminarians like myself are devoid of such evil and wicked things.  We are like the driven snow.

 

E. E. CARR

April 21, 2009

Essay 378

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Kevin’s commentary: Man, I think Pop passed up a shot at an even raunchier title, namely “Sex Sex and Gay Sex” or “Gay Sex, Gay Sex and Gay Sex.” But alas, he has yet to reach out to me as a title consultant. Generally speaking he does just fine on his own.

The content of this essay makes me proud of my grandfather for being so progressive. Things were different back when he was growing up, and the opinions he holds now are almost guaranteed to have been generated from introspection. I like to think that in part, the fact that I grew up in a very tolerant household is directly attributable to Pop’s tolerance of basically everyone, except I suppose German/Japanese automobile makers. And that last quirk didn’t rub off onto Mom, so my brothers and I are, I hope, largely free and clear of these weird biases that so many people still hold.

A LITTLE MORE OF THISA AND A LITTLE MORE OF THATA

Ben Bernie was the subject of a previous essay distributed recently.   Bernie was a very popular band leader who led an orchestra from the 1920s through the 1950s.  You may recall that when his orchestra pleased him, he would say, “Yousa, yousa, yousa!”  And when he would introduce a variety of songs, he would call them, “a little bit of thisa and a little bit of thata.”  This essay is another in the genre of “a little bit of thisa and a little bit of thata.”  There is no logical connection between one subject and another.  Each one stands on its own.  So with that thought, let’s try “a little bit of thisa and…thata.”

 

You may recall that Clarence Thomas is one of our nine Supreme Court Justices.  You may also recall that a few years ago in his confirmation hearings, he was confronted by a woman named Anita Hill who accused him of sexual improprieties.  In the end, a Republican Congress approved his nomination to the Supreme Court, where he resides now some dozen years later.

Thomas rarely asks a question or participates during the arguments before the Court, and so it was surprising to find his comments on the subject of education to the winners of a high school essay contest.

One way or another, Clarence Thomas got wound up in his remarks to the high school essayists and advocated a return to the spirit of education he remembered from his childhood.  According to Thomas, he wants to see a crucifix and a flag in every classroom.  My memory is that the crucifix is a fixture of the Roman Catholic Church.  I had no idea that Clarence Thomas had such an education.  After his remarks, I still doubt that point in his biography.

Nonetheless, on two or three occasions in his speech to the students, he made the point about the crucifix and the flag.  As a libertarian, I have no trouble whatsoever with the flag in every classroom.  However, in a public school setting, I doubt that the crucifix has a place.  But worse than that, is the thought that this mentality must affect his decisions on the Supreme Court.

Let us say that a Jew or a non-believing citizen were to appear before the Supreme Court and expect justice to be rendered impartially.  I have got to say that a man with Thomas’s predilections would not render an impartial decision.  Clarence Thomas votes almost totally with Antonin Scalia, another Supreme Court Justice.  Scalia is the thinker in that combination.  Scalia contends that God and religion are an important factor in every decision taken by mankind. Scalia’s views are heavily weighted toward his Roman Catholic faith.  On the subject of same-sex marriages, Scalia has been known to lecture that, if such events took place, citizens would be free to practice bestiality, which of course is the term for copulation with cattle and other beasts.

For those of us who do not hold the Clarence Thomas mindset, this is a frightening proposition.  But that is the state of the record in America’s highest court.  Anyone who expects justice from these two may be sorely disappointed.  And to think, there are two more, Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito who share these preposterous views.  So much for Clarence Thomas and his views, for the time being.

 

Now we turn to a subject having to do with the English language, which has always been close to my heart.  I am greatly in favor of neologisms that expand the English language.  At the same time, I am concerned about bastardizations of the language which seem to outnumber the legitimate neologisms by a large margin.  There are two bastardizations that we find used today which come primarily from our government in Washington, DC.  The first is “partnering.”  Under this construction of the language, we are not going to do something in cooperation with another country or entity but rather we are “partnering” with them.  About all I can say is that this term is easily understood but it is not a respectable neologism.

The second word that has come into current use is “referencing.”  If I understand the term correctly, for example, a person would not consult or refer to the dictionary but rather he would “reference” it.  A sports reporter might reference the Mets’ ball game of yesterday rather than reporting on it or referring to it.  And if John Jones were in a partnership with Joe Sweeney, he might reference the partnership as a means of saying that he is partnering with the other fellow.

 

Now we take up the thought of presidential gifts.  The New York Times reported that when Mr. Obama and his wife visited with the Queen of England, he presented her with a gift.  There are those skilled in bureauceaticize who would say that Obama “gifted” Her Majesty.  May I submit “gifted” as another complete bastardization.

All things considered, these are bastardizations that seem to flow from the mouths of bureaucrats in Washington.  They are in a league with the word “tasked” and are almost as bad as “you know.”

 

While I am on the subject of the English language, I wish to commend the new President for his use of that language, with two exceptions.  The first is his tendency to not use periods.  He will state a thought and then will say “and” in an elongated fashion and then set off on the second sentence in the thought.  My advice to Obama is to get rid of the “elongated ands.”  In the speeches that I have followed when he is  speaking extemporaneously, Obama continually uses the word “to” and pronounces it as “ta.”  In this construction, he might say, “I am going ta Trinidad and Tobago after I get finished with going ta Turkey and Baghdad.”  These are small points, I understand, but Obama is a better speaker than that.

And so it is that I have completed this essay on thisa and thata until some more thoughts that would embrace Ben Bernie’s idea pop into my head.  When that something else comes along, I will reserve the thought to say “Yousa, yousa, yousa!”

 

E. E. CARR

April 19, 2009

Essay 376

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Kevin’s commentary: I think Obama took Pop’s commentary too seriously. Obama ends speeches all the time these days with a vocalization of his punctuation, like “Under the Affordable Care Act, if you like your plan, you can keep it. Period.” He does it all the time.

It’s distressing how many people charged with defending the constitution haven’t bothered to read the first amendment.

SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT

In a recent essay, I deplored the fact that the tags were missing from the backs of my recently purchased tee shirts.  This resulted in my putting the shirts on backwards about 35 to 40% of the time.  So I wrote to the president of the Nordstrom company and told him that whoever made the decision to remove the tags from the backs of the shirts should simmer endlessly in hell. 

My daughter, who is a Texas lawyer and should know about such things, assured me unequivocally that when that letter arrived in the Nordstrom headquarters in Seattle, it would be dispatched immediately to the wastebasket or to the furnace that heats the headquarters building.  But my daughter was completely wrong, which takes her out of the running for a seat on the Supreme Court to succeed David Souter or even Antonin Scalia or Clarence Thomas, if they decide to do the proper thing and retire.

After a wait of a few weeks, I received a reply from Blake Nordstrom, the head man at that company.  In effect, he said that they had not given much thought to this when they took the tags out of the backs of the shirts.  But more than that, Mr. Nordstrom promised that if I took my tee shirts to his manager here at the Mall at Short Hills, New Jersey, they would be fixed.

This essay, then, is to tell all of my readers that the Nordstrom organization is an honorable one.  They have always stood by their products, which is a notable attribute these days.  So if any of you are intending to buy a complete ensemble of clothing, I would recommend that you give the fashions at Nordstrom a close look.  They stand behind the items they sell.  They seem to be honorable people.

Here is the letter that Mr. Nordstrom sent to me.

 

letter

 

What this all boils down to is that I have been a customer of the Nordstrom organization for 25 years or so and, based on this experience, it looks like I will continue being such a customer.  Perhaps if our banks, the stock market, and our automobile companies had the outlook on life that the Nordstrom corporation has, we would not be in the difficulties that embrace us today.  And so a robust salute goes from this corner to the standup people in the Nordstrom organization.

 

E. E. CARR

April 19, 2009

Essay 377

Postscript:  Shortly after this essay was dictated, my wife went to our local Nordstrom’s store to return the tee shirts as well as to buy three more.  She was treated with great courtesy by everyone. Those people include Glenn Bellman,  manager of the Short Hills store; Cathy Catuogno, manager of Men’s Furnishings; Clarence Digamber, an associate in men’s clothing and finally, the most important one of all, Nadio Gritsai, the seamstress.   All six shirts now have tags, but given my current disability, I am unable to read what they have to say.  But that is not the point.  They tell me where the back of the tee shirt is located, for which I am very grateful to all the people in the Nordstrom organization.

~~~
Kevin’s commentary: Pop was born in the wrong age. He is a natural Tweeter or Yelper, just too late to know it. He’s the kind of guy who writes to companies who do well AND companies who do poorly.

As for the t-shirts, clearly the solution is just for Pop to start wearing V-neck shirts. In serious I’m glad Nordstrom was so willing to fix Pop’s problem, and that they took the time to respond to him. For the record, almost all of my t-shirts are now tagless and I much prefer them this way.