Archive for the February 2007 Category


To the readers of the Carr essays, I am pleased to announce that Charlie Rangel, Barney Frank, and your old essayist have declared their intention to run for the first Tripartite Presidency in American history. A tripartite presidency would work like this. Let us say that Barney Frank starts off as President with Charlie Rangel as Vice President, and with your old essayist as Secretary of Defense or Secretary of Agriculture or some other secretaryship. Each month there would be a shift in the positions. For example as March became April, Barney Frank would assume the title of Secretary of Agriculture and I would move to the Vice Presidency while Charlie Rangel would step up to the Presidency. The theory behind this movement is that no one would be in office long enough to commit thievery, or to rob you of your civil rights, or to an act warranting impeachment. In addition, if Barney Frank runs the Agriculture Department, he might develop a strain of Kosher pigs suitable for serving at Bar Mitzvahs. Certainly the Tripartite Presidency would be a vast improvement over the Presidencies of Warren Harding, Millard Fillmore, and Richard Nixon.

Our candidacy represents geographic balance as well as sexual and religious harmony. It also has the virtue of presenting a candidacy of multi-ethnicity.

Charlie Rangel, who traces his ancestry to Africa, has represented a Congressional District in Harlem for 40 years or more. As far as is known, Charlie is a Protestant and is believed to be a heterosexual.

Barney Frank is one of the most eloquent thinkers and speakers in Congress. He has represented a Congressional District in Massachusetts for many years. Barney really adds spice to the ticket in view of the fact that he is a homosexual who subscribes to the Jewish faith. It is my belief that one should never get into an argument with Charlie Rangel or Barney Frank.

This old essayist adds balance to the ticket geographically in that he comes from the great state of Missouri. He is alleged to be a straight heterosexual. He also represents disadvantaged people because he is largely bald and has other disabilities. But under our Constitution, there should be no bar to any one of us holding the American presidency.

One of the Amendments to the Constitution holds that there shall be no religious test to hold the office of the Presidency of the United States. Theoretically, a Protestant or a Catholic or a Jew or a Muslim or a Hindu is not barred by the Constitution from holding that office. The Constitution and its Amendments also have no bar against homosexuals, transvestites or crippled people from holding that office as well.

Now let us see how this has worked in practice. In 1928, the Governor of New York, Al Smith, a Catholic, ran for the presidency against Herbert Hoover. Smith was defeated largely through the votes in the American South which amounted to his rejection on the grounds that he was a smart New Yorker, not that he was Catholic. At least that is what the Southern Bible-thumpers will tell you.

The next Catholic to try for the presidency was John F. Kennedy. He was elected because the electorate concluded that Richard Nixon was a crook and also that Kennedy had a beautiful wife. These are compelling reasons to vote for a candidate for the presidency.

Now we find in the race to become President of the United States, a Mormon. As a general rule, Mormons prefer to be called Latter Day Saints. In substance, the Latter Day Saints are guided by the writings of Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism. Smith lived in Troy, New York and contends that an angel from the Lord told him to look in his pasture where he would find golden plates. The plates were transcribed by Joseph Smith and became The Book of Mormon. I believe it is fair to say that many Christians do not consider Mormonism a Christian religion. Perhaps this is because Mormons address Christians as Gentiles, which seems to be the most probable cause for this reaction. But I am not an expert on that subject so I will let it pass. I will simply say that over the years I have known a few Mormons. As far as I can attest, they were all good American citizens, even though one was an AT&T New York lawyer.

A candidate for the presidency in 2008 on the Republican side is Mitt Romney, a recent Governor of Massachusetts. The citizens of the Bay State do not hold his belief in Mormonism against him and elected him Governor. I am told that he has a beautiful wife who wears tons of makeup, which would be a significant reason to vote for Mitt Romney. Some have the belief that her use of makeup rivals that of Tammy Faye Bakker, the former wife of the deposed TV Evangelist. Tammy Faye used a steamer trunk for her makeup kit. But we shouldn’t hold Mrs. Romney’s makeup against her husband. However, I think the qualifications of Barney, Charlie and myself far outweigh any Mormon candidate for President.

The founders of the United States planned on this being a secular democracy. They did not choose a monarchy or a theocracy. They chose a secular democracy where everyone could have his own beliefs as long as they didn’t intrude on the freedom of others. Now having said that, it would appear that a candidate for the presidency of the United States could be a Moslem, a Hindu, or a Buddhist. If candidates from these three religions were to seek the presidency, I doubt that many people would vote for them, but who is to say? In the end, I suspect that the American electorate is determined to vote for people just like themselves. If those candidates carry religious preferences that suit the electorate, they may well be elected regardless of their competency and regardless of the fact that this is a secular democracy.

Now we go a little bit further in our examination of the Constitution, which does not bar homosexuals from seeking the presidency. The tripartite candidacy that is being announced today may have two strikes against it, in that one of the candidates is a Jew as well as a homosexual. The fact is that Barney Frank, for all of his intellectual ability, would not have a chance in the American Deep South. What those Americans want is another Southern Baptist who believes in total immersion as a means of baptism. But if Barney Frank were elected, he would be a moving target but the yokel Southern Bible-thumpers would not get their brains in gear in time to trash him.

As you may have noticed, the candidates declaring their desire to be President have almost always claimed middle American Protestant religious roots. Methodism seems to be the favored sect among the candidates. Nonetheless, there are those in the Protestant ranks who would oppose anyone from the so-called “uptown religions,” such as the Episcopalians or perhaps the Presbyterians. I suspect that if a candidate declared himself to be a Congregationalist, he would get few votes from the far right of the American spectrum such as the Nazarenes and the Pentecostals. Ah, but when it comes to push versus shove, those folks would not tell you that they voted against a candidate because of his religious beliefs, but rather because of his views on such things as the war in Iraq or homosexual marriages. The helpful thing about the American Constitution is that when it comes to elections, people can disregard it. Certainly that would be the case where a Jew, an African American and a homosexual were involved.

Now let us move on to non-religious matters. Charlie Rangel is an eloquent statesman who unfortunately has reached the age of 76. There is no bar in the Constitution specifying age limits, but the American electorate would probably consider voting for someone else simply on the matter of age. The fact that Charlie Rangel is also of African American descent might have something to do with it as well. It really makes no difference about Charlie’s accomplishments in Congress. It may be that Charlie is too old and too black. It would take a miracle for the electorate in Mississippi and Alabama to vote for Charlie, regardless of his accomplishments. The electorate in those two states would most likely support the candidacy of someone like Trent Lott, who lost his Senate majority leadership over his support of Strom Thurmond and his segregationist policies. Again, this reflects the views of the electorate which wants to elect someone not because of competency, but because their views on religious matters and racial matters are in accord with their own.

Now we turn to the third member of this tripartite candidacy who is your ancient essayist. He is not a Jew, he is heterosexual, although he has strong vegetarian tendencies, and he is Caucasian. That would seem to make him an ideal candidate. However, there are significant disabilities. For example, this fellow is affiliated with no organized religion. But worse than that, he is bald. In the last election, in 2004, John Kerry and John Edwards bragged about what a full head of hair they had. Obviously this would eliminate me from serious consideration for the presidency not only on religious grounds, but on my appearance.

And so we have gathered together three candidates who would not ordinarily be in the pack hunting for the presidency of the United States in 2008. There is a black man, two elderly people, and then there is a Jew and a homosexual. If the three of us could find a female illegal immigrant who is a transvestite and belongs to the Protestant faith, we may well add her to the ticket. But in the meantime, we ask you to give our candidacy serious consideration on the ground that none of us will occupy the presidency long enough to steal your liberties from you. Beyond that, Charlie Rangel and I are of such an age that we may not be able to serve out our term. But in that case, the electorate can claim that they voted for a Jewish homosexual as well as two old men. That should demonstrate how far the American electorate has come. And we may not know what we are missing. If Charlie Rangel from Harlem or Barney Frank from Boston were to assume the position of Secretary of Agriculture, for example, while they are not the president, there might be innovations beyond our wildest expectations.

But in the final analysis, the American electorate is going to look for people who believe what they believe and competence will have little influence. And as for Hillary Clinton, I suspect that for all of her competence, the American electorate may find it hard to stomach the candidacy of a female with sharp elbows. Perhaps Charlie, Barney and myself ought to add her to our ticket. We are all the losers when we elect to vote only for those who are much like ourselves, as distinguished from those who are competent. Be that as it may, I hope that this essay has persuaded you to support the idea of a tripartite presidency. I guarantee that with the eloquence of Barney Frank and Charlie Rangel, the American electorate will be moved as never before. If nothing else, the American electorate can say “We voted for competence,” which would be a majestic change in our fortunes. And it would finally give our Constitution a meaningful interpretation.

February 23, 2007
Essay 236
Kevin’s commentary: Though this essay is a bit tongue-in-cheek, there’s certainly some real wisdom here. As a people we are still very afraid of those who are not exactly like us. If you need proof of this, just look at the path that someone has to take in order to become a citizen. I wonder what we’ll hit first — a society without organized religion, or a society where a majority of people will vote for a candidate who belongs to a different religion. I’m kinda leaning toward the former.


Miriam A. Ferguson was married to the governor of Texas in the early part of the 1920s. Unfortunately, her husband was impeached and lost the governorship. He recommended to his fellow Texans that they should elect his wife. And so it was that Mrs. Ferguson, popularly known as Ma, which represented her first two initials, became governor and served two terms.

In her second term, there was a debate about Al Smith, the governor of New York, running for the presidency. Smith was a Catholic. At about this time, there was a proposal that foreign languages be taught in the public schools of Texas. Ma Ferguson disliked that idea. She is alleged to have said that “if English was good enough for Jesus, why isn’t it good enough for Texans?” If Ma Ferguson had done her homework, she would have discovered that Jesus spoke Aramaic. But Texans are generally unlikely to master Aramaic.

In the end, Ma Ferguson was remembered for her remark about Jesus being an English speaker. Carl Shepherd is a Texan who speaks English fluently. After Carl married my younger daughter, he commented that Suzanne had her mother’s looks and beauty, while also possessing her father’s brain. Carl overlooked the many awards given to me by my barbers attesting to my beauty. Obviously, I have tipped those barbers lavishly for their analysis. But Carl still holds the view that his wife has her mother’s looks and her father’s brain.

My daughter speaks English and French fluently. She learned to speak French before she ever went to Texas which avoided the wrath of Ma Ferguson. She is now a lawyer. In our conversation during the first weekend in February 2007, Suzanne informed me that she had a “mild case of glaucoma” in one of her eyes. That news made me feel as though I had been kicked by a horse in my midsection.

There is a reason for my consternation. The Carr clan has had a history of glaucoma which in some cases has led to blindness. It has affected my father, perhaps my grandfather, my brother, and now myself. I heard the figures on her intra-ocular pressure and I agree that, indeed, she has a mild case of glaucoma. Nonetheless, it has always been my objective for her to avoid glaucoma entirely, in spite of our family history with that malady. The fact that she has a mild case is of no moment to me. In point of fact, she inherited the gene or genes from me. No father can do this to his daughter without feeling a heavy sense of guilt.

Glaucoma is an insidious disease which has always been considered as incurable. It can only be contained, not cured. It is passed from one generation to another through heredity. In my case, my blind father passed the gene(s) on to all five of his children who grew to maturity.

When I thought about the news that Suzanne had given me, I was angry at myself. It makes no difference that the ailment had been in the Carr family for generations. I was distraught that my daughter had inherited the gene and I was the one who gave it to her.

My anger quickly subsided when Suzanne spoke to me in matter of fact terms. There was no hysteria on her part whatsoever. Now that my anger has subsided, we will do our best to deal with the situation that has been presented to us.

In her life, Suzanne has had more than her share of difficulties. During her college years, she spent some time at the University of Toulouse, France. A motorcyclist riding off the road hit her and broke both of her legs. Her first pregnancy ended with the loss of one of her twin sons. Her final pregnancy ended in the birth of a special child whom I had a hand in naming. His name is John Eamon, an Irish name. In short, Suzanne has had her share of troubles without having to wrestle with glaucoma, even if it is only a mild case.

Nine years ago when John Eamon was born, I wrote Suzanne and Carl a letter. It quoted one of Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe’s most memorable maxims which is:

“Wealth lost – something lost;
Honor lost – much is lost;
Courage lost – all is lost.”

The glaucoma issue is another case that will have to be dealt with as courageously as Suzanne has done in the past. It goes without saying that Judy and I will support Suzanne in every case.

Now we return to Carl Shepherd’s observation that he married a woman with her mother’s looks and my brain. As my conversation with Suzanne drew to a close, she told me that if glaucoma went with inheriting my alleged intelligence, she would make that choice every time. For an old grizzled essayist, that is about the best news from Texas that these New Jersey ears could hear. I am humbled and flattered.

In the final analysis, my daughter, her husband Carl, and the three boys speak English fluently, which should please Ma Ferguson’s ghosts. Suzanne’s courage should make Professor Goethe highly pleased. And finally, Suzanne’s observation about inheriting my intellect such as it is, even with glaucoma, makes me wonder what I ever did to deserve this courageous daughter. Pleasing Ma Ferguson, Professor Goethe, and this old filling-station attendant is a trifecta that no one can match.

February 8, 2007
Essay 235


I sent a draft copy of this essay to Suzanne to see if she objected to its being distributed. Here is her reply:

Are you trying to make me cry? What a lovely essay. I don’t think I deserve the praise, but happy for you to send it. One of my first thoughts after getting the diagnosis was about Connor, Kevin and Jack and the fact that in all likelihood I have passed this on to them, as they will determine later in life, and as the senior generation in that configuration, I felt guilty. But then I thought as the junior generation in the configuration with you, how silly it is for you to feel guilty. You had no hand in this, your father had no hand in this, I have no hand in this, and life comes with troubles, inherited and otherwise. I’m sure you bore your father no ill will, and you have been a wonderful example of courage to me and the whole family as you have dealt with first the stroke and now blindness.
Nobody chooses their parents, but I do indeed believe I have come out with a substantial net surplus in my genetic inheritance from my father. Except the thinning hair PISSES ME OFF, OLD MAN. And I may have to take that up with you separately.

Until then, this is a beautiful essay and I thank you for it. I love you very much and am proud to be your daughter.


I replied to Suzanne with a further question. It reads:


Now that all three of us are in tears, can we ask you one more question. I would like to include your touching reply when the essay is distributed. I hope you have no objection. It is a moving tribute and I am very proud of it.

Now on to cataclysmic events of the world. Do you believe that the autopsy on Anna Nicole Smith will disclose that she was an original virgin or did she have several hot patches on that delicate instrument? As my olive oil bottle says, I believe she was an extra colossal super virgin from day one.


Suzanne then replies:

Yes, happy to have you include my reply.

We are spending much precious legal time here in the Seton Legal Dept casting the TV movie that is sure to be inflicted upon the Merican public in coming months.

You can perhaps add to this:

ANS: Christina Aguilera or Selena, that Tijuana music star who died several years back
The son: River Phoenix or Kurt Cobain or other applicable young dead star
Howard Marshall: Cary Grant or Peter Boyle
ANS Mother: Ann Margret

Today’s topic is other purported paternity candidates. So far we have:
Mark David Carr
Jared from the Subway commercials
James McGreevey

The reply from New Jersey:

Dear Suzanne,

It wasn’t me. I didn’t knock her up.

Eternally and fraternally yours,
James McGreevey

Suzanne replies:

Perhaps Ted Haggard, then, as he is now fully certified in this regard.

The point in this colloquy is that no matter how bad the news, Irish people always tend to look for humor in every situation. For 800 years,
the English tried to destroy that Irish propensity for humor. They failed and in the end, wound up being George Bush’s poodle. Irishmen say,

“Ireland was Ireland when England was a pup,
Ireland will still be Ireland when England’s time is up.”

“Woof, Woof,” says the poodle. The Irish say “Up the Republic!”


Kevin’s commentary: Mom pretty much has this commentary covered. The very end of this conversation lost me but that seems fine. In related news, I got checked for glaucoma about a week ago and the ophthalmologist found no sign of it yet. Whee!