Juggling conundrums
Expanded from the 4-22-2007 Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune

Dapper Dr. Pietrowski stayed late to talk with a few of us kids one day after a business administration class at Fresno State. Several of us had options of going into family enterprises after graduation.

I mentioned that I would only take over my parents' restaurant if my mother retired. She ran the place like it was her kitchen at home while I had worked in a few more modern enterprises and wanted to bring in some new-fangled Americani menu options like –- gasp – hashbrowned potatoes.

I ventured that there was no way I could ever change her mind. Dr. Pietrowski, a superstar executive who made a pitstop in central California to finish his PhD, looked at me knowingly and said "Barbano, you're lucky to learn this when you're young. There are some management problems to which there is no solution, you just have to live with them."

As a result, I escaped to Las Vegas to work "through the summer" of 1969. Turned out to be an endless summer. So if you want to blame somebody for inflicting me upon the body politic of the Sagebrush Plantation for lo, these many years, credit my dear sainted mother.

Those most-vexing problems to which there are no solutions have been on many minds these past few days. Minds wiser than mine would advise that only compromise and optimization are thus possible. Optimization often means selecting the best of a bad set of options. Can you say Iraq?

Perhaps optimization is one of the meanings of life. We are forced to learn a lot by making hard choices.

The United States is an adolescent nation still hung up on children's games like cowboys and Indians. So much of what we are has been dictated by mass media. Italians didn’t "talk with their hands" until moviegoers in Italy saw American gangster films. Real cowboys never upturned the corners of their hats until Hollywood directors ordered actors to do so in order that cameras could see their eyes.

Whether in comic books, TV shows or video games, much of our media is besotted with cowboys and Indians shoot-em-ups. Movies about the end of the world sell tickets. How many times has James Bond done exactly that?

The polarization of our politics has been fueled by latter day Luddites who want to take us back to the future – some mythical simpler time that never really existed.

Last week, five old men on the U.S. Supreme Court made a stinging statement supporting male supremacy: If it's a choice between a woman's life and a fetus, let the bitch die.

This is perfectly consistent with the philosophy of the Catholic Church as espoused by Italian-born Fr. Sergio Negro who headed the Newman Club at Fresno State. (Named after John Henry Cardinal Newman, branches were established all over the nation, including UNR, to inoculate the sheep against the virus of robust academic debate. I never darkened its doorway.)

Angels on the head of a pin dept.

   What if a doctor sprays a little holy water into the womb of a dying mother and performs an on-the-fly baptism? (I was taught that any Catholic could perform the sacrament.) Would the church then declare it a tie between fetus and mom as to who gets the death penalty?

   After that, who plays God?

Fr. Negro informed my Catholic high school senior class that all abortion was murder and that if a doctor had to choose between the baby or the mom, the woman, especially a Catholic one, should be killed. She theoretically had already been baptized with a chance to see God, as opposed to the un-immersed inchoate child.

That struck me as pretty damned cold — the thought of the girl of my dreams, who as yet was only a dream, sacrificed by presumptors who dare to say they speak for God?

But the Catholics on the court just placed Fr. Negro's dogma back into the law.

The solution to abortion was first suggested by my late wife well before Sandra Day O'Connor hinted at the same thing soon after she was appointed to the court in 1981: Embryo/fetal transplant. (O'Connor opined that the law and technology were on "a collision course.")

Early and late-term viability now book-end the middle months of pregnancy. Investing in transplantation would be a much more responsible use of public money than prosecuting an oil war on the sands of Araby.

But to walk away would not fit the nation's macho cowboys-and-Indians self-image. Which is why we love our guns so much, no matter that we have suffered more firearm deaths in the past quarter-century than the nation's losses in all its 20th Century wars. [1]

It will take enlightened leadership to come up with optimum solutions. It would be nice to have fewer guns on the street, but in the face of an increasingly totalitarian government, having one firearm for every person provides a bit of cold steel comfort against the specter of a second Bush-Cheney coup d'etat.

Imperfect solutions to our insoluble problems are possible.

We just don’t have the political will or leadership to make them happen.

Buying the War

Variety.com Review

   "Bill Moyers launches his new PBS series with a methodical, devastating, pull-no-punches recap of mainstream journalism's collective failure to challenge the Bush administration in the run-up to the Iraq war, thus marrying two of the long-time liberal advocate's favorite themes — the lackey-ism of big media and failings of modern conservatism."   FULL STORY

   Editor & Publisher Review

   "The program closes on a sad note, with Moyers pointing out that 'so many of the advocates and apologists for the war are still flourishing in the media.'

   "He then runs a pre-war clip of President Bush declaring, 'We cannot wait for the final proof: the smoking gun that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud.' Then he explains: 'The man who came up with it was Michael Gerson, President Bush's top speechwriter. He has left the White House and has been hired by the Washington Post as a columnist.'"

DIRTY LIBERAL COMMIE TV. Lush Rambo did it again last week and re-infected the airwaves with another cancerous us vs. them comparison. Because that sick freak at Virginia Tech ranted against the rich, the serial druggist behind the microphone asserted that liberalism lay at the root of such murderous intent.

One of Limbaugh's clones, former KKKOH host Rusty Humphries once called Reno's N. Virginia Street merchants liberals for protesting the harm done to their businesses by the annual Hot August Nights nostalgiafest.

Us vs. them rabble rousing remains effective because it appeals to a large number of small minds. Witness the fact that roughly one in three Americans support Dubya's disasters. Slightly fewer Nevadans think Gov. Jim the Dim is doing a good job.

Those numbers parallel the audience of the Faux Noise Network. An independent poll showed that the least-informed Americans are those who get most of their news from the blackguards in the employ of Lord Rupert Murdoch and former Nixon media manager Roger Ailes.

This Wednesday, the estimable Bill Moyers returns to PBS with a small antidote to the toxins of corporate media.

The first installment of a new series of Bill Moyers' Journal delves deeply into the fourth estate's abrogation of its First Amendment rights and obligations by becoming part of the White House PR machine.

Buying the War premieres on KNPB TV-5 on April 25 at 9:00 p.m. with wee-hour reruns at 1:00 a.m. and 4:00 a.m Thursday. Moyers' regular time slot begins at 9:00 p.m. Friday with reruns at 2:00 a.m. and 4:00 a.m. Saturday.

This is important. So watch.

And spread the word.

Be well. Raise hell.


1. Washington Post columnist Mark Shields on The News Hour with Jim Lehrer; PBS; 20 April 2007.

(The News Hour's) JUDY WOODRUFF: Where are we left?

MARK SHIELDS: I don't disagree with David. I have a little different take on it, Judy. In all the wars that the United States fought in the 20th century, World War I, II, Vietnam, Korea, the first Persian Gulf, 659,763 Americans died. Since Ronald Reagan became president of the United States until George Bush was re-elected, 768,000 more people (than) died in all those wars died by firearms in the United States. Of the 26 developed nations in the world, 83 percent of all the people who died by firearms die in this country.

And the idea that we can't do something, that this man (the Virginia Tech mass murderer) that David has described, with a 9-millimeter Glock semiautomatic pistol, and other countries, only police officers have them. I mean, the fact that he could buy this, and with no check really made of him, you know, is disturbing.

Are we this great, pitiable, helpless giant in dealing with this problem? I mean, you know, I think that we lack will; we lack imagination; we lack commitment to do something about it.

(The New York Times') DAVID BROOKS: Well, I don't disagree. I mean, the fact that he had the access to firearms meant that, instead of killing himself, he could kill 32 people. I think there's no question.

Nonetheless, when you start thinking about practically, what are there, 280 million guns in this country? The kid is smart. He has access to the Internet. If he wants to kill people, which he clearly did, he's going to get the stuff.

And I'm not sure gun control is going to affect his ability to kill a lot of people. He could do it with bombings. He'll find a weapon.



Recent BARBWIRE Media Hits
and Ego Trips

   The Dean of Reno Bloggers could very well be Andrew Barbano, self-described "fighter of public demons," who started putting his "Barbwire" columns online in 1996 and now runs 10 sites.
      RENO NEWS & REVIEW, 11-9-2006

"Our long national nightmare is over."
Did I say that a dozen years ago?
CORY FARLEY, RGJ, 11-10-2006

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Reno Gazette-Journal, 11-11-2006

Oregon State U. minimum wage deflator

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Copyright © 2007 Andrew Barbano

Andrew Barbano is a 38-year Nevadan and editor of NevadaLabor.com. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune since 1988.


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