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For anyone who wants to see and hear the John Steinbeck of 1961, here’s your chance.

Steinbeck and his wife Elaine were invited to JFK’s inaugural address in DC on January 20, 1961.

They went to the speech on a bitter cold day with JFK insider John Kenneth Galbraith and his wife Catherine, but skipped the inaugural ball that night and watched it on TV.

It was about six weeks after John Steinbeck returned to New York following his 1960 “Travels With Charley” road trip. Steinbeck, 58 but looking 70-something, shared a limo ride with the Galbraiths to and from the speech. On board with them was a camera crew that was shooting a Robert Drew  documentary produced for an ABC “Close Up” TV program called “Adventures on the New Frontier.”

In the documentary footage the Steinbecks and the Galbraiths are seen praising Kennedy’s inauguration speech and making jokes. The Galbraiths went to the inaugural ball in Washington that night, which is where the video ends.

The original chapter Steinbeck wrote for “Charley” was entitled “L’Envoi” and was about his trip to the inaugural. Never seen publicly until 2002, it was cut from the book for good reason — it didn’t fit with the rest of  “Charley’ and it was pretty boring.

photo

John and Elaine Steinbeck take a limo ride with John Kenneth Galbraith and his wife after the JFK inaugural speech of Jan. 20, 1961.

The Veterans Health Administration — the U.S. Post Office of American health care — has always been awful.

I remember 30 or maybe 40 years ago, when it was just the VA and not the VHA,  hearing vets and others complain about the lousy care, the crummy hospitals, the third-rate doctors.

No surprise. It was and is a government bureaucracy and it acts that way — stupid, slow, inefficient, politicized.  Like army bases and defense contractors, a VA hospital is what every congressperson of both parties always wanted in his/her district.

Now, as the horror stories march forth and the whistles begin to blow louder, we are getting a truer glimpse of the reality of the VA.

Where were the media until yesterday? Where was 60 Minutes and the NY Times and the Wall Street Journal and CNN? Did they ever think of looking deeply and critically into the VA?

The stupid warhawk Republicans, with their insane love of the military and fear of offending it, should have been all over this subject. They should have been calling for the privatization of the VA decades ago — Oh wait.

Mitt Romney made a halfhearted peep two years ago, saying it should be partly privatized. Mitt was partly right, but the great Paul Krugman, who can’t remember the few things he wrote 20 years ago that were right anymore than he can remember the scores of stupid things he says now that he’s the Times op-ed page’s house weasel, was completely wrong.

This is what the Noble-winning, formerly honest economist said this about the VHA and Romney’s half-smart idea:

What Mr. Romney and everyone else should know is that the V.H.A. is a huge policy success story, which offers important lessons for future health reform.

Many people still have an image of veterans’ health care based on the terrible state of the system two decades ago. Under the Clinton administration, however, the V.H.A. was overhauled, and achieved a remarkable combination of rising quality and successful cost control. Multiple surveys have found the V.H.A. providing better care than most Americans receive, even as the agency has held cost increases well below those facing Medicare and private insurers. Furthermore, the V.H.A. has led the way in cost-saving innovation, especially the use of electronic medical records.

What’s behind this success? Crucially, the V.H.A. is an integrated system, which provides health care as well as paying for it. So it’s free from the perverse incentives created when doctors and hospitals profit from expensive tests and procedures, whether or not those procedures actually make medical sense. And because V.H.A. patients are in it for the long term, the agency has a stronger incentive to invest in prevention than private insurers, many of whose customers move on after a few years.

And yes, this is “socialized medicine” — although some private systems, like Kaiser Permanente, share many of the V.H.A.’s virtues. But it works — and suggests what it will take to solve the troubles of U.S. health care more broadly.

 

It shouldn’t be that tough for newspapers to figure out this newfangled Digital Age-thing before it’s too late — except that it’s journalists doing the figuring.

Here, for free, from a ex-newspaper guy who did everything he could for 35 years to make papers livelier, more interesting and more ideologically diverse, is how to turn your average daily newspaper around and turn it back into a relevant news-making, news-breaking force for the public good:

Take 20 young reporters, give them iPhones, a laptop, a decent camera, a geographic beat — and tell them to get out of the office and never come back unless there’s a going-away party they have to attend.

All day long the reporters are supposed to cruise their territories, looking for real news but also blogging about whatever they see that’s interesting, funny, important, etc. They should interview people on the street or wherever. They should take photos or video of car wrecks or drug dealers or other photo-ops.

The reporters’ content should go straight to the newspaper’s digital news desk where it is put up on the (geographically organized) web site as fast and as lightly edited as possible. Mistakes will be made; big deal; mistakes will be fixed in three seconds.

If a plane crashes in her territory, the reporter is right there with instant photos and quick tweets and blogs and content sent to the digital news desk — which can now break the video and news faster and better than TV or radio can; no longer is the newspaper last with the news, but first (again). Other reporters and their iPhones flock to the plane crash scene ASAP, blogging, tweeting, reporting their butts off.

The web site editors build the story on the fly (sorry, plane crash victims) from reporters’ reports/photos/video, plus citizen/crowd input. The web site eventually hands off everything it has to the print people, who use the web content and other content (perspective, analysis, whatever) to put the big (or little) story together for the next day’s newspaper.

Web site first, paper second. Every day. All scoops appear on the web first.

On Day 2, the paper’s deeper content is stashed/archived on the web site ASAP for the rest of eternity, where it can — unlike the last 100 years of newspapers’ content — be found easily by all.

Monetize this process; tout the news-breaking, bottoms-up, in-your-community coverage of the digital side and take full advantage of the digital age. Make a real news partnership with a TV station.

Put the deep, smart, ideologically diverse analysis and commentary in the paper first, then move it to the web; do investigative stuff in the paper first, then to the web.

Use the web to promote and feed the paper and the paper to promote and feed the web.

Trust the reporters.

Trust the readers.

Make apps about movies, clubs, restaurants, sports, etc., that a kid might want to be caught dead downloading.

Change.

It’s already too late.

In what’s left of Newsweek my good pal David Cay Johnston does a fine job of pointing out what Cato and all libertarians and free-market gurus like Milton Friedman have been pointing out for half a century — we don’t have a free market in health care (The Myth of Health Care’s Free Market).

It’s rigged in many many ways. Let’s do some more ‘splaining about why it’s rigged — and why eye care and dentistry don’t have the same crazy price differences and have seen real prices go down over the last 30 years, not up.

Only governments can kill free markets. The current mess we have is largely a result of government intervention, subsidies, excessive regulations, things like the prohibition of midwifery and transplant markets and protections granted to cartels like the doctors, who, unlike the average widget maker or investment counselor, can keep their numbers down and prices up because they are given the power and cover to do so by state licensing boards.

Price competition exists in health care — across national boarders, which is why medical tourism flourishes in India (or in the USA, when Canadians come to get their new knees and hips at the Cleveland Clinic instead of having to wait 14 months for the “free” Canadian system to get around to providing them).

Price competition doesn’t exist within the USA borders because there is no price information shared with consumers (it’s essentially “illegal”), as David pointed out, and because doctors and hospitals collude and pass along the costs (often arbitrary and bloated).

You don’t need to know how to make a car to pick a good one to own; you don’t need to know how to take out your appendix to hire a doctor who can.

But you wouldn’t go into a BMW dealer, order a car without looking at the price tag and tell them to send the bill to your employer or favorite government health care bureaucracy.

Free markets work wonderfully for everything from cars to shoes. Consumers of each have virtually infinite choices in price and quality of both goods.

There is nothing preventing the health care sector from achieving the same efficiencies except the heavy hands and feet of government and the politicians who pretend everyone can get free health care for nothing.

In dishonor of the Federal Reserve’s 100th birthday, which, we’re all sorry to say is today, Plum Borough/Pittsburgh libertarian and ace letter-writer Mark Crowley has penned  “Yes, Virginia, We need the Fed.”

In the spirit of the season, we at Steigerwald Post want to share Mr. Crowley’s work. We sincerely hope it offends the proper authorities.

And if Virginia O’Hanlon and Francis Church don’t like their work being abused for ideological purposes, they can write us a letter.

200px-Virginia_Santa_Claus

Yes, Virginia, We Need the Fed

 

Dear Chairman Bernanke,

I am 8 years old.  My parents say the Federal Reserve is bad and we don’t
need it.  Teacher says, “Email Fed Chair Bernanke and ask him.”  Please
tell me the truth; do we need the Fed?

Virginia

Virginia, your parents are wrong. They have been affected by the
skepticism of liberty and individualism. They do not believe what
important central bankers like me tell them. They think their opinions and
beliefs are equal to those of the leaders and bureaucrats ruling them.
Mere common citizens have little minds.  In this great universe of ours a
citizen is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect as compared with the
boundless intelligence of central bankers who grasp the whole of truth and
knowledge.

Yes, Virginia, we need the Fed.  The need exists as certainly as debt and
taxes and the IRS exist, and you know that they abound and impose on your
life necessary controls and limits. Alas! how dreary would be the world if
there were no Fed! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias.
There would be no childlike faith in authority then, no bailouts, no QE to
perpetuate this monetary existence. We would have no income tax, no
inflation. The eternal creation of currency which fills the world would be
extinguished.

Not need the Fed!  You might as well not need the Department of Education.
Your ancestors might have bought and sold goods and services with gold and
silver, but what does that prove?  Just because they did not have the Fed
is no proof that they did not need the Fed to protect them and provide
monetary order.  The most dangerous things in the world are those that
neither children nor parents can see, but central bankers and governments
do.   Did you ever see your parents earn too much income?  Of course not,
but that’s no proof that they do not.  Nobody can conceive or imagine all
the unseen dangers and inequities without intervention by the Fed.

You may tear apart a Federal Reserve Note and look for the truth inside,
but there is a veil of secrecy covering the unseen world which not your
parents, nor even all the united working people that ever lived could see.
Only the primary dealers, a few government officials and the Fed can push
aside that curtain to view and manage the supernal secrets and glory on
your behalf. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is
nothing else real and abiding.

No Fed! Thank God! it exists and it exists forever. A thousand trillion
dollars of debt from now, Virginia, nay ten times ten thousand trillion
dollars of debt from now, it will continue to make glad the hearts of
central planners.

 

The tearful Vice piece by Charles Davis about “The Exploited Laborers of the Liberal Media” has its good moments.

It’s always nice to see liberals outed as the phonies/economic illiterates that they are.

But here is a comment I appended to Davis’ commentary:

It was a good piece in one way — it used lefty values to torture the lefty people who so love to torture others by mandating that others pay “living wages” to their employees because the lefty people believe it’s the good thing for other people to do, but not themselves. This whole intern inequity thing is insane and is caused by stupid well-meaning minimum wage laws and the iron realities of supply and demand.

If there were no minimum wage laws enforcing $15 a hour pay, Fred’s print shop or the New Republic could just pay kids and other basically useless employees $5 an hour or $3 or whatever instead of the mandated $7.25. Or in the case of the idiot voters of Sea-Tac, Wa., $15 per hour. Unpaid internships are an invention that gets around that mandated-pay issue but still lets kids/useless employees work places they are otherwise unqualified to work, though only the richer ones can afford to do so.

So in effect, minimum wage laws (by putting a legal floor under hourly wages) help assure that it is only the already well-to-do sons and daughters of the well-to-do who can afford to spend their summers in DC of SF as unpaid interns. Also, if the noisy intern abolitionists got their dream and say, had a federal anti-intern discrimination law passed that mandated that interns be paid a living wage — let’s say $15 an hour — the number of interns across America would dry up overnight. Same thing for burger flippers: don’t look for any new McDonald’s opening in Sea-Tac — unless they are manned by robots. Ditto across the USA if McDonald’s workers unionize and get $20 a hour.

There are great advantages to being an intern. That’s why kids and inexperienced people take the positions, even unpaid ones. But like everything in (real) life, there are trade offs.

Though I enjoyed the article’s skewering of the liberal hypocrites and do-gooders who, per usual, want to force others to do/pay what they do not do/pay themselves, this piece is all about little rich privileged college kids who get the inside track to nifty internships with the power fucks inside DC — and then once they get there they want to paid real money.

If they had a clue, they’d know that the internships only exist because they are unpaid; and the jobs are paid nothing or virtually nothing because that’s exactly what 99 percent of the college kids are worth.

G. P. Bear goes to Washington

The true story of a libertarian carnivore

Parts 1 & 2 of 6

 

By Bill and Joe Steigerwald

George Orwell used satire and talking pigs in “Animal Farm.” Now, with a foot of snow in Jerusalem signaling the start of the next ice age, veteran libertarian journalist Bill Steigerwald shamelessly steals Orwell’s idea and uses talking polar bears to poke fun at global warming alarmists and their fellow travelers in Washington and the media.

Twisting the title of director Frank Capra’s movie masterpiece to his own evil ends, Steigerwald and his son Joe have created “G.P. Bear Goes to Washington.”  The 6-part serialized “docu-fable” stars Grandpa, a magical, media-savvy and proudly skeptical libertarian polar bear who understands his species is in far greater danger from the interventions of the federal government, Barbara Boxer, Al Gore, Leonardo DiCaprio and overzealous wildlife scientists than from anthropogenic climate change.

 Part 1

“Are we not polar bears?”

Of all the animals the Inuit traditionally hunted, Nanuk, the polar bear, was the most prized. Native hunters considered Nanuk to be wise, powerful, and “almost a man.” Some called the bear “the great lonely roamer.” Many tribes told legends of strange polar-bear men that lived in igloos. These bears walked upright, just like men, and were able to talk. Natives believed they shed their skins in the privacy of their homes.

— Polar Bears International

 TASIILAQ, EAST GREENLAND

 

Grandpa Polar Bear was relaxing in his easy chair watching a special news report on TV called “Plight of the Polar Bears.” As a mother bear and her cub stood forlornly on a tiny shrinking iceberg somewhere near the Arctic Circle, the dashing reporter from CNN sounded like he was going to cry.

“…. because of global climate change, polar bears are suffering population losses and may soon become extinct. Rising temperatures are melting the sea ice earlier and earlier each summer, leaving the bears less time to hunt for their primary food ­ — ringed seals. If we don’t reduce our burning of fossil fuels soon, scientists say the only place our children will be able to see these magnificent creatures will be in a zoo or in a Walt Disney movie. For CNN, I’m Anderson Cooper.”

“Extinct!?” Grandpa roared, slapping the arms of his leather chair with his huge paws. “Melting sea ice!? Shrinking bear populations? Who writes this junk, Al Gore?”

“Don’t get upset, Dad,” said Mother, looking up from her latest copy of Reason magazine. “It’s CNN. What do you expect? Fairness? Balance?”

“What were they saying about polar bears dying, Grandpa?” asked Junior, looking worried as he came in from the kitchen with a bottle of Coke.

“Nothing, Junior. Nothing,” Grandpa grumbled. “Just a lot of make-believe.”

After dinner, Grandpa read Junior a bedtime story. As Grandpa was about to turn off the nightlight, Junior asked, “Grandpa, why do you yell at the TV? The people in it can’t hear you.”

“I know,” Grandpa said with a smile. “They live far away in New York and Washington. That’s why they don’t know anything about polar bears or the Arctic.”

Junior looked anxiously at Grandpa. “Mother said your heart will get attacked if you keep yelling at the news.”

“Don’t you worry,” Grandpa chuckled. “I just get mad when humans make us look like sissies who can’t handle a little change in the weather. We’re polar bears, for Pete’s sake. We’re not helpless victims. We don’t need the government, Keith Olbermann, Greenpeace, Leonardo DiCaprio or anyone else to protect us from Mother Nature.

“If humans just left us alone ­ and if their scientists stopped chasing us with helicopters and shooting us with dart guns ­ we’d be fine.”

“Why don’t you go to where the humans on TV live and yell at them?” wondered Junior. “Everyone always listens when you yell.”

“They wouldn’t believe a thing I’d tell them. But that’s a good idea, Junior,” Grandpa said, clicking off the nightlight. “A darn good idea. ”

*****

“Guess what I learned today?” Junior asked as he came running in from school.

“I can’t imagine,” Grandpa mumbled.

“Shush, Dad,” said Mother. “What did you learn, Junior?”

“I learned all about ‘global melting,’ ” Junior began breathlessly. “The whole world is getting hotter because humans drive too many cars. The sea ice is going to go away forever and — ”

“Whoa!” interrupted Grandpa. “Who taught you that stuff? Rachel Maddow?”

“No,” said Junior. “Principal Hansen. She came to homeroom today. Her big computer says Earth is getting hotter and hotter and Greenland is melting really, really fast. All the ice will be gone when I get as old as you.”

“That’s preposterous,” Grandpa said.

“Principal Hansen said the oceans will get taller and taller,” Junior said with a worried look on his face. “Principal Hansen said polar bears and lots of other animals will get ‘stinkt if humans keep burning stuff like coal. It’s really scary, Grandpa.”

“Principal Hansen’s crazier than Al Gore,” Grandpa said to Mother so Junior couldn’t hear. “Didn’t I tell you that boy should have been home-schooled?”

Later that same night, after midnight, Grandpa was at his desk. He was sending his usual round of disparaging e-mails to the politicians in Washington when Junior’s cry pierced the stillness.

“Grandpa!” Junior wailed. “Help me. I’m burning!”

Grandpa and Mother raced to Junior’s bedside. Junior was crying in his sleep. “Help me, Grandpa,” he pleaded mournfully. “I’m too young to melt.”

“Junior, wake up,” Grandpa said, shaking him. “You’re dreaming.”

Junior’s eyes popped open. “Grandpa! Mother! The ice was all gone! We were stuck on a tiny iceberg. The ocean was boiling!”

“It was just a silly nightmare, Junior,” soothed Mother. “The ice isn’t melting. See?” she said, patting the rock-hard wall of their cave.

Grandpa was fuming. He gritted his big teeth and looked Junior straight in his teary eyes.

“Boy,” he said firmly, “I’m going to tell you something I want you to remember for the rest of your life. We are polar bears. We are the largest land carnivores on Earth. We are the species ursus maritimus — ­ ‘bears of the sea.’ We can swim 200 miles. We can walk 100 miles a day.

“We learned how to live on this frozen wasteland thousands of years before humans discovered fire. There are 25,000 of us alive today ­ — twice as many as 50 years ago. We are not going to become extinct ­ no matter what Principal Hansen and her big computers say. Now go to sleep ­ and no more silly nightmares.”

“That was no nightmare,” Grandpa whispered angrily to Mother. “That boy’s being brainwashed by a bunch of kooks.”

“That’s all the schools teach,” said Mother. “It’s like a new religion. Every cub I know thinks the ice will be gone before they grow up. All the mothers are complaining.”

Grandpa was fuming. “Polar bears having nightmares,” he snarled. “That’s pathetic. It’s time somebody stood up to lunatics like Hansen and their doomsday stories.”

Part 2

“Act of Endangerment”

By Bill and Joe Steigerwald

Of all the animals the Inuit traditionally hunted, Nanuk, the polar bear, was the most prized. Native hunters considered Nanuk to be wise, powerful, and “almost a man.” Some called the bear “the great lonely roamer.” Many tribes told legends of strange polar-bear men that lived in igloos. These bears walked upright, just like men, and were able to talk. Natives believed they shed their skins in the privacy of their homes.

— Polar Bears International

TASIILAQ, EAST GREENLAND

 

Grandpa, Mother and Junior were at Erik the Red’s Sports Den. The place was crowded for the big Monday Night Football game between the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears.

Every bear in the bar had their eyes glued to the TV monitors. Just as the Bears quarterback was dropping back to throw a long pass, the game suddenly disappeared.

“Hey!!!” bellowed Grandpa and a hundred other Bears fans.

“We interrupt this program for important breaking news,” said the announcer as two sunburned old humans appeared on screen.

“The threat posed by global warming to all life on Earth is very real,” said Senator Harry Reid of Nevada as he and Senator Barbara Boxer of California huddled at a microphone outside the snow-covered Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. “Therefore, Senator Boxer and I have decided to introduce special legislation that will place polar bears on the Endangered Species list by the Christmas recess.”

“Oh no,” Grandpa moaned, putting his head in his big paws. “I was afraid it would come to this.”

“These majestic creatures are innocent victims of the evil axis of Big Energy,” Senator Boxer added, her voice cracking with emotion. “Our irresponsible burning of oil, coal and gas is melting the Arctic paradise of the polar bear. Without our help they will starve and soon become extinct. When our bill becomes law, however, the polar bear will be protected forever from man-made global warming by the Endangered Species Act.”

Grandpa stood up. “Listen up, all of you,” he yelled. Everyone quickly gathered around the wise and widely respected old bear.

“This is a very serious threat,” Grandpa said grimly. “If we are put on that darn list, it will mean the end of our traditional way of life forever.”

“What do you mean?” someone asked.

“An army of nature scientists, government bureaucrats and pushy celebrities will invade our land. They’re all part of what I call ‘The Axis of Environmentalism,’ ” Grandpa explained.

“They will say they are coming to protect us from global warming and to do us good. But what they will really do is slowly take away our freedoms and take over our lives. They’ll force us to change how we live, what we eat and where we can travel. It’ll be just like we’re being kept in a federal zoo.”

“But we’ll we get free food and health care,” said a young male bear sipping on his sixth Labatt Blue.

“Don’t be foolish,” Grandpa said. “Whatever the government gives us won’t really be free. Once we’re on that list, they’ll have us all wearing radio collars and carrying government ID cards. We’ll have wildlife scientists videotaping our sex lives and telling us where and what we can hunt.”

“Will they take away our snowmobiles and satellite dishes?” someone asked.

“No, they won’t take our snowmobiles or TVs or anything else,” Grandpa snapped impatiently. “Humans don’t know we have those things because they can’t see them. If they did know, they’d take them away from us in a Newfoundland minute.”

“Who will tell those humans in Washington we don’t need their help?” someone asked. “And don’t want it, either,” added someone else.

The 100 polar bears had forgotten all about the football game. An uneasy silence fell over the bar. Then Grandpa spoke. “I’ll do it,” he said in a quiet but confident voice. “I’ll explain how tomorrow night at the town meeting.”

******

The town meeting was bubbling with excitement as 400 polar bears sat on the uncomfortable metal folding chairs set up on the floor of the Southeast Greenland High School gym.

“My plan is quite simple,” began Grandpa, standing at a podium in front of the assembled bears. Next to him was a large nautical map that showed Greenland, the Labrador Current and the East Coast of the United States. Mother and Junior sat to the side of the map on folding chairs.

“I intend to travel to Washington,” Grandpa said. “I’m going there to convince the politicians that global warming poses no threat to us and that we do not want to be placed on the Endangered Species list.”

Everyone began talking excitedly. Grandpa held up his hand to silence them.

“I will ride on an iceberg most of the way. And then .”

“You can’t possibly ride an iceberg to Washington,” interrupted the Mayor, who sat at a long table with the town’s five frowning council members. Each of the officials had been darted and captured by wildlife scientists at least once and each wore matching radio tracking collars and yellow metal tags with serial numbers in both ears.

“Icebergs make it as far south as New York City all the time,” Grandpa replied, stabbing the map with his pointer. “In 1926, an iceberg reached Bermuda. And as you can see, the Labrador Current hugs the coast all the way to North Carolina.”

“But surely, with global warming, your iceberg will melt long before you get there,” the Mayor said skeptically.

“It’ll get us close enough. Then we’ll swim. It shouldn’t be more than 200 miles.”

” ‘We’? ” the Mayor asked suspiciously. “Who is ‘we’?”

“My daughter and my grandson,” Grandpa said, nodding toward Mother and Junior. “I want the politicians pushing this foolish law to see exactly who will be harmed the most by it ­ our children and grandchildren who will lose their freedoms.”

“But you can’t just walk into the United States Senate,” said the Mayor. “You’ll be arrested. Or shot.”

“I’ve already solved that problem, Mayor,” said Grandpa, raising his voice over the murmuring crowd. “I’ve been communicating with a senator by e-mail. He’s invited me to appear on Dec. 18 as an expert witness during the hearings on the Endangered Species bill. I plan to leave in three days.”

Suddenly, Principal Jane Hansen stood up in the crowd and pointed at Grandpa.

“Sir, you are ignorant and backward. You are an embarrassment to all progressive polar bears. How can you deny what Al Gore and other great climate scientists have proven? We are in mortal danger from humans and the climate change they are causing. The global temperature data clearly shows that ….”

“Sit down, Hansen,” a bear hollered. “We don’t believe you or your phony computers. Garbage in, garbage out.”

“We cannot permit this, this, this stupid old yellow bear to speak for us in Washington,” said Principal Hansen, who was so hot under her radio collar she collapsed in her chair.

“Why should we pay for your risky and quixotic scheme?” the Mayor asked Grandpa.

“I’m not asking taxpayers to pay a cent,” Grandpa said. “All I ask is that you let the citizens decide. I believe they will entrust me to faithfully represent their best interests in Washington.”

The gym exploded with cheers and thunderous applause. When a vote was taken, nearly every bear raised a forepaw in support of Grandpa. The only nay votes came from those wearing radio collars and yellow metal ear tags. The losers grumbled and growled, but there was nothing they could do.

The bears had spoken. G.P Bear was on his way to Washington.

To be continued tomorrow in Part 3, unless all hell freezes over.

 

 

G. P. Bear goes to Washington

The true story of a libertarian carnivore

 

By Bill and Joe Steigerwald

George Orwell used satire and talking pigs in “Animal Farm.” Now, with a foot of snow in Jerusalem signaling the start of the next ice age, veteran libertarian journalist Bill Steigerwald shamelessly steals Orwell’s idea and uses talking polar bears to poke fun at global warming alarmists and their fellow travelers in Washington and the media.

Twisting the title of director Frank Capra’s movie masterpiece to his own evil ends, Steigerwald and his son Joe have created “G.P. Bear Goes to Washington.”  The 6-part serialized “docu-fable” stars Grandpa, a magical, media-savvy and proudly skeptical libertarian polar bear who understands his species is in far greater danger from the interventions of the federal government, Barbara Boxer, Al Gore, Leonardo DiCaprio and overzealous wildlife scientists than from anthropogenic climate change.

Part 1

“Are we not polar bears?”
By Bill and Joe Steigerwald

Of all the animals the Inuit traditionally hunted, Nanuk, the polar bear, was the most prized. Native hunters considered Nanuk to be wise, powerful, and “almost a man.” Some called the bear “the great lonely roamer.” Many tribes told legends of strange polar-bear men that lived in igloos. These bears walked upright, just like men, and were able to talk. Natives believed they shed their skins in the privacy of their homes.

— Polar Bears International

 TASIILAQ, EAST GREENLAND

 

Grandpa Polar Bear was relaxing in his easy chair watching a special news report on TV called “Plight of the Polar Bears.” As a mother bear and her cub stood forlornly on a tiny shrinking iceberg somewhere near the Arctic Circle, the dashing reporter from CNN sounded like he was going to cry.

“…. because of global climate change, polar bears are suffering population losses and may soon become extinct. Rising temperatures are melting the sea ice earlier and earlier each summer, leaving the bears less time to hunt for their primary food ­ — ringed seals. If we don’t reduce our burning of fossil fuels soon, scientists say the only place our children will be able to see these magnificent creatures will be in a zoo or in a Walt Disney movie. For CNN, I’m Anderson Cooper.”

“Extinct!?” Grandpa roared, slapping the arms of his leather chair with his huge paws. “Melting sea ice!? Shrinking bear populations? Who writes this junk, Al Gore?”

“Don’t get upset, Dad,” said Mother, looking up from her latest copy of Reason magazine. “It’s CNN. What do you expect? Fairness? Balance?”

“What were they saying about polar bears dying, Grandpa?” asked Junior, looking worried as he came in from the kitchen with a bottle of Coke.

“Nothing, Junior. Nothing,” Grandpa grumbled. “Just a lot of make-believe.”

After dinner, Grandpa read Junior a bedtime story. As Grandpa was about to turn off the nightlight, Junior asked, “Grandpa, why do you yell at the TV? The people in it can’t hear you.”

“I know,” Grandpa said with a smile. “They live far away in New York and Washington. That’s why they don’t know anything about polar bears or the Arctic.”

Junior looked anxiously at Grandpa. “Mother said your heart will get attacked if you keep yelling at the news.”

“Don’t you worry,” Grandpa chuckled. “I just get mad when humans make us look like sissies who can’t handle a little change in the weather. We’re polar bears, for Pete’s sake. We’re not helpless victims. We don’t need the government, Keith Olbermann, Greenpeace, Leonardo DiCaprio or anyone else to protect us from Mother Nature.

“If humans just left us alone ­ and if their scientists stopped chasing us with helicopters and shooting us with dart guns ­ we’d be fine.”

“Why don’t you go to where the humans on TV live and yell at them?” wondered Junior. “Everyone always listens when you yell.”

“They wouldn’t believe a thing I’d tell them. But that’s a good idea, Junior,” Grandpa said, clicking off the nightlight. “A darn good idea. ”

*****

“Guess what I learned today?” Junior asked as he came running in from school.

“I can’t imagine,” Grandpa mumbled.

“Shush, Dad,” said Mother. “What did you learn, Junior?”

“I learned all about ‘global melting,’ ” Junior began breathlessly. “The whole world is getting hotter because humans drive too many cars. The sea ice is going to go away forever and — ”

“Whoa!” interrupted Grandpa. “Who taught you that stuff? Rachel Maddow?”

“No,” said Junior. “Principal Hansen. She came to homeroom today. Her big computer says Earth is getting hotter and hotter and Greenland is melting really, really fast. All the ice will be gone when I get as old as you.”

“That’s preposterous,” Grandpa said.

“Principal Hansen said the oceans will get taller and taller,” Junior said with a worried look on his face. “Principal Hansen said polar bears and lots of other animals will get ‘stinkt if humans keep burning stuff like coal. It’s really scary, Grandpa.”

“Principal Hansen’s crazier than Al Gore,” Grandpa said to Mother so Junior couldn’t hear. “Didn’t I tell you that boy should have been home-schooled?”

Later that same night, after midnight, Grandpa was at his desk. He was sending his usual round of disparaging e-mails to the politicians in Washington when Junior’s cry pierced the stillness.

“Grandpa!” Junior wailed. “Help me. I’m burning!”

Grandpa and Mother raced to Junior’s bedside. Junior was crying in his sleep. “Help me, Grandpa,” he pleaded mournfully. “I’m too young to melt.”

“Junior, wake up,” Grandpa said, shaking him. “You’re dreaming.”

Junior’s eyes popped open. “Grandpa! Mother! The ice was all gone! We were stuck on a tiny iceberg. The ocean was boiling!”

“It was just a silly nightmare, Junior,” soothed Mother. “The ice isn’t melting. See?” she said, patting the rock-hard wall of their cave.

Grandpa was fuming. He gritted his big teeth and looked Junior straight in his teary eyes.

“Boy,” he said firmly, “I’m going to tell you something I want you to remember for the rest of your life. We are polar bears. We are the largest land carnivores on Earth. We are the species ursus maritimus — ­ ‘bears of the sea.’ We can swim 200 miles. We can walk 100 miles a day.

“We learned how to live on this frozen wasteland thousands of years before humans discovered fire. There are 25,000 of us alive today ­ — twice as many as 50 years ago. We are not going to become extinct ­ no matter what Principal Hansen and her big computers say. Now go to sleep ­ and no more silly nightmares.”

“That was no nightmare,” Grandpa whispered angrily to Mother. “That boy’s being brainwashed by a bunch of kooks.”

“That’s all the schools teach,” said Mother. “It’s like a new religion. Every cub I know thinks the ice will be gone before they grow up. All the mothers are complaining.”

Grandpa was fuming. “Polar bears having nightmares,” he snarled. “That’s pathetic. It’s time somebody stood up to lunatics like Hansen and their doomsday stories.”

To be continued tomorrow in Part 2, unless all hell freezes over.