We named our oldest son, Andre, after my grandfather, Andre Bialolenki. He was a writer, a philosopher, a violinist, a professor. He founded Whitefield private school on Miami Beach and then became the public relations director for the city of Miami Beach.
He was, always, my biggest fan, my biggest supporter. He was, also, simply the most humble, gracious, brilliant and wonderful human being I have ever known. And, needless to say, I miss him terribly. I deeply regret that my children will never know him, that my wife had only just met him when he passed away, that he'll never know how influential he was to my life. That he'll never, truly, see me reach the dreams and goals he knew I'd someday reach.
It rained the day of his funeral. Even God, I thought, was weeping.
After he died, all I wanted of his were his papers. He wrote constantly, everywhere. On the backs of paper placemats, napkins, envelopes. He wrote a book as his thesis for his doctorate from the University of Florida, it's still in their library. He wrote beautiful poems to his wife, and letters to his friends. He even wrote to Anna when he realized I was serious about marrying her. He hadn't met her yet, but he wrote to her anyway. Telling her about my family. Telling her about me. Telling her about himself.
He was a great man. He was my grandfather. And I have boxes of his papers. They are journals, letters, and fragments of the mind of a brilliant thinker. He studied poetry under Robert Frost. He once had my birthday proclaimed Peter Salomon Day in Miami Beach. As PR Director for the city throughout the 80's he helped in the birth of South Beach.
I miss him. My wife misses him. This morning I was trying to organize his papers and came across the following speech/essay. I think there's a page (or more) missing. There's no date on the essay but the pages of journal surrounding it were dated late 70's, early 80's.
It has been said of man that though he wallows in the mud, his vision is in the heavens. In the 25,000 years ascribed to the existence of the human race he still seeks for peace in the world because of his historic proclivity to war. And it might be added that not withstanding the myriad and countless instances of man’s inhumanity to man, society still seeks the common good, strives for justice, and seeks to establish the virtues as a way of life.
To understand the innate drive of the human being to help a friend, a neighbor or another human in distress, we need not concentrate solely on the occasional Thomas Beckett, Dr. Albert Schweitzer nor even a Billy Budd. Our reference is to the good in the so-called “everyman,” possessed of conscience, sympathy, empathy and the innate desire to do some good in a world apparently filled with so much evil.
From time immemorial, as far back as some visual evidence can be found, there are signs of humans combining together against the elements, or the beasts of the earth, or for the securing of food, or for defense against other human beings. And out of this need for togetherness came the need to support one another or the development of the family unit, howsoever primitive.
In the struggle for existence there were fears to be alleviated; and in the desire to survive the weak looked to the strong, and those not so wise sought the guidance of those wiser than themselves. So leadership, or fathership or championship, or however named, there were the stronger who could either protect or destroy the weaker.
It is not our intent to trace the history of man’s record of responsibility and irresponsibility to man, but in the natural development of man’s societal history a sense of responsibility and conscience did take form that at least from an aesthetic point of view marks man’s moral development even if contemporary history, i.e. holocausts pasts and present, makes us wonder about the verbal sermonizing of man’s concerns one for another which, though frequently evident in individual and personal instances, fades and evaporates as nations deal with nations in the political and economic struggles for supremacy.
AYet, notwithstanding the pervading gloom, the population of Vietnam is greater than ever, irrespective of the appalling loss of life in the war. And in fact, in spite of all calamities, people multiply all over the universe, and by the turn of the century it is anticipated that some five billion persons will simultaneously occupy the face of the earth. Such a population requires care, or people helping one another not only to multiply, but to survive.
My grandfather, born in Paris, died in 1998. If he were alive today I have no doubt that he would have his very own blog. It's a technology that seems to have been developed with him in mind.
I miss him.
Our vision is to the heavens, he was right. And when I look there, I see my grandfather.
:: Peter 4/12/2003 01:27:00 PM [+] ::
In the paper today, they said there’s going to be a big meeting this week to discuss postwar Iraq with the leaders of France, Germany and Russia. Or, as they’re also known, the "axis of envy."
:: Peter 4/11/2003 08:37:00 AM [+] ::
Back in my younger days, when I actually, (gasp), voted for Clinton, listening to Neal Boortz opened my eyes.
This is why.
Here's Neal's suggestion for Jesse Jackson:
HEY, JESSE. I HAVE A CAUSE FOR YOU, IF YOU HAVE THE INTEGRITY TO PURSUE IT.
Jesse Jackson knows that the television cameras will be in Augusta this weekend to assist Martha Burk in her grand publicity quest. So … when the television cameras show up, there you will find Jesse.
Just last week Jesse was ready to run off to Baghdad to do his “pandering for POWs” bit. Alas, Saddam didn’t last long enough to Jesse to scamper over there to smooch his Baathist butt.
The Talkmaster is here, though, to help Jesse out. I have an issue that Jesse should embrace. It’s theft – grand larceny – on a massive scale. Hard-working black men are being systematically ripped off, and nobody seems to notice, let alone care.
There is no single identifiable demographic group out there which suffers more under our insipid Social Security system than the black male. This is so easy to understand that even those who went to government schools can see what is happening. It can be explained in just one sentence --- one sentence says it all. This one sentence that can set Jesse’s entire protest agenda. The life expectancy of black males in this country is lower than the eligibility age for Social Security benefits. Need I say more? The average black male in this country will die before he has a chance to recover one penny of that money which is seized from each and every paycheck. Every penny will be lost. Gone. Statistics show that the average black male will see no less than $10,000 of his lifetime earnings transferred to the demographic group with the longest life expectancy, white females.
Come on, Jesse. You’re such a champion for your people. You care so much. You’re so willing to confront injustice where you find it. Whether or not Augusta National ever accepts a female member will have no effect on that racial justice you claim to seek. Black men are being ripped off … and you have the platform to do something about it. You have the platform, but do you have the guts? After all, Social Security is the grand Democratic program, isn’t it? The Republicans want reform. The Republicans want private accounts that can’t be taken away. The Democrats do not. It’s the Democrats who are stealing from those you claim to champion. Do you have the courage to confront them, or is a ridiculous protest against a private golf club the best you can muster up right now?
"EXPERIMENTAL computers that calculate using DNA rather than electronics have many promising properties. To start with, they are exceptionally tiny. About one trillion DNA computers would fit in a single drop of water. Yet their storage capacity is potentially vast. A single gram of DNA holds about as much information as one trillion compact discs."
Sounds great, doesn't it? Wondering where this is being done? I thought you'd never ask:
"Now a research group at Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, has added another twist. Its latest creation makes data function as the computer's power source.
"It's not like we're going to save the energy store of the world with this," said Ehud Shapiro, a computer scientist and the lead researcher of the Weizmann project. "But lo and behold, we have been able to compute without using energy." "
Ok, I know. It's not yet Father's Day. Last night my wife turned to me and asked: "Do you realize that you might spend two Father's Days in a row with one of your sons in the hospital?"
It's true. Surreal. But true. Last Father's Day was spent in the hospital with Andy. This is what I wrote after that experience:
Vacation--though actually I don't really think that's the correct term for it...'hell'...that's the term I'm looking for. I can't honestly believe that I looked forward to this week. Two days of driving through a rain-soaked traffic jam of minivans with distracted parents behind the wheel and lumbering trucks with drivers more interested in checking out every passing car on the off-chance some exhibitionisitic woman would be on display for their driving amusement. Then, of course, arrival. Late at night to a house with no air-conditioning in June. Of course, that was the good stuff. Sunday, Father's Day, proved to be even worse. After starting the day playing with what appeared to be a harmless bunny rabbit but turned out to be, well, Satan, Andy ended the day in an oxygen tent after being rushed to the hospital with a partially collapsed lung from an extreme allergic reaction to the aforementioned Satan the bunny. Three days later, after days of needles and wires and countless hours of sitting there watching him sleep while keeping one eye glued to the oxygen saturation display to make sure the glowing numerals stayed above 90, panicking every time they dipped to 87 and feeling an inordinate sense of relief when they stayed above 95, he was released to return to our vacation. Did I mention we are freaking on vacation? Nowhere in the vacation paradise handbook, which, of course, I think we left in a roadside diner, does it mention anything about a three-year old's plaintive cries of 'I want to go home' at all hours of the night after being woken up to have his blood sugar checked. Nor is there any way to describe the surreal pride when your son displays his independence, agility and intellect by so quickly learning how to walk while pushing/pulling the rolling IV stand behind him so that he can get to the bathroom by himself. Don't even get me started on the lovely memory I'll have of four people holding him down so that a nurse can try (and fail, even on the second freaking attempt) to insert an IV into the back of his hand. Or, my personal favorite, cries of "I want to go with Daddy" every time I would leave the room. Did I mention we are on vacation?
Went to New York City, saw Beauty and the Beast (found as much enjoyment at the look of rapture on Andy's face as clocks talked and people sang as I did at what was a marvelous performance), spent too much on things not needed (bought Andy practically anything he wanted, it is too difficult to say no to him on a regular day, never mind one day post hospital), and went to the Central Park Zoo.
Perhaps, sitting here at five in the morning in a room without air conditioning with my son happily sleeping in his brand spanking new Monsters, Inc. sleeping bag, holding his brand spanking new stuffed Cogsworth, it is merely a fleeting mirage but I think I'm finally getting the hang of this vacation thing. Except for the fact, of course, that it ends tomorrow.
It's 2003 now. Andy is fine. Father's Day is approaching. We've requested Joshua's heart surgery to be scheduled for mid-June. Without realizing that Father's Day is June 15. Mid-June.
Her father, Ali, is a thick-set Iraqi who used to work for Saddam's psychopathic son, Uday. Some time after the bungled assassination of Uday, Ali fell under suspicion. He fled north, to the Kurdish safe haven policed by Western fighter planes, but leaving his wife and daughter behind in Baghdad.
So the secret police came for his wife. Where is he? They tortured her. And when she didn't break, they tortured his daughter.
"When did you last see your father? Has he phoned? Has he been in contact?" They half-crushed the toddler's feet.
Now, she doesn't walk, she hobbles, and Ali fears that Saddam's men have crippled his daughter for life. So Ali talked to us.
I have been to Baghdad a number of times. Being in Iraq is like creeping around inside someone else's migraine. The fear is so omnipresent you could almost eat it. No one talks.
This is from the BBC, remember them? Anti-American. Anti-war. Anti-UK. Pro-Saddam.
The silence from the left is deafening. It's shameful.
"All things equal, I would prefer to have a child in a school that has a strong appreciation for the values of the Christian community, where a child is taught to have a strong faith," said U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige.
I want to send my children to a Jewish private school. If you'd like to send your children to a Christian private school I think that's just dandy. I even want, dearly, vouchers so that no one is forced to suffer through a public school education.
But, Rod, what could you possibly have been thinking?
This is America. If you want to live in a theocracy feel free to move to Saudi Arabia. For as long as the House of Saud continues to stand, of course.
I support fully Rod Paige's right to believe as he does. And to speak his beliefs. And to encourage others to share his beliefs.
But what Rod Paige, American citizen, believes and what the US Secretary of Education supports are, by constitutional limitations, different things.
The First Amendment gives Rod Paige the right to Free Speech. It forbids the government from acting on his beliefs. I hope he realizes that.
Prayer in school? Every test. Every oral report. Every day.
Don't mandate it. Don't organize it. And, most importantly, don't legislate it.
It's unconstitutional, Rod.
:: Peter 4/10/2003 10:36:00 AM [+] ::
Received the following response, from my mother, to my post about what a glorious day yesterday was:
Do you honestly believe that without finding
Hussien he wont't rise again against those who are thrilled to be
liberated? and will we not be in another battle from the other Arab
countries, and from within our country--there are lots of Osamas
ready to kill. It is a long way from being over.
Figured I'd let you read my reply:
I didn't say it was over, this is probably 10-20 years from being over. This, however, disproves everything which the left and the other anti-war protesters have been saying. The Democrats now have 3 viable candidates left for the presidency next year: Edwards, Lieberman and, to a much lesser extent, Hillary. Every other Democratic candidate came out against the war. They'll no longer have a chance in a national election. Their opponent will simply put up the pictures of (take your pick): jubilant Iraqis pulling down a statue of Hussein, jubilant Iraqis holding emaciated children freed from jail, or any number of pictures of Iraqi citizens thanking US soldiers. Their opponent will simply say "(your name here) voted and protested against their freedom." Think anyone will vote for them?
Hillary just kept her mouth shut. She voted for the war and then shut up. Brilliant strategy. She's still viable, but will most likely sit out until 2008 so as not to be a 'loser' in 2004. She's smart enough to know that she has a much better chance in 2008.
As for 'Little Osamas'? Where are they? We invaded 3 weeks ago. There has been 1 suicide attack in Israel (that I'm aware of). Any in America? On American embassies? On American targets? The so-called 'Arab Street'? They are in shock, literally. They have been shamed. And, in the shame-based culture of the Muslims, that is something they respect. We would be far more likely to experience further attacks if we had not attacked. Until you, and other anti-war protesters, realize that we are not dealing with a 'Western' enemy you're not going to understand that in the 'Face Culture' we are battling, they only respect strength. Any sign of weakness, and they consider compromise and diplomacy to be signs of weakness, is, to them, proof that they are stronger and encouragement to continue along the same path until complete victory is theirs. Just look at the history of Israel. Or for that matter study the history of this war. You do, of course, realize that this war began in 1979 and they began it with the storming of the US embassy in Iran. It might have taken the United States 24 years to strike back, 24 years which saw hundreds of dead Americans, but we have finally begun to fight back.
And we fought back as Americans. The most humane war in history. Even the Iraqis are claiming fewer than 500 civilian deaths. Less than 100 soldiers died. During Vietnam we were losing almost 200 a day.
Saddam Hussein has lost face if not his life. No Arab will follow him now. It's that simple in their culture. Yes, there will be other despots. There are right now in Syria, Saudi Arabia, and in other Middle East countries. But the people in those countries have now seen that their 'armies' (Iraq was their militarily strongest country) have absolutely no chance against American forces. And they have seen that liberty, freedom, and peace are possible.
Iraq will not become the 51st state anymore than France did when we liberated them or Germany or Japan did when we conquered them. If America wanted to be an Empire we'd have easily begun there, don't you think? Hell, we care so little about expansion that Puerto Rico isn't even a state yet. We're Americans. And damn proud to be so.
Stop worrying about attacks that may or may not happen. They have never attacked us because of anything we have done. They have always attacked us simply because of who we are.
And what we stand for.
Freedom. Liberty. Justice. Equality.
And, of course, what we stand against.
Tyranny. Injustice. Oppression.
God Bless the USA
:: Peter 4/10/2003 08:29:00 AM [+] ::
:: Wednesday, April 09, 2003 ::
For those opposed to the war, and for those who supported it, today is a day to realize that the liberation of Iraq, the liberation of the people of Iraq, is a tremendous and joyous event. Children, imprisoned for years by the regime which the anti-war protestors supported, are, once more, in their parent's arms. This is a joyous event.
Yes, people, innocent people, Americans, Iraqis and others, have died. And that is a tragedy. But a great evil has been defeated. It's not a time to wait for those against the war to admit their mea culpa and apologize. It's a time to realize that, once again, America was the world's beacon of liberty and freedom. To know, deep down, that America is, once again, on the side of the angels.
Just look at the torture chambers, the children's jails, the unburied bodies, or listen to the stories of the survivors of Iraq. In hindsight some people ask how it was that no one outside of the barbed wires seemed to know what was happening in the Nazi concentration camps. Well, it's easy to understand now, when you see pictures, still today, of Americans protesting the US government, calling America 'Evil' while they protect, sometimes with their lives, the regime of Saddam Hussein.
Is there even one person who was against the war who still thinks America should not have liberated Iraq? Should not have freed the children? Should not have carried out the most humane war in history?
Today is a joyous, glorious day. But it is just the beginning.
But today is still a glorious day.
They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. Here are some pictures.
SPONSORS: Ald. Ken Golden, Ald. Steve Holtzman, Ald. Paul Skidmore, Ald. Judy Compton, Ald. Gary Poulson, Ald. Matt Sloan, Ald. Mike Verveer, Ald. Judy Olson, Ald. Santiago Rosas, Ald. Brenda Konkel (even though not a fan of country music!)
WHEREAS, the Dixie Chicks have been vilified for being critical of President Bush and his handling of the war in Iraq; and
WHEREAS, in response to a mild criticism, a major backlash by some folks who are fans of country music has occurred. This backlash has included banning the playing of their CDs on the radio and destroying their CDs like a 19th century book burning; and
WHEREAS, the City of Madison has a strong tradition of encouraging free speech and dissent and has, in fact, congratulated itself by calling Madison the “City of Tolerance”; and
WHEREAS, the City currently lacks a country singing group with which it might have a constructive affiliation and partnership; and
WHEREAS, Madison is located in the heartland and is the Dairy State;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the City of Madison hereby expresses its support for the Dixie Chicks and their right to freely express dissent by criticizing the President of the United States.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the City of Madison, being an ecumenical sort of place, invites the Dixie Chicks to consider affiliating with the City and becoming Madison’s official country singing group.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that upon passage of this resolution, Council staff is directed to purchase a Dixie Chicks CD and arrange for it to be played during recesses at Council meetings for the balance of calendar year 2003.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that, while not required, the City of Madison would greatly appreciate the Dixie Chicks considering changing their name to the Heartland Chicks or the Dairyland Chicks (their choice) if this affiliation can be effectuated.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that if the Dixie Chicks come to the City of Madison, the Mayor is directed to give them the keys to the City, a bottle of French wine and a suitable welcome.
BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that a copy of this resolution shall be sent to the Dixie Chicks and to all country music stations in the greater Madison area.
The Kremlin yesterday announced that a quartet summit to be attended by the Russian President Vladimir Putin, the French President Jacque Chirac and the German Chancellor Gerhard Schreoder and the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan will be held in Petersburg on Friday and Saturday in order to discuss the role of the UN in Iraq after the war, amid controversy in the world decision making capitals from Moscow to Paris, Washington and London on legalizing the American- British invasion of Iraq and recognition of the legitimacy of the American authority in it, which loomed yesterday with the deployment of 20 American observers of the Iraq-reconstruction office which is led by the former US Gen. Garner to Um al-Qaser port in southern Iraq.
Palestinian journalist Ghassan Khatib. He’s the Director of the Institute of Modern Media at Al Quds University in Jerusalem. He offers the Palestinian perspective on the peace process and post-September 11th events.
So he's also a cabinet minister?
Nope, I'm still confused.
More from Khatib: Khatib said the Palestinians had started to fulfil their part of the bargain, working to reduce Palestinian violence and enact political and administrative reforms.
Yet while attacks on Israel had dwindled, Sharon continued killings of wanted Palestinian militants, he said.
"Yesterday I read the speech by Marine Major General J.N. Mattis to his 1st Marine Division in Kuwait on the eve of battle. Hundreds of you have asked that it be posted on my website. So … here goes:
For decades, Saddam Hussein has tortured, imprisoned, raped, and murdered the Iraqi people; invaded neighboring countries without provocation; and threatened the world with weapons of mass destruction. The time has come to end his reign of terror. On your young shoulders rest the hopes of mankind.
When I give you the word, together we will cross the Line of Departure, close with those forces that choose to fight, and destroy them. Our fight is not with the Iraqi people, nor is it with members of the Iraqi army who choose to surrender. While we will move swiftly and aggressively against those who resist, we will treat all others with decency, demonstrating chivalry and soldierly compassion for people who have endured a lifetime under Saddam's oppression.
Chemical attack, treachery, and use of the innocent as human shields can be expected, as can other unethical tactics. Take it all in stride. Be the hunter, not the hunted: Never allow your unit to be caught with its guard down. Use good judgment and act in the best interests of our nation.
You are part of the world's most feared and trusted force. Engage your brain before you engage your weapon. Share your courage with each other as we enter the uncertain terrain north of the Line of Departure. Keep faith in your comrades on your left and right and Marine Air overhead. Fight with a happy heart and strong spirit.
"For the mission's sake, our country's sake, and the sake of the men who carried the Division's colors in past battles--who fought for life and never lost their nerve--carry out your mission and keep your honor clean. Demonstrate to the world there is "No Better Friend, No Worse Enemy" than a U.S. Marine."
"It appears that the Bush administration will have succeeded in colonizing Iraq sometime in the next few days. This is a blunder of such magnitude -- and we will pay for it for years to come. It was not worth the life of one single American kid in uniform, let alone the thousands of Iraqis who have died, and my condolences and prayers go out to all of them.
So, where are all those weapons of mass destruction that were the pretense for this war? Ha! There is so much to say about all this, but I will save it for later."
Can't wait to hear about it. Thanks for sharing. Anything to add about the horrors and tragedies of countless Iraqi citizens at the hands of Saddam?
Usually I don't link to Lileks only because 1) everyone else does and 2) everyone already knows to read his columns. This, however, is a different kind of link. Here's the 'money' quote from his column dated 4/7/03:
"The lesson of Mogadishu: don’t draw any lessons from Mogadishu."
And, here's the headline from the Arab News, dated 4/8/03:
Thursday March 27, 09:53 PM
Rev. Jesse Jackson, left, Founder and President of Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, Inc. meets with Secretary General Kofi Annan, right, at the United Nations, Thursday, March, 27, 2003. (AP Photo/David Karp)