Tuesday, February 28, 2006

My Heroes Have Always Been Lawmen

This posting or this blog, or whatever you call it (remember that I am new at this) cries out, no, it screams out for pictures. But I do not know how to find pictures on the web to insert into my postings. And, even if I could retrieve pictures, I do not know how to insert them. I also do not know how to put links in my messages, but that is a whole other matter. I can't even get the SpellCheck to operate here, although I have no problems with MicroSoft Word or Gmail.

The world has experienced the loss of three (or four) dedicated lawmen recently. They will be missed by all law-abiding citizens of the U.S. of A.

First, the wise-cracking Detective Lenny Brisco of "Law & Order", my all-time favorite TV series, died, just as he was starting his new role on one of the many "Law & Order" spin-offs. Skillfully played by the venerable Jerry Orbach, he is a character I will always remember. It is really hard for me to forget him since I watch reruns of "Law & Order" almost every night on TNT, TNT, TNT. While I do sometimes watch the spin-offs, Such as CI, and SVU, none holds a candle to the original series, with its changing but always excellent cast (with the exception of the blond assistant D.A., Rohm, I think her name was, who was canned).

Next to die was the unforgettable Deputy Barney Fife of "The Andy Griffith Show" fame. Many a night I watched, in glorious black-and-white, Don Knotts, Andy Griffith, Ron Howard and the rest of the Mayberry ensemble of wierd characters that would do Austin, Texas proud. I still catch some reruns on TV-Land. While Don Knotts played other roles in the movies and other TV series, he will always be Barney Fife to me. So why not let us finally load that single bullet into his pistol and give him a one-pistol salute.

Then today comes word of the death of Chester, Marshall Matt Dillon's trusty gimpy sidekick on "Gunsmoke", another favorite TV show of my youth. Dennis Weaver played the role to perfection. Come Saturday night at 10:00 P.M., I and millions of others tuned into "Gunsmoke" on Network TV. It was on CBS, as I recall. There were only three networks at the time, CBS, NBC, and ABC, but we only got CBS on WBTV out of Charlotte, 100 miles away. The other networks would come later. Via the TV antennas on our houses we really saw more "snow" than clear pictures at times. But, it was wonderful entertainment. It was a more simple, innocent time. We all loved Marshall Dillon and the saloon owning Miss Kitty. It never occured to us that they were shacking up, and that Miss Kitty was the Madam/Whore with a heart of gold. Another wonderful cast: James Arness (Matt Dillon), Dennis Weaver (Chester), Amanda Blake (Miss Kitty) & Milburn Stone (Doc, but not "the Doc") . Burt Reynolds was also in the cast at a later time, playing a blacksmith, but I do not remember his character's name, and if I saw him, it was forgettable, unlike his "Bandit" character in the Smokey and the Bandit movies. I know there are "Gunsmoke" reruns out there on cable, but I could not watch them and enjoy them with my adult's more jaded eye.

Later, Dennis Weaver played Deputy Marshall Sam McCloud on the series "McLeod", hence the above reference to the loss of four lawmen. But, Dennis Weaver will always remain Chester in my memories. I do not recall "McLeod", except for a single episode with him riding a horse in New York City. As I recall, this series alternated with two other mysteries, one of which was "McMillan and Wife", starring Rock Hudson and Susan Saint James. I don't recall the other series. None of them were favorites of mine...Give me "Law & Order" !

Although he died years ago, I remember Jack Lord ("book'em Danno) of "Hawaii 5-O". Another favorite of mine, still living, as far as I know, was Peter Falks's Detective ("Just one more thing") Columbo on the series of the same name.

I have loved TV and movie and novel detectives all my life. I will probably remember more right after I complete this posting. I am saddened by the death, in such a short period of time, of three wonderful actors who gave me hours of pleasure. I'll have to catch them on cable TV reruns, where they will live forever.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

When "Rights" are Wrong

I'm not talking about "universal rights", because these cosmic entities are beyond the scope of this brief blog entry, nevermind that this entire concept is beyond the comprehension of this simple blogger. I am not even talking about "human rights", which are international in nature, and thus not apropos to this communique. Rather, I'm talking about "citizen rights".

These "citizen rights" should apply to all citizens of the United States of America. They are not meant to apply to illegal aliens, tourists, visiting students, or any other group of non-citizens. If such were the case, there would be no need to identify "Women's Rights", "Black Rights", "Latino Rights", "Gay Rights", etc., ad nauseum. I am already in trouble. Maybe we should be talking about "African-American Rights", "Chicano Rights", "Gay & Lesbian Rights", etc. See What I mean? The entire scope of the list is inconceivable. Everyone is a minority in one sense or another. We could completely Balkanize the country if we follow this way of thinking.

If we truly recognized the concept of "citizen rights" in all aspects of our society there would be no need for the Equal Rights Amendment, The Voter's Rights Act, or the Civil Rights Acts, Gay Marriage Laws, or other similar such legislation.

A simple example follows:

If married couples qualify for advantageous treatment by the IRS, Health Insurance Companies, lending institutions, and the estate laws, to name but a few entities, should not such benefits be available to other established households. Examples of such households are easy to enumerate: (1) Adult siblings living together; (2) adult children living with a parent or parents (not just minor children or children still classified as students); (3) heterosexual couples who live together but not really "common law" marriages, whatever that entails (I'm not clear about the rights of such relationships-How long does a couple have to shack up before the relationship is deemed a common law marriage? If citizen rights apply, the duration of the relationship is immaterial) ; and, of course, (4) gay couples (again the length of the relationship is immaterial, if the relationship exist at the time of the benefit, it should be extended).

There are other examples available. Maybe readers will offer others. Just go back to the Constitution. Extend equal rights to all citizens. Eliminate the need for self-serving special interest groups. Avoid the devisive influence of such groups. Work for the good of all citizens.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Labels, Labels, Labels...Who am I?...Who are You?

To my Mom, I am "Son", To my children, I am "Dad". To my wife, I am "Dear" (sometimes). To many I am "Doctor". To my brother, I am "Brother". To a precious few I am "Friend".

I am a Senior Citizen, a card-carrying member of AARP, who enjoys some of the association's benefits, but disagrees with it's politics. I am a proud Veteran of our Armed Forces, having served for three years in the Medical Corps in Germany. I was fortunate in that the Army did not need Pediatricians in Viet Nam. I do not think I would have gone to Canada if ordered to Nam. As I veteran I prefer USAA insurance for myself and my family.

I am a now semi-retired Pediatrician. I love working with children. I hate seeing children used and exploited for political purposes. When I see some politician saying that some bill or proposed program is "For the Kids" I cringe.

I am Caucasian. I am a heterosexual (ie, Straight) Male. I am a Southerner. I am a Presbyterian, but I have a questioning faith. By definition, I am a "WASP". I am a registered independent, but vote Republican.

I am one of the lucky ones, a cancer survivor. My survival probably had more to do with the type of cancer I had and it's early detection than with any other factors.

I was a school board member, but one child attended a private high school when I left the board.

I am definitely opinionated, but I do not have a closed mind. I can change, and have changed, my opinion when challenged by intelligent reasoned argument and discourse.

Most consider me a "Conservative". None consider me a "Liberal". But, I favor gun control. I would hate to see abortions illegal again. I have witnessed the death of young women who had botched illegal abortions. One should not get the death penalty for having sex. On the other hand I abhor the idea of abortions being used as a convenient means of birth control, especially the henious late third trimester abortions. However, I do favor the death penalty, if it is applied in a timely manner. I feel certain acts in our society demand the forfeiture of one's life as the proper penalty.

I am really not in favor of prayer in the public schools. Personally, I never found the morning devotionals, that were the norm when I was in school, to be profound religious experiences. But an invocation prior to a commencement does not seem out of place. However, prayers before a sporting event seem comical to me. Religious teachings are best left to our churches and our homes.

I am for equal rights for all, but I deplore all the self-serving special-interest groups espousing their specific rights under various banners. But, this whole topic is worthy of a separate future posting. Special-interest groups are devicive, for the most part. I am for unity. Many special-interest groups often forment discontent to justify their own existence. Without such discontent, there would be no use for such groups and they would wither away.

I consider myself a capitalist, but cringe when the bottom-line mentality drives American jobs overseas. We are a consumer society, but without jobs, without paychecks, we will cease to be consumers. Where will that leave us all. I don't really understand economics. What I consider good news often sends Wall Street into a tailspin. And vice-versa. Is there such a thing as real "free trade"?

I am a physician, but, stupidly and to my children's chagrin, I smoke an occasional cigar, so I guess that makes me a smoker. But, I don't think that should make me a second class citizen. I know the risks, and if I get sick because of this pleasure (or vice), it's not the tobacco company's fault. I very much dislike the "victim industry".

I am both a majority and a minority, depending on how I am labeled.

These thoughts are only the surface. I am really even more complex. So, who am I? And, who are you?