The continuation of Skiing Uphill and Boregasm, Zug is 'the little blog that could.'

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Name: Ed Waldo
Location: of The West,

I am a fictional construct originally conceived as a pen name for articles in the Los Angeles FREE PRESS at the 2000 Democratic Convention. The plume relating to the nom in question rests in the left hand of Hart Williams, about whom, the less said, the better. Officially "SMEARED" by the Howie Rich Gang . GIT'CHER ZUG SWAG HERE!

Friday, June 8, 2007

Truth, Justice and the Parisian Way

My faith in American justice is restored. For a moment, as if in a fever dream, shimmering, and dancing like a heat mirage on the highway, a celebrity was nearly treated like a normal person.

This morning, thankfully, that situation has been rectified; God is in his heaven, all is right with the world.

Paris Hilton was released by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department after serving three days of her 45-day sentence (which had already been halved).

That's the tale, at least, according to 2,354 news articles logged by Google.

Celebrities are different from you and me, to paraphrase Fitzgerald.

(And to paraphrase the apocryphal Hemingway: Yes, they have more celebrity.)

Alas, this case is far from over. The tabloids will continue to have enough fodder to populate the supermarket check out line with their sleazy voyeaurism and cheapjack "morality."*

(* The rich and famous are different from you and me. Oh yeah? And they're not the "moral" pukes that the tabloid readers fancy themselves. We may be dirt poor, but we're not sleazeballs like that Paris Hilton! This is the classical celebrity writing formula, hearkening back to the days of the silent movies.)

Paris is, after all, their creation. A massive attempt to invent her as the "It" girl, a modern day Louise Brooks (minus the talent, of course), for the personal amusement of the very NOT rich, and very NOT famous. Had Paris not existed, it would have been necessary to invent her.

Here's the 'breaking news':

Associated Press
Hilton Ordered Back to Court After All
By LINDA DEUTSCH 06.08.07, 12:00 PM ET

A judge ordered that Paris Hilton be brought to court Friday for a hearing on her early release from jail rather than listen to the proceeding by telephone.

The decision by Superior Court Judge Michael T. Sauer was announced by court spokesman Allan Parachini shortly before the start of a hearing that could put her behind bars again for violating probation in a reckless driving case.

"Judge Sauer has instructed the Sheriff's Department to go to Ms. Hilton's residence, pick her up and bring her here. That is happening now," Parachini told reporters outside the courthouse ...

According to the CNN top of the hour newsbreak, (11 AM PDT) Los Angeles news helicopters tracked Paris' shuttling via the Sheriff's Department on live TV. They foxed the army of slime reporters--the news corps(e) at its finest, the paparazzi class that stalked Princess Diana to her death and during her death (as in the British television special of the other night) -- the Deputies slipped Paris-in-handcuffs in through a side door.

This will undoubtedly provide masturbatory fodder to a generation I have very little understanding of. Paris in handcuffs. Almost as good a Paris lathering up a car in vaguely s&m brevity (the soul of lingerie, according to Ms. Parker) and eating a sloppy hamburger.

Or selling her (evidently consensual) porn-video via the internet. The consensual portion was NOT the sexual act (which was a given) nor the filming of the sexual congress (which was again a given) but in the tacit agreement that selling the tape might continue with Ms. Hilton probably receiving an unspecified cut of the net, or the gross, or a one-time settlement, etc. etc.

THAT was the consensual part that ought to offend us.

Because this whole sleazy "morality" play is part of that industry. I remember doing an interview with Andrew da Passano of Los Angeles' Temple of Esoteric Science in the late 1970s, and he made a point that has always remained with me:

The middle class was born sometime during the Renaissance. But they did not have the Coats of Arms of nobility, nor did they have the vestments of the clergy. So, to distinguish themselves from the nobility and the clergy (and to differentiate themselves from the peasants), they adopted "morality" as their "coat of arms."

And so, perhaps, was born that distinguishing trait of popular culture that Rupert Murdoch has made his fortune on: appeal to the base of the middle class with prurient morality. Find a child molester, and, while wallowing in an orgy of cheap moralizing (after all, who could possibly be FOR child molestation? and, therefore, one doesn't have to worry about anyone protesting one's MORAL conniption).

Murdoch can decry on FOX News the kind of T&A programming that watches the FOX Network, and draw the same audience for both.

Were I a biologist, I'd probably devise an experiment to see whether that cheap indulgence of the Censor, the Comstock Hangover, produced the same internal chemistry that an orgasm does. Because I have noticed its practitioners seem transcendently agitated, transported, if you will, by paroxysms of ecstasy at their OWN implicit rightness. Their Morality. Their goodness.

Just think of Nancy Grace of Court TV and CNN, whose orgasmic tantrums in the name of her idea of who's GUILTY! GUILTY! GUILTY! are reminiscent of KABC's anchor of days gone by, Christine Lund, who always got the juicy leads, because her look of Righteous Indignation was good for the "Top Rated Newscast in the Southland." But you can't have Little Comstocks without scandalous and famous miscreants. And you can't have supermarket tabloids, like THE STAR -- owned by Rupert Murdoch, natch.

And for that, you need Paris Hilton.

So, our popular culture has been defined by the Paris Hilton bad celebrity, going back to Robert Mitchum getting busted for pot in the fifties, to Theda Bara, to Clara Bow and her gang bangs with the USC football team (perhaps igniting Trojan John Wayne's love of acting), to Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle and beyond.

The cheap moralism that fuels that middle class tabloid culture requires Paris Hiltons. Without them, who would Christine Lund have to turn her surgically upturned nose up at?

This is DIFFERENT than, but serving the same audience as the O.J. Trial (Nicole Simpson), by the Laci Peterson, the Chandra Levy*, the Natalee Holloway, the JonBenét Ramsey mystery/murder ... the virgin sacrifice that the media keeps coming up. Yet it serves the same media.

[*Case dropped when it turned out the wrong guy killed her.]

I was surfing the web the other day, and there seems to be some missing girl in Kansas (Kelsey Smith, 1,586 related articles) just found in Missouri ... with a PHOTO ALBUM of her in a letter jacket, at a dance, etc. While it is not a literal necro-pedophilia, one cannot escape the feeling that there is not a strict firewall between this news cult of the Virgin Sacrifice (she must be white, and preferably blonde, BTW).

Here's how hard FOX is humping the story (from Wednesday, June 6):

Click here to see photos of Kelsey Smith.


MyFOX Kansas City:

Latest on Kelsey Smith Murder
Last Edited: Friday, 08 Jun 2007, 6:56 AM CDT
Created: Sunday, 03 Jun 2007, 3:56 PM CDT

The Search for Kelsey Smith in Photographs
OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- Cause of Death
FOX News Channel Reporter Jeff Goldblatt told FOX 4 that a "well-placed source" in the Overland Park Police Department said that Kelsey Smith died of strangulation.

And let's not forget that "Moral" CBN News.

No: Paris Hilton occupies the position of 'celebrity,' which is the coin of the realm. Else, why is the GOP so desperate to run Fred Thompson, a lawyer who fell into acting, acted his way into the Senate, returned to TV stardom and now forms an exploratory committee?*

[*It's already been leaked that he will, like Schwarzenegger, announce with maximum celebrity exposure on July 4.) This celebrity of Paris is not so different than that of Thompson's, after all. (And, rumors persist that Thompson's personal life has been more than a bit like Paris' after all.]

This is the deal with the devil that Paris Hilton makes for her celebrity: in return for the perks of celebrity, she gives up all claims to privacy. And she (we thought) could be made an example of by the courts and by the pettiest of the bourgeois.

But, alas, celebrity warped even the L.A. County Jail, and Paris was released to serve out her sentence under house arrest in the Mediterranean-style villa that The AGE (in Australial NOT owned by Murdoch) uses as the illustration for their news article:

Hilton back to court after release indignation

... Hilton thanked the sheriff's department and jail personnel "for treating me fairly".

"I am going to serve the remaining 40 days of my sentence. I have learned a great deal from this ordeal and hope that others have learned from my mistakes," she said.

And the ability to tittilate the cheapjack moralists with the "SHE GETS AWAY WITH IT!" and all the instantaneous memes of 'justice' and 'class warfare' can be roiled, to no effect, save to generate copy, sales, ad revenues and mindless controversy. We will now see great sober critics finding weighty matters of Great Portent in Paris Hilton's stupid DUI debacle. (Not any different than 1,000 cases seen every day in the Los Angeles courts, but usually, it's some guy named Jim and no one reports on it because nobody gives a damn about Jim. No, this is PARIS! The dirty Perky Patty of our multimedia version of Philip K. Dick's The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch.)

Here's a random core sample from the Collective Obnoxious (viapage 1 of Google News' listing of the 2,354 news articles logged. TELL me that there's no moral tittilation going on here:

Did Paris Get Special Treatment?

Don't Pick on Paris!

From Lockup to Lap of Luxury: Hilton's Release Sparks Questions

Paris Hilton brought to court in sheriff's custody for hearing

Paris heading to court for hearing

Paris back in court after row between Sheriff and judge

Handcuffed Hilton Heads Back to Court
Washington Post, DC - 44 minutes ago

Cuffed Hilton Heads Back to Court

Paris Hilton in new court hearing

Sheriff's Deputies Pick Up Paris Hilton

Paris Hilton taken to court in handcuffs

Paris Hilton led from her home in handcuffs

Paris Hilton handcuffed, taken to court

Hilton returns to court

LA judge orders Paris Hilton back to court

Paris out of jail for medical reasons

Judge orders Paris Hilton be brought back to LA court for hearing

Paris' U-turn: Judge orders her to appear in court after all

Judge orders Paris Hilton back to LA court for hearing on her ...

Paris Hilton Doesn't Have to Be in Court

Judge orders Paris back to court

Paris Hilton may go back to jail

Paris Hilton in court hearing via phone

Hilton won't be at court hearing

Hearing could send Hilton back to jail

Paris Hilton back in court

Judge calls hearing into Hilton's early release

Paris out of jail, but for how long?

Oh ... and all of those news stories were posted within the past FOUR HOURS from the moment that I write this sentence.

It's like I was told once in Hollywood: you got to understand, kid, ALL soap operas are shot from the point of view of the lower classes' IDEA of how the upper classes live.

So, a Rupert Murdoch can put a special on the FOX Network on Paris Hilton, that shows as much smutty footage as possible (walking right up to the line, wherever it happens to be at the time, in that dance that the Broadcast Media and the FCC have danced since the dawn of radio), while at the same time runnng a voice-over that pooh-poohs the 'bad girl antics' of Paris Hilton. And FOX Nooz can comment angrily on the tissue-thin rationalization that this ... this SOFT CORE PORNOGRAPHY is being broadcast as a serious documentary. And Rupert will make out on both ends of the deal: free publicity, more viewers.

And there will be a huge overlap in the audience that watches the cockumentary (sic) AND listens to the protestations of radical decency. And the fundamental contradiction won't bother that audience any more than it does Rupert Murdoch.

"Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me. They possess and enjoy early, and it does something to them, makes them soft, where we are hard, cynical where we are trustful, in a way that, unless you were born rich, it is very difficult to understand."

- F.Scott Fitzgerald, "The Rich Boy" (1926)
But, if we're so concerned about "crime and punishment," why don't you don't see a word, an image, a mention of the Center for Constitutional Rights' press release: CCR FILES LAWSUIT SEEKING INFORMATION ABOUT "GHOST DETENTIONS"?

Or what about the EPA's decision to "roll back" the Clean Water Act? (all 120 news articles)

U.S. adopts limits on clean water law enforcement
Isn't THAT at least as important as Paris Hilton's DUI probation woes?

But FOX? (In the time it took to write this post):

Breaking News >> Paris Hilton Taken From Court Screaming After Judge Orders Her Back to Jail

LOS ANGELES -- Paris Hilton was ordered back to jail on Friday, and was seen leaving the courtroom in tears screaming "Mom, Mom, Mom."

Hilton arrived in court Friday afternoon, sneaking past the media for the hearing that determined she was to be sent back to be jail. The sheriff's department that released her from prison picked her up at her home under judge's orders.

(Such is the nature of disposable news.)

Because secret prisons and Gitmo aren't 'sexy' enough for Nancy Grace, I guess.


Thursday, June 7, 2007

English Only What

I guess high schools either aren't teaching anything about the history of the Americas -- as opposed to "American History" which is invariably the History of the United States of America, or, as popularly known, U.S.A., USA, U.S., US, or "us" -- or else the high school students we've produced who can call in to radio talk shows specialized in math and not history.

I keep hearing about "English as the official language," and I wonder if they have any idea what they are saying. That ONLY English has ever been spoken in North America?

I wonder what was spoken by the Oneida, the Chippwa, the Klikitat and Paiute, the Shoshone and Commanche, Cheyenne, Sioux, Iriquois, Pawnee, Shawnee, Kiowa, Nez Perce, Navajo, Tohono O'odham (or, as known in Indian Country, "the tribe formerly known as Papago"), Cherokee, Hopi, Seminole, Creek, Commanche, Apache, Zuni, Arapaho, or any other of the five hundred nations that were here PRIOR to European incursion 500 years ago.

Or, what about the fact that half the names west of the Mississippi are Spanish, half are French, and another 65% are Native American in origin. The entire nation is awash in "Indian" names: Potomac, Massachusetts, Delaware, Pontiac, Michigan, Ohio, Wyoming, Oklahoma. Or what about Colorado, Nevada, California? Santa Fe. San Diego. San Jacinto. San Francisco (OK, I admit that "San Francisco" was renamed after the Mexican War by local white merchants, because they didn't think anyone would come from back East to settle in a place named "Yerba Buena"-- roughly, "good herbs"). We even have a state NAMED 'Indiana.'

We stole half of Mexico in the Mexican War, and called it, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Utah, Nevada and California. We bought most of the midwestern interior from Napoleon (French) who'd recently taken it (back, with interest) from the Spanish. The Russians were rapidly grabbing all the resources in Alaska, and the dominant, official language there was Russian, until they palmed off what they thought was an exhausted resource storehouse to the Post-Lincoln Administration: lesser remembered than "Seward's Folly" -- for Secretary of State William Seward -- is "Andrew Johnson's Polar Bear Garden." The latter is funnier, but wordier, to the eternal benefit of Seward parodists.

So, when was it that only English speaking peoples inhabited the area of the United States? The Spanish descendents of the original colonists of New Mexico are still there, and they arrived prior to the founding of Jamestown in 1607. Many Native American tribes can be traced back at least 2000 and often to 11,000 years.

What were they speaking before the English arrived with their "official" language?

I realize that English became the "official language" of New Amsterdam after the Dutch settlement was seized at gunpoint by the English. But is that the legitimacy of English for our official language?

Should New York City's example be the rule? And, if so, then do we cede that whoever shows up with a gun and tells us what THEIR idea of an "official language" is, is entitled to name our language by right of trial by combat? THAT's why we have to speak English ONLY?

Do we tell the Native Americans to kill their languages and only speak English from now on? Do we pretend that no great number of the "patriots" of the Revolution spoke German? Spoke Spanish? Spoke French? Spoke a dozen Native dialects, and conversed by sign as well?

Do we rename our states to whatever the English equivalent of that awful foreign name is? Do we rename our national parks and monuments into English, our Official language? Before you answer, please consider what "Grand Tetons" actually translates as in French.

(And consider how delirious the poor French trapper who named them must have been to come up with THAT descriptive. Onward.)

No: there is a viciously racist, xenophobic streak in the idea that "English" is. or ever could be the only language allowed in the USA.

But, for a language what was outlawed by the Norman Invaders, and was only spoken underground for centuries after the conquest of William in 1066, English, one would think, could be more tolerant of other languages. If we MUST get even with other languages for having had the temerity to be spoken, then ban French. It was French that became the "official" language of England, at the point of William's sword.

But, again, consider that if you do, vacations to Montreal and to Quebec will be right out. And that would be much more OUR national loss than theirs.

The premise that English has any other right than the right of the conqueror to pretend to be the one and only, official language of these United States is preposterous, on the face of it.

Like the immigration debate, this is actually about "brown people." And by that, I mean "Hispanic." (I know, "Latino," "Chicano," etc. etc. etc. -- you get the point.)

HALF of the illegal immigrants in the United States are NOT Hispanic by any connection of culture, melanin or language. But those brown people South of the Border are what they are invariably talking about when they talk about "illegal immigrants." And that is not about "the law," as it is about "the other." And about hate born of fear. Good old xenophobia, as practiced by virtually all anthropoids, but most expecially and artfully by Homo Sapiens. We are Sunni, they are Shi'ia. We are North, they are South; we are Protestant, they are Catholic; we are Christian, they are Musselmen; we are Germans, they are Jews; we are Normal, they are Perverts; we are Ashkenazi, they are Sephardic.

Perhaps you know a refrain or two. If not, you are undoubtedly humming along: it is the SOLE universal human song: destroy the other. "Destroy" and "other" permutate endlessly, according to fashion and prevailing conditions, but "destroy the other" is the song that humanity sings most often, and best.

That we stand against it is a quixotic oddity, but it is a position that must be taken, no matter how hopeless it might seem, or else cast off all pretence of morality or ethics. No: the unspoken language that must be destroyed is "Spanish" and the unspoken "other" that must be destroyed is "Messikans" -- in the traditional gap-toothed argot.

So, before we consider remaining silent in face of the NEW "Know Nothing" party, we need to remember that this national outpouring of anti-immigrant fervor and "groupism" is nothing new. Forget 'racism' or 'anti-Papists' or any other identifying characteristic -- it's a specific group designated as "other," and we have many shameful incidents in our national history of this practice, from the "Know Nothing"/AntiMasonic Party, to Andrew Jackson's virulent antipathy to the original inhabitants of North America, to the original KKK, the reformed 1920s KKK, the anti-Irish movement, the anti-Communist "Red Scare," the anti-Witch sentiment of the New England Puritans, the treatment of the Issei and Nisei on the West Coast aned their internment during the Second World War, the militia and skinhead movements ... oh, we've got a LOT of examples of "anti" some "other" movements.

So, while the "anti-immigrant." or "illegal immigrant" or whatever else this furore is about continues, don't be convinced that there's any nobility to it. Or that you should politely remain silent.

And "English only"?

From people who rarely speak it with any great facility themselves?

In a pig's eye.


5:44 BREAKING NEWS as I edit errata in this, the "Immigration Reform" bill is dying on the Senate floor.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Pls. Pardon the Tardiness of My Reply

Note: This was an actual response (augmented herein with links) to an actual email from an actual friend. And with a bit of magical editing, it seems particularly apt for today.
Dear [Mysterious Unnamed Person]:

Not meaning to make my own point, but please forgive the tardiness of this reply, as the world has become molasses around my ankles: while writing the last blog, the computer slowed down to the point that it was taking forever just to save a file, etc.

It's been like that transition from running on solid ground to running on the beach. You're running just as hard, but only going half as fast. And that sinking with every step seems to exhaust you much faster than running had, before.

Various important projects are mired to the axles in "things that came up" and generally, it's been tough sledding. I can't imagine that it ISN'T what the sun's doing. Looking at the SOHO pictures for today, I have a sinking feeling that another Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) just blasted straight at us. When our early warning system works right, the astronauts working in the space station have enough warning to go to the shielded "shelter" until the CME has passed.

So, how come, with all the dime-store astrologers meaningfully staring at their navels and ruminating mysteriously about the fidgets of Chiron (which is barely more than a slush ball, for land sakes, and which virtually no astrologer has ever seen, since you need an astronomer and a pretty decent-sized telescope for that) but those self-same astrologers are willing to give breathless warnings about a cross-harmonic of the vibrations between the fourth and sixth orbits; but a Mars-Saturn square has GOT to be less important to the "astral weather" for that day than a giant cloud of radiative and radioactive gunk on the borderline between matter and energy is.

Frankly, the sun looks like it's going bugfuck karazeee.*

[NOTE, as a Zug public service, we have added a "solar weather" link to the left sidebar.]

And this is supposed to be solar MINIMUM! Solar maximum (on an eleven-year cycle) doesn't happen until 2012. Anyway, it's been generally toxic during the day, and not a lot better at night.

I don't see where it's too far out of line to think that perhaps the subtle circuitry of the brain is affected when the sun is blasting one of its periodic tantrums our way. Sort of an astral tsunami blasting in on the solar wind. It's as reasonable an explanation as any other bit of soothsaying.

Speaking of soothsaying we have the 'market oracles.' Thomas Carlyle said: "Teach a parrot the terms 'supply and demand' and you've got an economist."

And yes, the economy IS sucky, and it's a measure of how 1984-ish this all is that the "Dow" is at record levels. Has everybody forgotten that the Bushies rewrote the grading curve when they got into office so that they'd always get an "A" on their self-graded report cards?

The Ministry of Truth keeps dutifully grinding out those smiley-face, have-a-nice-day press releases. The better it sounds, the worse it is. The Russians at the end of the Empire (Brezhnev, not Czarist) had figured out how to make sense of the "anti-news" that Pravda (literally, in Russian, "truth") pumped out every day. And they became very sophisticated at sorting the wheat from the chaff.

Too bad we haven't learned that one yet.

The dollar has devalued about 50% against the Euro, which has remained remarkably stable over the past decade. Energy prices have doubled and tripled. And gas prices aren't figured into the inflation figures. What? If you have a car to feed, there's nothing that sucks cash out of your pocketbook faster than gasoline. Which means that the "wild" purchases, the cool lighters, the magazines, the impulse buys that are often the profit margin in any small business, which all suffer. My wife does taxes (as do I, during season), and most of our yearly clients are small businesses, and right now they're ALL hurting.

But the government figures keep telling us how great the economy is.

And I feel like I'm running on the beach, but I notice that everybody seems to be running on that same beach, so perhaps you understand why this letter is so late.

And yes, it's good to laugh.




(D-Day + 63 ... years)

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Wyoming Timing

Ever since I was in college (or at university, according to your tastes) I have had an oven timer in my brain: when a story is ready, the bell goes off and it's time to write it.

And never before. Like that old Orson Welles wine commercial, we will scribe no script until it's time. That I made my living (writing for scrip) throughout the 1970s and 1980s entirely on writing deadlines is a peculiarity that I cannot entirely explain, except that the oven timer ended up set to go off at N-frantic hours or minutes before deadline. I once had an editor drive over to my apartment to collect my 5.25" floppy disk* and was literally finishing the story, and typing whatever it was that you typed to save in WordStar 3.0.

(*This was in 1986 - in 1988, at a typesetting shop in downtown Whittier, California, I booted their typesetting computer using giant 8- or 10-inch floppy disks. For some reason Compugraphic and Varityper, the duopoly of commercial typesetting in the '70s and '80s both reacted to the computer revolution by making each successive generation of typesetting machine BIGGER and BIGGER. Varityper went bankrupt in the late '80s or early '90s, I recall.)

And so, yesterday, I'd planned a crackerjack bit of bloggery, having to do with Wyoming, historicity, cowboy politics and the present Embezzlement ... er, Administration. But the oven timer never went 'ding.' If possible, it went anti-ding (whatever that is, perhaps the sound of an imploding lightbulb). And now I understand why.

Yesterday, one of Wyoming's senators, Craig Lyle Thomas of Cody, Wyoming (license plate county prefix code number '11') passed on, met his Maker, joined the Choir Invisible, crossed the Jordan, went to the last roundup or whatever other euphemism one chooses to express the thought that the gentleman died. After a battle with leukemia, leukemia won.

And it is appropriate to note that my oven timer was exactly right. It would have been inappropriate and looked silly to have written that Wyoming column on the same day as the Wyoming news of Mr. Thomas' passing.

Timing is a thing that defies explanation.

We express our empathetic sadness for the sorrow that Mr. Thomas' family and friends will feel, we recognize that our inevitable end is reflected in his passing, and move on. Thomas, the MSM is reporting, was a quiet man in the U.S. Senate, preferring to work behind the scenes. As such, it has been my observation that these are the most influential men in Washington, D.C. To have 'ascended' into that cess-pool of egos and power-grubbing (Power is to Washington, as Fame is to Los Angeles, as Money is to New York) and having retained one's humility to work behind the scenes, one can not imagine that Senator Thomas had NOT been effective, whether we agreed with his politics or not.

"He really was a champion for the issues important to us in the West, particularly us in any natural resource industry. He was consistently there for us... This is a real loss for the state of Wyoming of someone who has championed our issues and had some seniority in the Senate. It will be an adjustment for our industry not having Craig Thomas back there for us."

-- Jim Magagna, executive vice president, Wyoming Stock Growers Association

Thomas came to Washington in the election to fill Dick Cheney's House seat after George Bush the Elder tapped Cheney for his Secretary of Defense in 1989, after that vicious campaign against Massachusetts governor Michael Dukakis, featuring the "Willie Horton" ad, the "card carrying member of the American Civil Liberties Union" (the GOP is 'agin 'em), the pledge of Allegiance and other earth-shattering issues.

(Cheney had been a Washington GOP "carpetbagger" having been relocated BACK to Wyoming specifically to win the congressional seat and return to Washington, D.C. Wyoming, being the least populous state in the Union and, therefore, a cheap way to ensure two Republican Senators and one GOP congressperson -- the latter of which is currently the reprehensible Barbara Cubin, who's setting obscure records for absenteeism and general incompetence. You might call it hereinafter, the "Cheney Chair" for the Wyoming GOP.)

Mr. Thomas stepped into the senatorial shoes of returing Malcolm Wallop in 1994, becoming Wyoming's first senator with any hair on the top of his head since the 1980s. (Both Alan Simpson and Malcolm Wallop were as bald and White as cue balls.)

His 2000 margin of victory, 74%, ranks as one of the greatest pluralities ever recorded in a Wyoming state election. He was, by all accounts, hugely popular, flying back to the state "nearly every weekend" for meetings, events, and the rest of the bread and butter politics that don't generate much in the way of headlines.

The current Democratic* Governor of Wyoming, Dave Freudenthal, will appoint the replacement senator from three candidates chosen by the state GOP. This is, interestingly, exactly the same process by which Oregon counties replace (often) state representatives and senators, and works pretty amazingly. The meeting of the Wyoming state Republican ought to be a very interesting one, with TV cameras from as far away as Denver and even Billings, certainly from Casper and Cheyenne.

[*Democrats are elected in Wyoming as rarely as Bush family elections are run cleanly.]

You can read about it in the Casper Star-Tribune, or the Laramie Daily Boomerang (named, it turns out, after founder Bill Nye's favorite mule). Or the Cheyenne Tribune-Eagle, which will have the story from the Boomerang link.

And you will read about it in The Cody Enterprise*, Mr. Thomas' hometown paper. Cody, by the by, was named for its most famous resident, "Buffalo Bill" Cody, whose main residence was in North Platte, Nebraska, but who spent most of the year on the road with his "Wild West" show. During his early years, Cody would spend half the year out West, as a frontiersman, scout, buffalo hunter, and half the year back East, "treading the boards" as an actor.

[*There's no news about Thomas' passing as of this writing. They may be fishing, and have not got back to update their webpage, however. 1:27 PM PDT 2:27 PM MDT]

The coming months will possibly show Washington insiders that the late Senator's presence was more silently a pillar of community than had been previously known. It's like an offensive lineman in American football: the only time the crowd learns your name is when you've screwed up, so there's got to be SOME other compensation. The offensive linemen control the game. It's really astonishing how many head coaches are former offensive linemen, those 'quiet men.'

Senator Thomas might have been one of those quiet men. But, in a society in which 'celebrity' has become so important that it is much easier to get a book published if you have some celebrity than if you are a writer, Senator Thomas will not be much reported on, and we will never know.

And that's important, I think. It's a lot harder than you'd think to fill the news with mindless chatter than with information. Paris Hilton is in 'special' solitary confinement. Scooter Libby has been sentenced to prison for his role in stonewalling on the Valerie Plame outing by the White House.

The late senator was, additionally, that increasing rarity in American (and especially Western) politics: a local. Raised on a ranch near Cody, he graduated with a degree in agriculture from the University of Wyoming. Served four years in the Marines, and five years in the Wyoming state legislature. (No indication as to which was rougher.)

The AP reports:

Thomas was a low-key lawmaker who reliably represented the interests of his conservative state, often becoming involved in public lands issues. He worked in behind-the-scenes posts to oversee national parks.

Republican Mike Enzi, Wyoming's other senator, gave an emotional speech on the Senate floor Tuesday morning, his voice cracking as he spoke of his friend.

"Craig died as he lived, with his spurs on, fighting for Wyoming until the very end," Enzi said.

That last part is understandable hyperbole.