The Virtues of Gambling, by The Peever

– Bumper sticker of the week: A closed mouth gathers no feet.

– Quote of the week: "What is freedom for, if not to live where nobody can tell you who to be, or who not to be? What is freedom for, if not the chance to define for yourself who you are?" What Should I Do With My Life, Po Bronson

– The bottom: In the alcohol and drug field, we talk about people "hitting the bottom." This means that their addiction has taken them to the end of the road. There’s nowhere else to go. They’re down and out. In reality, there are a lot of people born at the bottom. There are many people who shouldn’t be parents. Their children are already at the bottom when they’re born. Alcohol and other drugs makes it impossible for them to rise above that bottom. It takes away their hope for a better day. There’s no wondering where hell’s at when you see this.

– Crisis politics 101: A nation in crisis. 9/11, Afghanistan, Iraq, soon to be Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, North Korea, Turkey, Palestine. Crisis politics requires us to eliminate "danger" before it begins. And besides, a good crisis is quite popular. It helps prop up what might otherwise be thought of as relatively incompetent leadership. This administration has done nothing notable for anyone but the rich. Bush and his merry band of right-winged oilmen have wrapped themselves up in the American flag and can be heard singing "Onward Christian Soldiers" during their daily prayer vigils at the White House. Americans, being the gullible lot we are, eat this stuff up like it’s filet mignon. The whole thing seems nothing more than a tragic drama being played out in the midst of a bad case of national paranoia. And to top it all off, Bush lands on an aircraft carrier, now thousands of miles from the war zone, dressed in the latest warrior garb, pronouncing the latest crisis over and that he somehow has seemingly been responsible for saving mankind. Chalk another one up for Marketing 101. Seems the world has nothing to fear but us, a diabolical twist on FDR’s famous words. This administration has caught us in a paradox that can only lead to death, destruction, fear, and hopelessness. How can madmen bent on conquering the world for their own financial benefit lead us towards peace, reconciliation, compromise, sanity, and sustainability?

– Another of our right-winged Christian brothers bites the dust: The moral conscience of America, William Bennett, seems to have found his luck hard pressed in Vegas. Bennett, former Secretary of Education under Reagan and Drug Czar under Bush I, finds himself on the short end of his own "how to live morally" vignette. Author of such righteous books as "The Book of Virtues," "The Children’s Book of Virtues," and "The Broken Hearth: Reversing The Moral Collapse of the American Family," Bennett seems to have lost somewhere in the neighborhood of 8 million dollars over the last several years. Immediately, one of his right-winged buddies, Chuck Colson, reformed and reborn after doing time for his role in Watergate, defends him with the Biblical proclamation, "all have fallen short of the glory of God." This is the brand of Christianity I have trouble with. These folks seem to get reborn at very convenient times. I don’t have trouble with people making mistakes. But take one of Bennett’s books, "The Death of Outrage: Bill Clinton and the Assault on American Ideals." Where exactly is it that Bennett gets off judging Clinton? Now suddenly when the tables are turned, it’s all in God’s hand. Bennett and his fellow right-wingers should get together and write a book, "How to Deceive the Public for Fun and Profit." It may not be the best seller they’re use to, but at least it would be honest.

– The Great Wall of Galesburg: This waiting is what I can’t stand. The wondering. The unknowing. The feeling that no matter what the color, it still won’t be right.

– Some considerations when choosing a town to live in:

• Mountains are nice, but think of the price.

• I like the water for play, but think of the taxes you’ll pay.

• Skiing is fun in the North, but the weather is harsh.

• Is there crime in the town. There’s probably a prison around.

• Brick streets are cool, but what about the schools?

• And last but not least are the people you meet.

Make sure they’re not morons.