- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 9, 2005

Gipper at U.Va.

A symbolic “Berlin Wall” will be torn down tonight on the University of Virginia campus, as the Network of Enlightened Women (NEW) — called the nation’s pre-eminent college conservative club for women — celebrates World Freedom Day.

The fall of the Berlin Wall began Nov. 9, 1989. Tonight’s symbolic tearing-down takes place at 10:30 p.m. — the approximate time the Bornholmer Strasse border opened.

Throughout today, Karin Agness tells Inside the Beltway, NEW members will distribute copies of the Constitution to U.Va. students, who also will have the opportunity to write letters to women in Afghanistan and Iraq celebrating their newly restored freedoms.

During a vigil this evening, the Charlottesville campus founded by Thomas Jefferson will reverberate with the audio of President Reagan’s historic “Tear down this wall” speech.

Poor and plump

Judging from the stack of correspondence in our mailbox — from as far away as Italy — Americans are indeed obsessed with food.

We’d written earlier about congressional passage of the Personal Responsibility in Food Consumption Act, which states that Americans ought to know when they’ve had their fill of cheeseburgers.

In other words, Congress finds that the quantity of food one shoves into his or her mouth comes down to “personal responsibility,” especially in an age when “frivolous” lawsuits purporting “overconsumption” and “obesity” have run amok.

Miki Rosco, an Italian writer, was so intrigued by what she witnessed of America’s food consumption that she penned an article for the October 2005 issue of Ulisse, the in-flight magazine of Alitalia.

“I first noticed it as a tourist in New York,” she writes, “when I saw that the fast-food restaurants were full of incredibly fat [black] Americans, while Central Park was full of ultra-fit whites clearly from the affluent part of society running along the park avenues in their costly attire.”

As she concludes: “The poor are fat and the rich have become thin, another of the curious paradoxes of our time.”

Major exhibit

Georgetown gallery owner Marsha Ralls hosted a private reception Monday evening to introduce a valuable collection of — and wish a happy 80th birthday to — famed artist Robert Rauschenberg.

The Marine veteran, who studied art in Paris on the G.I. Bill, began an artistic revolution when searching for a new way of painting that he, and ultimately the world’s art community, dubbed “combines.”

One of his earliest combines, “Monogram” in 1959, got credit for altering the course of modern art — not surprising, considering Mr. Rauschenberg displayed a stuffed angora goat’s head, a tire, a police barrier, the heel of a shoe and a tennis ball.

To honor the American artist, more than 400 of his creations — including works on paper displayed at the Ralls Collection — recently were exhibited at the Guggenheim Museum.

Miss Ralls told a large gallery crowd that it was Mr. Rauschenberg, during a reception in his New York loft more than two decades ago, who encouraged her to take her first college art-history class. Upon graduation, she went to work for him.

“I owe all of this today to Bob,” she said.

The exhibit continues through Jan. 28.

Bench bingo

Joseph A. Tranfo is proprietor of a popular Catholic-based Web site named Benedict, covering contemporary culture, including politics, religion and entertainment.

What does the name Benedict mean?

“I couldn’t come up with a better name,” he says. “The more I thought about Benedict, the more the name grew on me. I like the etymological roots of the name, I like the relationship to Roman Catholicism (14 popes, one anti-pope and the estimable St. Benedict of Nursia, founder of the Benedictine Order), and I like eggs Benedict.

Benedict Arnold is, unfortunately, a problem.”

That explained, Mr. Tranfo notes that a confirmation of Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. to the Supreme Court would result in a Catholic majority on the bench. He thought it timely, therefore, to speculate on potential changes in store for the august institution, including:

Meat-less Fridays in the court cafeteria; oral arguments in Latin; the bones of Chief Justice John Marshall disinterred and placed in a glass coffin in the center of the bench; collections between each session of oral argument; Supreme Court windows replaced with stained glass; incense at the start of each session; Supreme Court opinions deemed infallible and unreviewable by any earthly authority; and last but not least, Wednesday night bingo.

John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or jmccaslin@washingtontimes.com.

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