It must have been about four-something o'clock Friday afternoon when I went out to check the mailbox and fetch the afternoon newspaper. Yes, Omaha's that kind of place; we have an afternoon edition of the World-Herald.
Monday, June 30, 2008
It must have been about four-something o'clock Friday afternoon when I went out to check the mailbox and fetch the afternoon newspaper. Yes, Omaha's that kind of place; we have an afternoon edition of the World-Herald.
Friday, June 27, 2008
The beat. The beat . . . hey . . . the beat . . . hey . . .the beat . . . hey . . . the beat. The beat beat beat.
WE GOT THE BEAT. It's in the air. It's in your hair. It will tear. If you bear . . . the beat. Hey. The beat. Hey. The beat.
What's the beat? I repeat. I repeat the beat.
Hey. The beat. Hey. The beat.
It started before time, it took off with jive, it's the heartbeat of life, and it'll cut like a knife.
IT'S THE BEAT. Hey. The beat. Hey. The beat.
3 Chords & the Truth got the beat. 3 Chords & the Truth is the beat. 3 Chords & the Truth wants your dancin' feet.
Dancin'. Dancin' to the beat. Hey. The beat. Hey. The beat.
The beat. 3 Chords & the Truth. Be there. Aloha.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
A long time ago, I was stupid enough to enter my local university. There, I worked hard for a long time, both in the classroom and on the campus daily, and emerged some years later with something called a "journalism degree."
After graduation, I -- along with a great many similarly deluded young people -- went to work for American newspapers. Some of us became reporters. Others, copy editors. Some of us have been both . . . and other things in the media world, as well.
Generally, we all worked hard to know our communities backwards and forwards. And, generally, we all became proficient enough in our areas of expertise that -- before the advent of the World Wide Web -- we, the oracles of The Daily Blab, became daily settlers of bar bets.
And though we already were native speakers (and writers) of English, we still worked to sharpen our writing skills and become even more expert in English grammar and usage.
Even amid a dying newspaper industry, journalists thought that native-speaker thing, at least, would save them from being "outsourced." We thought our college degrees were worth something -- well, worth something economically. We thought we had "bettered ourselves" in some tangible manner.
WE THOUGHT LIKE LIT . . . which is a bawdy and scatological cultural reference that Apu in New Delhi will let slip past him -- and into The Daily Blab -- every time. From The Associated Press:
An Indian company will take over copy editing duties for some stories published in The Orange County Register and will handle page layout for a community newspaper at the company that owns the Pulitzer Prize-winning daily, the newspaper confirmed Tuesday.WE'RE ALL DISPOSABLE. Yes, we are.
Orange County Register Communications Inc. will begin a one-month trial with Mindworks Global Media at the end of June, said John Fabris, a deputy editor at the Register.
Mindworks' Web site says the company is based outside New Delhi and provides "high-quality editorial and design services to global media firms ... using top-end journalistic and design talent in India."
Editors at Mindworks will work five shifts a week for one month, performing layout for the community paper and editing some stories in the flagship Register, Fabris said. Staffing at the company will not be affected, he said.
Fabris did not specify which community newspaper would be laid out by Indian designers.
"This is a small-scale test, which will not touch our local reporting or decision-making. Our own editors will oversee this work," Fabris said in an e-mail to The Associated Press. "In a time of rapid change at newspapers, we are exploring many ways to work efficiently while maintaining quality and improving local coverage."
And the Bolshevik Revolution happened for a reason. I'm just sayin'.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is furious that the U.S. Supreme Court told his state, "No, you can't execute child-rapers," but plans to do nothing about it -- beyond affecting outrage in a bid to placate Bubba -- so the justices have no excuse to strike down his reform agenda.
WHAT THE GUB'NA has failed to address is that Louisiana's penchant for killing murderers -- and trying to kill those who rape kids -- seemingly has done nothing to lower the stratospheric rate at which its citizens assault, maim, bugger and slay one another. In a state where life already is cheap, government policy has been to make it even cheaper by dispensing death sentences like so many Chiclets out of a penny gum machine.
And in a state where educational achievement has always lagged, Louisianians never have figured out, exactly, that death + death = more death. Not respect for life.
Neither have they figured out that kiddie rape + death = one dead rapist plus a lot more live ones in the pipeline. Death is no "deterrent" to people already sick enough to rape children. And the state's murder of killers and rapists capable of being punished and removed from society without use of the death penalty is not justice . . . or punishment.
It is vengeance. The modern state has no business in the vengeance business. The vengeance business is the monopoly of the Almighty.
YOU'D THINK SOMEONE who styles himself as something of a Catholic apologist would know that. And you'd think that someone who goes around writing essays about the Catholic Church being The Church would pay a little bit more attention to its clear teaching:
INSTEAD, THIS is what we get from Louisiana's holier-than-thou chief executive, who suddenly discovered the joys of "cafeteria Catholicism," where you get to pick and choose the moral truths that suit you:
Legitimate defense can be not only a right but a grave duty for one who is responsible for the lives of others. The defense of the common good requires that an unjust aggressor be rendered unable to cause harm. For this reason, those who legitimately hold authority also have the right to use arms to repel aggressors against the civil community entrusted to their responsibility.
The efforts of the state to curb the spread of behavior harmful to people's rights and to the basic rules of civil society correspond to the requirement of safeguarding the common good. Legitimate public authority has the right and the duty to inflict punishment proportionate to the gravity of the offense. Punishment has the primary aim of redressing the disorder introduced by the offense. When it is willingly accepted by the guilty party, it assumes the value of expiation. Punishment then, in addition to defending public order and protecting people's safety, has a medicinal purpose: as far as possible, it must contribute to the correction of the guilty party.
Assuming that the guilty party's identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.
If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people's safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity with the dignity of the human person.
Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm—without definitively taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself—the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity "are very rare, if not practically non-existent."
[Emphasis mine -- R21]
"I am outraged by the Supreme Court's decision. It is an affront to the people of Louisiana and the jury's unanimous decision in this case. The opinion reflects a clear abuse of judicial authority, trampling the constitutional authority of states to act through the legislative process. The Court found, 'there is a distinction between intentional first degree murder on the one hand and nonhomicide crimes against individual persons, even including child rape, on the other. The latter crimes may be devastating in their harm, as here, but in terms of moral depravity and of the injury to the person and to the public, they cannot be compared to murder in their severity and irrevocability.'IF SOME SICK S.O.B. brutally raped a daughter of mine, would I want him dead? Would I be capable of killing him myself, in cold blood? Probably so.
"The Supreme Court is dead wrong. It is fundamentally improper for the Supreme Court to base an important decision like this on its 'independent judgment' about a perceived 'national consensus against capital punishment for the crime of child rape.' The opinion reads more like an out-of-control legislative debate than a constitutional analysis.
One thing is clear: the five members of the Court who issued the opinion do not share the same ‘standards of decency' as the people of Louisiana. One Justice said that 'the death penalty is not a proportional punishment for the rape of a child.' That is incredibly absurd. The most repugnant crimes deserve the harshest penalties, and nothing is more repugnant than the brutal rape of an eight-year-old child.
We will evaluate ways to amend our statute to maintain death as a penalty for this horrific crime."
And I would expect that, in a civilized and just world, I would be arrested and put away for a long, long time. My desire to see that rapist dead -- and my ability to make it a do-it-yourself project -- is not a reflection of my goodness, but instead of what a fallen, wretched and sinful creature I am.
The state exists to help save me from myself and -- failing that -- to save others from my baser instincts. Even crooks.
When the state decides it's against only some baser instincts -- and not only that, but decides it will codify some of our baser instincts . . . provided they're carried out only against the "right" people -- the barbarians no longer are at the gate, but are running the show.
You'd think that an Ivy League-educated, Catholic-apologist governor would know that. But, like his empty promises of "transparency" and "reform," that would be just another "bridge too far."
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Is it a bad thing when -- wondering why there's nothing coming out of a corner downspout despite the ongoing deluge -- you venture out after the rain lets up, ready to pull a few fistfuls of leaves and "helicopters" out of the spout and come up empty, only to look up and see . . . @#$&*%! maple trees growing in the gutter?
ADD THAT to our crumbling concrete-and-cinder block stoop. And the hill we live on that's . . . uh . . . shifting under us. Front walks don't like that. Neither do driveways or foundations.
So far, the only advantage I find to home ownership is having a fenced yard for the dogs to do what dogs do (or doo) and a spot to grow a garden.
Maybe I wouldn't mind home ownership so much, well into middle age, if I had a smaller house with a radically smaller yard. Not on a freakin' hill. Good luck with that in Omaha, however -- the no-hill part, that is.
Last evening, I abused my back cutting scrub mulberry trees out of the flora we actually wanted to keep. (Hell, there's probably some mulberry saplings in the gutter, too.) Mulberries are the crack cocaine of birds and squirrels.
The only difference between mulberries and crack, apparently, is that people crack doesn't cause diarrhea -- at least not that I've heard. Critter crack does . . . at least in birds.
So, the damn trees had to go, and my 47-year-old back had to pay the price. But at least I got to eat the mulberries . . . tasty. But why do I have this overpowering urge to go poop on the car?
Monday, June 23, 2008
I can't believe it. It can't be. But the wires say otherwise: George Carlin is dead.
It was heart failure, and he was just 71.
I DON'T THINK one can overestimate the impact Carlin's humor had on those of us of a certain age. And, of course, it was Carlin who introduced "seven dirty words" to the national consciousness with his routine “The Seven Words You Can Never Say On TV.”
WBAI played them on radio in New York; it went all the way to the Supreme Court . . . and we ended up studying what happened in media-law class at journalism school. The upshot: You can't say 'em on the radio, either.
Al Sleet, rest in peace.
You too, George Carlin.
Sunday, June 22, 2008
To tell you the truth, if their enraged, paranoid, lunatic rantings are what Americans get to see of the Crescent City, they might be right. And America certainly would have its reasons.
HERE'S THE latest rant -- referencing this post -- your Mighty Favog has gotten from one of the Noo Orluns Wrecking Crew (a title infused with multiple layers of meaning). It's from a Big Easy (HA!) blogger by the name of Schroeder:
Schroeder said...HERE IS my response, though I must admit I barely knew where to start:
Let's see what New Orleans has had to defend itself from. Let's see who's disgracely exploited the victims of one tragedy in the Midwest to vilify victims of another tragedy in New Orleans.
Here's Rush Limbaugh:
"I look at Iowa, I look at Illinois—I want to see the murders. I want to see the looting. I want to see all the stuff that happened in New Orleans. I see devastation in Iowa and Illinois that dwarfs what happened in New Orleans. I see people working together. I see people trying to save their property…I don’t see a bunch of people running around waving guns at helicopters, I don’t see a bunch of people running shooting cops. I don’t see a bunch of people raping people on the street. I don’t see a bunch of people doing everything they can…whining and moaning—where’s FEMA, where’s BUSH. I see the heartland of America. When I look at Iowa and when I look at Illinois, I see the backbone of America."
So, Rush Limbaugh "wants" to see murders and looting in the Midwest? Really? Wow, there's a real standup conservative. Not to mention, his accounting of the comparative damages would be laughable, if it weren't so despicable. Good Americans don't count the casualties and use them as tools of a partisan political campaign of defamation.
What's more, people in the Midwest are "whining" and there has been looting, and there has been the need to use troops to deter criminals. The reports of murders in New Orleans were exaggerated by the carpetbagging press which chose to sensationalize rather than fact check.
The scale of tragedy in New Orleans is on a par which no one should wish upon anyone. To vilify the proud American citizens of New Orleans and Louisiana, who's sons and daughters bled for this nation's freedoms as much as any from the Midwest or anywehre else, is a complete abomination, and the sign of a weak mind.
New Orleanians didn't help themselves? How else did they survive for days before your commander in chief proclaimed, "you're doing a heckuva job Brownie." They got into their boats and rescued babies and elderly. They distributed their own food supplies and water. They gutted each other's homes despite a complete lack of support from your commander in chief after he proclaimed that he would "do what it takes" to help this great city rebuild.
No one is more critical of Ray Nagin and Governor Blanco for their role in bungling the relief and recovery than are New Orleanians. But far more blame may be assigned to that two-faced liar occupying the White House. Bottom line: If George W. Bush kept his word, we wouldn't be having this discussion in the first place.
Last word: If you aren't here in New Orleans trying to understand and helping to rebuild after the greatest manmade disaster in this nation's history, then keep your uncharitable attitudes to yourself. May God strike you down for being such a wicked SOB.
The Mighty Favog said...
You are a #&%@ing whack job.
With that kind of attitude, you're wondering why a lot of America would just as soon see Noo Orluns sink into the sea and leave them the hell alone?
Listen, I am your (well, at least New Orleans') friend. I was born and raised in Baton Rouge. My family has been in Louisiana since before "les Americains" were.
I now live in Omaha and, thus, have gained a hell of a lot of perspective about how others perceive N.O. and Louisiana.
I was TRYING to tell you perpetually enraged Defenders of New Orleans that you are harming your cause with your insane rants and uncharitable attitude toward suffering in the Midwest -- suffering you ought to empathize with.
Rush Limbaugh is a piss ant. He is unimportant.
Do unto others, Cap. Do unto others.
BTW, if you want to take up the "may God strike you down" banner . . . it would seem that God got to y'all first. If that's how you think the Almighty rolls.
Damn lunatic. Good grief.
Here's a little advice for you from Robert Burns:
To a Louse
Ha! whaur ye gaun, ye crowlin ferlie?
Your impudence protects you sairly;
I canna say but ye strunt rarely,
Owre gauze and lace;
Tho', faith! I fear ye dine but sparely
On sic a place.
Ye ugly, creepin, blastit wonner,
Detested, shunn'd by saunt an' sinner,
How daur ye set your fit upon her-
Sae fine a lady?
Gae somewhere else and seek your dinner
On some poor body.
Swith! in some beggar's haffet squattle;
There ye may creep, and sprawl, and sprattle,
Wi' ither kindred, jumping cattle,
In shoals and nations;
Whaur horn nor bane ne'er daur unsettle
Your thick plantations.
Now haud you there, ye're out o' sight,
Below the fatt'rels, snug and tight;
Na, faith ye yet! ye'll no be right,
Till ye've got on it-
The verra tapmost, tow'rin height
O' Miss' bonnet.
My sooth! right bauld ye set your nose out,
As plump an' grey as ony groset:
O for some rank, mercurial rozet,
Or fell, red smeddum,
I'd gie you sic a hearty dose o't,
Wad dress your droddum.
I wad na been surpris'd to spy
You on an auld wife's flainen toy;
Or aiblins some bit dubbie boy,
But Miss' fine Lunardi! fye!
How daur ye do't?
O Jeany, dinna toss your head,
An' set your beauties a' abread!
Ye little ken what cursed speed
The blastie's makin:
Thae winks an' finger-ends, I dread,
Are notice takin.
O wad some Power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!
It wad frae mony a blunder free us,
An' foolish notion:
What airs in dress an' gait wad lea'e us,
An' ev'n devotion!
Hey! Revolution 21 is now part of Twitter nation.
Saturday, June 21, 2008
Here's the naked truth about the College World Series: They don't call it the "Greatest Show on Dirt" for nothing.
IT'S JUST THAT -- when Omaha decides to let it all hang out during its biggest two weeks of the year -- the show sometimes is "R" rated.
The North Carolina-LSU game was briefly interrupted as a streaker ran into the outfield in the bottom of the eighth inning. Jedidian Potter, 21, came over the wall in right-center field, waved a blue shirt as he bounded merrily and - seeing his fate about to be sealed - took a knee not far behind UNC shortstop Ryan Graepel.OR WAS THAT nude conduct?
"I don't really want to remember it, to be honest with you," Graepel said. "It's one of those things where you don't want to look at it, but you can't take your eyes off of it."
Some jail time was awaiting Potter on Friday night for what was believed to be the first streaker incident at the CWS since 1974, but his first punishment came from the grounds crew. Of the two charging him on a full sprint, Nick McCoy lowered his shoulder as Potter stood up and drove him into the Rosenblatt Stadium turf.
Police officers took over, ushering Potter toward a left-field exit. A white towel was thrown out to save the crowd from seeing more than it had already seen.
McCoy after the game said he was just doing his job - and shunned further comment - as a photographer showed him a picture of the hit.
"Like a middle linebacker out there," Graepel said.
Police said Potter was cited for lewd conduct.
People on the coasts like to think of us yokels as bland, dull, blending into the corn-fed landscape of "Flyover Country." Oh, yeah?
Still waters may or may not run deep but, a lot of the time, they definitely run weird.
BUT HE DIDN'T, say federal marshals, and that's where a common expression -- "screwed the pooch" -- reportedly turned into something more in a Baton Rouge back yard. Unfortunately for Chaney, and fortunately for Fifi, they weren't, uh . . . alone.
A team of U.S. marshals had surrounded the house at 9425 Tracy Ave. to ensure that Alex Chaney could not escape while they attempted to serve him with a warrant for failure to register as a sex offender, the affidavit says.LOUISIANA . . . it's just different down there. And some folks are more different than others.
Chaney, clad in only a white T-shirt and black slippers, was standing in front of a chair where a brown and white dog was standing, the affidavit says. Marshals observed Chaney try to penetrate the dog several different ways.
The marshals alerted Chaney to their presence and asked him to meet them at the front of the house, the affidavit says. East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Deputies were called out to arrest Chaney.
In his statement to deputies, Chaney said that he woke up that morning with the urge to have sex. He then made himself a cup of coffee before going into the backyard, where he began to think about having sex with animals. He then sat one of his dogs on a chair and attempted to have sex with her.
Chaney was arrested and booked on a count of crimes against nature, booking documents show. Bond was set at $80,000.
East Baton Rouge Parish Animal Control came out and took custody of the four dogs found at the residence, director Hilton Cole said.
Didn't manage to get The Moody Blues on this week's edition of 3 Chords & the Truth, but it strikes me that the spoken-word ending to Nights in White Satin sums up well the vibe that permeates much of the show.
PARTICULARLY this week's "theme" set . . . all about dreams.
Here's the lyric:
Breathe deep the gathering gloom.
Watch lights fade from every room.
Bedsitter people look back and lament
Another day's useless energy spent.
Impassioned lovers wrestle as one.
Lonely man cries for love and has none.
New mother picks up and suckles her son.
Senior citizens wish they were young.
Cold hearted orb that rules the night;
Removes the colors from our sight;
Red is gray and yellow white
But we decide which is right...
And which is an illusion.
Friday, June 20, 2008
What does it say about America that we see this on Comedy Central, while on Lara Logan's own network, CBS, we get pap like 48 Hours Mystery?
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Here's how some in the Big Easy "defend their honor" as New Orleanians:
Take handgun. Insert into mouth. Squeeze trigger.
I'M SORRY, but for New Orleans' "honor defenders" to look at the immense suffering in the American Midwest and perceive nothing more than a grand opportunity to say "Hey, look! They suck, too!" is -- How shall I put this? -- whiny, trashy and pathetic.
It will gain them so many friends.
Here's one example of what surely will be a winning public-relations strategy:
Then, there’s the fact that eighty percent of New Orleans evacuated with just 48 hours notice after Katrina turned north instead of going to Pensacola. This was the most successful private evacuation in American history, implemented without any federal contingency plans for disasters, despite four years between 9/11 and 8/29 for George W. Bush — the “war president” — to prepare for another attack on an American city.
How many people evacuated from the Midwest? Oh, they were busy stacking sandbags to protect their homes and crops. Did they deserve their tragedy for staying behind?
Then we could talk about the high percentage of New Orleans homeowners who had flood insurance compared to the national average.
Or maybe those Midwesterners wouldn’t have been subjected to God’s wrath if they didn’t allow homosexuals in their midsts.
It’s at about this point that I might conjure the memory of those poor Boy Scouts, but that wouldn’t be decent. By now it should be apparent to any self-proclaimed conservative out there that blaming the victim is pretty nasty business if turnabout is fair play — this is really repulsive territory. We shouldn’t even have to go there, but we will defend our honor as New Orleanians if the rest of the nation doesn’t smack down Rush Limbaugh and all of the other intolerant [expletive deleted] around the country who are repeating the same bull [expletive deleted].
Dear combox warriors of New Orleans:
Shut the [expletive deleted] up!
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
I'll make this short and sweet.
FIRST, an excerpt, please, from The Washington Times -- on a federal investigation into how Commonwealth Catholic Charities, Richmond (Va.) arranged for a Guatemalan teen in foster care to have an abortion.
The bishops' letter, first publicized Friday by the Wanderer, a national Catholic weekly newspaper, detailed a series of botched management decisions that preceded the Jan. 18 abortion.CATHOLIC CHARITIES. Taking teen to be fitted with an IUD. And, later, for an abortion.
The unnamed girl, who already had one child, had been fitted with a contraceptive device provided by CCR two months earlier, the letter said. CCR members signed the consent form necessary for a minor to have an abortion and had someone drive her to and from the abortion clinic.
It is illegal in Virginia for a social worker to sign a parental consent form for an abortion. The state's notification law stipulates that at least one parent, grandparent or adult sibling must give consent.
The girl, whose parents are missing, was a ward of the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
The church also teaches that knowingly using contraception is a mortal sin, although it does not incur automatic excommunication. Moreover, the church objects to some methods of contraception - those that prevent a fertilized embryo from implanting in the uterus - as forms of abortion.
"Some members of the MRS [U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Migration and Refugee Services -- R21] staff were not sufficiently aware of church teaching and [USCCB] policy regarding these matters to take stronger and more appropriate actions," Bishops DiLorenzo, Wester and Driscoll said in a letter to their peers.
"This incident is a most regrettable stain on the record of excellence in the work both of MRS and of Catholic Charities," they said.
Does something seem, uh, amiss here?
And that's even before we get to out-and-out violations of Virginia law.
Screwiest of all is the Catholic bishops' assertion that some staffers of a USCCB agency "were not sufficiently aware of church teaching. . . ." I said "screwy," not "surprising."
It's been a long, agonizing process, this losing of our national soul.
AND WHAT ONGOING congressional hearings are bringing to the forefront is the extent to which the American government has summoned the Ghost of Third Reich Past in the name of "preventing another 9/11."
Well, given what's there for the reading in The Washington Post, Osama bin Laden needn't bother. His wisest course -- when the Bush Administration already is doing a fine job of turning America into Amerika, then bringing the whole enterprise to its knees -- would be to just get the hell out of the way.
A senior CIA lawyer advised Pentagon officials about the use of harsh interrogation techniques on detainees at Guantanamo Bay in a meeting in late 2002, defending waterboarding and other methods as permissible despite U.S. and international laws banning torture, according to documents released yesterday by congressional investigators.OF COURSE, all this was perfectly legal and ethical. That's why
Torture "is basically subject to perception," CIA counterterrorism lawyer Jonathan Fredman told a group of military and intelligence officials gathered at the U.S.-run detention camp in Cuba on Oct. 2, 2002, according to minutes of the meeting. "If the detainee dies, you're doing it wrong."
The document, one of two dozen released by a Senate panel investigating how Pentagon officials developed the controversial interrogation program introduced at Guantanamo Bay in late 2002, suggests a larger CIA role in advising Defense Department interrogators than was previously known. By the time of the meeting, the CIA already had used waterboarding, which simulates drowning, on at least one terrorism suspect and was holding high-level al-Qaeda detainees in secret prisons overseas -- actions that Bush administration lawyers had approved.
One of the most explosive memos was the account of the October 2002 Guantanamo Bay meeting in which the CIA's Fredman joined 10 Defense Department officials and lawyers to discuss how to extract better intelligence from detainees there. Fredman, whose agency had been granted broad latitude by Justice Department lawyers to conduct harsh interrogations of suspected terrorists, listed key considerations for setting a similar program at the Cuban prison. He discussed the pros and cons of videotaping, talked about how to avoid interference by the International Committee of the Red Cross and offered a strong defense of waterboarding.IF SOMEONE THINKS he is going to die, it's torture. This is not complicated stuff.
"If a well-trained individual is used to perform this technique, it can feel like you're drowning," he said, according to the meeting's minutes, which do not provide a verbatim transcript.
Fredman said medical experts should monitor detainees. "If someone dies while aggressive techniques are being used, regardless of the cause of death, the backlash of attention would be severely detrimental," he was quoted as saying.
CIA spokesman George Little declined to comment on the remarks attributed to Fredman. "The far more important point is the fact that CIA's terrorist interrogation program has operated on the basis of measured, detailed legal guidance from the Department of Justice," he said. "The agency program, which has been carefully reviewed within our government, has disrupted terrorist plots and saved innocent lives."
And "measured, detailed legal guidance" is no excuse, particularly when all that lawyerin' is designed to help you get away with using Third Reich techniques in defense of "American values" -- which now apparently include both torture and "the ends justify the means."
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
At least Uncle Earl was honest about lying to voters.
OF COURSE, "Uncle Earl" is the late Gov. Earl Long, little brother of Huey and his heir to the Long dynasty in Louisiana politics.
Ol' Earl was not a "reform governor," and he made no bones about that. Ask Blaze Starr.
That being what it was, doesn't this sound pretty familiar still? From "I Remember Earl" in the late, lamented Baton Rouge "alternative" paper, Gris-Gris (June 15-21, 1976):
[Then-Attorney General Jack] Gremillion was walking by the governor's office when he recognized a contingent from Pearl River waiting to see Long.NOW THAT my home state has "progressed" so much since the 1950s, and now that "reform" has taken hold, how shall we measure how far Louisiana has advanced?
He went into Long's office. "Governor, those people from Pearl River who you had me promise a road to are here."
"What the hell road are you talking about?" asked Earl.
Gremillion reminded Earl that he had specifically ordered him to promise the Pearl River folk a road during the recent campaign.
"Hell, I don't have time for them. Send them away."
Gremillion pleaded, "But Governor, what can I tell them?"
"Tell them I lied!"
Well, I certainly think we can say everything's bigger in the Bayou State now. The gub'na has reformed the whole game of lying to the voters, for one thing, introducing the idea of "economies of scale."
So instead of lying to a little group of piss-ant voters from a little piss-ant town about building them a little piss-ant road, the modern "reform" governor efficiently (and more effectively) tells great big lies to all the state's voters about how he would "prohibit Legislators from giving themselves pay raises that take effect before the subsequent election."
And then Gov. Bobby Jindal smartly leverages his "reform" image to deny that he's lied at all:
Asked if the campaign promise mirrors the governor’s current stance, press secretary Melissa Sellers responded in the affirmative, saying the governor still maintains the same position. “(Jindal) said this again at a press conference last week after the House's vote and continues to point out that not only is the Legislature's move to double their pay completely unreasonable, but it should not take effect until after the next election," Sellers says.ADMITTING TO LIES can be counterproductive, the modern "reform" governor realizes, compromising his political capital and rendering him less effective in bringing honesty to state government.
Progress. You've got to love it . . . right, Louisiana?
Well, that didn't take long. Another "reformist" Louisiana governor has been eaten by the natives.
IN THIS CASE, the "natives" would be the Louisiana Legislature. The poverty-stricken public servants -- who surely must be underpaid and underappreciated if sheer repetition of a sob story has the power to make it true -- have voted to pull themselves up by the taxpayers' bootstraps. And some struck a "let them eat cake" pose toward those who object to paying more for the same old dysfunctional policymaking:
Sen. Ann Duplessis, D-New Orleans, asked colleagues to go along with House changes in her Senate Bill 672 that reduced the proposed legislative pay from $50,700 a year to $37,500. Lawmakers currently get a base salary of $16,800 a year.RIIIIIIIIGHT. Do you think the Times-Picayune reporter kept a straight face writing that one up?
Although floor debate was almost nonexistent in both houses, Duplessis suggested that people -- many of whom have jammed radio talk shows, Internet blogs and the Capitol switchboard -- just don't understand how much time lawmakers put in to the part-time job.
"We will not let a few radio (talk show) people dictate what we know is important," Duplessis said after the vote. She said lawmakers have been in session off and on since February and will probably be called back for one or two special sessions before a regular fiscal session next year.
She said the pay raise is needed to help lawmakers offset pay lost from their regular jobs.
"We should be focusing now on moving forward with the people's business," she said. "Once people understand what we do, what our schedules are like . . . they will understand."
The "people's business" -- like once-again trying to sneak creationism through the back door of the high-school science lab. And passing pay raises for themselves . . . while health-care, social services and higher education get the business.
"Fiscal restraint" ain't for you and it ain't for me, it's for those sick people and eggheads behind the tree.
And what does the Great Reformer,
Same as the last time we checked in -- nothing. Here's the gub'na's statement after Monday's Senate vote for final passage:
"I'm very sorry to see the legislature do this. More than doubling legislative pay is not reasonable, and the public has been very clear on that.
"I will keep my pledge to let them govern themselves and make their own decisions as a separate branch of government. I will not let anything, even this clearly excessive pay raise, stop us from moving Louisiana forward with a clear plan for reform."
THERE ARE TWO possibilities here. Either Jindal was in cahoots with the Legislature all along and is blowing smoke up the voters' butts, or a governor who wields near-dictatorial powers just got rolled by a body that strives for color coordination, lest its fairer members become "hormonal."
And once you get rolled by the Legislature once, it's going to happen one more time . . . and one more once . . . and one more twice. . . .
In fact, by caving in the face of extortion -- and, really, that's the most charitable explanation for Jindal's non-action -- the new governor didn't salvage his "clear plan for reform" at all. What he did was kill it -- such as it was.
No, the only agenda on the table now is the Louisiana Legislature's. Because, as Jindal has made clear, whatever crazy-ass thing its members want, they are apt to get.
Let me know how that "reform" works out for you, Louisiana.
Me, I'm going to crack open a cold one, sit back and enjoy the show (from a safe distance . . . like Nebraska). It's Roemertime.
Monday, June 16, 2008
The following post was meant to be a comment on Rod Dreher's Crunchy Con post about the Turlock, Calif., toddler-stomping madman who "needed killing."
After writing the thing and checking it twice, I hit the "post comment" button . . . and the damn thing went into the Beliefnet moderation queue, which is kind of like a black hole, only worse. And I'd worked so hard on it. . . .
So here you go.
Anyway, it occurred to me that what the man "needed" wasn't killing but, instead, stopping. And the only way the cops could do that was by killing him. The difference may seem to be nothing more than mere semantics, but it's not.
The difference is between civilization and barbarism.
MY COMMENT BELOW takes the bait of a poster who asked "Libs in the room who are anti-abortion and pro-death penalty please raise your hands."
I'm a lib in the room who's anti-abortion AND anti-death-penalty.
It just seems to me -- even apart from any religious convictions I have on those matters -- than any "solution" to a problem that leaves someone dead isn't much of a solution at all.
In the case of abortion, there are possible solutions where no one has to die. The expectant mother can be assisted by government programs and by churches, crisis-pregnancy centers and other private initiatives. If she chooses to keep her child, there are programs to assist her in that as well -- though not enough.
And I know this is a radical concept, but the father also could, like, step up, be a man and take 50 percent responsibility in supporting and raising that child.
Then, there always is the option of adoption. Back in the "bad old days," we somehow recognized that option, and there was an entire infrastructure -- usually private -- for caring for young women in a tough spot who were willing to agree to adoption.
Sometimes, there isn't a solution that leaves no one dead . . . like in the case of "just war" (which Iraq ain't). That would be called an unavoidable tragedy, if not a catastrophe.
Likewise, in the case of the California maniac, it looks like the only way to stop the madman (albeit too late) was for the cops to take him out. No one ought to rejoice in that, or to say he "needed" killing.
Obviously, what he "needed" was help. He didn't get it. He killed his kid, and the cops had to end the threat in whatever way they could. It was a lose-lose situation.
But the minute we start thinking that someone "needed killing" in order for some greater good to occur -- that killing is a necessity, a good thing in itself, instead of a profound FAILURE of some sort -- we surrender yet another part of our soul to the barbarian within. And we surrender yet another piece of our incredibly fragile society to the barbarians at the gate.
Who would be us.
It is insufficient to be against the death penalty only because we might screw up in X number of convictions. We must be against the death penalty in all but the most extreme and desperate circumstances -- as in, that's the only reasonable and possible way to remove the threat of the evildoer . . . circumstances that are exceedingly rare, indeed -- because the life of even the worst murderer has worth and possesses some inherent dignity.
And when we violate that dignity, we violate our own and coarsen our society just that much more.
I will be the first to admit that there are some evil, violent SOBs who I think "deserve" killing in the worst way. That's emotion talking. Not only that, telling me to kill is the part of myself that has a hell of a lot in common with the evil SOB I so hate.
Giving in to that -- deciding that, yes, some people "need killing" -- is no virtue. It's a horrible vice.
America, allow us to introduce ourselves. We're the Midwest.
OF COURSE, you probably know us better as Flyover Country, home of rubes, hicks, yokels and rustics. I think you like to bandy around the quasi-slur "corn-fed."
You ought to know us better as The People Who Feed Your Condescending Selves. And here's a news flash for you: What with all the terrible weather and flooding and everything else we've been having all across America's Breadbasket . . . there ain't no corn.
Crop yields are going to be down. Way down. And that's assuming the corn crop can finish being planted -- or, in many cases, replanted -- in time for a timely harvest.
Soybeans? Who knows?
BUT THERE'S NO REASON for you to panic over our recent misfortune. Unless you use corn meal, eat corn flakes, cook with corn oil, like tortilla chips (or tortillas), drink bourbon whiskey or white lightnin', drink milk, eat beef, eat pork, feed your pets, consume any number of processed foods or put ethanol-blend gasoline into your vehicles, you should be just fine.
Otherwise, you're screwed.
Nighty-night, America. It's late . . . time for us hayseeds to pitch some of the rubble of our tornado-damaged dwellings out of the way so we can grab some shuteye on our soggy matresses.
Come winter, perhaps you might give us a thought one chilly morn, as you sit down at the kitchen table for a hearty bowl of . . . nothing.
Sunday, June 15, 2008
What kind of scumbuckets will picket the funerals of Boy Scouts killed in a tornado?
The Rev. Fred Phelps' band of lunatics from Kansas will. From the Sioux City (Iowa) Journal:
Westboro Baptist Church, a Topeka church with the Web site www.GodHatesFags.com, released a stament minutes ago indicating members plan to picket the funerals of the four Boy Scouts killed by Wednesday night’s tornado.IF TORNADOES indeed are the favorite weapons of God's wrath, I can't wait for the EF-2000 monster that's going to take out Phelps' "church." And only Phelps' "church" in Topeka.
Calling tornadoes “the favorite weapon of His wrath,” the group listed the first of the four funerals as taking place Tuesday in Omaha. However, a funeral for Aaron Eilerts of Eagle Grove, Iowa, is reportedly taking place Monday in West Point, Neb., about 40 miles southwest of Sioux City.
Westboro was in Denison, Iowa, in 2005 to picket the funeral of Sgt. Casey Byers of Schleswig. Byers was killed on June 11, 2005, in Iraq.
I wonder what the hateful bastards would have to say about that?
Saturday, June 14, 2008
Who'd a thunk Louisianians would get upset over something besides California baseball coaches suggesting they didn't know the Civil War was over? (It's over???)
BUT IT'S TRUE! The Louisiana Senate wants to triple legislators' base pay, while the House of Representatives -- overcome by modesty, it seems -- voted to merely double it. And the angry voters of the Gret Stet are having none of it.
L'étendard sanglant est levé, y'all.
Blog posts and newspaper accounts are filled with talk that les citoyens are rallying aux armes. Le jour de gloire est arrivé!
Naturellement, this isn't a case of people rising up in favor of something -- you know . . . liberté, egalité, fraternité -- but instead, people rising up against lawmakers who have the abject nerve to raise their own pay when they've accomplished precious little of late.
As in forever.
Bad schools, bad roads, bad ethics, bad economy, bad government and a receding coastline are just fine so long as taxpayers don't have to pay too much out of pocket for it. But if they think they're getting overcharged for doodly squat . . . formez vos bataillons!
Well, at least until the next crawfish boil . . . or until somebody restocks the icebox with Abita. Laissez les bon temps rouler, cher!
SEE, THIS IS the kind of stuff that happens every time Louisiana gets a "reform" governor. Fella rides into Baton Rouge talking the messiah talk, but voters soon find out he can't walk the messiah walk. Or even walk, period, and chew gum at the same time.
When Gov. Bobby Jindal was on the campaign trail slinging around 31-point action plans, you wanted to think things could be different this time. I mean, what was the alternative?
Vote for the non-reform good ol' boys?
Still, in the back of your mind was the spectre of Buddy Roemer. Big talk, no walk. In politics, messiahs don't happen -- pretenders do. And really, if you're depending on a state politician to save your butt, one has to wonder whether that's a gluteus maximus worth saving.
The only thing that has surprised me is the sheer speed with which Jindal has morphed into Roemer. This incompetent ideologue, this cynical "reformer," this press-ducking, Legislature-bullied gutless wonder has been reduced to wimpering "Stop, or I'll tell the voters on you!"
Well, Baby Bobby Blunderbuss didn't need to, as reported in The (Baton Rouge) Advocate:
Reacting to public outcry and threats of recall, members of the House approved a legislative pay raise plan Friday that more than doubles — instead of triples — their base salary.I DIDN'T DO IT, nobody saw me do it, and I won't veto anything. Or, to quote the late Freddie Prinze on the '70s sitcom "Chico and the Man," "Ees not my yob, man!"
The amended plan, passed on a close vote, proposes a $20,700 increase in lawmakers’ base pay — putting it at $37,500 effective July 1. Lawmakers’ total compensation package would hit nearly $60,000.
Legislators would still be guaranteed annual increases in their base pay — without future votes. Future raises would be tied to changes in the Consumer Price Index.
The original plan, approved by the Senate, would have translated to a compensation package of some $70,000 annually for rank-and-file lawmakers. It had tied legislative pay to that of U.S. congressmen with increases in those salaries triggering one for state lawmakers.
Gov. Bobby Jindal said after the vote he remains opposed but will do nothing to stop the raise from going into effect if approved by the Legislature. [Emphasis mine -- R21]
“Even though they reduced it, I still think it’s too much,” Jindal told reporters who questioned him at a Lake Charles appearance.
“There is still time for them to turn back. They will have to answer directly to the people,” Jindal added in statement issued by his office.
The hell it isn't.
But it's not like we didn't see this coming. Well, at least I did. In 1987, I voted for Roemer.
So now Louisiana voters know what they're agin' . . . or one of the things they're agin', at least. That's not important now.
What's important is this: What are Louisianians for? Until voters in the Gret Stet can answer that one, what they have -- assuming they can maintain their outrage, which is debatable -- is a revolution without a rudder.
And a rudderless "revolution" will drift no place good.