Thursday, April 30, 2009

MAD meets Rush meets Obamacon?


Remember the posters in the MAD magazine special issues? I wonder if they've ever thought of giving Rush Limbaugh the Obamacon treatment?

If not, here you go!

Call me . . . my rates are cheap.
And really -- YECCH!

I hate Iowa Nazis


What the hell do you do when the Nazis are on your "side"?

I don't know. But here's what I do know: If you're a Catholic bishop, and the subject is same-sex marriage and all other manner of hot-button social issues, you don't run around saying things like "We are at war."

"We are at war" + the Catholic Church + Nazis co-opting your natural-law arguments = We are so screwed.

FROM THE OMAHA WORLD-HERALD:
In Pottawattamie County, 31 same-sex couples applied for marriage licenses earlier in the week, but only seven couples had picked them up as of 10:30 a.m. Thursday.

About a dozen black-shirted protesters, who described themselves as members of the National Socialist movement, stood outside the courthouse. The demonstrators chanted slogans and carried a flag with a swastika.

Police monitored the demonstrators, who late in the morning exchanged remarks with some passersby.
ONE NAZI-ETTE, crudely but somewhat correctly, told Omaha's KETV television that "Gay marriage does not secure the existence for any people. You can't procreate with homosexuality. It's genocide to the entire human race."

Well, it would be if more than 5-or-so percent of the human race were homosexuals. But what I wish the reporter had asked the Nazi chick after hearing her scientific musings, however, was whether she was sexually active and using contraceptives.

As Forrest Gump said, "I'm not a smart man." But some things are just "winning hearts and minds" no-brainers. I think the first item on that PR "to-don't list" is Catholics like Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo., rolling out the martial rhetoric when blind Nazis may have just found themselves an acorn and muddied it up with hate.

But nooooooooooo. . . .
“Harsh as this may sound, it is true — but it is not new. This war to which I refer did not begin in just the last several months, although new battles are underway — and they bring an intensity and urgency to our efforts that may rival any time in the past.”

“[It]is correct to acknowledge that you and I are warriors — members of the Church on earth — often called the Church Militant. Those who have gone ahead of us have already completed their earthly battles. Some make up the Church Triumphant — Saints in heaven who surround and support us still — tremendous allies in the battle for our eternal salvation; and the Church Suffering (souls in purgatory who depend on our prayers and meritorious works and suffrages).

“But we are the Church on Earth — The Church Militant. We are engaged in a constant warfare with Satan, with the glamour of evil, and the lure of false truths and empty promises. If we fail to realize how constantly these forces work against us, we are more likely to fall, and even chance forfeiting God’s gift of eternal life.”

YES, THE CHURCH on Earth is the Church Militant. Being that militant, in this sense, means something closer to "struggling" and, modern ears being what they are, by the end of the Second Vatican Council the preferred term had become "the Pilgrim Church."

We are not Taliban . . . though one could understand how some unchurched eyes might widen when they see what some folks have done with loose episcopal rhetoric in the never-ending quest for cash in the world of Catholic non-profits.

It should be a no-brainer for every public Catholic -- for every Catholic who professes evangelism as his business -- that the language of traditional Catholicism . . . traditional Christianity is utterly alien not only to the expanding universe of secularism, but also to many within the church. Especially the young.

And we're losing the young. Fast.

We've been fighting the "culture war" for a long time now. We've been fighting the culture war so long and so hard that we've come to justify all manner of "enhanced" methods in its prosecution. Well, except for going out and preaching the gospel of Christ crucified, buried and risen on its own terms.

Then again, it's so much easier to pretend that "gay marriage" is the enemy -- that gays are the enemy -- instead of Satan.

Listen, as even Bishop Finn himself noted above, "We are engaged in a constant warfare with Satan, with the glamour of evil, and the lure of false truths and empty promises.” That is the war we fight, and no other.

For that matter, most of that war rages in our own wicked little hearts. We shouldn't pretend otherwise.

SO WHEN WE TALK about being "at war" with gay marriage (among a host of postmodern social maladies), it just might pay to be trite and ask oneself "What Would Jesus Do?" One thing He didn't do was baptize a thrice-married ex-officeholder and send him out to kvetch about how the Roman Empire "has been the active instrument of breaking down traditional marriage."

Another thing He didn't do was hang out with the most prominent culture warriors of His day. That might be one of the reasons they had Him crucified.

So . . . am I saying we ought to be OK with same-sex marriage? No. While it's really none of my business what consenting adults do in the privacy of their own homes, it is my business when activists try to remake a millennia-old cultural and sacred institution into something it isn't.

History and my faith tradition tell me that is not going to end well. And all of us, gay and straight, have a vested interest in things "ending well."

CATHOLICS and other Christians have powerful arguments to make concerning same-sex marriage. But those arguments are worthless if we keep incinerating what we have to say in the fiery furnace of our "culture war" rhetoric.

When the most notable difference between Christians and Iowa Nazis on an issue is protesters with crosses vs. protesters with swastikas . . . Rome, we have a problem. As in, "What will the teen-agers say when they realize the Nazis on TV just said what mom, dad and Father say all the time?"

Change I could believe in


This is what I do when I'm sick with the flu and finally have gotten well enough to pull myself out of the big blue chair.

It's also what I do when I run across Obamacon.Me on the Paste magazine website.

We all want "change we can believe in." I'm just realistic enough to realize we probably won't get it at the hands of any politician -- even the president.

We just might get it if we had -- for a start -- more stuff on television like Buckskin Bill.

After all, "You're never completely dressed until you put on a smile."

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Feds to City: Drop Dead (of fear)

Just to refresh your memory from the other day


I am speechless, apart from the word "unconscionable," so I'll just excerpt this story from WCBS television in New York:

CBS 2 HD has discovered the feds will have plenty to question.

Federal officials knew that sending two fighter jets and Air Force One to buzz ground zero and Lady Liberty might set off nightmarish fears of a 9/11 replay, but they still ordered the photo-op kept secret from the public.

In a memo obtained by CBS 2 HD the Federal Aviation Administration's James Johnston said the agency was aware of "the possibility of public concern regarding DOD (Department of Defense) aircraft flying at low altitudes" in an around New York City. But they demanded total secrecy from the NYPD, the Secret Service, the FBI and even the mayor's office and threatened federal sanctions if the secret got out.
ARE THERE SOME Ford Administration holdovers still at the Pentagon and the FAA?

Unconscionable.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Good night, radio.


Good night, Mr. Deejay.

Good night, Mr. Newsman.

Good night, Miss Morning Show Producer.

Good night, Mr. Program Director.

Good night, local programming.

Good night, audience.

Good night to radio, everyone.

CLEAR CHANNEL HAS wielded the budget ax again, leaving many markets with not much left in the way of local, live people on the radio. Far away, voicetracked people is another matter.

As is the corporate custom, the corporate suits are trying to spin firing 590 more people -- on top of 1,800 a few months ago -- as a good thing. Being not nearly so clever as to be in management anywhere, I just can't see it.

Anyway, here's just a small sampling of the Clear Channel carnage today:
* From Cincinnati:

Local radio sports talk became a lot quieter Tuesday.

As part of nationwide budget cuts, Clear Channel eliminated all but one local show on “Homer” WCKY-AM (1530), and dropped Enquirer sports columnist Paul Daugherty after two years hosting WLW-AM (700).

WCKY-AM canceled morning shows hosted by Alan Cutler, who was laid off, and Mo Egger, retained by Clear Channel.

The company also eliminated the jobs of sports blogger C. Trent Rosecrans, and producers Matt Steinmann, Travis Holmes and Mark Chalifoux as part the 590 positions cut nationwide Tuesday.

Only Lance McAlister will talk local sports 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WCKY-AM. He also took over “SportsTalk” Tuesday before the Reds game.


* From the Twin Cities:

Those cut were Joe Anderson, Langdon Perry, Danielle Hitchings, Chris Fisher, Lois Mae and Dan Donovan, according to a story published by MinnPost.com.

Clear Channel owns and operates seven stations in this market: KDWB-FM, KEEY-FM, KFAN-AM, KFXN-AM, KQQL-FM, KTCZ-FM and KTLK-FM.

Mike Crusham, general manager of Clear Channel’s local operations, couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

The local cuts Tuesday were part of a broader national round of job cuts that impacted about 600 people, or 3 percent of Clear Channel’s work force, according to media reports.

In January, San Antonio-based Clear Channel (OTCBB: CCMO) cut more than two dozen other employees in the Twin Cities, including Chad Hartman, a veteran sports talk show host on KFAN.

Fisher, one of the laid-off DJs who was part of the morning team on country music station K102, wrote on his Twitter message board this afternoon a farewell to listeners.

“Got fired today. I’m gonna miss all of you listeners … thanks for everything.”


* From Detroit:

Clear Channel market manager Til Levesque wouldn't comment on specific jobs lost in Detroit, but this afternoon Edmonds' name was already gone from the Breakfast Club roster on WNIC's Web site, replaced by O'Neill's name.

Also gone is Chad Mitchell from The Chad Show, which airs mornings on Clear Channel's country station "The Fox," WDTW-FM (106.7). Mitchell was told he was being let go immediately after his show went off the air this morning. . . .

Also cut is update reporter Rob Otto from sports talk station The Fan, WDFN-AM (1130). Otto also did the Pistons pre- and post-game reportage. On his Facebook page, Otto commented: "Well, the rumors are out there, so I guess I'll confirm it. I was indeed fired from WDFN today. Unlike my former co-workers, who were blindsided a couple months ago, I had a feeling this was coming. I wish the few remaining members of the staff there nothing but the best, and look forward to whatever it is that life has waiting for me."


*From Memphis:

Long time Memphis radio personality Mike Fleming was laid off Tuesday. Fleming hosted the Mike Fleming Show weekday afternoons on AM600 WREC.

Before 600 WREC he worked at the Nashville Banner, The Jacksonville, FL Journal and the Commercial Appeal.

He also worked in television news and talk radio covering a variety of events, news and sports stories, such as Super Bowls, the PGA Tour, SEC, Memphis' NFL drive, and a news story in which he was asked to negotiate for prisoners during a jail visit.


*From Wichita:

One of the more public personalities laid off today was Kathy Deane, who has been producing the top-rated “Brett and Tracy Morning Show” on B-98 for more than two years.

“We were, like, knocking it out of the park,” Deane says. “That’s what I really don’t get.”
Morning host Brett Harris, who hired Deane, agrees. He’s put a call into corporate to see if he can pay Deane out of his own pocket to produce the show off site.

“When it happens to someone who’s part of your inner circle of success . . . who you brought into the industry, you feel some accountability,” Harris says.

Deane, who says she was in shock this morning after being escorted to her car, didn’t even hear Harris make the offer.

“Wow,” she says. “That’s showing me some love, isn’t it?”


*From Denver:

A reliable source reveals that 23 part-time or fulltime employees at Clear Channel Denver were laid off today as part of the San Antonio-based firm's second series of cuts this year. (The number is confirmed by KOA Morning News host Steffan Tubbs on his Twitter feed.) Many of those impacted worked in off-air capacities such as accounting, but a handful of on-air personalities reportedly received pink slips. The biggest name: The G-Man, a staple of the Rick Lewis-Michael Floorwax morning show on The Fox for nineteen years.
THAT'S THE CARNAGE from just a few scattered markets across the country. And, as I mentioned, that's not counting the much larger layoff in January.

Oh, did I mention there are lots of other radio conglomerates that also overpaid for scads of stations on their way to "mega" status, and which are in much worse financial shape than Cheap Channel? Even if economic times were flush, no station can make enough money to service that kind of debt load.

The story of radio is the little story that tells the big story of Corporate America Hits the Skids. This story probably won't have a happy ending, and -- either sooner or later -- none of us will live happily ever after.

At least according to the prevailing definition of "happily ever after."

The talented individuals who used to work in radio are suffering now. But as we hollow out all of our virtual town squares and cultural commons in postmodern America, it's our society itself that ultimately be impoverished.

WE'RE SO DIVIDED now as a people . . . we have so little in common anymore. We all live in our own little individual or "clan" compounds today, walled off from common cause with those unlike ourselves by an impenetrable wall of electrons.

Maybe Facebook and Twitter will find a way for us to engineer a breakout. Maybe they'll put more guards on the parapets -- I don't know.

But I know we're isolated and alienated today, and I know all the Clear Channels of the world aren't helping matters as they continue to divorce actual humans from the means of social communications.

It used to be so different. I'm 48 now; I remember when it was. I remember when there was magic in the airwaves.

I remember when everybody at least knew a little about a lot of things, and a lot of people. I think that was a very good thing.

THERE STILL are a few outposts where radio still sounds like your neighbors, and where the cultural commons is still kept weeded, the grass still gets mowed and the park benches still get painted. So to speak.

I thought you might like to see what that looks like . . . while you still can. Introducing WLNG in Sag Harbor, N.Y.


RECENTLY, the station's longtime general manager, Paul Sidney, died of cancer at 69. He had been at the station since 1964.

He was born in Brooklyn. He died as Mr. Hamptons, and a region mourned,
as this Newsday opinion piece demonstrates:

When Paul Sidney's microphone fell silent the day he died, April 2, eastern Long Island lost not just a radio legend, but a big part of the glue that has kept our community together.

The fast-talking Sidney came to WLNG (92.1 FM) in 1964, when the station in Sag Harbor was a year old. He started a format of oldies, jingles and local shows - a corny, hometown, live-and-local format. Today it's the last remaining station of its kind on Long Island.

Sidney and his radio team kept the jingles, reverb and "chime-time" bell of the 1960s top-40 format that most other stations long since abandoned. The most popular show is "Swap and Shop," where people call in to sell items.

There's also "Pet Patrol," for lost pets, and "Christmas Cards of the Airwaves." Sidney would sit there all day while listeners called in to say what they had gotten for Christmas and what they were having for dinner.

"It's radio the way it used to be," the jingle says. And, "WLNG - the place to be - since '63."

In the age of instant messaging, Facebook friends and online dating, it is hard to imagine the day-to-day intimacy of hearing Paul Sidney talking to you and your colleagues, and seeing him at his live remotes from events and stores all over town. "I do 250 remotes a year," he once told Newsday.

His gravelly voice was not polished or sophisticated, and he spouted out questions to people he interviewed live on location. "Here's the deal . . . " he was famous for saying as he explained what he wanted from a guest. When he referred to the Hamptons, he would say, "God's country."

He was 69 when he died, after 45 years at the station, during which he stood always behind his radio philosophy - "It's what's between the music that counts."

IT IS WHAT'S between the music that counts. And nobody ever mourned a hard drive when it died.

Likewise, I don't think any of us will mourn Clear Channel's version of radio when it finally is dispatched to that Great Bulk Eraser in the Sky.

Monday, April 27, 2009

How to trigger an entire city's PTSD




Unbelievable. Just unbelievable.

We're from the government . . .


And we're here to scare the holy living s*** out of you.

See, the above picture shows an F-16 seemingly chasing a Boeing 747 from the fleet of Air Force One backups this morning. The jumbo jet is flying low -- really low -- over Manhattan.

But not so low you can easily tell it's a presidential plane.

New Yorkers seeing this -- or in some cases seeing this coming straight at their skyscraper offices -- did the entirely natural and logical thing, given this bit of recent New York history:


They panicked.

They streamed out of their high-rise offices and into the streets.

They ran for their lives.

And one woman grabbed her camcorder to document what she was sure must be a hijacked airliner ready to bring carnage to her city once again this decade.


HERE'S an account of the incident from The New York Times:
An Air Force One lookalike, the backup plane for the one regularly used by the president, flew low over parts of New York and New Jersey on Monday morning, accompanied by two F-16 fighters, so Air Force photographers could take pictures high above the New York harbor.

But the exercise — conducted without any notification to the public — caused momentary panic in some quarters and led to the evacuation of several buildings in Lower Manhattan and Jersey City. By the afternoon, the situation had turned into a political fuse box, with Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg saying that he was “furious” that he had not been told in advance about the flyover and the White House facing questions about it. In unusually harsh language, the mayor criticized the Defense Department for conducting the exercise and the Federal Aviation Administration for being secretive about it.

The flyover, which began around 10 a.m., resulted in widespread confusion and a flood of calls to emergency hot lines. Perplexed officials at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and other authorities were inundated with calls from anxious ferry passengers, office workers and residents.

The mayor said the Police Department and someone in his administration – he did not say who – received an e-mail from the Federal Aviation Administration late on Thursday, informing them that there would be “a fly-by for a photo-op, as they described it.”

However, Mr. Bloomberg said he was not apprised of the flyover until his BlackBerry started buzzing this morning with messages from people asking if he knew what was going on. He characterized it as a breakdown in communication that “will never happen again.”

“First thing is, I’m annoyed – furious is a better word – that I wasn’t told,” he said at a City Hall news conference held to discuss the swine flu cluster in Queens.

Jim Peters, an F.A.A. spokesman, said “the photo op was approved and coordinated with everyone.” Notification was made in advance to the mayor’s office, “including its 911 and 311 operation centers,” the New York City Police Department, the New Jersey State Police, the United States Park Police and other agencies, he said.

The Police Department confirmed that it had been notified about the event but said it had been barred from alerting the public. “The flight of a VC-25 aircraft and F-16 fighters this morning was authorized by the F.A.A. for the vicinity of the Statue of Liberty with directives to local authorities not to disclose information about it but to direct any inquiries to the F.A.A. Air Traffic Security Coordinator,” the Police Department said in a statement.

The mayor criticized the secrecy around the flyover. The e-mail notification “did have the normal language of saying this is sensitive information, should be distributed on a need-to-know basis, that they did not plan to have any publicity about it, which I think is ridiculous and just poor judgment,” Mr. Bloomberg said.
I WONDER whether the Air Force photographers had long-enough lenses to catch a few shots of panicked New Yorkers having coronaries?

Can you imagine? The Air Force has this brilliant idea to fly a jumbo jet low over New York and buzz several skyscrapers and the Statue of Liberty. They coordinate with the FAA, which apparently is OK with the idea.

Then the FAA notifies an office at City Hall, but orders the New York bureaucrats not to tell anyone.

Your government at work, folks.

When I consider all the gathering storms out there that only the federal government is big enough to deal with, the words that come to mind are "Be afraid. Be very afraid."

OF COURSE one might wish to take a more proactive stance. As in, "Put your head between your legs and kiss your ass goodbye."

Do it now, before you're way too woozy from the swine flu.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Remain calm! All is well!


The latest on the swine-flu threat from The Associated Press:

President Barack Obama’s administration sought to look both calm and in command, striking a balance between informing Americans without panicking them. Obama himself was playing golf while U.S. officials used a White House news conference to compare the emergency declaration with preparing for an approaching hurricane. . . .

Earlier, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said the outbreak was serious, but that the public should know “it’s not a time to panic.” He told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that Obama was getting updates “every few hours” on the situation.

The law: It's not for 'people like us'


David Broder has lost his mind.

At least I hope so -- that would be the charitable explanation for his Washington Post column urging President Obama to let sleeping torturers lie. But I don't think that's the case.

NO, I THINK there's another explanation for rhetoric like this:

Obama, to his credit, has ended one of the darkest chapters of American history, when certain terrorist suspects were whisked off to secret prisons and subjected to waterboarding and other forms of painful coercion in hopes of extracting information about threats to the United States.

He was right to do this. But he was just as right to declare that there should be no prosecution of those who carried out what had been the policy of the United States government. And he was right when he sent out his chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, to declare that the same amnesty should apply to the lawyers and bureaucrats who devised and justified the Bush administration practices.

But now Obama is being lobbied by politicians and voters who want something more -- the humiliation and/or punishment of those responsible for the policies of the past. They are looking for individual scalps -- or, at least, careers and reputations.

Their argument is that without identifying and punishing the perpetrators, there can be no accountability -- and therefore no deterrent lesson for future administrations. It is a plausible-sounding rationale, but it cloaks an unworthy desire for vengeance.

Obama has opposed even the blandest form of investigation, a so-called truth commission, and has shown himself willing to confront this kind of populist anger. When the grass roots were stirred by the desire for vengeance against the AIG officers who received contractual bonuses from government bailout funds, Obama bought time by questioning the tactic. Quickly the patently unconstitutional 90 percent tax the House wanted to slap on those bonuses was forgotten.
LOOKING FOR SCALPS? Wait a minute. Just wait a minute. U.S. and international law prohibits torture of captured combatants, with penalties ranging up to death if the torture is fatal. Furthermore, the United States has led prosecution of torturers from Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan in the wake of World War II, sending those individuals to prison for years. Or worse.

I think this example is interesting. An American military commission, in 1947, tried four Japanese defendants for war crimes committed against U.S. prisoners. Among the war crimes? Waterboarding.

Of course, Japanese war criminals had nothing on your average Texas sheriff.

In 1983, the San Jacinto County sheriff and three deputies were charged with -- and convicted of -- waterboarding prisoners to elicit confessions. The "lawmen" all went to prison for a long, long time.

As the judge said in federal court as he passed sentence: ''The operation down there would embarrass the dictator of a country.''

But not, as it turns out, a certain president of the United States hailing from the Lone Star state.

ON THE OTHER HAND, I gather what American interrogators did to "enemy combatants" in the name of the American people does embarrass David Broder. Just not enough to prosecute Bush Administration figures for acting just like Hitler's and Tojo's henchmen . . . or sadistic Texas lawmen.

No, according to Broder, war crimes just aren't that big a deal when it's Americans committing them. Or ordering them. I'll bet the venerable pundit also wonders why the world hates us.

Probably, in the fever swamp of his Beltway consciousness, Broder believes the world -- like the left-wing Washington ideologues and the provincial populist yahoos -- just harbors an "unworthy desire for vengeance." Vengeance identical to that we took against the Nazis and Japanese for their World War II atrocities, no doubt.

What were we thinking back then?

Couldn't Harry Truman see he was engaging "in a retroactive search for scapegoats"?

It's all so clear. At least to Broder:

That way, inevitably, lies endless political warfare. It would set the precedent for turning all future policy disagreements into political or criminal vendettas. That way lies untold bitterness -- and injustice.
IF ONLY President Truman had had the wisdom and foresight of David Broder, ace columnist of The Washington Post, we might have spared ourselves six decades of poisoned relations with Germany and Japan. Who knows? Perhaps we even could have turned those fierce enemies into close allies.

Oh, wait. . . .

Nevertheless, the point remains for the oracle Broder: Justice is never its own reward. Justice may or may not be useful depending upon what one's ulterior motives happen to be.


Like Pontius Pilate -- his philosophical brother two millennia removed who famously asked "What is truth?" -- Broder stands before verifiable, objective truth and muses "What is justice?"

Obviously, he figures justice must be radically different today for civilized people -- D.C. insiders with whom he's shared drinks and bon mots -- than it was for uncouth Nazis and wild-eyed Japanese fanatics of the 1940s.

Or for some Buford Pusser gone wrong in Bumf*** Tejas.

AND THE REST of us who figure the law is the law is the law . . . and that no man stands above it? In the world of David Broder and his Washington cronies, we're just so many grass-roots vigilantes, full of "populist anger" and hell-bent on vengeance.

No, in BroderWorld, the elites stick together against the rabble -- those crazy folk talking crazy talk. Really, what nut came up with foolishness like "government of the people, by the people, for the people" anyway?

Obviously, some rube who didn't know who his betters were.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Flu Fest?


You have to wonder whether epidemiologists, amid this Age of Swine Flu suddenly upon us, are looking at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival right now and starting to panic just a little.

After all, hundreds of thousands of partying drunk people -- jamming to the music in close quarters -- don't cover when they cough.

From MSNBC, the latest on the sudden maybe-epidemic:
Worries that the new swine flu strain that has killed as many as 68 people and sickened more than 1,000 across Mexico has “pandemic potential” increased with the announcement that the virus has spread to Kansas and likely to New York City.

On Saturday, two new cases were confirmed in Kansas — the first U.S. cases outside of California or Texas. An additional case was confirmed in California. And New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Frieden said tests showed that eight New York high schoolers had a type A influenza virus that was "probable" swine flu.

Samples have been sent to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for further testing to see if they are indeed the unusual H1N1 strain of swine flu; results are expected Sunday. The students showed only mild flu symptoms and are feeling better.

"What is concerning about this is that it is likely swine flu and second that it is spreading person to person," Frieden said. He added, "We have seen no increase citywide in flu-like cases."

About 100 students at the private St. Francis Preparatory School in the New York City borough of Queens became sick last week, prompting the tests.

The Kansas cases involved two adults living in the same house; one is still ill and the other is recovering. One of the patients recently traveled to Mexico, flying in and out of Wichita.

NBC News has also learned there are suspected cases in Minnesota and Massachusetts. The total number of U.S. cases stands at 11 confirmed so far.

'Be prepared for uncertainty'
It may be too late to contain the sudden outbreak, warned the CDC, which has stepped up surveillance across the United States. "We are worried," said the CDC's Dr. Anne Schuchat.

“We don’t think we can contain the spread of this virus,” said Schuchat, Interim Deputy Director for Science and Public Health Program. “We are likely to find it in many other places.”

3 Chords & the Truth: Eschew the malodorous

This week's episode of 3 Chords & the Truth reinforces the central premise of this audio endeavor: There are two kinds of music -- good and bad.

The bad, we don't mess with.

And that's all I have to say about that.

WHAT? YOU WANT to hear more about this week's edition of the Big Show? Alrighty, then. . . .

We at 3 Chords & the Truth are firmly committed to the proposition that there's only two kinds of music -- good and bad. The bad is not worth our time or attention.

Can you think of any other ways for me to say it? That's the deal, and it's not particularly long winded or complex. Mainly, there's lots of wonderful music in the world, spanning many genres, and we think you ought to hear as much of it as possible.

There's also a fair amount of crap floating around out there. That, we shun.

But I repeat myself. Again.

THIS WEEK on the Big Show, we get in a Motown state of mind, and we also span a world of tunage across several genres and 66 years . . . all in a single set. And it works.

You'll be enlightened! You'll be amazed! You'll come back for more!

That's because we're not your average radio show -- mainly because we're not on the radio. And because we don't need no stinking convention . . . no stinking preconceived notions about what we can and can't play.

Like I said, there's just two basic rules around here. Good stuff we play. Bad stuff we don't.

Just that simple.

It's 3 Chords & the Truth, y'all. Be there. Aloha.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Kew-kew-kew! What's wrong with Mamou?

Would you like to know why, ultimately, it's a good thing we have the American Civil Liberties Union, no matter how much some of its legal advocacy might rile us?

IT'S BECAUSE there's lots of dumbass, thin-skinned, bullying cops in lots of backwater burgs in various undercivilized states who think nothing of using their police powers to torment, for example, terminally ill critics.

The scene: Mamou, La. The crime, according to the Lafayette Daily Advertiser:
a letter to the editor of the Ville Platte, La., newspaper.

In a lawsuit filed Wednesday in federal court, Bobby Felix Simmons said he e-mailed the Ville Platte Gazette in May after learning that Mamou Police Chief Greg Dupuis had allegedly received a DWI and abused his authority. The e-mail included those allegations, as well as questions about why the paper had not written a story about the matter.

Later that month, Simmons said he was arrested at his home in Franklin. Officers said he was being arrested for "criminal defamation" and that they were acting on a warrant from the Mamou Police Department. Once in the Franklin jail, Simmons alleges that he was not able to bond out because it was against Dupuis' wishes.

The lawsuit goes on to say that Simmons was later driven to the Mamou jail, where he was allegedly placed in an empty cell and was not offered food, water or medication. About a half-hour later, he was brought to the parish jail in Ville Platte and allowed to bond out.

According to the suit, Simmons has a terminal lung condition and requires breathing treatments every four hours, but authorities in both Franklin and Mamou refused to provide medical treatment.

Named as defendants in the suit are the city of Mamou, Dupuis and Mamou police officers Todd Ortis, Albert Moore, David Charlie and Lucas Lavergne.
Following Simmons' arrest, Dupuis was quoted in the Gazette as offering a $500 reward for anyone found to be "spreading rumors" about him, according to the suit.
AND YOU THOUGHT the Dukes of Hazzard was just a TV show. No, as it turns out, the fictional Hazzard County, Ga., was a rather liberal sort of place.

Unlike Mamou. There, it looks like Boss Hogg, Roscoe P. Coltrane and Josef Stalin have been rolled into a single law-enforcement package.

One with a decided mean streak. Which, I suppose, makes me a marked man.

Then again, I suspect Boss Dupuis just might have a leeeeeeetle extradition problem on his hands.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Let them eat newsprint!


I can't decide whether this moment in journalism -- this moment in the history of capitalism -- is a Billie Holiday cum Blood, Sweat and Tears moment or, perhaps, a Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young moment instead.

Is the continuing evacuation of journalists out of American journalism just another instance of "them that's got shall get, them that's not shall lose -- so the Bible said, and it still is news"? Or is this more like an economic Kent State, corporations figuratively gunning down folks' livelihoods because somebody's got to pay for the sins of the "best and brightest" . . . except, of course, for the best and brightest?

Richard Nixon had the pointless Vietnam War; Sam Zell has a mountain of debt leveraged against the revenues of the Chicago Tribune and the whole damn Tribune Co.

MAYBE . . . just maybe, it's both. Cue Neil Young (loosely rendered):
Tin bankers and Sam Zell's comin'.
We're finally on our own.
This spring we all hear the drummin'.
Fifty fired in Chicago.

Gotta get down to it.
Bankers are mowing us down.
Should have been done long ago.
What if you knew them and
Found their lives all unwound?
How can you run when you know?
WEDNESDAY, Zell's Tribune purged 53 staffers from its newsroom -- probably meaning nearly that many will never work in journalism again. Fifty-three of the people who on Tuesday brought the news to Chicago readers, on Wednesday wondered how they'd pay the bills . . . put Junior through school . . . put food on the table.

Fiddle-dee-dee. Layoff, layoff, layoff; this layoff talk's spoiling all the fun at every party this spring. I get so bored I could scream.

Fortunately for them -- so as to avert any party screaming -- a whole bunch of Chicago Tribune muckedy-mucks will have millions and millions in bonus money to tamp down their high-society anxiety. It's all in Crain's Chicago Business:
On the same day the Chicago Tribune cut 53 jobs from its newsroom, its parent Tribune Co. asked a Bankruptcy Court to approve of $13.3 million in bonuses and other incentive payments to 703 employees.

The payments are “vitally necessary” to reward employees for a difficult year and motivate them during the current year, according to Tribune's motion filed with the court Wednesday. The top ten executives in the company are not eligible for the payments.

On Wednesday the Chicago Tribune’s difficult year continued, as it cut staff in its latest bid to reduce expenses amid continuing advertising declines, the newspaper’s editor said in a memo.

"With today’s actions, we are making the leap to a newsroom structure that we believe is sustainable barring further significant declines in advertising revenue," Editor Gerould Kern said in a memo to staffers obtained by Crain's. "While some are leaving now, others will join the newsroom over time as we invest in new skills necessary to grow in the future."

Wednesday’s layoffs leave the Trib with 430 workers in its newsroom, Mr. Kern said.
SOMEBODY DONE GONE and took the word "unseemly" right out of Webster's dictionary, didn't they?

For the love of God, the fictional O'Hara family -- Scarlett included -- treated their slaves better than Corporate America treats the country's workers. It's not just a journalism thang -- wait till The Man gets through with the auto workers.

And, soon enough, you.


WE LIVE in an era when not only is the American worker thoroughly expendable -- at least so the suits think -- but also when the "brights" obviously feel some compulsion to rub the faces of the "right-sized" into the detritus of their former livelihoods.

And as the rendering of the middle and working classes into rich men's portfolios continues apace, we're going to really find out what pieces of meat we are.

For, you see, the Culture of Death isn't just for fetuses. Our society is aborting the already-born with reckless abandon . . . in all kinds of ways.

¡Viva la Revolución!

Blind cable channel finds acorn, drops F-bomb


Mrs. Favog is always getting on me about the F-word. She contends there is no proper use of "fudge" (not its real name) except, of course, when she "fudges" up and lets it slip in the heat of the moment.

Just kidding. She's generally mortified she let it slip.

My lowdown, sinful self, however, contends that some uses of the F-bomb are wholly appropriate as a means of conveying gravity and figuratively slapping the listener in the face, shaking him by the lapels and saying "Listen, dammit!" Of course, 99 percent of my personal use of "fudge" is completely gratuitous and, thus, unjustifiable.


EVERY NOW AND AGAIN, though, you run up against a completely justified F-bomb. Shepard Smith just accidentally unleashed one when discussing America's official torture program on the Fox News Channel.

Unfortunately for Shep, it was on live television. Fortunately for Shep, it was on cable TV, so it's not going to cost his bosses a big-time FCC fine.

And fortunately for viewers and connoisseurs of journalism, Shep's performance means there might be hope for "Faux News" after all.

But if Shepard Smith's head does roll due to his on-camera performance, you have to wonder whether it would be over a heaping helping of "fudge" . . . or because he came out foursquare against torturing in the name of God, Mom, apple pie and Chevrolet.


HAT TIP: Your Right Hand Thief.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Kill virtual baby, si. Pass virtual gas, no.


Talk about your "killer app."

Baby shaking is all the rage among the no-self-control set, so we knew it was only a matter of time before some techno sk8r punk app developer brought a prison-free version of it to your iPhone, all for the low, low price of 99 cents.

Not surprisingly, the "Baby Shaker" program made it into Apple's App Store, which deemed a virtual whoopee cushion too tasteless to be sold. Slightly more surprisingly, Apple pulled it after child-welfare groups raised holy hell.

THE FOLLOWING Culture of Death Minute is brought to you commercial-free by Suzanne Choney and MSNBC.com:
A controversial program for the iPhone called "Baby Shaker" was added to, then pulled from, Apple's App Store this week after protests about the program's offensive nature dealing with a deadly serious subject.

Child protection groups were outraged by the 99-cent app for the iPhone and iPhone touch, which encourages those frustrated with babies' crying to shake them, or in this case, shake their devices to change drawings of a crying baby to a calm one.

Apple, "which notoriously and routinely rejects new apps from developers with a 'rigorous' vetting process, nonetheless apparently allowed this horrible application to be sold through its store," said the Sarah Jane Brain Foundation, whose aim is assist in the research of new developments for children with pediatric acquired brain injuries such as Shaken Baby Syndrome.

"Not only are they making fun of Shaken Baby Syndrome but they are actually encouraging it. This is absolutely terrible," said Marilyn Barr, founder of the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome and a board member of the Sarah Jane Brain Foundation.

Apple, asked about why the Baby Shaker app was approved and how long it was available before being pulled, did not answer those questions.

"It was removed today," was the only statement Wednesday from Natalie Kerris of Apple.

Sikalosoft, listed as the developer of Baby Shaker, could not be reached for comment.
OH, AND ABOUT that rejected virtual-fart app? Apple has standards, you know:
The company has been criticized by software developers for not allowing other kinds of programs, such as those that pass digital gas, into the App Store.

Such apps ultimately were approved, although the developer of one, "Whoopie Cushion," was first told by Apple that his program did not "comply with Community Standards,” programs that have “any obscene, pornographic, offensive or defamatory content or materials of any kind (text, graphics, images, photographs, etc.) or other content or materials that in Apple’s reasonable judgment may be found objectionable by iPhone or iPod touch users.”
NOW, if someone were to develop a Capitalist Shaker app, they might be onto something.

Apocalyptic is the new normal

If this doesn't scare you spitless, you're an idiot.

"THIS" WOULD BE the following dispatch from The Wall Street Journal:

Pakistan's Taliban seized control of another district in the country's northwest just 70 miles from the capital after consolidating their hold on the Swat Valley, according to local government officials and residents.

The latest Taliban advance into the Buner district has spurred fears that a controversial peace accord, which allows the militants to enforce sharia law in Swat, has emboldened them to expand their influence.

Militants have been moving into Buner since the Swat peace deal was signed with the government in February. But starting Tuesday night they seized control of the entire district, which has a population of more than one million people, local government officials and residents said. Heavily armed militants, streaming in from neighboring Swat, occupied government offices and set up their own checkposts. Terrified residents fled their homes.

Dozens of hooded fighters carrying rocket launchers and machine guns ransacked the offices of international aid and development agencies working in the district and took away their vehicles. Some employees of the agencies were also briefly taken hostage. The militants set up their headquarters in the town of Buner after driving out government officials.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Wednesday the Taliban advance poses "an existential threat" to Pakistan and urged Pakistanis world-wide to oppose a government policy yielding to them. Pakistanis "need to speak out forcefully against a policy that is ceding more and more territory to the insurgents," Mrs. Clinton said in testimony before a House committee.
BEFORE YOU SHRUG and withdraw once more into your Wii cocoon, the significance of the Journal's report is found on The Daily Beast in a post by author Gerald Posner:
The Taliban advance should be causing high Richter-scale reactions inside the Obama White House. Counterterrorism officials have long warned that al Qaeda is desperate to obtain weapons WMD. Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal is in play if the Taliban insurgency should unseat the government of Asif Ali Zadari.

Pakistan has been a member of the nuclear club since in 1987. Intelligence estimates are that the country now has between 50 and 100 nuclear missiles that can travel 1,200 miles. That places much of India, Saudi Arabia and Eastern Iraq within range. With slight improvements in the rockets’ booster phase—not a difficult technological advance—Jerusalem could be hit.

Pakistan straddles a fault line between secularism and fundamentalism. Many Pakistani military and intelligence officers are markedly more radical than the centrist Zadari and openly supportive of Osama bin Laden. Pakistan’s equivalent of the CIA is still enraged by the central government’s abandonment of both the Taliban and the Kashmiri Jihadis. Fundamentalist religious schools—of which Pakistan has more than any other country—churn out thousands of radical Islamists, and outlawed militant parties regularly resurface with new names.


(snip)

A Pakistani government led by Sunni fundamentalists could launch a nuclear attack on Iran's Shia provinces, long-time foe India and definitely Israel. Economic upheaval in the West would be assured by nuking oil fields in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates. You think the stock market looks bad over the last two years? Let a Taliban spokesman announce that Mullah Omar has his finger on the Islamic Bomb.
LET US FERVENTLY PRAY the world's big international players -- Britain, the United States, Russia and China -- are at this moment planning a joint military operation to seize, if need be, and destroy Pakistan's nuclear arsenal. Because if they aren't, and if Pakistan falls to the Taliban, we can be pretty sure -- one way or another -- this is The End of Everything. At least Everything as we have come to know it.

Actually, a complete Wall Street meltdown would be only the half of it . . . particularly if the Taliban were to nuke the Saudi oil fields.

If the Taliban take over Pakistan, and its nuclear arsenal is still there . . . al Qaida will have The Bomb, and America could someday lose a major city. What's far more likely than that is the prospect of nuclear war on the Indian subcontinent, because India and Israel can't (and won't) live with the imminent threat of annihilation at the hand of nutwagon Islamist goons.

Jesus, mercy. Mary, pray.


HAT TIP: Crunchy Con.

How stupid can you get?


This stupid, proving there's never a dull day when you work for the New Orleans Times-Picayune . . . even if you're covering Covington, La.
A Covington jewelry store owner and five teenagers were arrested Monday night after police responded to the store where a make-believe armed robbery was being carried out and videotaped as part of a school project, authorities said.

A witness called police about 4:45 p.m. after seeing what appeared to be an armed robbery at Expressions in Gold jewelry at 842 North Collins Boulevard, Covington Police spokesman Capt. Jack West said.

The caller said two teenagers had put on ski masks, got an assault rifle and a pistol out of the trunk of their vehicle, and went into the store, West said. The teens pointed the weapons at the people in the store, and the witness saw the people raise their hands into the air, he said.

Police arrived within 30 seconds, and the SWAT team was called out, West said. A police sniper was in position before store owner Janet Deluca came outside and said the group was simply making a movie, he said.

The video was being shot as part of a school project, West said.

When officers went inside and asked to see the firearms, the teenagers said they did not have any weapons, West said. After further questioning they showed officers where they had hidden the guns in the store, he said. Officers confiscated an SKS assault rifle, according to the police department.

JUST WHAT THE HELL did these kids -- not to mention the jewelry-store owner, who's old enough to know better -- figure people would think when they saw young people get out of a car, put on ski masks, draw weapons and run inside?

The damn fools are lucky they didn't get shot.

The cop in the WGNO television report was right -- if the numskulls had told the police what was up and gotten a permit, there would have been no problem . . . and no bystanders would have been making panicked phone calls to 911.

At a bare minimum, it should have been made clear to passers-by that a movie was being filmed.

BUT NO. The little darlings do something idiotic, get arrested by rightly ticked-off Covington police officers, and they (along with their equally foolish parents) are wondering why they're in dutch with the law.

Here's why: It's because they scared people witless, endangered officers and others as police descended upon the scene at breakneck speed, diverted city resources from preventing actual crime, and wasted what was, I'm sure, a not-insignificant amount of taxpayers' money.

Really, what were they thinking? And what are they thinking now, all incredulous that they're in trouble?

What, that New Orleans is the only place folks might reasonably assume there was a violent crime being committed when they see such? That only black folk rob people?

I'm almost sorry the cops didn't rough the little twerps up (and that goes double for the alleged "adult" of the bunch) just for the hell of it.

Almost.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Divine Comedy (Central)

The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
We Don't Torture
thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Economic CrisisPolitical Humor


Again, what does it say about us that the most cogent, honest commentary in the American media comes from Comedy Central?

BE THAT AS IT MAY, I think there is one clear-cut, indisputable observation we can make about both those who run and those who observe United States of America: Torture Regime. The main thing American elites take away from their excellent educations at excellent schools is ever more witty, smooth and sophisticated ways of denying a fundamental thing their mamas told them when they were 4 or 5 -- that two wrongs don't make a right.

And what part, exactly, of
waterboarding Kalid Sheikh Mohammed 183 times in a month just screams "Mama would be so proud"?

Well, maybe if Mama were Eva Braun or
Ma Barker. . . .

The Good Book warns us "Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord." Al Qaida isn't the only bunch who ought to be scared s***less on that count.


HAT TIP: Catholic and Enjoying It

Benedict Harman


Visit msnbc.com for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy


What do you call a congresswoman promising to intervene with The Man on behalf of alleged spies for a foreign government, but who never has to face the music because the president needs her to defend his dubious domestic-spying program?

In Washington, apparently, you call it business as usual. You call it your government at work . . . for other people.

YOU CALL IT the hottest item on the CQ Politics website:
Rep. Jane Harman , the California Democrat with a longtime involvement in intelligence issues, was overheard on an NSA wiretap telling a suspected Israeli agent that she would lobby the Justice Department reduce espionage-related charges against two officials of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee, the most powerful pro-Israel organization in Washington.

Harman was recorded saying she would "waddle into" the AIPAC case "if you think it'll make a difference," according to two former senior national security officials familiar with the NSA transcript.

In exchange for Harman's help, the sources said, the suspected Israeli agent pledged to help lobby Nancy Pelosi , D-Calif., then-House minority leader, to appoint Harman chair of the Intelligence Committee after the 2006 elections, which the Democrats were heavily favored to win.

Seemingly wary of what she had just agreed to, according to an official who read the NSA transcript, Harman hung up after saying, "This conversation doesn't exist."


(snip)

It's true that allegations of pro-Israel lobbyists trying to help Harman get the chairmanship of the intelligence panel by lobbying and raising money for Pelosi aren't new.

They were widely reported in 2006, along with allegations that the FBI launched an investigation of Harman that was eventually dropped for a "lack of evidence."

What is new is that Harman is said to have been picked up on a court-approved NSA tap directed at alleged Israel covert action operations in Washington.

And that, contrary to reports that the Harman investigation was dropped for "lack of evidence," it was Alberto R. Gonzales, President Bush's top counsel and then attorney general, who intervened to stop the Harman probe.

Why? Because, according to three top former national security officials, Gonzales wanted Harman to be able to help defend the administration's warrantless wiretapping program, which was about break in The New York Times and engulf the White House.

As for there being "no evidence" to support the FBI probe, a source with first-hand knowledge of the wiretaps called that "bull****."

"I read those transcripts," said the source, who like other former national security officials familiar with the transcript discussed it only on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of domestic NSA eavesdropping.
I USED TO THINK the Washington back-and-forth between Democrats and Republicans was a case of Tweedle Dumb and Tweedle Dumber. Now, I'm thinking it might be more a case of Spy vs. Spy.