Tuesday, February 28, 2012

America'$ 13th Amendment workaround


Mother Jones writer Mac McClelland took a job in a megawarehouse that serves up all the crap we buy off the Internet.

What she saw and what she lived isn't pretty. What it is, increasingly, is a pillar of our economy. Kind of like King Cotton was for the antebellum South.

When that much money's at stake, you can justify a lot of shit. And you will.

And we have.

The days blend into each other. But it's near the end of my third day that I get written up. I sent two of some product down the conveyor line when my scanner was only asking for one; the product was boxed in twos, so I should've opened the box and separated them, but I didn't notice because I was in a hurry. With an hour left in the day, I've already picked 800 items. Despite moving fast enough to get sloppy, my scanner tells me that means I'm fulfilling only 52 percent of my goal. A supervisor who is a genuinely nice person comes by with a clipboard listing my numbers. Like the rest of the supervisors, she tries to create a friendly work environment and doesn't want to enforce the policies that make this job so unpleasant. But her hands are tied. She needs this job, too, so she has no choice but to tell me something I have never been told in 19 years of school or at any of some dozen workplaces."You're doing really bad," she says.

I'll admit that I did start crying a little. Not at work, thankfully, since that's evidently frowned upon, but later, when I explained to someone over Skype that it hurts, oh, how my body hurts after failing to make my goals despite speed-walking or flat-out jogging and pausing every 20 or 30 seconds to reach on my tiptoes or bend or drop to the floor for 10.5 hours, and isn't it awful that they fired Brian because he had a baby, and, in fact, when I was hired I signed off on something acknowledging that anyone who leaves without at least a week's notice—whether because they're a journalist who will just walk off or because they miss a day for having a baby and are terminated—has their hours paid out not at their hired rate but at the legal minimum. Which in this state, like in lots of states, is about $7 an hour. Thank God that I (unlike Brian, probably) didn't need to pay for opting into Amalgamated's "limited" health insurance program. Because in my 10.5-hour day I'll make about $60 after taxes.

"This is America?" my Skype pal asks, because often I'm abroad.

Indeed, and I'm working for a gigantic, immensely profitable company. Or for the staffing company that works for that company, anyway. Which is a nice arrangement, because temporary-staffing agencies keep the stink of unacceptable labor conditions off the companies whose names you know. When temps working at a Walmart warehouse sued for not getting paid for all their hours, and for then getting sent home without pay for complaining, Walmart—not technically their employer—wasn't named as a defendant. (Though Amazon has been named in a similar suit.) Temporary staffers aren't legally entitled to decent health care because they are just short-term "contractors" no matter how long they keep the same job. They aren't entitled to raises, either, and they don't get vacation and they'd have a hell of a time unionizing and they don't have the privilege of knowing if they'll have work on a particular day or for how long they'll have a job. And that is how you slash prices and deliver products superfast and offer free shipping and still post profits in the millions or billions.

"This really doesn't have to be this awful," I shake my head over Skype. But it is. And this job is just about the only game in town, like it is in lots of towns, and eventually will be in more towns, with US internet retail sales projected to grow 10 percent every year to $279 billion in 2015 and with Amazon, the largest of the online retailers, seeing revenues rise 30 to 40 percent year after year and already having 69 giant warehouses, 17 of which came online in 2011 alone. So butch up, Sally.

"You look way too happy," an Amalgamated supervisor says to me. He has appeared next to me as I work, and in the silence of the vast warehouse, his presence catches me by surprise. His comment, even more so.

"Really?" I ask.

I don't really feel happy. By the fourth morning that I drag myself out of bed long before dawn, my self-pity has turned into actual concern. There's a screaming pain running across the back of my shoulders. "You need to take 800 milligrams of Advil a day," a woman in her late 50s or early 60s advised me when we all congregated in the break room before work. When I arrived, I stashed my lunch on a bottom ledge of the cheap metal shelving lining the break room walls, then hesitated before walking away. I cursed myself. I forgot something in the bag, but there was no way to get at it without crouching or bending over, and any extra times of doing that today were times I couldn't really afford. The unhappy-looking guy I always make a point of smiling at told me, as we were hustling to our stations, that this is actually the second time he's worked here: A few weeks back he missed some time for doctors' appointments when his arthritis flared up, and though he had notes for the absences, he was fired; he had to start the application process over again, which cost him an extra week and a half of work. "Zoom zoom! Pick it up! Pickers' pace, guys!" we were prodded this morning. Since we already felt like we were moving pretty fast, I'm quite dispirited, in fact.

"Really?" I ask.

"Well," the supervisor qualifies. "Just everybody else is usually really sad or mad by the time they've been working here this long."

It's my 28th hour as an employee.
MAKE SURE you go and read the whole thing. Sleep tight tonight, America, as we all contemplate the possibility that, yes, there is a God and, yes, He is a just one.

Monday, February 27, 2012

The grandeur of fantastic flying books


A funny thing happened on television Sunday night. There were these couple of "swamp rats" from Louisiana on the high-def screen . . . and nobody was yelling "Choot 'em!"

They were dressed in tuxedos, not overalls.

No boats or guns were involved.

Books were.

And so was an Academy Award -- the swamp rats won one for one of the most endearing animated shorts you will ever watch, The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore. It is a treasure. And even a Louisiana native like me has to admit that "treasure" and "Shreveport" are not terms that often fraternize.

That just changed, thanks to director and writer William Joyce, co-director Brandon Oldenburg and their Shreveport studio, in business less than two years.
As Joyce and Oldenburg, the film's directors, walked the red carpet and mingled with stars in Hollywood, Moonbot employees held their own Oscar watch party, red carpet included, at Marilynn's Place in Shreveport. Emotions were high at the restaurant where around 70 people anxiously watched and waited for the envelope to be opened. A loud thunder of cheers and shrill screams followed the announcement.

"Look, we're just these two swamp rats from Louisiana," Joyce said in his acceptance speech. " We love the movies more than anything. It's been a part of our lives since we were both kids."

"It's been a part of our DNA since we were children, and it's made us storytellers," Oldenburg added.

Lead animator Jamil Lahham was in disbelief after Moonbot's victory. He said the Oscar win is just the beginning for Louisiana's film industry.

"These guys in the city and government started something and I think now it's paying off," Lahham said.

"Mr. Morris Lessmore" is Moonbot's first released animation project. Founded in 2010, the studios has also developed and produced the iPad application, "The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore."

The 14-minute long film follows Mr. Morris Lessmore during the aftermath of a storm in New Orleans. Through the power of stories and books, he finds happiness. It beat four other short films in the category including Pixar's "La Luna."
IN OTHER WORDS, what the story is really about is the power of beauty . . . and of love. Isn't that what all the best stories are about?

To tell you the God's honest truth, I meant to write this post hours and hours ago. I would have, too, had I been able to figure out why watching this little gem of a film left me with tears streaming down my face.
Every time.

The best I can come up with is that it's . . . the power of beauty.
And love.

It's similar to how you might get choked up and teary eyed upon witnessing an act of extraordinary kindness or sacrificial love. It's akin to how you might be wholly undone by becoming the recipient of extraordinary -- and unmerited -- grace.

We live as a defeated people, though willfully unaware of that tragedy, amid the ruins of a devastated culture. I think the way you recognize a devastated culture and a defeated people is by how cynical and ugly it --
they -- have become. Switch on the flat screen and the cable box and tell me what you see.

Turn on the radio and tell me what you hear.

That's all right. I don't notice the ugliness that much anymore, either. It helps that I try not to watch that much television, but even so, you get inured to it or you slowly go mad. This leads to the obvious question of whether madness by today's standards oftentimes would be considered sanity by some more objective gauge, but that's the subject of another post entirely.

Still, when you live in the sewer, you get to where you don't notice the sewage anymore. Or the smell.

When you live in a cynical, debased and dying culture, you don't notice the necrosis. Death and decay is the new normal.

WHAT YOU do notice amid death is life. What you do see amid the darkness is the light. What leaves you gobsmacked amid ugly is beauty. What undoes you amid the indifference of cynicism is the appearance of love.

About a century and a half ago, an English poet (and Catholic priest) had something to say about this:
The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man's smudge and shares man's smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs —
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.
THIS POEM, God's Grandeur by Gerard Manley Hopkins, found its way into books -- books that fed countless souls, words of man destined to become yet another manifestation of the power and the glory of what the Almighty hath wrought.

As random kindness or unexpected grace have the power to undo us in the face of our casual cruelty, so does any light amid this present darkness -- or any beauty arising to rebuke the grotesque we take for granted.

That's why I think
The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore hit me the way it did. Like the prophets of old, one cannot stand in the presence of God and not be shattered -- especially when caught so unawares -- and that presence illuminates the intersection of truth, beauty and love.

As far as I'm concerned, and by that standard, every frame of Morris Lessmore is charged with the grandeur of God.

Better yet, the grandeur of God is a bargain. In a country where we spend thousands a year for the privilege of being slimed, this little bit of "the Holy Ghost over the bent world" costs but $1.99 on iTunes.

And just $2.99 for HD.

'Death to the West!'


Admiral General Aladeen rules!

Not only that, the latest alter ego of comedian Sacha Baron Cohen delivered the greatest (and funniest) example of social commentary in the history of the Oscars' red-carpet ridiculousness:
"Now if somebody asks who you are wearing, you will say Kim Jong-il."

My only regret is that it wasn't really Kim Jong-il in that urn. That would have been
really awesome.

More bowler


This 1903 film by Thomas Edison, said to be the first of a college football game, illustrates what the game could use today . . . or rather "to-day."

That would be more bowler. Forget the unfortunate body painting and silly fright wigs in the student section -- what we need is more gents wearing bowlers, as in the style of men's headwear.

What's amazing, though, is how familiar the turn-of-the-last-century style of play seems today. Yes, I realize that the forward pass was an illegal play at the time of this nineteen ought-three gridiron tiff between Princeton and Yale, but you also must realize that I am an LSU fan and sat through the entire BCS national-championship game.

Apparently, the forward pass was illegal in that one, too. Or at least that someone told Les Miles it was. (And the Tiger coach would look
awesome in a white bowler, by the way.)

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.


HAT TIP: The Browser

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The United State of Wyoming


We better stop, hey, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down


File under "Times, Sign of the":
State representatives on Friday advanced legislation to launch a study into what Wyoming should do in the event of a complete economic or political collapse in the United States.

House Bill 85 passed on first reading by a voice vote. It would create a state-run government continuity task force, which would study and prepare Wyoming for potential catastrophes, from disruptions in food and energy supplies to a complete meltdown of the federal government.

The task force would look at the feasibility of Wyoming issuing its own alternative currency, if needed. And House members approved an amendment Friday by state Rep. Kermit Brown, R-Laramie, to have the task force also examine conditions under which Wyoming would need to implement its own military draft, raise a standing army, and acquire strike aircraft and an aircraft carrier.

The bill’s sponsor, state Rep. David Miller, R-Riverton, has said he doesn’t anticipate any major crises hitting America anytime soon. But with the national debt exceeding $15 trillion and protest movements growing around the country, Miller said Wyoming — which has a comparatively good economy and sound state finances — needs to make sure it’s protected should any unexpected emergency hit the U.S.

Several House members spoke in favor of the legislation, saying there was no harm in preparing for the worst.

“I don’t think there’s anyone in this room today what would come up here and say that this country is in good shape, that the world is stable and in good shape — because that is clearly not the case,” state Rep. Lorraine Quarberg, R-Thermopolis, said. “To put your head in the sand and think that nothing bad’s going to happen, and that we have no obligation to the citizens of the state of Wyoming to at least have the discussion, is not healthy.”


MAYBE we sense, sometimes, that something's afoot before we consciously realize something's afoot.

On the other hand, I'm still trying to figure out exactly what landlocked Wyoming would do with an aircraft carrier. Or how a state/nation with a population of 568,000 manages to have one, not counting its lack of a nearby ocean.

I mean, there are almost as many people in Douglas
County, Neb., as there are in all of the Cowboy State.

Friday, February 24, 2012

3 Chords & the Truth: Glad to be 'hear'


Today was a snowy one here at the worldwide headquarters for better music on the Internet.

It was coming down pretty good for a while, there. Got pretty wet a couple of times when I ventured outside.

All in all, though, I'm glad to be hear.

That's not a typo. I'm glad to be back hear with a brand-new episode of 3 Chords & the Truth after most of February away. That's because for a good week of this month, I couldn't hear well enough to properly put together the Big Show.

It all started with a sinus infection the first of the month. Then, I guess you might say, it went rogue.


ACCORDING to the doc, a virus likely attacked my right middle ear. According to me, it was pretty excruciating . . . and really loud. The ringing in my ear, that is.

And a session with the audiologist showed that much of my hearing in that ear was gone -- "severe" hearing loss in all the mid-range frequencies. In my line of work, that ain't good.

So they shot me up with steroids to relieve the swelling and pressure in my ear (Did I mention how bloody uncomfortable the pressure thing was?), and a few days later, I got to have my first-ever CAT scan and MRI. The MRI tech assured me there was a brain in there and -- even better -- the ear, nose and throat doctor assured me the scans showed "nothing exciting."

If he's not excited, I'm happy.

Then another round of hearing tests showed my hearing had improved to "normal." Praise God.

"We fixed you," the doc said, surprised my hearing had returned so quickly -- there was a chance
that it wouldn't at all. Then he paused for a second.

"God fixed you," he added.

I don't disagree. Sometimes I still feel a little dicey in the wake of all this, but hearing is wonderful. I'm going to try to hold on to it. And I heartily recommend big-ass doses of steroids -- in pills and via a needle to the hip -- and bigger-ass doses of prayer.


Both work.

AND NOW . . . on with this week's episode of 3 Chords & the Truth. Let's just say you know it's a good one when it features A) an entire set devoted to songs penned by Liz Anderson and B) another set devoted to the Apocalypse.

You just ain't gonna get that on the radio, Hoss. But you will on the Big Show.

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

A little night music


Ah . . . just a little night music at la maison des disques here in Omaha, by God, Nebraska.
The disque du jour is a 1967 vintage -- a very good year, as it turns out. Especially for LPs that are mash-ups of period psychedelia and blue-eyed Southern soul.

Let's just say that John Fred and His Playboy Band, the pride of my hometown, had it goin' on.

And remember, boys and girls,
it ain't really music if you can't fit it into the grooves of an LP.

God said.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

They like us! They really like us!


I was just looking at The New York Times. Wow, that Afghanistan thing is just going really swimmingly for us, isn't it?

I don't know about you, but I'm getting the feeling the Afghans don't want . . . OH MY GOODNESS! LOOK! IT'S THE CATHOLICS, AND THEY'RE BURNING YOUR BIRTH-CONTROL PILLS AND POKING HOLES IN YOUR CONDOMS! STOP THEM! STOP THEM!

Now, where were we?


OH, YES, this little thing. Nothing to see here, really. Don't worry your little head about it.

Armed with rocks, bricks, pistols and wooden sticks, protesters angry over the burning of Korans at the largest American base in Afghanistan this week took to the streets in demonstrations in a half-dozen provinces on Wednesday that left at least seven dead and many more injured.

The fury does not appear likely to abate soon. Members of Parliament called on Afghans to take up arms against the American military, and Western officials said they feared that conservative mullahs might incite more violence at the weekly Friday Prayer, when a large number of people worship at mosques.

“Americans are invaders, and jihad against Americans is an obligation,” said Abdul Sattar Khawasi, a member of Parliament from the Ghorband district in Parwan Province, where at least four demonstrators were killed in confrontations with the police on Wednesday.

Standing with about 20 other members of Parliament, Mr. Khawasi called on mullahs and religious leaders “to urge the people from the pulpit to wage jihad against Americans.”

President Hamid Karzai is scheduled to address both houses of Parliament on Thursday morning.
REALLY, there's nothing to see here. Move along.

Go now . . . in the name of Eros, go vanquish the Real Enemy.


Don Knotts is my TV PC repairman


It's always 1949 somewhere, so Somewhere might as well be my computer monitor.

Obviously, I did not give up geekiness for Lent this year.


Now back to the Johnny Carson Show. Stay tuned for Gabby Hayes at 5:15 and Captain Video at 5:30, right here at this same spot on the dial.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

'Now we see the violence inherent in the system!'


Do you think I could get away with it if I said Barack Obama has no rights that any white man is obliged to respect?

Do you think I could get away with it if I added
"Help! Help! I'm being repressed!"

No?
Really?

I don't understand. That works so well for "progressives" when they're talking about Catholics.

As a matter of fact, if you say that often enough and loud enough about Catholics and other religiously Other-ish people, you not only can get away with it but become a go-to guest on your local NPR station.

Thus we explain Amanda Marcotte's appearance today on No Point On Point, where the first topic was "Help! Help! Women are being repressed by religious fanatics who won't pay for their free birth-control pills!"

Marcotte's main qualification for the guest spot -- and, apparently, her standing gig at
Salon, too -- is that she's a pro-abortion radical feminist with a potty mouth and a bigoted streak as wide as the Father of Waters.

YOU GOTTA
have somethin' goin' on to
A) get hired by, then B) get fired by the presidential campaign of John Edwards, that poster child for sexual liberation in all its "What could go wrong???" glory. Besides, nothing says "thoughtful" and "edifying" like one of Marcotte's anti-Catholic rhetorical flourishes:
Q: What if Mary had taken Plan B after the Lord filled her with his hot, white, sticky Holy Spirit?

A: You’d have to justify your misogyny with another ancient mythology.


OBVIOUS
LY, the difference between NPR and your typical AM-radio food fight is its guests are bigoted against all the right people.

How progressive of them.

No, really. This stuff is nothing new. Actually, it's as old as the United States itself, and 20th-century "progressives" picked up right where the Know-Nothings and the Ku Klux Klan left off.

If it makes you feel any better, I read that in
a 1997 article in The New York Times:
It has been many years since the poet and essayist Peter Viereck called anti-Catholicism "the anti-Semitism of the intellectuals." For Roman Catholics who encounter hostility, condescension and stereotypes among circles that consider themselves singularly free of prejudice, Mr. Viereck's quip remains the last word on the topic.

But now a young Harvard historian has taken another look at the role that Catholicism has played in what he calls "the American intellectual imagination." And his work helps explain some of the intense feelings that surround current issues like abortion and school vouchers, and why American Catholicism and liberalism have seldom been more than uneasy allies.

In a 32-page article to be published in the June issue of The Journal of American History, John T. McGreevy argues that from 1928 to 1960, anxiety about "Catholic power" became a defining factor in the evolution of American liberalism, along with opposition to fascism, Communism and racial segregation.

Dr. McGreevy, the Dunwalke Associate Professor of American History at Harvard, recalls "the most unusual best seller of the late 1940's," Paul Blanshard's "American Freedom and Catholic Power."

"The Catholic problem is still with us," Mr. Blanshard wrote.

In his view, the church posed an international threat to democracy, a threat that, two years later in "Communism, Democracy and Catholic Power," he put on the same plane as that of Soviet Communism. Along the way, Mr. Blanshard characterized nuns as legacies from an era when women "reveled in self-abasement" and he held Catholicism responsible for producing most white criminals.

Today most people might dismiss Mr. Blanshard's books and the fuss they provoked as more of an historical curiosity than a measure of "the American intellectual imagination." But Dr. McGreevy also recalls that in 1949, John Dewey praised Mr. Blanshard for his "exemplary scholarship, good judgment and tact."

McGeorge Bundy called the 1949 book "very useful." Scholarly reviewers hailed its author's "razor keen analysis" as well as his "restraint." Other distinguished intellectuals echoed Mr. Blanshard's parallel between Catholicism and Stalinism. For example, the Protestant theologian Henry Sloane Coffin called the two "equally totalitarian."
IN OTHER WORDS, "Help! Help! We're being repressed by the papists!"

On the other hand, Blanshard, who was an assistant editor at
The Nation, at least refrained from nasty quips about holy semen in his book, which began as a series of magazine articles in 1947 and 1948. Of course, his was the world of the 1940s -- one chockablock with stigmas, standards and taboos yet to be torn down or cast aside by folks just like himself:
Nobody knows exactly where the elaborate sexual code of the Catholic Church has come from. It has been developed by accretion over a period of nineteen centuries until, today, it is one of the most conspicuous parts of Catholic moral philosophy. Perhaps it ought to be called an anti-sexual code (even though the Church teaches that "a wife may not without sufficient reason deny herself to her husband") because the primary emphasis has always been upon the negative rather than upon the wholesome aspects.

Austerity was identified with virtue by many leaders of early Christianity. Two Popes, Clement VIII and Paul V, declared that anybody should be denounced to the Inquisitors of the Faith who declared that kissing, touching and embracing for the sake of sexual pleasure were not grievous sins. 1 Father Henry Davis, in his Moral and Pastoral Theology, expresses a contemporary priestly view when he says that "sexual pleasure has no purpose at all except in reference to the sexual act between man and wife... it is grievously sinful in the unmarried deliberately to procure or to accept even the smallest degree of true venereal pleasure."

Freud's wisdom was not available to the Popes and theologians who first imposed celibacy upon a reluctant clergy, and they could scarcely be held responsible for failing to appreciate the gravity of the effects upon human nature of suppressing the basic human instincts.
WHICH, according to Freud, all involve having intercourse with one's mother. Or some such wisdom.

But what do I know? I'm Catholic.

And a threat to truth, justice and the American Way:
These things should be talked about freely because they are too important to be ignored. Yet it must be admitted that millions of Americans are afraid to talk about them frankly and openly. Part of the reluctance to speak comes from fear, fear of Catholic reprisals. As we shall see in this book, the Catholic hierarchy in this country has great power as a pressure group, and no editor, politician, publisher, merchant or motion-picture producer can express defiance openly--or publicize documented facts--without risking his future.

But fear will not entirely explain the current silence on the Catholic issue. Some of the reluctance of Americans to speak is due to a misunderstanding of the nature of tolerance. Tolerance should mean complete charity toward men of all races and creeds, complete open-mindedness toward all ideas, and complete willingness to allow peaceful expression of conflicting views. This is what most Americans think they mean when they say that they believe in tolerance.

When they come to apply tolerance to the world of religion, however, they often forget its affirmative implications and fall back on the negative cliché, "You should never criticize another man's religion." Now, that innocent-sounding doctrine, born of the noblest sentiments, is full of danger to the democratic way of life. It ignores the duty of every good citizen to stand for the truth in every field of thought. It fails to take account of the fact that a large part of what men call religion is also politics, social hygiene and economics. Silence about "another man's religion" may mean acquiescence in second-rate medicine, inferior education and anti-democratic government.

I believe that every American -- Catholic and non-Catholic -- has a duty to speak on the Catholic question, because the issues involved go to the heart of our culture and our citizenship. Plain speaking on this question involves many risks of bitterness, misunderstanding and even fanaticism, but the risks of silence are even greater. Any critic of the policies of the Catholic hierarchy must steel himself to being called "anti-Catholic," because it is part of the hierarchy's strategy of defense to place that brand upon an its opponents; and any critic must also reconcile himself to being called an enemy of the Catholic people, because the hierarchy constantly identifies its clerical ambitions with the supposed wishes of its people.

It is important, therefore, to distinguish between the American Catholic people and their Roman-controlled priests. The Catholic people of the United States fight and die for the same concept of freedom as do other true Americans; they believe in the same fundamental ideals of democracy. If they controlled their own Church, the Catholic problem would soon disappear because, in the atmosphere of American freedom, they would adjust their Church's policies to American realities.

Unfortunately, the Catholic people of the United States are not citizens but subjects in their own religious commonwealth. The secular as well as the religious policies of their Church are made in Rome by an organization that is alien in spirit and control. The American Catholic people themselves have no representatives of their own choosing either in their own local hierarchy or in the Roman high command; and they are compelled by the very nature of their Church's authoritarian structure to accept nonreligious as well as religious policies that have been imposed upon them from abroad.

It is for this reason that I am addressing Catholics fully as much as non-Catholics in this book, American freedom is their freedom, and any curtailment of that freedom by clerical power is an even more serious matter for them than it is for non-Catholics. I know that many Catholics are as deeply disturbed as I am about the social policies of their Church's rulers; and they are finding it increasingly difficult to reconcile their convictions as American democrats with the philosophy of their priests, their hierarchy and their Pope.
SUMMATION: The Catholic Church has no rights that any white man is obliged to respect. . . . Help! Help! We're being repressed!

Or . . . 98 percent of Catholic women have used birth control, so there.

It's an old story, alas. It's also one of America's oldest acceptable prejudices, now that we can't kick the Negroes or the homosexuals around anymore. When you can combine fear of the Other with the ideological outrage of "being un-American," you have bigotry with legs.

What is disappointing is that the mainstream media keeps returning to bigots like Marcotte to reinforce warmed-over paranoia like Blanshard's, which was stolen from the Kluxers and the Know-Nothings, which frankly is so alarmingly WASP, not to mention SWPL. Not only that, it just sounded better coming from a 1940s intellectual rather than your typical postmodern vulgarian.

It's rather like the difference between drinking martinis at the club as you bemoan "the Roman problem" and smoking crystal meth at the Blogosphere Acres trailer park because those motherf***ing Catholic fascist motherf***ers make you want to f***ing kill somebody, and WHERE'S MY MOTHERF***ING PLEDGE-DRIVE, STATION-F***ING LOGO TOTE BAG, BITCH??????

Those people, I swear.

Monday, February 20, 2012

John Glenn and the way we were


Who were we?

Who were we Americans, who could absorb the psychological body blow of Soviet Russia putting Sputnik into orbit while we still were blowing our satellites up on the launch pad . . . and then four years later, Yuri Gagarin into orbit before we could get a man into suborbital space at all?

Who was this people who sat by radio and television sets this day 50 years ago, waiting for John Glenn, strapped inside his tiny Mercury capsule, to rocket into orbit atop an Atlas rocket and even the spaceflight score with the communists?

What manner of people -- once Glenn had gone up, gone around three times and come down alive and well -- would celebrate his achievement, this affirmation of American greatness, without irony, self-consciousness or reservation? Indeed, what sort of nation would have the audacity to set its sights on placing a man on the moon and returning him to Earth safely in less than a decade's time?

Who
were we? Who were these people of supreme faith -- in themselves, in God and in their way of life?

Who were the people who listened to radio like this on
KCBS in San Francisco as early birds on the West Coast awaited history in the late winter's predawn?

Who were the people heard in this bit of radio history later that night, along the
NBC radio net and over the airwaves of KFAB radio in Omaha as a winter storm roared across the northern Plains?



WHO WERE
these people?

Who were we? What sort folks could maintain such hope and confidence amid the threat of the Cold War going hot and the world being engulfed by a mushroom cloud?

Who was this people, the one able to look at the racial horrors of Mississippi, Alabama and across the Deep South, yet keep faith with the better angels of its nature? What sort of man . . . or woman . . . still believed in God, country and heroes?

And who in the world listened to sweet music on the airwaves in the chilly predawn? Who still allowed grown-ups and other assorted squares to have a say in the popular culture?

I remember these people.
I do.

I scarcely recognize them anymore, though. I scarcely recognize the nation that gave us Friendship 7 -- and visions of a bright future -- a mere half-century ago. But on the television today, there's an old man, some 90 years of age, a man clearly of a different age -- an anachronism still in this world, yet not of it.

Not anymore.

Godspeed, John Glenn.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Television's nitwit in the woodpile


It's always 1959 somewhere and this week, that would be Bristol, Conn.

At the testosterone-fueled home of
ESPN, boys will be boys, sports will be sports and Harvard-educated Chinese-American basketball players will be "Chinks," as this account in the Long Island Press demonstrates:

So after the Knicks disappointing loss to the 7-23 Hornets, an offensive headline appeared on ESPN’s mobile site that read “Chink In The Armor.”

It was the first loss the Knicks suffered since coach Mike D’Antoni inserted Jeremy Lin into the starting rotation.

The headline went up with a story just after 2 a.m. on Saturday and was on the site for nearly 40 minutes.

But fans and other readers caught site of the headline and the reaction led to ESPN issuing this apology:

“Last night, ESPN.com’s mobile web site posted an offensive headline referencing Jeremy Lin at 2:30 am ET. The headline was removed at 3:05 am ET. We are conducting a complete review of our cross-platform editorial procedures and are determining appropriate disciplinary action to ensure this does not happen again. We regret and apologize for this mistake.”
ON WHAT PLANET would someone think he could get away with that? Would think it was even clever? Would be so dumb as to not realize that -- in this context -- the usually benign phrase "chink in the armor" is anything but?

On what planet?

On this planet:

Friday, February 17, 2012

DeLorean and a Mr. Fusion II


From Broadcasting - Telecasting, Oct. 17, 1949.

The never-ending ideological and cultural warfare of today makes me crave yesterday. And radio stations like the long-gone KOWH. I wonder why.

Pass the redux capacitor, please.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

WANTED: One DeLorean and a Mr. Fusion


Above, from the Radio Daily newsletter, we see an account of just another day in Omaha radio in 1946.

Below, from the All Access website, we see an account of just another day in Los Angeles radio in 2012.


Clear Channel Talk KFI-A/Los Angeles has suspended afternoon stars John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou for what the station termed "insensitive and inappropriate comments about the late Whitney Houston."

The remarks in question, said by Kobylt on Tuesday's show and circulated , said of how people in Houston's life likely dealt with the singer's decline, "She's been cracked out for 20 years, and we heard how obnoxious she was these parties, I mean, she's doing handstands, she's babbling like an idiot, running around ... she's a mess ... She's been doing this for 20 years.... So, how much of a pain in the ass do you think she was? Can you imagine, you're Clive Davis, and she has not been -- she has not had her head screwed on right for 20 years? At some point you’re just sick of it all, and so is everybody else in the industry, all her friends and hangers on, everybody who knew had to deal with her, it’s like, 'ah, Jesus, here comes the crack ho again, what’s she gonna do; Oh, look at that, she’s doing handstands next to the pool. Very good, crack ho, nice.' After a while, everybody’s exhausted. And then you find out she’s dead. It’s like, 'really ... took this long?'"

ANYONE seen Doc Brown around lately? I need to talk to him.

Enlightened America: Yesterday and today

From Facebook on Wednesday, with this commentary by Political Loudmouth:

On the other hand, if you have some little boys we can have sex with, we'd TOTALLY be down with that. Thanks to Being Liberal for this toon.
AND HERE'S the first comment:
I had this discussion recently with a very Catholic friend of mine. (I am a former Catholic) She says that it is "shooing" the baby out. I had to pull out my BASIC level anatomy book and explain how contraception works. That NO BABY IS EVER MADE. You know, I believe these people have their rights to this belief, I even believe they have they should not be forced to dispense if if they are so against it. But, I want it ENFORCED that not one of them EVER engages in pre-marital sex. ENFORCED; check those hymens, bitches!

BUT EVENTUALLY,
someone objects:
Okay, I am usually really cool about the stuff you post here, and end up sharing lots of it, but I have to say the bit about "some little boys we can have sex with" is truly tasteless and outrageous.

I am Catholic - a bad Catholic. I am not blind to the faults of my religion but I know many priests and other religious (my older sister is a nun, btw) who've suffered the fallout from the criminal actions of the abusers in the Church, and the poor decisions that were made to cover up their actions by Church administration. Wonderful priests, simply because they wear clerical garb, have been ridiculed and taunted and threatened.

Also, by posting that you discredit yourself and make Political Loudmouth appear just as guilty of ignorance as, say, Fox News.



WHICH LEADS
to more "tolerance" of the "diversity" that progressives so self-consciously espouse. Except when they don't.
I was raised by Christian Scienteists. They took "no medical treament" really seriously, which should be an illegal thing to do to kids. My parents were not comepetant to make decsions for themselves, let alone me.

Religion: always evil.

********, we're all sorry you're a mind slave of a gigantic coven of child molesters and their enablers, aka The Catholic Church, but that you are enslved by them doesn't erase the Truth. And sqauwking at people for daring to state a Truth you are hiding from just makes you into part of the problem. Everytime you defend a priest, you are enabling a child molester, which makes you as bad as they are.
I SWEAR, if this country gets any more "enlightened," "liberated" and "progressive," Catholics -- and other inconvenient Christians as well -- will have to emigrate to communist China for a little comparative religious liberty.

Not to mention literacy.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

No dogs or Catholics allowed


On the edge of living memory, the United States had a president who told the nation "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself."

Today, the only thing we can't tolerate is tolerance of those we deem insufficiently tolerant. At its heart, I think that's because we never listened to Franklin Roosevelt in the first place.

We fear. Mainly, we fear the truth when we hear it, no matter from whom we hear it.

We fear those who aren't like us. We fear . . . and we hate. Hate is something that feels better inside one's gut than fear does. So we transform our fear into something easier to stomach.

We know how scared lots of tea-party types have been these last few years. The forces of "tolerance" are quick -- and often correct -- to point that out.

Now, however, we see what Enlightened America fears -- and hates. No. 1 on the list is God. No. 2 are people who take God seriously -- or, rather, those who take seriously the God, as opposed whatever more convenient one we concoct out of the depths of our fear.

Quickie Mart God don't tolerate no Catholics . . . or their inconvenient scruples. That's true in Washington. It's even true in Green Bay, Wis., where the local brownskirts of Planned Parenthood are giving a local Catholic food bank the Susan G. Komen treatment.

AND IT'S TRUE in Denver, as revealed in this Catholic News Agency report:

The Archdiocese of Denver's Theology on Tap program was compelled to seek a new venue after a lecture on religious liberty by Auxiliary Bishop James D. Conley reportedly caused controversy among some patrons and staff.

“This was a misunderstanding and we hope to be able to work with the group again in the future,” Stoney’s Bar and Grill owner Stoney Jesseph told CNA on Feb. 10.

On Jan. 26 Bishop Conley spoke to hundreds of young adults at the bar, which is less than five blocks from Denver’s Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. His topic was “Atheocracy and the Battle for Religious Liberty in America.”

Shortly after the talk, however, organizers were told to find a different location for the program because of its “controversial” content and the fact that that some of the bar staff said they would refuse to work the event again.

“It’s ironic that the talk itself pertains so well to what happened,” said Chris Stefanick, director of the archdiocese’s office for youth, young adults and campus ministry who helps run the event.

Stefanick said he was surprised to hear Jesseph's desire to work with Theology on Tap in the future given that the archdiocese was told by the restaurant that the gathering was “too controversial.”

“Those were the words they used,” he said.

But he suggested that Jesseph’s business partners may have had a role in the decision. “I don’t think it was all on Stoney’s shoulders. Frankly, if it was just up to Stoney, this never would have happened.”

However, for “whatever reason,” he added, “I think the establishment has made it clear that they’d rather not have a public, Catholic event there.”

Theology on Tap is an ongoing outreach program of the archdiocese. It meets in a bar, Stefanick explained, because it intends to provide “a non-threatening place to gather with friends” for Catholics to “draw people into the faith.”

“It’s also a great social connecting point for people to realize they’re not alone.”

The January event was in a section of the bar where other patrons wouldn’t be able to hear what the bishop was saying, added Stefanick, who thought it was only the appearance of a man in a Roman collar that provoked a reaction.

One bar patron, who Stefanick believes was not in a position to hear the talk, shouted obscenities at the bishop.

“The people at the talk couldn’t hear, because the way the amplifiers were set, but the bishop heard him and I heard him.”

A PISS-ANT sports bar in Denver is perfectly free to refuse to play host to Catholics talking about theology because people’s feelings get hurt. Yes, that’s the bar owners’ right.

On the other hand, those who object to Catholics merely talking about religious freedom and contraception hold that the Catholic Church and its affiliates do not have the right to refuse to pay to supply non-chancery employees with something church doctrine holds as profoundly morally objectionable. In other words, "the First Amendment, my ass!"

In what manner does this dichotomy not demonstrate that such anti-Catholic attitudes (and such a willingness to deny certain religious believers basic freedoms) possess all the nobility of those held by the Nazis toward, say, the Jews? Or Custer toward the Sioux? Or Bull Conner toward African-Americans in Birmingham, Ala.?

This is where we stand today: “Unenlightened” Catholics and evangelicals must be legally compelled to affirm and enable all manner of things which offend their beliefs, yet their “betters” in our postmodern society can’t be bothered even to merely tolerate Catholics and evangelicals — or that such actually might possess constitutional rights.

That must be a powerful lot of fear that brings on such a powerful outbreak of bigotry.


HAT TIP: Rod Dreher.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

These parts, back in the day

It was a different time in the great Midwest.

Farmers were farmers . . . and radio was radio. You get a picture of that from the Oct. 28, 1946 edition of Broadcasting - Telecasting magazine.

Yet. . . .

Yeah, this is the Midwest I know, all right. Things change, but this part of God's good earth doesn't change completely.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Nation-building in Afghanistan


Nation-building in Afghanistan always has been a dicey proposition.

Actually, it's always been a failed one. Didn't work so well for the British way back when, and we know what happened to the Soviet effort a couple of decades or so ago.

The American attempt hasn't been going so well, either -- and that's before one starts to wonder exactly what the hell kind of nation we intend on building there, a question raised by this pair of
MSNBC stories:

Days after the Marines apologized for a flag resembling the Nazi “SS” symbol, new questions are being raised about an Army base in Afghanistan reportedly called “Combat Outpost Aryan.”

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation, which first raised the controversy over the “SS” photograph, is now demanding that the outpost be renamed and the circumstances surrounding the naming of the base be investigated.

MRFF founder Mike Weinstein told msnbc.com that he was contacted by numerous U.S. and Afghan soldiers who were upset about the name of the base and wanted it changed. He said he felt compelled to go forward with a complaint.


(snip)


The Department of Defense, however, has said it's all a misunderstanding. A military spokesman told the Army Times that the base name was due to a misunderstanding and a misspelling. The spokesman said the name was actually "Combat Outpost Arian," named for a historical Persian tribe from western Afghanistan. Commander William Speaks told the Huffington Post that the word "Arian" is frequently used by Afghans, and pointed to the name Ariana Airlines.

Weinstein called the military's explanation completely bogus. "At first they said it didn't exist, and now they are saying it does exist but that it is a different name."

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told the Marine Corps on Friday to re-investigate and take appropriate action against the Marine snipers who posed with a logo resembling a notorious Nazi symbol.

The top Marine officer apologized for the incident and ordered his commanders to look into the use of such symbols by snipers and reconnaissance Marines and make sure they are educated on how inappropriate such actions are.

The rapid-fire announcements came on the heels of demands from a leading Jewish organization and others for President Barack Obama to order an investigation into the incident and to hold the troops accountable

Panetta met with Marine Corps Commandant James Amos on Friday to discuss, among other things, a spate of problem incidents involving Marines that have surfaced in recent months. A U.S. defense official said Panetta approved of the actions being taken by Amos to address the problems. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the meeting was private.

An initial Marine investigation into the matter concluded that the troops would not be disciplined because there was no malicious intent. The Marines mistakenly believed the "SS" in the shape of white lightning bolts on the blue flag were a nod to sniper scouts — not members of Adolf Hitler's special unit that murdered millions of Jews, Catholics, gypsies and others, said Maj. Gabrielle Chapin, a spokeswoman at Camp Pendleton, California.


NO DOUBT the Obama Administration is thanking Eros that at least the Marines aren't flying the gold-and-white banner of the Vatican and refusing to take up a collection to supply the natives with free Trojans and a lifetime supply of the morning-after pill.

Because we all know that U.S. military personnel glorifying past, militaristic champions of the perfectibility of the human race -- by any means necessary -- is small potatoes compared to fighting the good fight against religious, anti-contraceptive superstition and unscientific backwardness.

Your United States government will get around to that after it's done eradicating the Real Enemy.