Thursday, January 31, 2008

Omaha Goddam

Alabama's gotten me so upset
Tennessee made me lose my rest
And everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam

This is a show tune
But the show hasn't been written for it, yet

Hound dogs on my trail
School children sitting in jail
Black cat cross my path
I think every day's gonna be my last

Lord have mercy on this land of mine
We all gonna get it in due time
I don't belong here
I don't belong there
I've even stopped believing in prayer
BACK IN 1964, jazz great Nina Simone recorded a scathing indictment of the state of "all men were created equal" in these United States, premised on the reality then that things were bad lots of places, worse yet in Alabama, and in Mississippi . . . goddam!

WHO WOULD HAVE THOUGHT -- for all my city's present-day, all-American problems involving issues of race and class -- that some 19-year-old, liquored-up punk, new to the big city from the hinterlands of South Dakota, would cause people to think "Omaha . . . goddam!" But that's the tragic tale in today's Omaha World-Herald, with the county attorney saying the drunk punk had something terrible in common with the worst Kluxer monsters from Mississippi, 1964:
Kyle Bormann dressed in camouflage, hoisted his hunting rifle and homed in on Brittany Williams for one reason, Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine said today.

The color of her skin.

Kleine said today that Bormann's own words — and the circumstances of the shooting — point to the Jan. 20 slaying of Williams, a 21-year-old black woman and pre-nursing student, as
being race-based.

In formally charging Bormann this morning with first-degree murder and weapon use, Kleine filed notice of his intent to offer an aggravating circumstance that could lead to the death penalty.

The alleged aggravator: that Bormann's choosing of Williams "manifested exceptional depravity by ordinary standards of morality and intelligence."

"This was no accident," Kleine said. "When something senseless like this happens, you have to ask yourself, 'What is it that made this person do this?' That (explanation) comes right out of his mouth."

Bormann's attorney, John J. Kohl, has said he isn't aware of any evidence that suggests his client was racist or racially motivated.

Prosecutors say Bormann, 19, admitted to parking his car about 100 yards away and shooting Williams as she waited in the drive-through lane of the Kentucky Fried Chicken/Long John Silver's restaurant, 7601 N. 30th St. The restaurant is two miles down 30th Street from Bormann's father's Ponca Hills house.

When Bormann was arrested shortly after the shooting, Kleine said, the first words that came out of Bormann's mouth referred to black people.

Bormann, who had been drinking, mentioned being upset with the officiating in the New York Giants-Green Bay Packers NFC Championship game, Kleine said.

Bormann said something about the officiating favoring the black players, Kleine said.

In a later interview at Central Police Headquarters, Bormann also described being "pissed" at black people but gave no specifics, Kleine said.

Kleine acknowledged that some of Bormann's comments in the interview were contradictory.

At times, Kleine said, Bormann denied being racist or shooting Williams based on her race.

And several minutes after admitting to the shooting, he denied having shot her at all, Kleine said.

He said the avid hunter also described himself as a good shot.


"We cannot and will not tolerate or ignore the evil of racial prejudice," Kleine said in prepared remarks. "We will honor Brittany Williams' life and the lives of all victims of violent crime by seeking justice and doing everything within our power to prevent these acts of violence borne of these disturbing and unimaginable thoughts."

Morris, Williams' friend, noted that Williams was killed on the night before Martin Luther King Day. Morris, Williams and other members of Alpha Kappa Alpha, a mostly African-American sorority, had planned to observe the holiday by volunteering to paint at a local nonprofit organization.

"All I can say is Brittany's family is grieving," Morris said. "This is going to make it more painful again, to think that their baby was killed because she was black."
HOW MANY have marched, have sat in, have been set upon by police dogs and fire hoses? How many have been jailed and beaten?

In the decades-long fight against hatred, segregation and racism in America, how many have been martyred in the hope that what happened to Brittany Williams in Omaha last week would be banished from our national makeup forever? But, according to the local prosecutor, it hasn't.

Not here, at least. And probably not anywhere else, either.

Now, a 21-year-old woman -- one with her whole bright future ahead of her -- has been added to the hallowed roster of America's civil-rights martyrs. And all she wanted was some KFC.

The struggle continues. May God's mercy be upon us all.

The brownshirt strikes back

Over at Louisiana, "Avman" just doesn't get it:
I’ve had it with some people’s stupidity. Where’s common sense at? I laid out the reasons why I will not support John McCain, and instead of trying to give me a reason to support him, I get called a Brown shirt, and exactly who is trying to intimidate who again? When I say I don’t support John McCain’s 100 year war in Iraq, I mean that I don’t support wars that last so long that eventually everybody forgets why we are fighting. I mean that I don’t want to commit children who haven’t even been born yet to an endless war. When I say I want to do what is necessary to win a war, that means I want to keep war to a minimum instead of supporting decades of mothers and fathers crying because their child died in a war that nobody even knows why they are fighting. What’s so ridiculous about wanting wars to be short lived? Would anybody actually argue that 20 year wars are better than a five year war? How stupid is that? When wars are fought, do what it takes to win it, and win it quickly. Cripes, where’s General Patton when you need him?
WELL, THEN. If "do what is necessary" is the be-all, end-all "gold standard" of human conduct, let's just blow the whole Middle East to hell with our nuclear arsenal -- and China, too! -- and we can win the War on Terror and solve global warming via nuclear winter in one swell foop!

Then, back at home, we can attack the nation's crime problem by overturning the Supreme Court's Miranda decision and then move on to waterboarding suspected gang bangers until they rat out every Crip, Blood and MS-13 hoodlum from sea to shining sea.

And, you know, the poor are a pretty bad drag on the rest of us, even when they're not committing crimes. Maybe . . . I mean, if we're truly committed to "do what is necessary" to build a more literate, prosperous and orderly country . . . maybe we just ought to "eliminate" the problem.

Wink, wink. Nudge, nudge. Say no more! Say no more!

Cripes, where's Adolf Hitler when you need him?

THEN AGAIN, maybe we could just try another tack. Maybe we could start by adhering to the Geneva Conventions.

And maybe we could try not attacking countries on the flimsiest of suspicions that they might try something funny.

After we've mastered those things, maybe we could crack open some compendium of the moral law -- I like the Catechism of the Catholic Church, myself -- and take it to heart. Like this part, for example:

Respect for bodily integrity

2297 Kidnapping and hostage taking bring on a reign of terror; by means of threats they subject their victims to intolerable pressures. They are morally wrong. Terrorism threatens, wounds, and kills indiscriminately; it is gravely against justice and charity. Torture which uses physical or moral violence to extract confessions, punish the guilty, frighten opponents, or satisfy hatred is contrary to respect for the person and for human dignity. Except when performed for strictly therapeutic medical reasons, directly intended amputations, mutilations, and sterilizations performed on innocent persons are against the moral law.91

2298 In times past, cruel practices were commonly used by legitimate governments to maintain law and order, often without protest from the Pastors of the Church, who themselves adopted in their own tribunals the prescriptions of Roman law concerning torture. Regrettable as these facts are, the Church always taught the duty of clemency and mercy. She forbade clerics to shed blood. In recent times it has become evident that these cruel practices were neither necessary for public order, nor in conformity with the legitimate rights of the human person. On the contrary, these practices led to ones even more degrading. It is necessary to work for their abolition. We must pray for the victims and their tormentors.

Respect for the dead

2299 The dying should be given attention and care to help them live their last moments in dignity and peace. They will be helped by the prayer of their relatives, who must see to it that the sick receive at the proper time the sacraments that prepare them to meet the living God.

2300 The bodies of the dead must be treated with respect and charity, in faith and hope of the Resurrection. The burial of the dead is a corporal work of mercy;92 it honors the children of God, who are temples of the Holy Spirit.




2302 By recalling the commandment, "You shall not kill,"94 our Lord asked for peace of heart and denounced murderous anger and hatred as immoral.

Anger is a desire for revenge. "To desire vengeance in order to do evil to someone who should be punished is illicit," but it is praiseworthy to impose restitution "to correct vices and maintain justice."95 If anger reaches the point of a deliberate desire to kill or seriously wound a neighbor, it is gravely against charity; it is a mortal sin. The Lord says, "Everyone who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment."96

2303 Deliberate hatred is contrary to charity. Hatred of the neighbor is a sin when one deliberately wishes him evil. Hatred of the neighbor is a grave sin when one deliberately desires him grave harm. "But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven."97

2304 Respect for and development of human life require peace. Peace is not merely the absence of war, and it is not limited to maintaining a balance of powers between adversaries. Peace cannot be attained on earth without safeguarding the goods of persons, free communication among men, respect for the dignity of persons and peoples, and the assiduous practice of fraternity. Peace is "the tranquillity of order."98 Peace is the work of justice and the effect of charity.99

2305 Earthly peace is the image and fruit of the peace of Christ, the messianic "Prince of Peace."100 By the blood of his Cross, "in his own person he killed the hostility,"101 he reconciled men with God and made his Church the sacrament of the unity of the human race and of its union with God. "He is our peace."102 He has declared: "Blessed are the peacemakers."103

2306 Those who renounce violence and bloodshed and, in order to safeguard human rights, make use of those means of defense available to the weakest, bear witness to evangelical charity, provided they do so without harming the rights and obligations of other men and societies. They bear legitimate witness to the gravity of the physical and moral risks of recourse to violence, with all its destruction and death.104

SO, I MAY BE STUPID, but I do understand one important thing that American brownshirts don't. Many things are possible. Not all are permitted, lest we ourselves become that which we find repellent.

The 'Hot 100' meets 'Jailhouse Rock'

If you're in radio, you probably have an ego.

If you love music, you probably have strong opinions about it.

When egomaniacs with strong opinions clash, what you're usually dealing with is a few well-placed F-bombs and, at worst, somebody picking up his toys -- or CD collection, as the case may be -- and stomping out the door. However . . . when the temperamental "artiste" doesn't get his way, the drama queen's closing act usually doesn't involve pouring gasoline into the control board and watching the whole place
go up in flames.

Usually. But then again, this is the new millennium, and we all seem to be a lot more pissed and "on the edge" than we used to be.

And thus, from The Associated Press, we get this tale of how the "Hot 100" turned into "Jailhouse Rock":
A volunteer at a community radio station set fire to the station because he was upset that his song selections for an overnight Internet broadcast were changed, police said.

Paul Webster Feinstein, 24, has been charged with second-degree felony arson for the Jan. 5 fire, which caused $300,000 worth of damage to the studios of 91.7 FM KOOP. He faces from two to 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine if convicted.

Feinstein told investigators that he was "very unhappy" about the changes to his playlist, said Austin Fire Department Battalion Chief Greg Nye. The songs were intended for an Internet broadcast that occurs when the station is off the air.

"He had a dream of a career in radio and was very disappointed about where it had led him," Nye said.

An attorney for Feinstein could not be reached for comment.

Station president Andrew Dickens said Feinstein had been in a dispute with another volunteer about what kind of music should be put into a digital library for the Internet program.


The fire was the third the station has dealt with in the past two years. The first was ruled accidental. The second was caused by a malfunction in a heating and air-conditioning unit of a nearby business and forced the station to move.

This month's fire knocked the station off the air for 19 days. It resumed broadcasting last week in donated space.

"We are kind of worried that people will look at us like a bunch of idiots," Dickens said. "This is really just one of those out-of-the-blue situations. Who the hell would have thought somebody would have snapped?"

I WOULD. Remember, we seem to be living in some kind of Brave New World, and the center did not hold down on the Animal Farm. And see whether YOU can work references to Aldous Huxley, Walker Percy and George Orwell into a single, straightforward sentence.

Thank you . . . thank you very much for your kind applause. And, no, you can't use my sentence.

Another reason I'd believe what happened at KOOP is because I once worked at Pope FM. Click on the Pope FM tag under "Labels" and see what I mean. And those posts don't even touch the craziest stuff that went on there.


I may write about that chapter at Pope FM someday, but I doubt you'd believe it.

We're with the government, and we're immune

Now federal judges decide not to be activist.

reports The Associated Press, the law's the law, the gummint found it a district judge who actually believed that s*** and, thus, the Army Corps of Engineers gets away with murder. Or, at least, rank incompetence and malfeasance that was just as good as murder:
A federal judge threw out a key class-action lawsuit Wednesday against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers over levee breaches after Hurricane Katrina, saying that the agency failed to protect the city but that his hands were tied by the law.

U.S. District Judge Stanwood Duval ruled that the Corps should be held immune over failures in drainage canals that caused much of the flooding of New Orleans in August 2005.

The ruling relies on the Flood Control Act of 1928, which made the federal government immune when flood control projects like levees break.

The suit led to about 489,000 claims by businesses, government entities and residents, totaling trillions of dollars in damages against the agency.

The fate of many of those claims was pinned to that lawsuit and a similar one filed over flooding from a navigation channel in St. Bernard Parish. It was unclear how many claims could still move forward.

In his ruling, Duval said he was forced by law to hold the Corps immune even though the agency "cast a blind eye" in protecting New Orleans and "squandered millions of dollars in building a levee system ... which was known to be inadequate by the Corps' own calculations."

But, Duval said, "it is not within the Court's power to address the wrongs committed. It is hopefully within the citizens of the United States' power to address the failures of our laws and agencies."

Breaches at both the 17th Street and London Avenue canals allowed flood water to inundate large areas of the city from near Lake Pontchartrain to the north to the edge of downtown.

Throughout the court proceedings, plaintiffs lawyers knew they faced a daunting task because the canals were, over time, used as flood control projects by the Corps.

"I knew we had an uphill battle. But we had to do it," plaintiffs lawyer Joseph Bruno said. "It's an outrage. Read the opinion: The judge reads through all the negligence by the Corps, but says he had to rule the way he had to."
IN CASE YOU were wondering, no, life ain't fair. And a fair amount of the time, it's downright tragic.

Every silver lining has a cloud

The Lord giveth, reporteth the Times of London:
American TV networks have lost almost a quarter of their audiences because of the Hollywood writers' strike, according to new figures, and executives fear that “orphaned” viewers may never return.

The Nielsen ratings organisation found that US viewership for last week's opening of the 2008 TV season was down 21 per cent compared with the same week last year, when new episodes of hit shows such as Desperate Housewives and Grey's Anatomy were aired.

Because the strike has shut down production of all scripted shows, the networks are now almost completely out of fresh material to broadcast, instead relying on reality TV franchises such as American Idol.

The channel CW - home of Gossip Girl and America's Next Top Model - lost 50 per cent of viewers in the 18 to 49-year-old bracket sampled by Nielsen. “It's hard to ignore the declines,” the Hollywood trade magazine Variety said. It said that last week's figures were the first real evidence of the damage from the strike because previous weeks had been skewed by sporting events and Christmas holiday programming.
AND THE LORD taketh away:
Not everyone lost out. Perhaps because of the controversy over her pregnancy, Jamie Lynn Spears, the 16-year-old sister of Britney Spears, saw her sitcom, Zoey 101, on the Nickelodeon children's channel attract a record six million viewers.

The show was filmed last summer - before the strike and before Spears revealed that she was pregnant.

Can we afford two for the price of one?

Haven't we had enough of this? At long last, haven't we had enough?

MORE CLINTON SHENANIGANS, as reported in today's New York Times:
Late on Sept. 6, 2005, a private plane carrying the Canadian mining financier Frank Giustra touched down in Almaty, a ruggedly picturesque city in southeast Kazakhstan. Several hundred miles to the west a fortune awaited: highly coveted deposits of uranium that could fuel nuclear reactors around the world. And Mr. Giustra was in hot pursuit of an exclusive deal to tap them.

Unlike more established competitors, Mr. Giustra was a newcomer to uranium mining in Kazakhstan, a former Soviet republic. But what his fledgling company lacked in experience, it made up for in connections. Accompanying Mr. Giustra on his luxuriously appointed MD-87 jet that day was a former president of the United States, Bill Clinton.

Upon landing on the first stop of a three-country philanthropic tour, the two men were whisked off to share a sumptuous midnight banquet with Kazakhstan’s president, Nursultan A. Nazarbayev, whose 19-year stranglehold on the country has all but quashed political dissent.

Mr. Nazarbayev walked away from the table with a propaganda coup, after Mr. Clinton expressed enthusiastic support for the Kazakh leader’s bid to head an international organization that monitors elections and supports democracy. Mr. Clinton’s public declaration undercut both American foreign policy and sharp criticism of Kazakhstan’s poor human rights record by, among others, Mr. Clinton’s wife, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York.

Within two days, corporate records show that Mr. Giustra also came up a winner when his company signed preliminary agreements giving it the right to buy into three uranium projects controlled by Kazakhstan’s state-owned uranium agency, Kazatomprom.

The monster deal stunned the mining industry, turning an unknown shell company into one of the world’s largest uranium producers in a transaction ultimately worth tens of millions of dollars to Mr. Giustra, analysts said.

Just months after the Kazakh pact was finalized, Mr. Clinton’s charitable foundation received its own windfall: a $31.3 million donation from Mr. Giustra that had remained a secret until he acknowledged it last month. The gift, combined with Mr. Giustra’s more recent and public pledge to give the William J. Clinton Foundation an additional $100 million, secured Mr. Giustra a place in Mr. Clinton’s inner circle, an exclusive club of wealthy entrepreneurs in which friendship with the former president has its privileges.

Mr. Giustra was invited to accompany the former president to Almaty just as the financier was trying to seal a deal he had been negotiating for months.

In separate written responses, both men said Mr. Giustra traveled with Mr. Clinton to Kazakhstan, India and China to see first-hand the philanthropic work done by his foundation.

A spokesman for Mr. Clinton said the former president knew that Mr. Giustra had mining interests in Kazakhstan but was unaware of “any particular efforts” and did nothing to help. Mr. Giustra said he was there as an “observer only” and there was “no discussion” of the deal with Mr. Nazarbayev or Mr. Clinton.

But Moukhtar Dzhakishev, president of Kazatomprom, said in an interview that Mr. Giustra did discuss it, directly with the Kazakh president, and that his friendship with Mr. Clinton “of course made an impression.” Mr. Dzhakishev added that Kazatomprom chose to form a partnership with Mr. Giustra’s company based solely on the merits of its offer.
After The Times told Mr. Giustra that others said he had discussed the deal with Mr. Nazarbayev, Mr. Giustra responded that he “may well have mentioned my general interest in the Kazakhstan mining business to him, but I did not discuss the ongoing” efforts.

As Mrs. Clinton’s presidential campaign has intensified, Mr. Clinton has begun severing financial ties with Ronald W. Burkle, the supermarket magnate, and Vinod Gupta, the chairman of InfoUSA, to avoid any conflicts of interest. Those two men have harnessed the former president’s clout to expand their businesses while making the Clintons rich through partnership and consulting arrangements.
AFTER ALL, Bill Clinton always said that if you voted for him, "you get two for the price of one."

If that was a problem in 1992. . . .

While I'm stealing from Mark Shea. . . .

This, I dare say, is the most brilliant and hilarious thing produced this presidential campaign.

The fact that it's absolutely, positively, literally and metaphorically true makes it even more perfect. God, I love the Internet. And computer audio and video editing.

Alexander Payne: prophet.

Pass me that sticky roller, Tex

OK, I see this posted on Mark Shea's blog. "Looks interesting," think I, "don't have time to look at it."

So, a while ago, I see it on the Boar's Head Tavern blog. I decide maybe it's worth a look if the viral video has become this infectious.

As one of the cats at church might say, "That's totally sick!" I think that means good. Because it is. Hilariously so.

And so, so true. Metaphysically, of course.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Four Songs: Something to be against

The world, you know, would be a boring and homogeneous place if we all were for the same things . . . had all the same opinions. It would be terrible, I think, to have nothing to argue about.

BUT THERE ARE some things -- some attitudes -- that it's really important that we all be against. There are some people who ought to be marginalized, because they so proudly proclaim what is the absolute worst of us.

Not surprisingly, a lot of the time, odious ideas and malignant sentiments surface in the heat of political battles. It's happening now, and that is what this episode of Four Songs is all about.

Listen. And think.

Profiles in courage

Interesting, isn't it, how a once-great nation that at least used to try to live up to its founding ideals -- no matter how short of them it often fell -- retires not with great fanfare to await history's judgment, but instead fades to black to the equivocating monotone of small men in natty suits and power ties?

HERE IS another chapter in America's long retreat, as reported by The Associated Press:
Senate Democrats accused Attorney General Michael Mukasey of ducking questions Wednesday on whether waterboarding is torture despite his promise last year to study whether it is illegal.

The issue briefly stalled Mukasey's confirmation last fall until he assured Senate Democrats he would review the legality of the harsh interrogation tactic and report back.

Waterboarding involves strapping a person down and pouring water over his cloth-covered face to create the sensation of drowning.

Ultimately, however, Mukasey said Wednesday he would not rule on whether waterboarding is a form of illegal torture because it is not part of the current interrogation methods used by the CIA on terror suspects. Despite having called waterboarding personally repugnant, Mukasey's non-answer angered Democrats who said the attorney general should be able to address a legal question.

"I think failure to say something probably puts some of our people in more danger than not," said Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., the Judiciary Committee's chairman.

"It's like you're opposed to stealing but not quite sure that bank robbery would qualify," retorted Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass.

Mukasey, in his trademark monotone, did not appear rattled. He said he has concluded that current methods used by the CIA to interrogate terror suspects are lawful and that the spy agency is not using waterboarding on its prisoners.

Beyond that, Mukasey said he would not discuss whether he thinks waterboarding is illegal.

"Given that waterboarding is not part of the current program, and may never be added to the program, I do not think it would be appropriate for me to pass definitive judgment on the technique's legality," Mukasey said in his first appearance before the committee since being sworn in Nov. 9.

And in this corner . . . insanity

I stumbled across this piece of right-wing, paranoid sludge from some outfit by the name of Louisiana What's more troubling, however, is that I can't dismiss this as the fascist rantings -- and this is modern-day American fascism on display -- of some crackpot on the lunatic fringe, high as a kite on swamp gas.

No, this -- ahem -- stuff is far too "mainstream conservative" (or at least what passes for it nowadays) to be on the fringe of anything, except that of human decency.

What's really rich is that "Avman" can't see the total contradiction -- not to mention irony -- of being pissed at Sen. John McCain, the new frontrunner for the GOP presidential nomination, for not being willing to do the full Hitler in prosecuting the War on Terror and for not being pro-life enough.

Really, by "Avman's" own standards, we ought to send the ghost of Curtis LeMay to nuke Louisiana, because the War on Ignorance is nothing to screw around with. Look at this stuff. I mean, really:
Many of my conservative friends remain staunchly behind the war in Iraq and I am with them in such a cause. Like them, I understand that we fight this war today so that our children, our grandchildren, and so on won’t have to. We fight this war today because we want to live in peace.

But in his desire to be president, John McCain misunderstands the conservative position on Iraq. When John McCain stated that being in Iraq for 100 years would be “fine with me.” he grossly misunderstands why conservatives want our troops in Iraq to begin with. Being in Iraq for 100 years means we are committing our children, grand-children, and even their grand children to war that we fight… so our kids won’t have to. If our intentions are to be in Iraq for the next 100 years, let’s go ahead and get out of Iraq now.

I believe it is John McCain’s position to be in Iraq for another one hundred years because I don’t believe he’s willing to do what it takes to win in Iraq, especially when he’d rather trust and team up with the ACLU than to listen to our military advisors.. What I mean is that war isn’t pretty, it isn’t compassionate, it isn’t anything but death and destruction, the best war is won quickly. We can try to water it down by refusing to torture our enemies, as McCain would have us do, but if we aren’t willing to do certain things to our enemies, especially when our enemies are willing to do those very things to us, then we as a nation are not ready for war.

A compassionate war is a war that’s won quickly and our men and women serving are brought home as soon as it’s over, not over the course of a hundred years, as John McCain would have it go. I am for the war in Iraq, I’m for us doing what is necessary to annihilate our enemies. I’m for sending a message to the world that starting a war with the United States is a grave mistake.

And let’s not forget that John McCain is so pro military, that when Bill Clinton was down sizings the military, John McCain… Well, John McCain didn’t stand up against the downsizing. He was Missing In Action, no pun intended. Come to think of it, where was John McCain during the build up to the Iraq war, other than saying what an easy task it would be?


In 1999, John McCain stated very clearly that “In the short term, or even the long term, I would not support repeal of Roe vs. Wade, which would then force X number of women in American to undergo illegal and dangerous operations.”. Today, John McCain is clearly pro-life, finding this position recently while running for President. John McCain’s many statements on abortions and Roe V Wade also shows that he has a misunderstanding of what Roe V Wade would do if it were overturned. Though he now supports overturning Roe V Wade, he would keep abortion legal in cases of rape and incest, however, if Roe V Wade were to be overturned, that decision would fall into the hands of the fifty individual states, not in the hands of the President, 100 Senators, and the representatives.

So whether it’s been on issues regarding the national defense such as illegal immigration, on economic issues such as Bush’s tax cuts, or on social issues like gun ownership, abortion, and embryonic stem cell research, John McCain’s conservativism makes Hillary Clinton look like an ideal candidate instead of the bane of he Right.

While many of us in the Republican Party have gone into a fanatical anti Ron Paul rage, we’ve quickly surrendered our principles and are on the verge of electing a RINO as our Presidential nominee. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying John McCain doesn’t deserve to win his party’s nomination, it’s just that his party is truly the Democrat party.
I THOUGHT conservatives sought to . . . well, conserve things like the rule of law and human dignity. You know, all that stuff like "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

The rule of American law, the moral law and international law says torture is wrong. Period. Likewise, the law -- a highly "conservative" concept, to be sure -- says neither America nor any other country gets to blow any other country to Kingdom Come just to show the world we're bad asses who aren't to be screwed with.

Obviously, some "conservatives" have forgotten all that.

So get out the brown shirts, boys. 'Cause some right-wing clown in Louisiana has just shown his -- and your -- true colors.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

High school musical student council

Who's ready to be president from Day One? The Hill provides some inadvertent insight on that question:
In one instance Clinton appeared to gauge Obama’s response before showing her own.

When Bush warned the Iranian government that “America will confront those who threaten our troops, we will stand by our allies, and we will defend our vital interests in the Persian Gulf” Obama jumped up to applaud. Clinton leaned across Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.), seated to her left, to look in Obama’s direction before slowly standing.

The Illinois senator strongly criticized the former first lady last year when she supported a resolution calling for Iran’s Revolutionary Guard to be designated a terrorist organization. Obama supporters and other Democrats charged the vote would give Bush political cover to begin military operations against Iran.
MAKING UP your own mind on things is a trait I think most Americans would like their president to possess. Waiting to see what your opponent does to see whether it's OK for you to do it, too, is just so . . . well . . . high school.

Then again, maybe part of our problem is that so much of presidential politics -- and American governance in general -- is just so "high school."

That certainly would explain how my fellow Democrats got to be so monolitihic about the notion that encouraging the killing of babies in their mothers' wombs is passable public policy.

Because the Packers lost. . . .

This is so messed up, I don't know where to start.

But an Omaha television station is reporting, citing multiple sources, that a 21-year-old college student died . . . was murdered . . . because the Green Bay Packers lost to the New York Giants.

YOU READ correctly: KMTV, citing its sources and police reports, says 19-year-old Kyle Bormann had been watching the ball game, getting liquored up and getting madder by the minute. And then, say the station's sources, he decided that because the Packers sucked, someone in Omaha was going to die:

Why would anyone gun down a random women in a drive-thru? Until now, few knew. Multiple sources shed light on the shocking evidence. Evidence, that the Green Bay Packers losing playoff performance, could be one of many things that motivated Kyle Bormann to allegedly kill Brittany Williams.

Picking up dinner for her father, Brittany Williams dies in a drive-thru. Eight-thirty on January 20th, a bullet rips through her car, killing her instantly. Police say Kyle Bormann pulled the trigger on a high-powered rifle one hundred yards up 30th Street from the Florence fast-food restaurant.

According to police booking sheets, Bormann had been drinking before the murder. Multiple sources tell Action 3 News the drinking coincided with watching the Green Bay Packers, New York Giants football game. At some point during the game, Action 3 News sources confirm Bormann became enraged with the Packers' poor play. His anger mixed with alcohol, they say, led him to leave home, go to the Florence neighborhood and randomly kill Brittany Williams.
GREEN BAY, we have a problem.

I can understand getting mad and killing the TV. Stupid . . . but understandable. But drunkenly deciding that a young woman, an honor student, must die because the Packers lost?

I have no words for that.

If all this is true, here's to a 19-year-old loser's new favorite football team . . . the Mean Machine.

Monday, January 28, 2008

A messiah with clay feet

Some people never learn. It's bad when one of those people is "The Decider."

Here's President Bush from tonight's State of the Union address:

This is the business of our Nation here at home. Yet building a prosperous future for our citizens also depends on confronting enemies abroad and advancing liberty in troubled regions of the world.

Our foreign policy is based on a clear premise: We trust that people, when given the chance, will choose a future of freedom and peace. In the last 7 years, we have witnessed stirring moments in the history of liberty. We have seen citizens in Georgia and Ukraine stand up for their right to free and fair elections. We have seen people in Lebanon take to the streets to demand their independence. We have seen Afghans emerge from the tyranny of the Taliban to choose a new president and a new parliament. We have seen jubilant Iraqis holding up ink-stained fingers and celebrating their freedom. And these images of liberty have inspired us.

In the past 7 years, we have also seen images that have sobered us. We have watched throngs of mourners in Lebanon and Pakistan carrying the caskets of beloved leaders taken by the assassin’s hand. We have seen wedding guests in blood-soaked finery staggering from a hotel in Jordan, Afghans and Iraqis blown up in mosques and markets, and trains in London and Madrid ripped apart by bombs. And on a clear September day, we saw thousands of our fellow citizens taken from us in an instant. These horrific images serve as a grim reminder: The advance of liberty is opposed by terrorists and extremists — evil men who despise freedom, despise America, and aim to subject millions to their violent rule.

Since September 11, we have taken the fight to these terrorists and extremists. We will stay on the offense, we will keep up the pressure, and we will deliver justice to the enemies of America.
THE OVERREACHING MESSIANISM of the first part of that quotation from Bush ensures that we will "stay on the offense" for decades to come, because -- as did the leadership and much of the membership of al Qaida, as did the leadership and much of the membership of countless warring Iraqi militias -- people all over the world often choose a future of oppression and violence.

The utopianism of universal democracy spreading across the globe -- across wildly divergent cultures, across staggering chasms between rich and poor, developed lands and backward ones -- denies the reality of the Fall and the sovereignty of God Almighty every bit as much as did the Communist utopianism of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin and Mao.

These past five years, our messianic, American utopianism has not fared well against the hard, fallen reality of Iraq -- given free and fair elections, Iraqis did not elect generally secular, generally moderate men and women to high office. They elected Shiite goons, and they reaped nationwide ethnic cleansing and terror.

And we are still there, reaping the whirlwind in an unwise, unjust and unsustainable war.

AGAIN, the President of the United States:

America is a force for hope in the world because we are a compassionate people, and some of the most compassionate Americans are those who have stepped forward to protect us. We must keep faith with all who have risked life and limb so that we might live in freedom and peace. Over the past 7 years, we have increased funding for veterans by more than 95 percent. As we increase funding, we must also reform our veterans system to meet the needs of a new war and a new generation. I call on the Congress to enact the reforms recommended by Senator Bob Dole and Secretary Donna Shalala, so we can improve the system of care for our wounded warriors and help them build lives of hope, promise, and dignity.

Our military families also sacrifice for America. They endure sleepless nights and the daily struggle of providing for children while a loved one is serving far from home. We have a responsibility to provide for them. So I ask you to join me in expanding their access to childcare, creating new hiring preferences for military spouses across the Federal Government, and allowing our troops to transfer their unused education benefits to their spouses or children. Our military families serve our Nation, they inspire our Nation, and tonight our Nation honors them.
SEE ABOVE. How wonderful it would have been if the fool residing at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. had realized a few cold, hard facts of life.

Perhaps then . . . oh forget it.

With Science on Our Side

The trouble with reporters comes when they don't know what they don't know.

COME TO THINK of it, that's the same trouble Pope Benedict XVI is trying to warn people about when it comes to putting undue faith in "science." Basically, the pope is trying to say that science is a grand thing when it's limited to its areas of competence.

The human heart and soul are not among these.

And it's when the pope starts to speak of such things -- and of the limitations of scientific competence -- that it really becomes obvious that, also, there are limits to the competence of journalists. Well, obvious to lots of people but, sadly, not to one Reuters reporter, who just doesn't get it at all:

Pope Benedict warned on Monday of the "seductive" powers of science that relegate man's spirituality, reviving the science-versus-religion debate which recently forced him to cancel a speech after student protests.

"In an age when scientific developments attract and seduce with the possibilities they offer, it's more important than ever to educate our contemporaries' consciences so that science does not become the criteria for goodness," he told scientists.

Scientific investigation should be accompanied by "research into anthropology, philosophy and theology" to give insight into "man's own mystery, because no science can say who man is, where he comes from or where he is going," the Pope said.


The Pope reiterated a plea, made in many speeches since he was elected in 2005, for mankind to be "respected as the centre of creation" and not relegated by more short-term interests.

But the conservative German-born Pope's public stand on issues such as abortion and embryonic stem-cell research lead critics to accuse him of holding antiquated views on science.

WHAT SCIENCE vs. religion debate? Saying that science is not well suited to diagnose the longings of the human heart and the troubles of the human soul isn't exactly a reprise of the Scopes "monkey trial." It's just stating the obvious -- some things belong to the realms of philosophy and theology.

And anyone who has a problem with that just doesn't know what he doesn't know.

Of course, the Reuters guy isn't the first member of the Fourth Estate to epitomize the Peter Principle. Last night, I was watching the last half of "No Direction Home," Martin Scorsese's public-TV biopic of Bob Dylan. Trust me, there's not much funnier than the press putting its utter cluelessness on display (above) before the world -- and Mr. Dylan -- in 1965.

Google "Dylan" "press conference" and "1965" and watch the whole thing. You won't be sorry you did.

Friday, January 25, 2008

3 Chords & the Truth: It's Carnival time

Eat, drink and be merry, for Wednesday after next starts Lent.

So, on this latest episode of 3 Chords & the Truth, we're picking up where this week's Four Songs left off . . . and we're partying in New Orleans. Well, at least virtually.

Down in the Crescent City, they're working up to the Big Finish of Carnival time -- Mardi Gras. (That's "Fat Tuesday" for the Gallic-challenged among us.) Now is the time when you make a little more merry than usual as we fast head toward Ash Wednesday -- Feb. 6 this year -- when the six weeks of Lent begin.

Lent, basically, is a time of penance for Christians, a time when we take stock of the Important Things and show that we're reallyreallyreallyreally sorry for all the really inventive (and mundane) ways we've managed to royally screw up the past 12 months. And then we try to do better, as we head for Easter, the great feast celebrating Christ's victory over death -- the happy ending to Good Friday, the day our sins got nailed to the cross with our Savior.

At least, that's the game plan.

ANYWAY, on today's Big Show, count on hearing aural goodness from Shawn Mullins, Fleetwood Mac, the Beatles, Billy Bragg, Professor Longhair (a.k.a. Henry Roeland Byrd), The Meters, Zachary Richard, Dr. John, Ingrid Michaelson and too many more to clog your browser with here.

So, I guess you'll have to tune in, er, download the show. 3 Chords & the Truth, that is.

Come and pass a good time, cher!

Teen-age mutant ninja whack jobs

If you took the reports trickling over the news wires about criminally disturbed teen-agers and replaced "arrested in the death of" or "massacred" with "infected by avian influenza," you could start a national panic.

As far as we know, however, there has not been one reported case of bird flu among American teens. All we have here are reported cases of sporadic atrocities -- ranging from school massacres to mall rampages to suicide pacts to the random unexplainable murder -- carried out by our children.

Ho hum.

Now let's get back to our plasma TVs, which hang in our McMansions, which we're trying to figure out how to pay for, while Junior shifts for himself because Mom and Dad (or Mom and Stepdad . . . or Dad and Stepmom, or . . . ?) are otherwise occupied.

"Say, what's on TCM, hon?"

"'Lord of the Flies'"

BUT FIRST, this special report from Nashville, Tenn. Here's
The Associated Press with breaking news:
A teenage passenger from California was arrested in Nashville for plotting to hijack a plane from Los Angeles to Nashville, the FBI said Friday.

FBI spokesman George Bolds told The Associated Press the 16-year-old boy was removed from Southwest Airlines Flight 284 Tuesday night by authorities at Nashville International Airport and found with "suspicious" items.

Bolds said the teen had handcuffs, rope and duct tape in his bag and was believed to be traveling alone. The juvenile's name has not been released.

"His plan had a low probability of success," Bolds said.


FBI's Bolds dismissed earlier broadcast reports that the teen was planning to crash the plane into a "Hannah Montana" concert in Lafayette, La.

Bolds said it has not been determined if the boy was trying to crash the plane. He said authorities searched the teen's home in California and found a mock cockpit.

The teen is believed to be suicidal, Bolds said. Bolds said he could not comment further on the teen's mental condition because he is a minor.

Bolds said the teen was calm throughout the flight and never made an attempt to hijack the plane but told the FBI after he was apprehended about his original plans to commandeer the aircraft.
TWO QUESTIONS: Does this child have parents? If so, where the hell were they?

Just asking.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Oh, for God's sake!

Thank you, March for Life people, for making my point for me.

If you want to know why -- despite being dedicated to sticking up for the most vulnerable and powerless humans that ever were or ever will be -- the pro-life movement has accomplished squat over the past 35 years, you need read no further than this from the
Catholic News Service:
Among the speakers on the stage, Rep. Christopher Smith, R-N.J., headed a long string of politicians who took to the microphone to make sure participants saw the fight against abortion in political terms. He warned that "America's liberal elites" were "empathy-deficient" when it comes to the unborn, turning around a phrase about Americans made by Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., in remarks on the presidential campaign trail a few days earlier.

A brief roar of agreement greeted a warning by Sen. David Vitter, R-La., that electing Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., or Obama as president would mean nominees for federal judgeships would be less pro-life than those nominated under President George W. Bush, so "we need to elect a pro-life president."

Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, himself a candidate for president, downplayed those ambitions to emphasize his experience as an obstetrician, helping bring 4,000 babies into the world. Dozens of "Ron Paul for President" banners held high above the crowd made a point of his political ambitions for him.

In his remarks recorded at a White House breakfast earlier that morning and replayed at the rally, Bush lauded those who work for "a culture of life where a woman with an unplanned pregnancy knows there are caring people who will support her; where a
pregnant teen can carry her child and complete her education; where the dignity of both the mother and child is honored and cherished."
IF I WERE Chris Smith, I'd be worried less about the "empathy" deficiency of "America's liberal elites" and worried more about the dumbass sufficiency of America's right-to-life elites.

(And, as a Catholic, I'd worry about the utter Pravdaesque "report no evil" incompetence of the Catholic News Service -- but that's a matter for another post someday.)

See, here's what the irony-insensitive CNS report failed to tell you. And, sadly, what CNS failed to tell you is pretty much all the context you need to know why the pro-life movement, as it's presently constituted, is a doomed proposition.

Let's start with Sen. David Vitter, R.-La.

Sen. Vitter, you see, likes nookie. And, during his political career -- both back in the Bayou State and in Washington -- he has liked nookie so much he's been willing to pay top dollar for it.

From women not Mrs. Vitter.

That is called soliciting prostitution, making Vitter a "john," even though his name is David. This activity is quite illegal in 49 of the 50 states. That's why it was so big a deal when Vitter's number turned up in the phone records of the "D.C. Madam."

And it's why it was such a big deal when the working girl who "loved" him back in New Orleans started blabbing to Penthouse publisher Larry Flynt. Some folks back in Louisiana thought Vitter ought to resign his seat or be kicked out of the U.S. Senate for having engaged in criminal acts.

Those people, however, were prudes. Not like the March for Life organizers.

Then there is the slight problem of Vitter being the Southern regional chair for the Rudy Giuliani campaign while spouting lines like "we need to elect a pro-life president."

You'd think most folks, after hearing such from a backer of the pro-choice Giuliani, would figure their intelligence had just been insulted. And, in fact, most would. They probably would become angry and start booing and throwing things.

But this was a crowd of pro-life activists and their politicized leaders. And David Vitter -- veteran politician and connoisseur of the world's oldest profession that he is -- can read an audience.

HAVING FIGURED OUT there's not fun in holding the moral high ground if you can't cede it, the March for Life organizers then invited Rep. Ron Paul to the microphone.

The long-shot GOP presidential candidate has had his public-relations problems of late, after it came out that a newsletter written in his name had for years contained the worst kind of race-baiting, paranoid, whack-job claptrap.

Paul, however, didn't want to talk about politics (I wonder why). He wanted to talk about the 4,000 babies he brought into the world as an obstetrician.

"Dozens of 'Ron Paul for President' banners held high above the crowd made a point of his political ambitions for him," as the CNS story put it. Yep, there's nothing quite like throwing away moral superiority to scream to the world "I'm a Racist Conspiracy Nut for Life!"

FINALLY, we come to the prerecorded address by President George W. Bush.

Nothing says "I support the vulnerable" like "pro-life" marchers standing there, listening to supportive bromides from a man who lied his nation into a disastrous, unjustified and unjust war in Iraq . . . that is, when he wasn't subverting the United States government to justify, then carry out, the torture of "illegal enemy combatants" in violation of both U.S. and international law.

One march.

Three strikes.

And America's unborn babies are s*** out of luck.

HAT TIP: Your Right Hand Thief.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

We're walking to New Orleans

We're doing a little time traveling this week on Four Songs.

So, welcome to New Orleans. It's 1961, and the music is mighty fine. Mighty fine, indeed.

AND WE'LL BE hearing not only from the Soul Queen of New Orleans, but also from the best fender and body man in the Crescent City.

If you want to know who that was, you'll have to download the show, now, won't you?

It's Four Songs . . . and it's four songs. We call it the bite-sized show from Revolution 21.

So pop open a Jax (provided you are of legal age, of course) and enjoy the sweet sounds of a turbulent age.

Explains a lot

And all it takes is a poorly socialized moron to sling around outraged F-bombs because a blogger was insufficiently sympathetic toward what procsecutors say is a confessed cold-blooded murderer.

Wednesday's Omaha World-Herald:

Kyle Bormann has admitted firing the shot that killed 21-year-old Brittany
Williams, a prosecutor said Wednesday in Douglas County Court.

The 19-year-old Omaha man was denied bail by Judge Jeffrey Marcuzzo. Marcuzzo cited the seriousness of the crime in his decision.

Bormann, who lived with his father in the Ponca Hills area, was charged Tuesday with first-degree murder and use of a weapon to commit a felony. He is accused of firing a rifle at Williams on Sunday evening as she sat in her car in the drive-through lane at the Kentucky Fried Chicken/Long John Silver's restaurant at 7601 N. 30th St. Police said he was about 100 yards away.

The restaurant is a little over two miles down 30th Street from the Bormann house.


During an interview at the police station, Smith said, Bormann admitted firing his rifle at Williams' car while she waited in the drive-through lane.

Authorities have said Bormann shot Williams with a Winchester .243-caliber bolt-action rifle that had a Bushnell scope.

Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine said Wednesday afternoon that Bormann was wearing camouflage and that he had been drinking alcohol prior to the shooting.

About a dozen of Williams' friends and relatives attended Wednesday's hearing.

After the hearing, Jerard Christian, a cousin of Williams who serves in the U.S. Army, said, "This is ridiculous. Something needs to be done about all this gun violence in Omaha. I am trained in the military, and to take somebody's life because he's upset about something, he has no idea how many lives he's hurt by this."

SORRY, ANONYMOUS, all my sympathy has been used up on the poor girl your pal with the high-powered blew away at the KFC. Allegedly.

But your artful missive has explained a lot. I think it's explained that my generation has raised a bunch of foul-mouthed, unsocialized, violent butt-wipes who we may well have reason to fear.

Or at least disarm.

Thanks for sharing.