Sunday, May 31, 2009

On George Tiller

George Tiller is dead, victim of an especially late-term abortion.

The doctor -- who specialized in late-term abortions at his Wichita, Kan., clinic -- fell victim to someone with murder in his heart and a gun in his hand. From
a dispatch by The Associated Press:
The gunman fled, but a 51-year-old suspect was arrested some 170 miles away in suburban Kansas City three hours after the shooting, Wichita Deputy Police Chief Tom Stolz said. Johnson County sheriff's spokesman Tom Erickson identified the man in custody as Scott Roeder, who has not been charged in the slaying.

President Barack Obama said he was shocked and outraged over the killing.

Long a focus of national anti-abortion groups, including a summer-long protest in 1991, Tiller was serving as an usher during Sunday morning services when he was shot in the foyer of Reformation Lutheran Church, Stolz said. Tiller's attorney, Dan Monnat, said Tiller's wife, Jeanne, was in the choir at the time.

Stolz said all indications were that the man acted alone, although authorities were investigating whether he had any connection to anti-abortion groups.

Stolz said the man being held would likely be charged Monday with one count of murder and two of aggravated assault. Stolz said the gunman threatened two people who tried to stop him.

The slaying of the 67-year-old doctor is "an unspeakable tragedy," his widow, four children and 10 grandchildren said in statement issued by Monnat. "This is particularly heart-wrenching because George was shot down in his house of worship, a place of peace."
IT IS SAID in the Talmud that "whoever destroys one soul is regarded by the Torah as if he had destroyed a whole world and whoever saves one soul, is regarded as if he had saved a whole world."

Some right-wing, allegedly Christian whack jobs are celebrating the death of a man who committed great evil. But is George Tiller's judge, jury and executioner -- at least by God's standard -- any better than someone who might, if it were possible, abort millions of late-term fetuses single-handedly?

Would not both have "destroyed a whole world"?

In addition, Tiller's murderer -- through this orgy of death directed against a child of God -- will have done grave damage to a movement seeking to promote respect for the lives of humanity's most vulnerable members.

to it, Tiller merely was an executioner, carrying out death sentences passed down by a parade of people for a plethora of reasons. Tiller was just the last stop for mothers and their unborn children on a hell-bound train conceptualized by Satan, assembled by fallen and hardened hearts, driven by elites in love with "final" solutions, stoked by politicians, switched onto the main line by materialism and ridden by the selfish and the desperate alike.

But Tiller's killer . . . now he represents a special breed. This was the kind of monster who can do the devil's work and convince himself it was the Lord's idea. This was someone who set himself up as judge, jury and executioner, then said to hell with the trial.

Whoever pulled the trigger on George Tiller unilaterally decided a nation of hit men was a far superior concept to a nation of laws, and he was just the Goodfella for the job.

IF WE HOPE to remain a nation of laws and not of warlords, the full weight of what law we have left must fall upon the gunman who took it upon himself to abort the abortionist. Or, to paraphrase Fox anchor Shepard Smith, "We are America. We do not f***ing assassinate people."

Roughly a generation ago, Pope John Paul II coined a term to describe a way of life such as ours. He called it the Culture of Death.

Basically, we are a society that figures most problems can be solved by somebody -- either in the womb or out -- ending up dead. We find death, in all its forms, strangely compelling . . . and we get what we value.

George Tiller's assassin deemed death an appropriate solution to the problem of a death-dealer and acted accordingly. In doing so, this "defender of life" became just another death-dealer -- another destroyer of a whole world -- establishing himself as another antihero of our anticulture.

The Culture of Death: It's not just for the George Tillers of the world.

It's also for all those who, in the name of God, decide they will become as gods and mete out divine vengeance accordingly.

Speaking of f***. . . .

The "community chief of staff" for Omaha's mayor-elect apparently has a rather low opinion of the city's daily newspaper, the World-Herald.

Matthew Samp, on his Twitter account, had some choice words for the newspaper -- which endorsed former mayor Hal Daub -- after the returns were all in and Samp's guy, Jim Suttle, had been elected Omaha's next mayor.

"Love me some Jim Suttle. F*** the World-Herald," the Democratic political operative tweeted after the May 12 election.

WELL, as it turns out, the World-Herald is reporting Samp may know a little something about f***:
A top appointee to Mayor-elect Jim Suttle's administration faced an investigation in 2001 into whether he had sex with a 14-year-old boy.

The teenager, who championed gay rights in high school, killed himself a week after telling police about his sex with two men, including Matthew Samp, who has been named Suttle's co-chief of staff.
SOMETHING TELLS ME this morning's Sunday World-Herald will be burning a hole in our driveway. Which is nothing compared to the impact it will have at the Suttle residence.

"F*** the World-Herald"?

Matt Samp just may have learned his last lesson in politics: That which f***s last f***s well, indeed.

UPDATE: The teen-ager involved in the story, says the World-Herald, was Brad Matthew Fuglei. Here's an excerpt from a 1998 feature in the newspaper on the then-North High School student.

Note who figures prominently in the piece:
Brad Matthew, the son of Nancy Fuglei of Omaha and Bruce Fuglei of Montana, is a member of North's Student Council and show choir. He volunteers for the Nebraska AIDS Project and recruited friends to help out with Teens Educated to Combat AIDS.

When he is not working at the men's department at Younkers, hanging out with friends or doing homework, Brad likes to play the piano and write music. His lyrics often reflect his thought about God, he said.

"He's a total free spirit. He doesn't care what others think," said Matthew Samp, an older friend who is like an older brother to Brad Matthew. "He's every parent's dream child -- strong, intelligent and dependable. He's completely against smoking, drinking and drug use. He doesn't need a baby sitter."

The murder of Shepard hit Brad Matthew hard. The idea for a vigil came to him around 2 o'clock one morning while he was talking online and doing homework. The next day he called Samp, who had been an events coordinator in Minneapolis, for help. Samp outlined a plan for Brad Matthew, who went right to work.

Between classes, he called gay and lesbian support groups seeking speakers and spreading the word. He selected Memorial Park because it was built, he said, in honor of those who have died in battle. It seemed appropriate.

Brad Matthew wrote press releases, selected the music and outlined the program. He asked Brink to speak because he knew members of her youth group.

"I think he showed a lot of initiative," said Bruce Fuglei. "I was amazed he did it. But then I'm often amazed by him. He's always been a unique kid. He thinks of others before himself."

Samp said Brad Matthew's natural charm and charisma make people enjoy being around him. He knows who he is and what he wants out of life.
OF COURSE, we won't know a lot until the World-Herald story actually hits the street in a bit. But I think it might be safe to say that the sound you just heard was a nuclear bomb going off in the middle of Omaha politics.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

3 Chords & the Truth: My name is Mudd

A show like this can mean only one thing: My name is gonna be Mudd.

C'mon, I reference freakin' Hee-Haw, for pity's sake! I even assume people will remember the show . . . and Junior Samples' hilarious bits selling used cars. That number again: BR-549.

And then on 3 Chords & the Truth, we go on to play stuff by the band that took its name from Samples' Hee-Haw bits -- BR5-49.

IT'S NOT flippin' brain surgery. I am an idiot. I have outed myself as a gol-darned redneck. I had relatives who lived in the country.

In trailers.

Some still do.

And, oh, what's the point . . . I mean, what the hell. The Big Show is gonna end up being the no-show. OK, you want some truth with your three chords?

I'll give you truth. Whether or not you can handle it is another question.

I drink Schlitz . . . PBR is kind of pricey.

There. I've gone and done it now. My credibility is toast. I don't care.

So, if you care about as damn little as I do, give 3 Chords & the Truth a listen this week. It's the Big Show. Be there. Aloha.

HEY, Y'ALL! Watch thi. . . .

Friday, May 29, 2009

When evil meets ignorance

For a killer time, call 723-1400.

That's the way it is in little Warren, Pa., where someone following in the spiritual footsteps of John Wilkes Booth, Charles J. Guiteau, Leon Frank Czolgosz and Lee Harvey Oswald can connect with someone following in the intellectual footsteps of Forrest Gump. Who'd a thunk it?

Probably lots of people . . . but that's not important now.

OBVIOUSLY, 723-1400 is the number for Idiots 'R' Us -- and we all know what great fun the devil can have with a useful idiot. Like getting them to place a personal ad calling for the president's assassination.

Personal ad? You mean 723-1400 is the number for the local. . . .

Yep, the local newspaper. In Warren, I guess The Times Observer is where the village idiot lives, according to
this ABC News report.
A classified ad which ran yesterday in a Pennsylvania newspaper -– which appears to call for the assassination for President Obama -– was pulled today.

The ad, which ran in the classified section of The Warren Times Observer, connects Mr. Obama, the first African-American president, with four previous presidents who have been assassinated and reads, “May Obama follow in the steps of Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley and Kennedy!"


Today, the newspaper issued an apology, calling it an “errant classified personal ad.”

“The ad representative didn't make the connection among the four other presidents mentioned and mistakenly allowed the ad to run,” the newspaper’s statement says. “The Times Observer apologizes for the oversight.”
THAT'S A COSTLY "disconnect." Technically, the northwest Pennsylvania newspaper -- depending upon whether the ad is judged to be a legitimate threat against the president -- could be an accessory to a felony.

Threatening "to take the life of, to kidnap, or to inflict bodily harm upon the President of the United States, the President-elect, the Vice President or other officer next in the order of succession to the office of President of the United States, or the Vice President-elect"
is a violation of the U.S. criminal code.

It's a good thing the
paper's publisher came clean to the Keystone Progress blog . . . after calling the cops. Turn in a wingnut; save your own butt.

Keystone Progress called the Times-Observer for comment and got a return call from John T. Elchert, the paper’s publisher. Mr. Elchert was extremely apologetic and wanted to make it clear that the ad did not reflect the paper’s policy.

“It is unfortunate that it made it to press,” said Elchert. “The person who took the ad didn’t recognize the significance of the names. We cancelled the ad and turned the information over to the authorities.”

Mr. Elchert said that he contacted the local police who were forwarding the information to federal authorities.
THERE'S SOMETHING ELSE Elchert needs to do, though.

Let's assume it's true that "the person who took the ad" really didn't grasp what the thing was getting at. It's disturbing, but probable, that someone could be so mind-numbingly dumb and still get a job somewhere.

And that's what the publisher needs to rectify. Any employee who's ignorant enough to get you in this much trouble (and get you this much bad publicity) shouldn't have been hired in the first place.

Elchert can't undo the damage resulting from what happened on both ends of 723-1400. But he sure as hell can undo the original mistake -- the one who inputted the ad instead of calling the authorities.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Father Cutié and the downsized deity

You have your dissent, and then you have your dissent. In the Episcopal Church, one of these things is not like the other.

If you're a Catholic priest
who can't stick to his vows and gets him a woman -- c'mon in, the water's fine! And if you're an Episcopal priest who ditches his wife to get him a boyfriend, you just may be bishop material.

But if you're an Episcopal priest or bishop who decides the demands of a jealous God and the truth claims of historical Christianity supercede the popular notion of one's genitalia as a free-fire zone . . .
you're just s*** out of luck, Bunky!

THAT'S AS GOOD an explanation as any for why a publicity-whoring Catholic scandalmonger gets everything but a 21-Trojan salute from the local Episcopal diocese when he switches teams. After all, in the Catholic Church, "Father Oprah" couldn't keep his girlfriend and his priesthood, too.

Or his TV show . . . or a platform to continue as a bestselling author . . . or, basically, any reason for the rest of us to pay attention when he yells,
"Hey! Look at me!" From The Associated Press:
A popular Miami priest and media personality known as "Father Oprah" has left the Catholic Church to become an Anglican after he was photographed cavorting on the beach with his girlfriend.

The Rev. Alberto Cutié was removed from his Miami Beach church after photos of him kissing and embracing a woman appeared in the pages of a Spanish-language magazine earlier this month.

He was received into the Episcopal Church, the U.S. branch of the Anglican Communion, in a ceremony Thursday at Trinity Cathedral and may later announce he will marry his girlfriend, which is allowed in that denomination. He must complete other requirements before serving as an Episcopal priest.


The Cuban-American priest was born in Puerto Rico and previously hosted shows on the Spanish-language channel Telemundo. He is also a syndicated Spanish-language columnist and author of the book "Real Life, Real Love: 7 Paths to a Strong, Lasting Relationship."

He headed the archdiocese's Radio Paz and Radio Peace broadcasts, heard throughout the Americas and in Spain, and earned the nickname "Father Oprah" — as in talk show host Oprah Winfrey — for his relationship advice.

Earlier this month, Cutié told CBS he has been romantically involved with the woman in the photos for about two years after being friends for much longer.
BUT OBJECT TO THE Episcopal Church's Cult of the Eternal Orgasm, and that just makes you a heretic -- like the clergy who fled to some awful Anglican archdiocese somewhere over the rainbow, where some horrid little archbishop lacks the tolerance of your average Seattle priest . . . who also happens to be a Muslim.

Again, from the AP, whose reporters must be amused, if not confused, by now:
National leaders of the Episcopal Church have ousted 61 clergy who aligned with a former bishop in California when he broke with the national church in a dispute over the Bible and homosexuality.

Former Bishop John-David Schofield led his congregation in San Joaquin to become the first full diocese to secede from the U.S. denomination in 2007. Four years earlier, Episcopalians consecrated their first openly gay bishop, setting off a wide-ranging debate within the church and upsetting conservative congregations.

Schofield ultimately was removed as head of the diocese and barred from performing any religious rites. He maintains he is an Anglican bishop under the worldwide church.

Episcopal leaders said Wednesday they were deposing all clergy who severed their ties and joined Schofield in affiliating with an Anglican archdiocese in Argentina.

Jerry Lamb, the new Episcopal Bishop of San Joaquin, called the decision to oust the clergy "heartbreaking."

"But, the fact is, they chose to abandon their relationship with the Episcopal Church," he said.
ALLAH KNOWS why they'd want to abandon the Episcopal Church. It's not just anywhere they could -- to recall the words of Flannery O'Connor -- serve a God less than themselves.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Facebook, you ignorant slut!

I'm told the average IQ in this country is 100.

Seems rather on the high side to me. Then again, I've just been on Facebook.

If you hang out enough on the Internet, it's pretty easy to find lots of reasons to fear for one's country. For me, this is one of those moments.
Let me explain.

OUT THERE on the Interwebs somewhere, an Omaha web-design firm, What Cheer, has placed a simple-enough website called I Live in Omaha. The sole function of the site is to have Omahans fill in the blank of an innocuous-enough statement -- "I live in Omaha because. . . ."

Nice idea. Nice way for all of us to get in touch with some of the things we love about this place we call home.

At least in theory, that is.

The problem is the medium . . . and the shortcomings of (for lack of a better term) human "intelligence." And when you combine all that with original sin and this country's toxic political culture, it's "Katie, bar the door."

LOOK WHAT HAPPENED when one of the folks at What Cheer said "I live in Omaha because we are a blue dot in a red state." From the comments:

**** ******* at 10:04am May 27
f***ing liberals

*** ******** at 10:06am May 27
f***ing conservatives.

*** ***** at 10:08am May 27
f***ing dumbasses!

***** ***** at 10:09am May 27
Thank the universe for that!!

**** ******* at 10:10am May 27
haha this s*** is stupid

****** ******* at 10:11am May 27

***** ***** at 10:12am May 27

*** ******** at 10:34am May 27
peace love and pot?

******** ************ at 10:37am May 27
Peace. Love. And pot.

******** ********** at 10:43am May 27
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. oh and don't forget the stds.

**** ****** at 10:48am May 27
Oh the STD's. Lol, for the fear you might lose your genitalia if you sleep with anyone from Omaha. xD and yes Peace. Love. Pot. Another sign you're in the big O

**** ******* at 11:31am May 27
with all the pot everyone is an obama humper, go smoke your pot with obama

******* **** at 11:41am May 27
(Name deleted) shut up. let me guess you voted for nadar

******* **** at 11:42am May 27
oh i forgot mccain had his d*** in your a** lmao

***** ****** at 12:06pm May 27

***** **** ******* at 12:25pm May 27
wow you guys are morons.

******** ****** at 12:38pm May 27
i live cuz i want ok

******** ******at 12:39pm May 27
i live here cuz i want to ok ppl i mssed yup on the first one

**** ******* at 1:02pm May 27
No (name deleted) you just had your whole fist up obama's a** you f***ing white liberal

******* **** at 1:14pm May 27
i didnt like obama fagtard thts how much you know

***** ***** at 1:15pm May 27
Boy, these kinds of comments sure make Omaha seem attractive. Shut up and grow up.

******* **** at 1:16pm May 27
hey f*** you lady.

***** ***** at 1:17pm May 27
Yea, real smart reply

******* **** at 1:19pm May 27
ok im sure your quite the genuis type huh? (name deleted)

***** ***** at 1:21pm May 27
wow. real mature. glad we live in a city where people can be adults.

******* **** at 1:23pm May 27
wow why do you really care. its not like you know me so dont assume.

******** ***** at 1:29pm May 27
OK children, back to go your corners

******* **** at 1:32pm May 27
IF I DIDN'T THINK most other cities had an even greater percentage of barbarian morons than Omaha, I'd be out of here tomorrow after reading that. And that's what we're dealing with as a culture -- we do not await an assault by the barbarian hordes; we, instead, are the barbarian hordes.

And we can't write, punctuate, spell or go more than two combox posts without saying something vulgar.

Unfortunately, the Internet -- a development that has such potential for good -- has become something akin to Miracle-Gro for the "id." This, I suspect, is because computers lack the capacity to hit their users upside the head with a two-by-four.

Increasingly, "society" has come to lack such a capacity as well. And that's why freedom's just another word for
@#$%! #&*+@ !$%&* $%**! @#!&$%!

UPDATE: After one of the guiltier participants in this now-deleted Facebook thread, realized future employers and family members can use this thing called Google to look up all the stupid things he's done on the Internet, he left a comment asking me to delete the post.

Sorry, but I don't delete posts.

But I did go to a lot of trouble to extend an instance of radical mercy to this individual (and all the others who likewise covered themselves in ignominy) by deleting the names from the account of the Facebook comments.

This is your one free shot at getting a clue, kid. Don't screw it up.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Find your summer place

Percy Faith and the orchestra can help you get into that sweet summer spot.

Here, they do just that in a 1960 television appearance with the smash hit,
"Theme From a Summer Place." It's kind of difficult to listen to this and not smile, innit?

Saturday, May 23, 2009

3 Chords & the Truth: It's summer!

This week, 3 Chords & the Truth sounds like summer.

There's a good reason for that -- it's summer (at least unofficially), and we're ready to bust out and celebrate summertime, summertime sum-sum-summertime.

So, given all that, this episode of the Big Show might be a good one to load onto the iPod and take to the pool. Or maybe you could plug it into a boom box and kick it "old school" at the campsite or at a picnic.

ALL YOUR NEIGHBORS will want to know what the cool show is on the radio. Except it's not the radio exactly. It's better than the radio . . . it's freeform, and HAL 9000 at MegaCorp Broadcasting don't know nothin' 'bout no freeform programming.

Really . . . does HAL 9000 know who Mose Allison is, even? Ella Fitzgerald? Dale Hawkins? Matthew Sweet? BillyBraggWarParliamentMarshallCrenshawDanleers ZacharyRichard?

We do. We play 'em all this week.

And we're having more fun than is legal in 27 states.

OK, here's our guarantee for this week's episode of 3 Chords & the Truth: If we don't blow your mind outright, we'll at least expand it. And if you don't like it, we'll give you your money back.

OF COURSE, the Big Show is free, but that's not important now. The important thing is it's summertime, and we're livin' large. It's the only way to go.

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

Friday, May 22, 2009

Good enough for government work

And the final score in the Great Plate Debate this week is Old-School Newspaper Legwork 27, Nebraska's Design Community 0.

That's because it wasn't "the design community" or its arrested-development behavior, in the wake of a faulty contest to choose ugly license plates, that ultimately saved Nebraskans from six years of hideous tin on their bumpers. Instead, it was something as simple as the unhip "old media" asking the right questions at the right time and holding state officials up to public scrutiny.

BASICALLY, somebody had to be the "grown-up" here, and the Omaha World-Herald stepped into the void. This was the result:
State officials said Friday that the original selection was based on a public Internet vote that, a new review shows, had been skewed by a web site's prank.

The review of the voting results was prompted by a request from The World-Herald for the raw data to see if the humor web site had succeeded in hijacking the vote.

Thursday night, Beverly Neth, the state's motor vehicles director, said the voting patterns raised "some real questions and real concern."

At a press conference Friday, Neth said: "I now have new evidence that shows it is clear that the site's malicious intent was realized. I am taking responsibility for this situation, and I am here today to make this right."

State officials said the state's webmaster, Nebraska Interactive, was able to pinpoint the votes that came through and Neth disqualified those votes.

The humor web site encouraged people to vote for what it called the most boring design. That design, which was black, white and red with the Web address, was announced by Gov. Dave Heineman as the winner Tuesday.

In the face of new information, administration officials backed off previous statements that the votes linking off the site were "spread evenly'' among the four plate options, thus rendering the prank moot.

That information had come from an employee of Nebraska Interactive, the private company that manages, the state Web site, Neth said.
IN THE END, the state's press and the state's executive branch behaved like actual adults to rectify an increasingly embarrassing situation. Credit goes to Heineman and Neth for admitting the vote was a mess and promptly fixing it, despite the embarrassment that had to involve.

In this case, it seems "government work" ended up being good enough . . . considering. If I were Heineman, though, there'd be a new webmaster tout de suite.

Unfortunately, you can't say much for the state's "design community," which launched some of the earliest and loudest complaints about the prospective 2011 Nebraska plates but, when the going got rough, picked up its MacBook and went home.

Because, as always, bull**** walks.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

W8! ST8 SK8S ON PL8S' F8!

Nothing can be done, wrote a member of the "design community," defending its eschewal of a serious public-relations strategy . . . and its descent into juvenile parodies and hissy fits over the "winning" design for Nebraska's new license plates.

AHEM. I, uh, told you so.

Nebraska's great license plate flap may not be over after all.

In a sudden turn Thursday night, a top state official said raw data showing voting patterns raise "some real questions and real concern" that the online vote for the state's next plate was compromised.

Beverly Neth, the state's motor vehicles director, looked at the information after it was requested by The World-Herald, which was seeking to determine whether a college humor Web site had succeeded in hijacking the vote. Neth said what she saw in an initial review of the data Thursday evening was "troubling."

Left unsaid, but hanging over Neth's words, was the possibility of dumping the black-and-white plate that Gov. Dave Heineman announced as the winner Tuesday and reopening the plate design selection process. Neth said only that she needed to look through the data more before commenting further.


On Tuesday, Heineman announced the black-and-white plate as the winner. State officials said they were confident that's effort did not skew the outcome.

Neth and Hein both said the votes coming from the humor Web site had been "spread evenly" among the four plate options.

But the story began to change Thursday as state officials were questioned in more detail by The World-Herald.

Hein acknowledged that the state had not been able to track the votes. But she continued to maintain that, based on the consistent pattern of votes for the four plates and the volume of votes coming from the comedy site, the hijacking effort had "no significant impact" on the vote.

But after the newspaper requested detailed information on those voting patterns, Neth looked at the data and expressed concerns.

In the end, Hein blamed the earlier misinformation on Nebraska Interactive, the private company that manages the state's Web site.

Nebraska Interactive is a subsidiary of NIC USA, based in Olathe, Kan. Brent Hoffman, general manager for the Nebraska site, was out of town and did not return a message.
FORTUNATELY, the Omaha World-Herald was on the ball and didn't need any PR lobbying to start digging -- which ended up making the state look foolish enough to start backtracking on those ugly, ugly plates.

After all, even "Bluto" Blutarsky knew that it was far from "over" when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor. (Note: Some "R"-rated language.)

What is wrong with this picture?

In the bad old days, some Southern public schools got closed down because staying open would mean being integrated.

And "separate but equal" held a lot more sway over Rebel hearts and minds than educating all God's children. Especially if God's children were black. In Prince Edward County, Va., the public schools stayed closed from 1959 to 1964.

THANKFULLY, those days have faded into history. Unless you count many cities' mostly-white private schools counterpoised with failing, dilapidated mostly-black public schools.

There are other modern reminders of "the bad ol' days," as well. Some more fraught with irony than others.

For example, in my hometown, there's the sad case of Robert E. Lee High School. It used to be the home of the Rebels. Now, with a majority-minority student body, it's the home of the Patriots.

And this band of Patriots has no George Washington to shepherd it out of harm's way so it might fight another day.

FOR THAT MATTER, they'd just as well go back to being the Rebels, because Lee High has met its Appomattox.

In this day and age of crumbling urban schools -- particularly in places, like Baton Rouge, with little history of supporting quality education for all -- you could find a hundred legitimate reasons for pulling the plug on a school like Lee High. You have your plummeting enrollment. And crumbling facilities. And too many high schools in town for too few remaining students.

I imagine all of these are factors in Lee High's pending demise, expected to be formalized tonight by the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board. But not the main one, says The Advocate:

Supporters of the high school, located at 1105 Lee Drive, successfully fought to keep it open in spring 2008 — and to have it rebuilt in the future on the same location for $63 million — but the school’s continued inability to meet state minimum academic standards may have sealed its fate.


[Schools Superintendent Charlotte]
Placide visited Lee High’s faculty and staff Wednesday afternoon to let them know of her decision, made Tuesday after discussing it with her education leadership team.

“The staff was very somber,” she said. “Nobody wants it to happen.”

Placide first proposed closing Lee High at a May 4 special board meeting. The two options were to close the school right away or to close it over the course of the next year, so the class of 2010 could graduate at the school.

Lee High is potentially up for state takeover as early as August, and board members worried that if the school were still operating in any form, the state would move to take it over.

Closing the school immediately could mean that today — also the last day of the 2008-09 school year — is the school’s last day in operation.

AND THAT'S the way it is, May 21, 2009. An African-American school superintendent, along with an integrated school board, seeks to shutter a failing school rather than let the state take control of it.

Stupidity always has been an equal-opportunity enterprise. Irony, too.

UPDATE: They did it. Here's some of WAFB television's story:

They fought about it all night, in fact students, parents and school board members have been at odds over the future of Lee High for more than a year now. But Thursday night was decision time. Robert E. Lee High has officially been closed.

"It is a tremendously tough thing to do. But it is the right thing to do," said East Baton Rouge School Board member Noel Hammitt.

He called the decision to close Robert E. Lee High painful. An alumnus himself, Hammitt made it clear that Lee High's closure does not mean the school has failed. He says the move to close these doors would prevent yet another take over.

"To keep the school open would mean that the state of Louisiana could take over another school," said Hammitt.
THE MIND BOGGLES. The board shuttered a school -- expressly shuttered a school -- so the state couldn't get a shot at straightening out what the local yahoos screwed up.

Something is seriously, seriously wrong in a place where such things happen. But in my hometown, it's not exactly without precedent. Thursday's s*** fit is just another twist on the old Louisiana game of cutting off one's own nose to spite somebody else's face, and it's been going on within public education ever since Brown v. Board of Education.

Would that this new version of a venerable -- and insane -- phenomenon could be pinned on something as easily confronted as "segregation today . . . segregation tomorrow . . . segregation forever."

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The trouble with 'creatives'

Isaac Newton understood physics.

For instance, his Third Law of Motion: "To every action there is an equal and opposite reaction."

Isaac Newton also understood public relations. He didn't know it, but he did.

Take Newton's law, apply it to human nature and you get the First Law of Public Relations: "To every moronic action, there is an equal and opposite moronic reaction. Only more so."

I just made that up, but it's true. Look, I can even provide sociological proofs:

THAT'S RIGHT, the proprietor of a blog dedicated to making fun of Nebraska's new license-plate design (top of post) thought it would be a fine thing to run some nimrod's idea (above) of social commentary.

"Duuuuude! I just put the new Nebraska license plate on a picture of a car mowing down a bunch of bicyclists! Bitchin'! Heh! heheheh! Heh heh heheheheh!"

And let's not show the Photoshop creation of a cow blowtorching the new plate with an acetylene fart, OK?

I don't know about you, but juvenile buffoonery by the state's "creatives" is making that proposed cold sore for Nebraska bumpers start to grow on me a little. I guess the
Official Nebraska License Plate Reactions Website is producing yet another equal and opposite reaction by causing me to have sympathy for people mucking up our automobiles with a truly wretched piece of tin.

NEBRASKA'S "design community" has made much hay . . . I'm sorry, does that choice of words go too much against the hip, now, happening and progressive image we're supposed to be projecting as Nebraskans? We mustn't embrace our inner hick, now.

Let's try this. The state's "design community" has protested vociferously the poor choices put before the readers Nebraskans, and have cited such mediocrity as why license-plate design never should be left to amateurs.

Of course, the winning design was a "professional" product, but that's not important now. Move along, nothing to see here. Thank you, come again!

No, what's important now is for outraged designers to follow their own advice. If they want to overturn a bad decision by the Department of Motor Vehicles, they need to hire a professional. Public-relations amateurs like themselves will just screw it up.

They may know design, but that doesn't mean they know squat about A) writing, or B) how to make friends and influence people. I'm not a PR professional, but I can tell them the first step for free -- quit promoting juvenile idiocy like the Official Nebraska License Plate Reactions Website, then quickly shove to the margins all those "creatives" with far more time on their hands than common sense . . . or good taste.

Despite evidence to the contrary, I don't think "creative" and "grown-ups" have to be mutually exclusive concepts.

There seems to be some good information -- at least at a glance -- on the site, where the creator contends there's no way the DMV could know pranksters didn't punk the vote. A PR professional could find independent computer scientists to test that hypothesis and then, if correct, ram it down the state's throat.

Complete with press releases, interview opportunities, a press conference and a slick website.

PR professionals would get straight information to the press, then help reporters help "the design community" yell "rat."

Or, the state's "creatives" could just continue to throw a hissy fit for free. But in that case, they'd better zip it about the horrors of amateurism as they drive around with those ugly-ass license plates.

This is your brain. This is your brain
. . . what was the question, dude?

Because people are stupid . . . they sign up for Facebook groups like Medicinal Marijuana In the State of Nebraska and make it quite clear that they're not necessarily interested in the issue because they're puking their guts out from chemotherapy.

At least that's my layman's interpretation of comments such as "i love weed :)" on the group's "wall." And this:

see tim i told u ppl would join this s*** bc if ne1 says bud is harmful to u tell them to put down there beer or not to get in a car those r way more dangerous then weed
THEN AGAIN, there's a Jeff Spicoli in every crowd . . . like, y'know, man?

But in this crowd, it seems to me there's at least 497 complete idiots as I write. That would be the total number of group members, many of them eastern Nebraska high-school students, and perhaps high school students as well.

Mind your hyphens, dude. Not to mention how many plugs you give NORML, that noted cancer/glaucoma/digestive-patient advocacy group.

IF I'M A high-school principal -- as opposed to a high school principal (who'd be too toasted to notice, presumably) -- I'm logged onto my Facebook account, looking at the pot-group page and scanning for my students among the members. Guess whose locker is going to get an extra sniff by the drug dog?

And guess who's going to get some extra scrutiny throughout the school year?

Ditto if I'm an employer . . . or a prospective one, Or if I'm an administrator at a certain Catholic school for the developmentally disabled. Is what I'm getting at.

SEE, IF I'M going to start -- or join -- a group dedicated to the legal, medicinal use of marijuana, I'm going to make sure it's about the legal, medicinal use of marijuana. There's a legitimate argument to be had over that, I am sure.

Somehow I don't think "Smoke killer herb till my lungs collapse" would fly in such a forum.

To be fair, one frequent poster did try to make a serious argument for medicinal marijuana. I was just about to buy it until . . .

I will admit I do like to also smoke in a recreational fashion on occasion, but when my stomach is acting up it relieves some of the symptoms.
AND I LIKE to take zinc lozenges and Ex-Lax "in a recreational fashion on occasion, too." I love me that sudden urge to go and the metallic taste in my mouth, too.

Well, at least the poster was smart enough not to post under his or her real name.

Unlike the former youth-group kid from my church. My wife and I volunteered almost 14 years in youth ministry there.

Somehow, I don't think the sweet smell I smell is that of success.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Morons . . . or evil geniuses?

This is not the new Nebraska license plate.

A blob of stylized cow patties would be much less embarrassing than what the state's "contest" gave us. That would be this:

Let it be known that -- for all the uproar from the "design community" over the state turning over license plates to the amateurs -- the above monstrosity is a "professional" product. Says the Omaha World-Herald, "The winning choice was professionally designed by the state’s license plate material vendor."

If that's what "professionals" are capable of, give me some chimpanzees and a box of Crayolas.

I DON'T KNOW about you, but the "winning" license plate is not going to be defacing my automobile. The poor car has enough problems, the biggest of which is whether or not it's going to be orphaned in the near future. (SAVE GM!!!)

And that's when it occurred to me I might have been wrong in believing Gov. Dave Heineman and Department of Motor Vehicles chief Beverly Neth to be morons. In fact, they both may be evil geniuses.

It goes something like this: I know I'm not alone in regarding the chosen design as a steaming pile of organic fertilizer. I think I have plenty of company in my refusal to put the thing on my car. I don't put decals on my car of Bart Simpson lookalikes pissing on a Brand X logo, and I'm not putting state-issued crudities on it, either.

Meantime, the real-estate market is in the crapper right along with the economy, so there's no likelihood we can move across the river to Iowa . . . where the influx of gays seeking to be married will do nothing to harm the state's license-plate aesthetic.

SO I'M STUCK, RIGHT? Not exactly, but it'll cost me.

There is one remaining option for Nebraskans who refuse to put the coming lame-ass 2011 plates on their vehicles. That would be the "Husker Spirit" plate, which celebrates University of Nebraska athletics, looks kind of snazzy . . . and will set you back an extra $70.

You can't pack up and move to Iowa for $70. Genius! The state could make tens of millions of extra dollars -- scores of extra millions if people are desperate enough.

Abso-freakin-lutely brilliant. In a Dr. Evil kind of way.

Almost as brilliant was how Heineman and Neth played it dumb for the media, even going so far as to pretend they weren't the ones behind's attempt to stuff the DMV's electronic ballot box in favor of the ugly-ass plate.

The World-Herald might be so gullible, but not me. I'm from Louisiana. I know shenanigans.
But an unknown number of those votes came from devotees of, a Web site that regularly encourages viewers to "ruin a poll." The site also has an area devoted to "license plate stuff."

CollegeHumor combined the two features May 7, asking people to "Ruin a Nebraska" poll by voting for the black, white and red design.

"Everyone vote design 2 so Nebraskans get boring license plates," the website said. "This poll doesn’t display the current results, but we’ll know we won when all their cars have boring gray license plates."

Jen Rae Hein, the governor’s spokeswoman, said that Beverly Neth, Nebraska’s motor vehicle director, had alerted state officials to CollegeHumor’s attempt to interfere with the vote. Officials were then able to monitor hits coming through the link on that Web site, she said.

Hein said votes through that link were spread evenly among the four designs. She said votes through the CollegeHumor link dropped off this last weekend, when the winning plate pulled ahead in overall voting.


Heineman gave a nod to the controversy that the license plate options stirred up.

"While no single plate will appeal to every driver, they are first and foremost a critical asset for enforcement officers across our state," he said. "It was beneficial to both the state and citizens to have the opportunity to vote for their favorite design and offer feedback."

The governor’s announcement culminates two weeks of online voting — and two weeks of griping and complaining about the four options.

Letters to the editor and calls and e-mails to state officials made it clear that some Nebraskans disliked the choices offered.

A leading Nebraska advertising executive even volunteered the state’s top marketing firms to create different designs at no charge to the state. Jim Lauerman, chief executive officer of Bailey Lauerman of Omaha and Lincoln, called the four designs "embarrassing."
OF COURSE the designs were embarrassing. That was Heineman's and Neth's evil plan. Regular plate sucks; $70 "Husker Spirit" plate doesn't.

Get it?

I know I'll be getting mine. And I'll tip my hat to my gubna's evil genius as I shell out the extra cash.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Does he just play a hypocrite on television?

When the subject is capital punishment, things get real weird real fast in the Nebraska Legislature.

THE QUESTION before the body (pun unintended) today is whether unicameral Speaker Mike Flood is really a massive hypocrite, or whether he just plays one on television.

From the Omaha World-Herald:
The 31-7 vote came as the Nebraska Legislature had first-round debate to a bill that would change the method of execution from electrocution to lethal injection.

The rejected amendment, offered Lincoln Sen. Bill Avery, was based on a recently passed law in Virginia. It narrowed who qualifies for the death penalty to only those murderers whose crimes was confirmed by DNA evidence, who confessed in a video recording or whose crime was caught on video.

Avery said the recent case of the Beatrice 6 - in which six people convicted of a 1985 murder in Beatrice and were exonerated via DNA evidence - is a reason to narrow the application of the death penalty to those who could be convincingly proven to have committed a heinous murder. "We have an obligation if we are to use lethal injection that we get it right," Avery said.

State Sen. Mike Flood of Norfolk, the chief sponsor of the lethal injection bill, said that Avery must be "watching CSI" because DNA and video evidence doesn't exist in every murder case.

"That is a fantasy you on television," Flood said, adding that Avery's bill would change the burden of proof from "without a reasonable doubt" to "conclusive proof."
BUT WAS IT a "fantasy Flood" playing the part of a pretentious butthead, live on the state's NET 2 educational-television channel, which covers the Legislature gavel-to-gavel?

Really, viewers want to know whether the speaker's a clown only when the red light's on. When the gavel came down and the cameras cut out, did Flood go up to Avery, slap him on the back and ask "Was that an over-the-top performance or what?"

Yeah, I was ROFLMAO right in front of the big screen.

AS FAR AS Nebraska's death penalty goes, I have an idea: Do away with it. Save the money, the court fights and the nagging worry about whether -- or when -- we're going to execute an innocent person.

And bypass the whole question surrounding the justice of condemning some kinds of folk to die versus letting others die of old age someday in a prison hospital ward, or even walking out of the state pen on some distant day . . . free as an ex-jailbird.

Notre Dame des Douleurs

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It's over, at long last.

Maybe in more ways than one.

Sunday, President Obama journeyed to Notre Dame. He came, he saw, he divided, he conquered. And America's Catholic bishops sat helpless on the sidelines as the university named "Our Lady" bestowed high honors upon the country's most powerful proponent of key elements of the "culture of death."

When it all was over, death had emerged as just another good-faith solution to life's problems -- including the "problem" of life itself -- and 2,000 years of unchanged and uncompromising Catholic doctrine about the right to be born as the wellspring of all other rights had the patina of something held fast only by fanatics, fools or both.

Over and out.

Catholic academics like Notre Dame's president, the Rev. John Jenkins, are quick to employ half-hearted rhetorical nods to what the Catholic Church proclaims about the "culture of life." But it's more informative to watch what they actually do.

WHAT THEY DO is bestow honorary degrees upon uncompromising supporters of abortion, partial-birth abortion, government funding of abortion, embryonic stem-cell research and government funding of embryonic stem-cell research. What they do is give those uncompromising proponents of the Expendable Human a bully pulpit to undercut the Catholic Church's clear teaching . . . on the church's dime.

What they do is throw protesters in jail for pointing out the obvious spiritual and intellectual treason these Catholic academics commit against their church and their God. Assuming, of course, we're still talking the God of Abraham, Isaac and Joseph here.

What they do is teach Catholic young people -- and others in their spiritual and intellectual care -- to regard gospel, doctrine and tradition as the most regressive among a panoply of lifestyle choices and public-policy options.

While Catholic educators like Father Jenkins at Notre Dame prattle on about "academic freedom" and "open dialogue" with policymakers and the broader culture, what we invariably end up with at occasions such as Sunday's commencement is a monologue. And it ain't Jesus or one of His spokespersons doing the talking.

FRANKLY, it would be nice to see a little "open dialogue" and engagement with the popular culture. Unfortunately, I don't see Barack Obama accepting any invitations to a freewheeling debate sponsored by the University of Notre Dame. More unfortunately, I don't see Notre Dame sponsoring such a debate and inviting the president to take part, either.

There are two sides to this cultural divide and this abortion argument. A prominent fixture of one side got to make his case at Notre Dame's graduation.

The other side . . . largely is in jail. Notre Dame officials keep putting it there.

INSTEAD, this is what we got at Our Lady's university -- the Blessed Virgin Mary's namesake -- in the name of cultural engagement and open dialogue. Roll the videotape . . . or The Associated Press account, as the case may be:

On campus, Obama entered the arena to thunderous applause and a standing ovation from many in the crowd of 12,000. But as the president began his commencement address, at least three protesters interrupted it. One yelled, "Stop killing our children."

The graduates responded by chanting "Yes we can", the slogan that became synonymous with Obama's presidential campaign. Obama seemed unfazed, saying Americans must be able to deal with things that make them "uncomfortable."

THAT, MY FRIENDS, was a real-life metaphor. It was symbolic. And I'm half inclined to believe it wasn't an accident -- not in the cosmic scheme of things.

One of the uncouth and divisive protesters makes the unreasonable request to stop killing the most defenseless of our children. Then, as police drag him away, the graduating class of this Catholic university starts chanting "Yes, we can!"

"Yes, we can!" Kill our children.

"Yes, we can!" Thumb our noses at the church.

"Yes, we can!" Blow off the protests of a compromised and feckless episcopate . . . which in this instance happens to be absolutely right. (Ultimately gutless, but nevertheless right on the biology, theology and ecclesiology.)

"Yes, we can!" Eat the forbidden fruit.

"Yes, we can!" Be as gods!

Father Jenkins professes a commitment to dialogue. Unfortunately, the church of John Jenkins has nothing constructive to say.

To be more specific, the church of John Jenkins has had all the wrong things to say to its children. It has lost a couple of generations and now is going for the trifecta.

IN A WORLD choking on "Yes, we can," the church Notre Dame has come to represent is "about as useful as teats on a boar hog," as we used to say down on the bayou. It is time the ordinary responsible for what has become a lethal embarrassment to the Catholic Church do something useful himself and put Notre Dame out of our misery.

There is one Catholic truth. Notre Dame's leadership apparently doesn't see it that way. So, can we end the charade that one has anything to do with the other?

Yes, if Bishop John D'Arcy tells Notre Dame it no longer can call itself Catholic, the American church might take almost as big a hit as the Blighting Irish. But then again, the Catholic Church took that hit decades ago.

Catholicism took that hit when its leaders stopped leading . . . stopped teaching . . . stopped caring about raising Catholic children in the faith. The only thing left to do now is to start re-establishing that, yes, it does mean something to be Catholic.

Right now, the world thinks being Catholic means standing before the president of the United States and asking, in effect, "What is truth?" Let's not allow the Class of 2009's enthusiastic embrace of that sentiment be our Final Answer.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

You know it's coming to this eventually

I think I have just the guy to fill this job in the Motor City (below).

Because we're all on a metaphorical motorcycle running from the bad guys, seconds away from being sent flying up into a parking gate's downstroke. Insufficient "max headroom" will get you every time.

Detroit Free Press seeks Digital Host as anchor for Television and Internet broadcasts.

The Detroit Free Press seeks a Digital Host to be our on-air anchor for television newscasts and video segments on and other outlets. We’re seeking a friendly, conversational person to report Free Press stories on-air and online. Top candidates must have the ability to write, produce and anchor news segments on television and be comfortable with technology. Use of social networking tools is necessary.

Job responsibilities:

Write and anchor segments and shows for broadcast, online or other delivery
Conduct live on-air interviews
Edit segments and packages
Write scripts for videos and broadcasts
Record voiceovers
Coach other staff when needed

This is a new position. We seek a person who can adapt to change and will continuously innovate.