Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The world of tomorrow!

Funny how history happens while you're waiting on the future.

Somehow, I don't think the world turned out future-perfect as "progress" might have dictated.

Still, does that stop us from daydreaming -- and loving world's fairs? Nah, not really.

And if someone, someday manages to find and resurrect an ancient server from something called "the Google," we from the ancient past salute you. Just like they did in 1939.

Yell loudly . . . and carry a big scare quote

Karl Marx's defining statement about communism, "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need," demonstrates precisely the problem with what passes for politics in America today.

All we have the ability to offer is fear. Fear is the last thing anyone needs anymore.

Above, we see a bit of The Drudge Report's front page. As the right-wing news aggregator is wont to do, he's thrown in a random "scare quote" on a link to a story about President Obama's makeover of the Oval Office.

You see, the president had some favorite quotes woven around the edges of the new office rug. One -- which Drudge no doubt highlighted to highlight Obama's "socialist" bonafides (What other purpose could it serve, when you think about it?) -- was as follows:
"The welfare of each of us is dependent fundamentally on the welfare of all of us."
YOU MIGHT like to know who was responsible for this scary socialist saying so beloved of our scary socialist president. People like Barack Hussein Obama come from somewhere, and it's only right that you, the "real patriots" of America, deserve nothing less than the truth.

As H.L. Mencken said, "
Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard."

Well, here you go. The identity of the scary socialist whose pinko sayings our Islamist-Communist-Socialist-Nazi-Athiest president so loves as to have them woven into the Oval Office rug is . . .

Theodore Roosevelt.

Roosevelt -- whose visage adorns Mount Rushmore along with those of Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln
-- said this subversive, un-American thing way back in 1903, in a speech at the New York State Agricultural Association's fair.

HERE IS an excerpt from that radical address, being that context is important . . . and that you, the common man, deserve it good and hard:
If circumstances are such that thrift, energy, industry, and forethought enable the farmer, the tiller of the soil, on the one hand, and the wage-worker on the other, to keep themselves, their wives, and their children in reasonable comfort, then the State is well off, and we can be assured that the other classes in the community will likewise prosper. On the other hand, if there is in the long run a lack of prosperity among the two classes named, then all other prosperity is sure to be more seeming than real.

It has been our profound good fortune as a nation that hitherto, disregarding exceptional periods of depression and the normal and inevitable fluctuations, there has been on the whole from the beginning of our government to the present day a progressive betterment alike in the condition of the tiller of the soil and in the condition of the man who, by his manual skill and labor, supports himself and his family, and endeavors to bring up his children so that they may be at least as well off as, and, if possible, better off than, he himself has been. There are, of course, exceptions, but as a whole the standard of living among the farmers of our country has risen from generation to generation, and the wealth represented on the farms has steadily increased, while the wages of labor have likewise risen, both as regards the actual money paid and as regards the purchasing power which that money represents.

Side by side with this increase in the prosperity of the wage-worker and the tiller of the soil has gone on a great increase in prosperity among the business men and among certain classes of professional men; and the prosperity of these men has been partly the cause and partly the consequence of the prosperity of farmer and wage-worker. It cannot be too often repeated that in this country, in the long run, we all of us tend to go up or go down together. If the average of well-being is high, it means that the average wage-worker, the average farmer, and the average business man are all alike well-off. If the average shrinks, there is not one of these classes which will not feel the shrinkage. Of course, there are always some men who are not affected by good times, just as there are some men who are not affected by bad times. But speaking broadly, it is true that if prosperity comes, all of us tend to share more or less therein, and that if adversity comes each of us, to a greater or less extent, feels the tension.

Unfortunately, in this world the innocent frequently find themselves obliged to pay some of the penalty for the misdeeds of the guilty; and so if hard times come, whether they be due to our own fault or to our misfortune, whether they be due to some burst of speculative frenzy that has caused a portion of the business world to lose its head -- a loss which no legislation can possibly supply -- or whether they be due to any lack of wisdom in a portion of the world of labor--in each case, the trouble once started is felt more or less in every walk of life.

It is all-essential to the continuance of our healthy national life that we should recognize this community of interest among our people. The welfare of each of us is dependent fundamentally upon the welfare of all of us, and therefore in public life that man is the best representative of each of us who seeks to do good to each by doing good to all; in other words, whose endeavor it is not to represent any special class and promote merely that class's selfish interests, but to represent all true and honest men of all sections and all classes and to work for their interests by working for our common country. We can keep our government on a sane and healthy basis, we can make and keep our social system what it should be, only on condition of judging each man, not as a member of a class, but on his worth as a man. It is an infamous thing in our American life, and fundamentally treacherous to our institutions, to apply to any man any test save that of his personal worth, or to draw between two sets of men any distinction save the distinction of conduct, the distinction that marks off those who do well and wisely from those who do ill and foolishly. There are good citizens and bad citizens in every class as in every locality, and the attitude of decent people toward great public and social questions should be determined, not by the accidental questions of employment or locality, but by those deep-set principles which represent the innermost souls of men.

The failure in public and in private life thus to treat each man on his own merits, the recognition of this government as being either for the poor as such or for the rich as such, would prove fatal to our Republic, as such failure and such recognition have always proved fatal in the past to other republics. A healthy republican government must rest upon individuals, not upon classes or sections. As soon as it becomes government by a class or by a section, it departs from the old American ideal.

A song for our times?

You know, change around a few lines here and there, and this Nina Simone classic could be a song for the times.


Schools aren't St. Helena's cup of tea

Welcome to Tea Party America.

When Mr. Beck goes to Washington to proclaim a Christian revival and preach the gospel of self-reliance and responsibility, in places like St. Helena Parish, La., that translates into "God helps those who help themselves." And in Louisiana, that may not mean what you think it does.

For example, in St. Helena Parish, God helps white parents who "help themselves" -- and their kids -- to private-school educations, oftentimes across the parish line. The Almighty also helps blacks -- who make up 95.1 percent of public-school enrollment despite comprising 53 percent the parish's population -- to facilities with crumbling walls, exposed wiring, filthy lunchrooms, sewer lines lying in open trenches . . . and snakes in the restroom.

Conditions are so bad that a federal judge has ordered parts of the parish's three schools cordoned off. And the state fire marshal wants fire alarms and electrical wiring fixed in 30 days.

THE PARISH'S civic culture (if you can call it that) is so dysfunctional that voters have shot down four school-tax measures in three years. This has led U.S. District Judge James J. Brady to consider raising the property tax by fiat.

Tea-party types are, of course, outraged. Not about children attending class in fetid, dangerous conditions, but instead about "taxation without representation," says the Lincoln Parish News Online blog:
St. Helena Parish is about to form a tea party to fight precisely what our forefathers fought over 200 years ago – taxation without representation. Alton Travis, a 12-year St. Helena school board member, has begun preliminary efforts to organize a group. “I’ve made some phone calls and I’m putting together a contact list,” Travis said.

Mr. Travis spoke earlier today with Lincoln Parish News Online (LPNO) from his home near Kentwood.

Last week, LPNO had reported about U. S. District Judge James Brady’s plans to impose a tax upon St. Helena residents without a vote. Brady is the former chairman of the Louisiana Democratic Party.

Travis said he has been in contact with the Baton Rouge Tea Party (BRTP) for help in organizing a group in St. Helena Parish. “I really don’t know why we’re talking about this,” said Travis in reference to taxes imposed by a judge contrary to voter’s wishes. “Things like that shouldn’t even be contemplated.”

Parish voters had previously turned down several attempts to pass new school taxes. On May 1, parish voters rejected a 55 mil property tax by a 62% margin. The tax issue has gone back over twenty years, according to Travis, and has been voted upon at least a dozen times.

Some have tried to portray a negative vote on school taxes as a racist vote, but as the parish is 52% black, it is clear that many blacks voted no on the tax. LPNO readers will recall how last fall’s defeat of a Baton Rouge tax was painted as “racist” by The (Baton Rouge) Advocate.

LEAVE IT to tea partiers to talk of "responsibility" to others while abdicating responsibility wholesale in their own back yards. The problem here is not a rogue federal judge potentially usurping beleaguered citizens' constitutional rights; the problem here is that selfish, irresponsible citizens hide behind self-government guarantees to carry out racially disproportionate child neglect, and do so with impunity.

The problem in Southern cesspools like St. Helena Parish, La., is not that the constitutional order has been usurped. The problem is that, in the wake of the Civil War, the feds ended Reconstruction about 50 years too soon.

Shame is a scarce commodity in St. Helena, and the latest story from
The Advocate is proof:
A report from the fire marshal is one of three reports from state agencies citing problems in St. Helena Parish public schools.

Air vents are causing contamination in the cafeteria of St. Helena Central Elementary School, a report by the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals states.

A state Department of Environmental Quality report cites problems of asbestos, mold-like substances and ceiling leaks in parish schools.

Earlier this month, a federal judge ordered inspections and reports on the schools.

The condition of the schools has become an issue in a 57-year-old desegregation lawsuit involving the St. Helena Parish school system.

Daisy Slan, the superintendent of parish schools, said Monday afternoon she needs help — mainly in the form of modular classrooms — as quickly as possible.

She said she is trying to get contractor quotes, but doesn’t see how she can meet the Fire Marshal’s deadline.

In addition to the age and condition of the main high-school structure, Slan said, “the problem is that we have buildings scattered all across the campus.”

Some of those buildings aren’t suitable for use as classrooms in their current condition, Fire Marshal H. “Butch” Browning said Monday.

The fire alarms and electrical issues are serious problems, he said.

The high school is being allowed to continue to operate for 30 days as long as it conducts regular fire watches and keeps logs of those fire watches, Browning said.
LISTEN NOT to what Glenn Beck and Friends proclaimed on the same Lincoln Memorial steps Martin Luther King spoke from 47 years before. Watch instead what the audience to whom they pander does when no one is looking.

Like neglect its own children -- or at least black children -- leaving them to languish in rotting buildings, amid all manner of contamination and be taught by grossly underpaid teachers.

Unsurprisingly, test scores are in the toilet. Along with the snakes.

Down there in Tea Party America.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Not 'recognizing his version of Christianity'

Mighty big talk for an alcoholic Mormon former pot- and cokehead, whose religion is a mishmash of at least two of the big early-Christian heresies filtered through -- according to Joseph Smith, at least -- a resurrected ancient Indian in New York state:
Conservative commentator Glenn Beck voiced sharper criticism of President Obama's religious beliefs on Sunday than he and other speakers offered from the podium of the rally Beck organized at the Lincoln Memorial a day earlier.

During an interview on "Fox News Sunday," which was filmed after Saturday's rally, Beck claimed that Obama "is a guy who understands the world through liberation theology, which is oppressor-and-victim."

"People aren't recognizing his version of Christianity," Beck added.
THAT'S THE first part of a piece in today's Washington Post outlining exactly how much nerve the crew-cutted one possesses. But wait . . . it gets better:
Beck, on his Fox News show last Tuesday, said that liberation theology is at the core of Obama's "belief structure."

"You see, it's all about victims and victimhood; oppressors and the oppressed; reparations, not repentance; collectivism, not individual salvation. I don't know what that is, other than it's not Muslim, it's not Christian. It's a perversion of the gospel of Jesus Christ as most Christians know it," Beck said.
YEAH . . . and if Mr. Beck keeps up his cable-TV perversion of Christianity in the name of ratings, profit and politics, he may just find out that hell is a lot more permanent than his religion would have us believe.

if Hurricane Earl smacks into Washington, D.C., and drowns the whole place under a 25-foot storm surge right up the gut of the Potomac, can we assume it's because God is quite irate over Beck's little "revival"? You know, just like He wiped out New Orleans because of its debauchery.

Just asking.

. . . and if the Gulf don't rise

This is a storm surge.

This was what Katrina was like in St. Bernard Parish, La. -- Aug. 29, 2005.

This is why, when the authorities tell you to get your ass out of Dodge, you get your ass out of Dodge. And as we allow the Louisiana coastal wetlands to disappear, this is the fate awaiting some people who never took an inch of water from Katrina.

will be another Katrina. Just like there was another Betsy, and another Camille.

And the next one just might blow through the wetlands that are no more and take out the port that delivers a third of the oil and gas to which you are currently addicted.

Happy motoring, America.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

You can't make this up, people

Parody has died a horrible death, authorities say, allegedly done in by the queen of Sammy Kershaw's double-wide trailer before she hightailed it out of Vermillion Parish in a beat-up F-150.

An all-points bulletin has been circulated to police at the sites of Tea Party Patriots rallies nationwide.

Spokesmen for the tea-party movement denied knowledge of the slaying. They said they had no idea who this "Pear Roadie" feller was, but speculated he might have been a backstage hand for Kershaw, who has busied himself running for lieutenant governor of Louisiana in recent decades as he waits for his next country hit.

The jawing of an ass

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck as the inheritors of Martin Luther King's legacy?

Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck as the catalysts for the moment America "begins to turn back to God”?

Something smells. And I "refudiate" it.

Because the gospel according to Palin and Beck is what "refudiate" is to "repudiate," and it comes off just as ridiculously.

Leave it to Glenn Beck to trumpet how his gigantic publicity stunt -- and profit generator for Beck, Inc. -- is the beginning of a grand American revival, all the while publicly "refudiating" large parts of the gospel of Jesus Christ as "socialism" or "Nazism" -- or both, as he seems to view social-justice doctrine.

For example,
this was Beck in March:
"I'm begging you, your right to religion and freedom to exercise religion and read all of the passages of the Bible as you want to read them and as your church wants to preach them . . . are going to come under the ropes in the next year. If it lasts that long it will be the next year. I beg you, look for the words 'social justice' or 'economic justice' on your church Web site. If you find it, run as fast as you can. Social justice and economic justice, they are code words. Now, am I advising people to leave their church? Yes!"
AND THIS is the Catechism of the Catholic Church (and has been for a long, long time):


1928 Society ensures social justice when it provides the conditions that allow associations or individuals to obtain what is their due, according to their nature and their vocation. Social justice is linked to the common good and the exercise of authority.


1929 Social justice can be obtained only in respecting the transcendent dignity of man. The person represents the ultimate end of society, which is ordered to him:

What is at stake is the dignity of the human person, whose defense and promotion have been entrusted to us by the Creator, and to whom the men and women at every moment of history are strictly and responsibly in debt.35

1930 Respect for the human person entails respect for the rights that flow from his dignity as a creature. These rights are prior to society and must be recognized by it. They are the basis of the moral legitimacy of every authority: by flouting them, or refusing to recognize them in its positive legislation, a society undermines its own moral legitimacy.36 If it does not respect them, authority can rely only on force or violence to obtain obedience from its subjects. It is the Church's role to remind men of good will of these rights and to distinguish them from unwarranted or false claims.

1931 Respect for the human person proceeds by way of respect for the principle that "everyone should look upon his neighbor (without any exception) as 'another self,' above all bearing in mind his life and the means necessary for living it with dignity."37 No legislation could by itself do away with the fears, prejudices, and attitudes of pride and selfishness which obstruct the establishment of truly fraternal societies. Such behavior will cease only through the charity that finds in every man a "neighbor," a brother.

1932 The duty of making oneself a neighbor to others and actively serving them becomes even more urgent when it involves the disadvantaged, in whatever area this may be. "As you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me."38

1933 This same duty extends to those who think or act differently from us. The teaching of Christ goes so far as to require the forgiveness of offenses. He extends the commandment of love, which is that of the New Law, to all enemies.39 Liberation in the spirit of the Gospel is incompatible with hatred of one's enemy as a person, but not with hatred of the evil that he does as an enemy.

IT GOES ON like this for some number of pages. Including this:

1939 The principle of solidarity, also articulated in terms of "friendship" or "social charity," is a direct demand of human and Christian brotherhood.45
An error, "today abundantly widespread, is disregard for the law of human solidarity and charity, dictated and imposed both by our common origin and by the equality in rational nature of all men, whatever nation they belong to. This law is sealed by the sacrifice of redemption offered by Jesus Christ on the altar of the Cross to his heavenly Father, on behalf of sinful humanity."46
1940 Solidarity is manifested in the first place by the distribution of goods and remuneration for work. It also presupposes the effort for a more just social order where tensions are better able to be reduced and conflicts more readily settled by negotiation.

BUT NO, this imminent -- but not eminent -- Christian revival is going to be sparked by a screwball demagogue who denies whole parts of the Christian gospel that answer the question "How shall we live, then?" Him and the tea-party darling, a gun-totin', babealicious Alaskan dingbat whose mind freezes up every time she's called upon to use it, and whose mangling of the king's English makes Yogi Berra sound like Sir Lawrence Olivier.

Don't believe me, however. Believe what's in your morning newspaper, in this case
The New York Times:
An enormous and impassioned crowd rallied at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on Saturday, summoned by Glenn Beck, a conservative broadcaster who called for a religious rebirth in America at the site where the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech 47 years ago to the day.

“Something that is beyond man is happening,” Mr. Beck said in opening the event as the crowd thronged near the memorial grounds. “America today begins to turn back to God.”

It was part religious revival, part history lecture, as Mr. Beck invoked the founding fathers and the “black-robed regiment” of pastors of the Revolutionary War and spoke of American exceptionalism.

The crowd was a mix of groups that have come together under the Tea Party umbrella. Some wore T-shirts from the Campaign for Liberty, the libertarian group that came out of the presidential campaign of Representative Ron Paul, while others wore the gear of their local Tea Party group, or of 9/12 groups, which were founded after a special broadcast Mr. Beck did in March 2009.

But the program was distinctly different from most Tea Party rallies. While Tea Party groups have said they want to focus on fiscal conservatism and not risk alienating people by talking about religion or social issues, the rally on Saturday was overtly religious, filled with gospel music and speeches that were more like sermons.

Mr. Beck imbued his remarks on Saturday and at events the night before with references to God and a need for a religious revival. “For too long, this country has wandered in darkness,” Mr. Beck said Saturday. “This country has spent far too long worrying about scars and thinking about scars and concentrating on scars. Today, we are going to concentrate on the good things in America, the things that we have accomplished, and the things that we can do tomorrow.”

Mr. Beck was followed on stage by Sarah Palin, the 2008 Republican vice-presidential candidate and former Alaska governor, who said she was asked, in keeping with the theme of the day, not to focus on politics but to speak as the mother of a soldier.

“Say what you want to say about me, but I raised a combat vet, and you can’t take that away from me,” said Ms. Palin, whose son Track served in Iraq.

But Ms. Palin did not steer entirely clear of politics. In a veiled reference to President Obama and his pledges to fundamentally transform America, she said, “We must not fundamentally transform America as some would want; we must restore America and restore her honor.”

Many in the crowd said they had never been to a Tea Party rally, but they described themselves as avid Glenn Beck fans, and many said they had been motivated to come by faith.
RESTORE AMERICA? Restore her honor?

Just what the Holy Ghost does that have to do with "turning back to God"? The gospel of Jesus Christ is not a utilitarian scheme -- and it just may be that the divine purposes of the Almighty involve humbling America and destroying her "honor."

And obviously, the honor-obsessed Mr. Weepy is unfamiliar with the term "the scandal of the gospel." Or, as Paul wrote to the church in Corinth long, long ago:
The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
For it is written: "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the learning of the learned I will set aside."
Where is the wise one? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made the wisdom of the world foolish?
For since in the wisdom of God the world did not come to know God through wisdom, it was the will of God through the foolishness of the proclamation to save those who have faith.
For Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom,
but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles,
but to those who are called, Jews and Greeks alike, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.
Consider your own calling, brothers. Not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.
Rather, God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise, and God chose the weak of the world to shame the strong,
and God chose the lowly and despised of the world, those who count for nothing, to reduce to nothing those who are something,
so that no human being might boast before God.
THOUGH ONE certainly can argue that Beck and Palin -- and any number of tea-party types-- be pluperfect fools, when we go to the videotape, the record hardly shows Caribou Barbie and this cable-TV equivalent of a carnival geek to be "fools for Christ."

Actually, Jesus Himself warned us about what we witnessed in Washington on Saturday. Look in Matthew -- or, as I learned through hard experience to tell Catholics teens in youth group,
the first part of the last third of the Bible:
Jesus said to his disciples:
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing,
but underneath are ravenous wolves.
By their fruits you will know them.
Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?
Just so, every good tree bears good fruit,
and a rotten tree bears bad fruit.
A good tree cannot bear bad fruit,
nor can a rotten tree bear good fruit.
Every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down
and thrown into the fire.
So by their fruits you will know them.”
OR by their fruitcakes, as the case may be.

Somehow, the following seems like it wasn't just 47 years ago, but also a billion miles away:

Saturday, August 28, 2010

3 Chords & the Truth: Heck of a job

It's five years down a flooded road from Aug. 29, 2005.

Katrina is gone. Her effects live on.

New Orleans and the Gulf Coast are recovering. But the Crescent City is 100,000 people lighter than she used to be. About 1,300 of those folks are still dead. Dead because we can't competently build levees in America.

Dead because Brownie didn't do such a "heck of a job" after all.

Dead because some Americans are more important than other Americans.

Stone-cold dead. Killed by social Darwinism cloaked in "freedom."

THIS WEEK, 3 Chords & the Truth remembers the fateful events of half a decade ago. This week, the Big Show pays musical tribute to the victims of our national incompetence.

This week, on this episode of the Internet's best music show, we put it all together in song. And we ponder. And we remember. And we honor those who were lost along the way.

Yeah, I have something to say about the last five years on this week's 3 Chords & the Truth. You might find it to be worth a listen.

Of course, the music's worth a listen -- maybe more than one listen -- every week on the Big Show. It's right at the top right of the blog -- you can't miss it. It's also here . . . in case you've been slow to take the hints.

THEY SAY music is a healing thing. Well, we'll see.

Join us this week as we remember . . . and heal, all in song.

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

* * *

OH . . .
one more thing. Of course, you remember "Brownie" -- Michael Brown of FEMA bungling infamy.

He lasted in his job running the federal disaster agency about a week after New Orleans went under. And "Heck of a job, Brownie" has entered the national vocabulary as a phrase meaning, "God, what a f*** up."

Well, all you need to know about America today is that "Brownie" isn't living his life out in repentance and selfless service. He's not out there making reparation for the damage his bungling did to untold thousands, if not millions, of people.

No, "Brownie" -- illustrating the "new moral normal" in these United States today -- is out there profiting off of the notoriety that comes from being a spectacularly flagrant f*** up.

He's a talk-show host on Clear Channel's KOA radio n Denver. Getting paid the big bucks to tell us all what to think.

And this week, he's in New Orleans. For the anniversary.

It's a heck of a job . . . if you can swing it.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Skip the eight-tracks, man

Here's the word, man! Don't take the $2.99 eight-tracks. They're. like, a total bad trip, man!

Grab the $1.57 LPs instead, man. Righteously cool choice, man!

I mean, that's my trip. You can do what you want, man. It's all groovy.

But I'd go for the LPs, man.

Dig you later.

Death in a box, '60s style

Scientists, in conjunction with cultural historians, today announced the discovery of the likely cause of at least 85 percent of all Parkinson's disease cases in patients under age 55.

Film at 11.

Halo brace at 11:15.

Neural stimulator at 52.

Let's have a psychotic reaction!

Since we're hell-bent on dragging Omaha back two decades into the bad ol' days of civic strife, dysfunction and stagnation, why doesn't the Recall Army just drop the Big One now and put us all out of the taxophobes' misery.

That's right, none of that Rodney King
". . . can we all get along? Can we get along?" crap from back in the day. No, what Omaha needs now is some Lawrence King teenage mutant ninja buggery crap from back in the day.

I'm talking Franklin Credit Union II, baby!

Bring out Alisha Owen. Sell John DeCamp's book and put the profits toward suing anybody who ever had anything to do with raising a tax.

Cut the police department's budget to zero, because you
know what police chiefs do with their paycheck in this Great Plains Gomorrah.

And who's Jim Suttle been sleeping with, anyway?

DAMMIT TO HELL, I'm too damned taxed out to go to the movies, and I want some entertainment value out of my municipal government -- just so long as it doesn't cost me anything. We need us some chaos right about now. Chaos -- now that's some cheap entertainment!

And all we need to do to get the ol' mayhem rolling is to start recalling everybody in sight. Hey, Alisha! Wasn't Suttle at some of those kinky hoop-de-doos? Think hard.

Ask Paul Bonacci. Maybe he can come up with something.

I mean, you got to give us something to work with here if we're gonna have us some chaotic kicks and giggles.

After all, you just don't recall a mayor over the budget and raising some taxes to balance the budget, do you?

Do you?
A grass-roots group announced plans Thursday to explore a recall campaign against Mayor Jim Suttle.

A separate group took out recall affidavits Thursday against Suttle, as well as City Council members Jean Stothert and Pete Festersen.
I DUNNO, maybe you do. That's what the World-Herald is reporting. Then again, we know how the local rag likes to cover up the real reasons for stuff that goes on in this town.

Maybe Suttle has gotten to the "journalists" there. Maybe they only
want us to think the recall efforts are actually over the budget.

Yeah, that's the ticket. Let's see what else the cover-uppers want the people to swallow whole. (Just like at those kinky parties, no doubt.)
The grass-roots group, the Mayor Suttle Exploratory Recall Committee, held a press conference at Anthony's Steakhouse. The event was planned quickly after the group raised $5,000 as of Aug. 17, which required it to file with the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission.

“The city could use new leadership,” said spokesman Jeremy Aspen, an Omaha real estate agent, who said the group is a grass-roots effort.

It includes some familiar faces: Pat McPherson, a longtime supporter of former Mayor Hal Daub, is a consultant. Also involved is Jim Cleary, a former Daub aide who spearheaded a successful recall against former Mayor Mike Boyle.

Aspen said Daub was not involved in the effort.

Aspen said the group organized out of concern about Suttle's financial decisions. The committee says Suttle didn't look hard enough at cutting costs before raising taxes. The committee also disagrees with the recently signed police union contract.
C'MON, PEOPLE! We need the truth. And some real live-and-local Jerry Springer-meets-Bob Woodward action to get us through these challenging times.

All together, now!
Where have you gone, Miss Alisha O?
A city turns its lonely eyes to you (Woo woo woo).
What's that you say, Mr. John DeCamp?
"Alisha O has left and gone away" (Hey hey hey, hey hey hey).

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

There's no 'I' in 'team.' There are some in 'idiots.'

I was all ready to start out this appeal for civic common sense with a high-falutin' reference to John Donne and "never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee," yadda yadda yadda.

Then it occurred to me,
"This is Nebraska, stupid. John Donne? Really?" I mean, John Deere, maybe. But John Donne. . . ?

But I get ahead of myself.

The deal here is that Omahans' taxes are going up. Why? The city, like most cities these days, is tapped out.
Broke. In the red. It's called a budget deficit.

To balance the books, being that the city already has cut the budget to the bone the past two fiscal years, Mayor Jim Suttle proposed tax increases -- a property tax hike . . . a dining tax . . . a higher wheel tax, including one on those who work in Omaha but don't live here.

The city council made some additional budget cuts but passed the tax increases Suttle asked for, more or less.

And in this age of the tea party, it goes without saying people are furious.

The council should have cut the budget more! Government is too big! Balance the budget!

How? Who the hell knows, just do it. Cut off the freeloaders! Just not me and mine.

PEOPLE ARE so mad, there's lots of talk now about recalling Jim Suttle, as reported by KETV, Channel 7:
A group said Wednesday it will hold a news conference to announce the formation of a committee to explore the possibility of recalling Omaha Mayor Jim Suttle.

Under the title Recall Mayor Suttle, the group will announce its intentions Thursday morning at Anthony's Restaurant in Omaha.

The announcement comes one day after the Omaha City Council approved a budget plan that includes a new, 2.5 percent restaurant tax, a property tax increase of at least 2.3 cents, a wheel tax increase, and a wheel tax expansion, requiring those who live outside the city, but who work in Omaha to pay.

The Metropolitan Omaha Property Owners Association will attend the meeting. MOPOA said a poll it commissioned weeks ago showed dissatisfaction with the mayor's handling of the budget.

But political experts said such an effort likely wouldn't be driven by the masses.

"My sense is that it's more that maybe Suttle hasn't been responsive enough to some of the local business interests, and they want to make it clear that they really are calling the shots," said University of Nebraska-Omaha political science professor Dr. Loree Bykerk.
IT GETS BETTER. Says Joe Jordan over at Nebraska Watchdog, one of the people behind the latest recall effort aimed at Suttle is Jim Cleary -- the guy who spearheaded the last successful recall of an Omaha mayor, back in 1987:
Nebraska Watchdog has learned that at least part of Jim Cleary’s decision to work for the recall of Omaha Mayor Jim Suttle was made by the numbers, polling numbers.

On Monday Nebraska Watchdog reported exclusively that Cleary, who was one of the key players in the successful 1987 recall of former Omaha Mayor Mike Boyle, is now working behind the scenes with a group of Omahans who are in the early stages of formulating a strategy to recall Suttle.

Nebraska Watchdog is told that an early August poll was a key factor in persuading Cleary to get involved. According to the poll of 400 likely Omaha voters, 70% said the city was on the wrong track and 67% disapproved of the way Suttle, who was elected in May of 2009, is handling his job.

Those polled also strongly disagreed with Suttle’s 2011 budget plan which initially included a 9 percent property tax increase and a 4 percent restaurant tax. On Tuesday the City Council lowered the property tax increase to about 5 percent, trimmed the restaurant tax to 2.5 percent, and found an additional $13.5 million in budget cuts. In a statement issued following the Council’s decision the Mayor would not say if he intends to pull out his veto pen. ”I will review (the Council’s) changes to the recommended budget and will respond within an appropriate timeframe, “said Suttle.

According to several sources the recall group is expected to announce Thursday that it is forming an exploratory committee which will begin laying the groundwork for its anti-Suttle campaign.

That committee will examine the pros and cons of a recall effort, prior to launching an official petition drive. In order to recall Suttle, the Mayor’s opponents would first have to acquire the signatures of 26,642 registered voters in the City of Omaha. Those signatures must be gathered within 30 days. Sources close to the recall tell Nebraska Watchdog that a petition drive might be timed to coincide with Election Day November 2nd. That would allow those gathering the signatures to set up operations near polling places in Omaha where registered voters are casting their ballots.

Nebraska Watchdog contacted Cleary to ask him about several of these items but Cleary refused to comment.
WELL, I GUESS it was too much to ask that the national snit fit and every-man-is-an-island nervous breakdown (see, I worked in the Donne thing after all) would somehow bypass the place where I live. Insanity is afoot, and it's catching.

Nevertheless, the moment "calls for a stupid and futile gesture on somebody's part," and I guess I'm just the guy to do it.
Here goes.

There is a fine line between a progressive, livable city and a dungheap that proves itself totally resistant to economic growth and successful self-governance. Indeed, civilization itself is a thin veneer over the barbarian rabble we once were . . . and could be again.

Over a couple of centuries, Americans have developed municipal services like police, fire departments, parks, libraries and social-welfare programs because we figured we needed them. Because we thought they made the places where we lived more orderly, more livable.

These things evolved all across America because we decided, for the overall good, that everyone should have a right to certain services, certain "safety nets" -- that by investing in our communities, we were investing in our, and our children's, future.

This is not the case everywhere in the world.

In some locales, those who have, keep it. All of it. And those who have not . . . have nothing. They're just flat out of luck.

Some such places we call the Third World. Other such places we call "banana republics."

They all got there when enough people -- at least enough people with means -- decided that "me" was a lot more important than "we." That is the thin line between "the American way of life" and the abyss.

I'M NOT getting through to you at all, am I? I completely lost you at John Donne, didn't I?

Well, this is Nebraska, so let me put it to you this way:

What do you think would happen if there was an "I" in "team"? Yes, I'm talking football.

What do you think would happen if Zac Lee and Niles Paul decided that giving Bo Pelini 100-percent effort was just excessive, and that instead, they'd give just 73 percent, but only when it would directly benefit their individual stats?

How do you think that would reflect on the Huskers' win-loss record?

Do you think Nebraska would be fielding a product worth the price of admission? You think anyone would care to take up residence, so to speak, at Memorial Stadium if the whole program went to hell in an every-man-for-himself hand basket?

What if bunches of first- and second-team players adopted the same attitude? Decided they were in football just for themselves? Rejected Pelini's expectations that they'd all do their bit in the name of the common good?

And what if Pelini came under suspicion for demanding players all do their part for the team?

WHAT IF Jim Cleary were Nebraska's athletic director and decided that Pelini was just a "tax-and-spend" football coach and recalled him? Well, you'd probably end up with a replay of the Bill Callahan era, that's what.

Which, of course, would be a lot like what happened to Omaha after Cleary engineered the recall of Mike Boyle -- several years of civic stagnation, instability and a revolving-door cast of mayors.
And there's more!

With your electoral snit-fit, we'll include years of political mayhem and strife for free . . .
all because we know you wouldn't pay for it anyway!

So, go ahead. Take care of No. 1. Recall that big-tax mayor who's so incompetent he can't do the fiscally impossible, and so arrogant he opted for the socially responsible instead.

Go ahead. Pitch a fit; sign a petition. I can't think of a better prescription for what ails us.

Répétez après moi: The oil is gone

Move along. Nothing to see here on the Gulf Coast.

Everything's fine. The oil is gone.

Pay no attention to all the dead birds in Louisiana, or to the men in black fatigues spraying Corexit -- the most toxic variant of Corexit the feds and BP say hasn't been used in months -- all along the Alabama shoreline.

Really, remain calm.
All is well.

THE FOLKS at the Louisiana Environmental Action Network are just troublemakers. Yeah, that's the ticket:
We continued our sampling efforts last week in Terrebonne Bay with Chief Chuckie Verdin of the Pointe Au Chien indian community.

LEAN's relationship with Pointe Au Chien began after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita when we delivered relief supplies there at the request of Chief Chuckie. LEAN was again contacted by the Pointe Au Chien community in recent days with concerns about impacts from the BP oil spill disaster on the bays and estuaries that they depend on. On Thursday, August 19, 2010 LEAN/LMRK sampling team (Technical Advisor Wilma Subra, Michael Orr, Jeffrey Dubinsky and myself) went on a sampling trip into Terrebonne Bay led by Chief Chuckie and Kurt Dardar.

We were also accompanied by Alexandra Cousteau, granddaughter of Jacques Cousteau and environmentalist and filmmaker in her own right, and her crew. Last year Alexandra and the crew traveled to Louisiana to learn about the impacts of the Gulf of Mexico dead zone on locals from Wilma. This year they returned to document Wilma's work on the BP oil spill disaster so we took them out with us on a sampling mission.

In "Julia," the Lower Mississippi Riverkeeper Boston Whaler and a local fishing vessel we made our way south from Pointe Au Chien across Lake Chien and Lake Felicity to Modoto Island. What we encountered there stunned us all. The ground was littered with dead birds. So many dead birds that we aren't sure how many were out there, many dozens of dead birds just in the small area which we surveyed on the island. The dead appeared to included mostly seagulls and terns though some were badly decayed and identification was difficult. It was clear to me by the various states of decay, from scattered bones to a tern that couldn't have been dead for more than a day and everything in between, that this is an ongoing situation.

OH . . . pay no attention to this video, either. It's the "lamestream media," and those troublemakers at WKRG in Mobile are just trying to get folks agitated.

They're almost as bad at the extremists over at Washington's Blog. We pass this scurrilous tidbit of alarmist bloggage along just so you'll know what kind of stuff to ignore:
A few days ago, Naman was sent a sample of water from Cotton Bayou, Alabama.

Naman found 13.3 parts per million of the dispersant Corexit in the sample:More imporantly, Naman told me that he found 2-butoxyethanol in the sample.

BP and Nalco - the manufacturer of Corexit - have said that dispersant containing 2-butoxyethanol is no longer being sprayed in the Gulf. As the New York Times noted in June:
Corexit 9527, used in lesser quantities during the earlier days of the spill response, is designated a chronic and acute health hazard by EPA. The 9527 formula contains 2-butoxyethanol, pinpointed as the cause of lingering health problems experienced by cleanup workers after the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill, and propylene glycol, a commonly used solvent.

Corexit 9500, described by [Nalco's spokesman] as the "sole product" Nalco has manufactured for the Gulf since late April, contains propylene glycol and light petroleum distillates, a type of chemical refined from crude oil.
Moreover, Naman said that he searched for the main ingredient in the less toxic 9500 version - propylene glycol - but there was none present. In other words, Naman found the most toxic ingredient in 9527 and did not find the chemical marker for 9500.

Since BP and Nalco say that no dispersant containing 2-butoxyethanol has been sprayed in the Gulf for many months, that either means:

(1) BP has been lying, and it is still using 2-butoxyethanol. In other words, BP is still Corexit 9527 in the Gulf


(2) The dispersant isn't breaking down nearly as quickly as hoped, and the more toxic form of Corexit used long ago is still present in the Gulf.

Naman told me he used EPA-approved methods for testing the sample, but that a toxicologist working for BP is questioning everything he is doing, and trying to intimidate Naman by saying that he's been asked to look into who Naman is working with.

I asked Naman if he could rule out the second possibility: that the 2-butoxyethanol he found was from a months-old applications of the more toxic version of Corexit. I assumed that he would say that, as a chemist, he could not rule out that possibility.

However, Naman told me that he went to Dauphin Island, Alabama, last night. He said that he personally saw huge 250-500 gallon barrels all over the place with labels which said:

Corexit 9527


Naman further said he saw mercenaries dressed in all black fatigues, using gps coordinates, applying Corexit 9527 at Dauphin Island and at Bayou La Batre, Alabama. The mercenaries were "Blackwater"-type mercenaries, and Naman assumed they must have been hired either by BP or the government.

Naman also confirmed - as previously reported - that the Corexit 9527 is being sprayed at night, and that it is being applied in such a haphazard manner that undiluted 9527 is running onto beach sand.
PLEASE. Pay no attention to the irresponsible elements challenging the New Corporate Order.

Or else.

And remember, boys and girls, greed is good!