Monday, July 29, 2013

"...The Third Shot Actually Ricocheted Off Amelia Earhart's Plane, Causing It To Crash Into And, Of Course, Kill Jimmy Hoffa..."

Here's a fun thing to break the monotony of a Monday.

Show of hands.

How many of you have, at some point in, say, the last week or so, either heard something from someone or told someone something that was, to the best of your knowledge, a secret of some kind?

Yeah. Me, too.

I mention it only by way of illustrating the comedy of the following news story that is "trending" on several major news sites today.

( A retired Australian detective says he believes a US secret service officer fired one of the bullets that felled US President John F Kennedy.

Weeks before the 50th anniversary of JFK's assassination, ReelzChannel will broadcast a docudrama that suggests the president was accidentally shot by a Secret Service agent.

JFK: The Smoking Gun, is based on the work of retired Australian police Detective Colin McLaren and the book Mortal Error: The Shot that Killed JFK, by Bonar Menninger.

McLaren spent four years combing through evidence from Kennedy's death on November 22, 1963, in Dallas. He and Menninger also relied on ballistics evidence from an earlier book by Howard Donahue.

It suggests that agent George Hickey fired one of the bullets that hit Kennedy. Hickey, who is now dead, was riding in the car behind Kennedy's limo that day.

"What we're saying is that we believe it was a tragic accident in the heat of that moment," McLaren told the Television Critics Association on Sunday.

When Lee Harvey Oswald fired his first shot, McLaren said Hickey responded by trying to fire back on Oswald's position using his Secret Service-issued rifle. But because he was inexperienced with the weapon and the car lurched forward, McLaren said the shot went awry and accidentally hit Kennedy, who was struck in the neck but quite possibly not fatally wounded by Oswald's second shot.

"We don't suggest that he was in any way involved in a conspiracy," McLaren said of Hickey.

The Warren Commission report in the 1960s concluded that Oswald was the lone gunman in officially explaining the assassination.

The two-hour docudrama will be broadcast in the US, Australia and Canada in November.

Okay, first, I wasn't in Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963,

I did live in Houston and Kennedy had been there the night before, so there was a kind of feeling of being part of it all the next day when, shortly after returning from lunch at my junior high school, we heard the first radio reports of what would come to be known as the crime of the century.

If memory serves, by the way, the first of the conspiracy theories was being whispered about before I had finished digesting the Shepard's pie that was a staple of 1960's junior high school cafeteria fare.

Today, coming up close to fifty years later, John Kennedy is dead, Jackie Kennedy is dead, John Kennedy Jr is dead, but the theories are alive, kicking...and comic.

And for those who might be life time subscribers to the Hanging Out On The Grassy Knoll Is More Fun Than Getting A Life Club and who might be inclined to petulantly inquire as to my credentials to offer expert testimony as regards the assassination of the President of the United States.

I can only offer this.

I ain't got any.

But any third grader could probably tell you that in order for this latest, wacky, zany theory in what is now almost a fifty year long list of wacky zany theories, to be true, the cover up required to keep what happened covered up would be so massively staggering that even those folks who swear on a stack that they've been the victims of alien abduction and anal alienation would poo poo this conspiracy ca ca as, well, ca ca.

Because, you see, it works like this.

In order for the cover up to work, literally hundreds, if not thousands, of people would have had to keep quiet about it.

For almost fifty years.

When, as we all know, that is pretty much an impossibility.

You just said so yourself.

When you thought back to that thing you heard and/or repeated that was, to the best of your knowledge, a secret of some kind.

A secret you would have had to keep for, say, only a week or so.

Not almost fifty years.

Friday, July 26, 2013

"...Next Stop...Nirvana..."

Some people look forward to birthdays.

Some people look forward to Christmas.

Some people look forward to the first day of school.

Although, the odds are pretty good the larger percentage of those people are parents, not pupils.


Birthdays are appreciated but pretty much a matter of yearly routine after more than sixty of em'.

Christmas is a joyous time though I could do with it starting, say, in November as opposed to the Labor Day side of the Halloween season.

No, I'm excited about a date still a few years away, but filling me with anticipation and expectation.

January 20, 2017.

On that day, assuming that nothing extraordinary happens in the meantime, Barack Obama will no longer be President of the United States.

And it doesn't require a post graduate degree to realize that there are millions of people who are right there with me, emotionally, if not literally, salivating over the thought that the Obama presidency will be over.

Most of those millions will be Republicans, I imagine.

Again, no doctorate required to draw that conclusion.

But regardless of party affiliation and/or where's one's particular loyalties lie, I think its a pretty safe bet that a cheer of unprecedented magnitude will be heard as the "so, help me, God" big finish of the Presidential oath is uttered by the next chosen leader of the free world.

I'll be right there, in spirit if not in person, raising my voice to a moment that will mark a turning point in history unparalleled in, if not recorded time, then certainly in my own lifetime.

The inauguration of the 2016 nominee of the Republican Party for President of the United States.

And an end to the venom and vitriol and viciousness that the previous eight years have seen splashed on our lives; the final moment of the hatred and anger directed at Barack Obama that has filled our senses, from print media to televised news shows, from talk radio to podcasts, from editorials to blog sites, from water cooler conversation to post after post after post after post on Facebook and Twitter and all social media sites that were created to bring people closer but have only had us at each others throats.

And, even more exciting, dare I say life changing?

The end to our long, long journey out of the wilderness and our arrival, finally, gratefully, in paradise.

A society without hatred or anger or prejudice.

A culture without greed or avarice or immorality.

A thriving economy, cities rising up, like Phoenixes from the ashes, with clean, well lit, paved streets, highways without pothole, neighborhoods without drugs or prostitution or crime, where a man or a woman or a child can walk freely and safely at any time of day or night.

An educational system second to none, schools rising like palaces on every other corner, filling our children's heads with knowledge and wisdom and ambition, affording them every resource and opportunity to live an unprecedented life of accomplishment and success and happiness.

A health care system that provides, at no cost, complete, unconditional protection for every man, woman and child from the ravages of disease or injury.

A fully funded support system for the elderly so that they may live out the remainder of their years free of the burdens of financial need.

A military trained and maintained at all times, with the power to take care of any injustice that the world might impose and fully appreciated and respected, not only from sea to shining sea, but in every country across every ocean around the globe.

Churches filled to the rafters, locally owned and operated neighborhood stores with customers lined up down the block, television, radio and music programs and programming free of decadence and despair, solar powered, sparkling clean mass transit, smog free skies, an end to heart disease and cancer and, once and for all, the final mention of the term global warming.

The realization of mankind's fullest potential.

And an end to the venom and vitriol and viciousness that the previous eight years have seen splashed on our lives; the final moment of the hatred and anger directed at Barack Obama that has filled our senses, from print media to televised news shows, from talk radio to podcasts, from editorials to blog sites, from water cooler conversation to post after post after post after post on Facebook and Twitter and all social media sites that were created to bring people closer but have only had us at each others throats.

It all starts January 20, 2017.

With the inauguration of the next Republican Party nominee as President of the United States.

I can't wait.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

"Well, All The Information Is Inaccurate and Incorrect, But, Wow, Did We Report It To You Fast Or What...?"

Something very disturbing is apparent here.

And something else very disturbing is not so apparent.

(CNN) -- A roller coaster at Six Flags Fiesta Texas in San Antonio has been temporarily closed as a precautionary measure after a woman died last week on a similar ride at Six Flags over Texas in Arlington.

No injuries have been reported on the Iron Rattler in San Antonio, which opened in May, but it will remain closed while officials investigate the Six Flags death in Arlington.

Meanwhile, an inquest by the Tarrant County medical examiner's office revealed details Tuesday on how Rosy Esparza died after being ejected from her third-row seat as the Texas Giant roller coaster began a steep descent on the first large hill.

On Friday, Esparza fell about 75 feet, struck a metal beam and came to rest on the metal roof of a tunnel, the inquest found.

Esparza, 52, of Dallas died of multiple traumatic injuries and had extensive trauma to her torso, the medical examiner said. Esparza, who is identified in the report by her maiden name of Rosa Irene Ayala-Gaona, was pronounced dead at the scene.

The manner of her death is pending further investigation and laboratory results, the medical examiner's office said.

At its highest point, the Texas Giant is 153 feet and has a drop of 147 feet, according to the theme park.

The Texas Giant was originally designed in 1990 as an all wooden roller coaster. It was redesigned with a steel track and reopened in April 2011 to mark the theme park's 50th anniversary.

Esparza's son-in-law and his wife were sitting in front of her at the time. Contrary to witness accounts reported by CNN affiliates, Ronald Segovia told CNN he did not hear his mother-in-law mention that her seat did not lock properly.

Segovia also told CNN that Esparza was sitting by herself, contrary to initial reports she was sitting beside her son. Her sons, according to Segovia, were not there.

What is disturbing, and likely preventable, is the tragic loss of life.

Not so apparent, though, are two mentions in the above story.

".....Contrary to witness accounts reported by CNN affiliates, Ronald Segovia told CNN he did not hear his mother-in-law mention that her seat did not lock properly...."

".....Segovia also told CNN that Esparza was sitting by herself, contrary to initial reports she was sitting beside her son. Her sons, according to Segovia, were not there...."

Admittedly, it's been a long time since I was a journalism student.

But, long time notwithstanding, I have a very clear memory of being taught one of journalism's once upon a time most sacred tenets.

Getting it right trumps getting it first.

Apparently, given the reporting in this case, that's no longer true.

That's pretty disturbing.

"...The Need To Stop Talking and Actually Do Something Is As Plain as Black and White...."

Bill O'Reilly has a habit of not letting other people finish answers to his questions.

This is unfortunate for a number of reasons.

But, least obvious to folks flying on the port side of the U.S. of Airplane, is that there are times when he hits the nail dead center.

And those who believe him to be full of hot air don't benefit from hearing the sound of hammer hitting nail.

Once a blowhard and so on.

For a while, I've been trying to teach myself to separate beef from bullshit, chaff from amber waves of grain.

And last night, my efforts were rewarded as follows.

Another all too common habit I continue trying to resist is the temptation to label other's opinions as either right or wrong.

Right or wrong, of course, being subjective judgments and open to interpretation.

Instead, I determine, upon hearing another point of view, as to whether I agree or disagree.

I saw this program last night.

I've reviewed the video a couple of times.

A determination has been made.

I agree.

That's it.

No trap door, no twist ending, no thrust and parry.

I agree with what Bill O'Reilly has to say about this issue.

Even if I still think that he needs to shut up and listen to a complete answer every once and awhile.

Monday, July 22, 2013

" The Little Known Facts About Deafness Causing Blindness..."

With apologies to Monty Hall, let's make a deal.

Don't call me a liberal...

And I won't call you a conservative.

Or a redneck.

For that matter, I won't call you anything.

I'll make every good effort to actually listen to what you have to say on any particular issue and, should we disagree, continue making every good effort to find some way to work with you to find that place in the middle of it all where we can both be part of the solution and not part of the problem.

A lot of ink and airwaves have been used up in the past few days regarding Barack Obama's comments regarding the George Zimmerman trial.

Some reasonable voices are expressing the belief that it's inappropriate for a President of the United States to weigh in on any major issue focusing on only one race, group or demographic.

Other reasonable voices believe that a President should show moral leadership and to not speak out is to turn a deaf ear to a major issue of our times affecting all Americans.

As for my own opinion...

...that's a worm filled can to be opened at another time and place.

Today's two cents isn't about speaking out.

It's about learning to listen.

Fox News commentator Dana Perino was a guest on ABC's Sunday morning news show yesterday and, as video of the interview shows, questioned a seeming hypocrisy of Barack Obama's remarks on the Zimmerman/Martin case while there was no apparent mention made of a shooting case in Georgia where black teens killed a two year old during a robbery.

I became aware of the news show interview as the result of a Facebook posting from a radio station in Brunswick, Georgia where I was program director until early last year. The posting assumed that the shooting being mentioned by Perino was a horrific crime that occurred in Brunswick earlier this year. On the show, though, Perino said "shooting in Atlanta", so one of two things is apparent.

Either Perino wasn't referencing the Brunswick shooting and was, instead, talking about something that actually did occur in Atlanta.

Or she misspoke the facts and said Atlanta when it should have, correctly been Brunswick.

When an additional posting on Facebook called attention to the disparity, one Facebook poster replied that it didn't make any difference, that Perino's point was the same either way and, in the words of that FB poster, "where is the outrage about that shooting?"

Fair point.

Here's a thing, though.

As I am want to do, being the curious and admittedly impish character I tend to be, I wandered over to this particular Facebook poster's page to have a look see and put a face, and back story, on this outraged citizen if only because I like to know a little about those I'm talking with, even if the conversation is only the back and forth of posting banter on social media.

What I found disappointed me a little.

A couple of pleasant personal photos and a whole lot of banners, posters and slogans calling Obama not only to task for what appears to be his failure to do anything right, but, calling him the usual, and sad, assortment of names that those who won't feel life is worth living until January 21, 2017 fire off like so many practice rounds at a Saturday afternoon family gathering.

Free speech, God given rights, yada, yada, yada.

I know the argument.

And I agree with it.

In principle.

But it's been my personal experience that something inevitable happens in the human body when the name calling starts.

Whatever part of the brain that is occupied with processing all that lashing out is also the part of the brain that allows the ears to hear and the mind to consider.

And since it can only do one or the other, the result is obvious.

If the old election year bromide, "decisions are made by those who show up" is true, then I think it's not unreasonable to offer that it's equally true that "solutions are found by those who hear each other out."

And name calling not only takes up the energy required to listen, it muddies the water of understanding.

For example, don't call me a liberal.

Because I'm not.

I have liberal opinions about some things, conservative opinions about some things and a whole host of opinions about some things that likely fall any and every where in between.

So, throwing the L word at somebody is the after childhood equivalent of calling somebody a poopy head.

A little noise, just a hint of sour smell and not a whole lot of anything else accomplished for the effort.

So don't call me names.

And I won't call you names.

And we'll spend our time listening to one another, saving our passionate energies to work a little harder when we tire of the discussion, until we find the most equitable answer.

With apologies to Howie Mandell... Or no deal?


That's what I thought.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

"...It's My Right To Tell You That What You Done Ain't Right And You Shouldn't Be Allowed To Do It...That's What Freedom Is All About, Savvy?..."

Apparently, the "average American" has a thing for windmills.

Because, in the past few days, they've been doing an extraordinary amount of tilting at them.

One in particular.

Rolling Stone.

The first picture, in case you've been traveling inter-galactically this week, is the passion inflaming cover of the current issue.

The second picture is a Photoshop creation of someone whose inflamed passions have manifested themselves into a burst of slap back creativity.

I've already written on this matter, expressing my own opinion that putting the Boston bombing suspect on the cover was, at best, insensitive.

But after a day or two of reading the rambling, knee jerk comments made by hundreds of "average Americans", on news sites, entertainment sites and social media, I find myself bubbling up to banter mode once again.

Loath as I am to quote anyone from the Fox News Channel, I have to offer that the best perspective I've heard on this whole tempest in a periodical came today from a member of the group that appear each weekday and call themselves "The Five".

It was a pretty eloquent observation.

And not all that hard to comprehend.

"In this country, a country of free speech and the freedom of expression, this magazine has the right to put anything they want on the cover of their magazine. And if people don't like it................don't buy it."

I unhesitatingly agree with, and support, your decision to take a pass on purchasing a copy of Rolling Stone if that's your choice.

And I still personally hold that the decision to use this picture, given the circumstances, was, at best, a bonehead business move on the part of Jann Wenner and his staff and, at worst, an unnecessary face slap to those whose wounds are still, literally and figuratively, healing.

But I'm disappointed, as an American, that so many people have eagerly joined the line of lemmings running blindly off the cliff into the ravine of advocating censorship.

The very same people who, I imagine, were among those who, just recently, were waving their flags and Constitutions around like deflector shields when Congress made their every six month post senseless slaughter pitch to regulate the ownership of guns.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is in custody and does not frighten me.

Rolling Stone's obvious cheap effort to grab the limelight does not frighten me.

People who attempt, through protest, threat or action to decide for others which freedoms are worthy honoring and which are not....

...frighten the hell out of me.

Last time I checked, the Bill of Rights wasn't "pick and choose".

Don't take my word for it.

Ask any gun owner.

Just don't ask if you can borrow their copy of this month's Rolling Stone.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

"...Of Course, It's An Assault On Our Humanity...As Luck Would Have It, We Don't Seem To Have Much Of That Left To Be Assaulted...."

Today's edition of "Both Sides Now" is brought to you, in part, by

...publisher of cutting edge cultural material since 1970.

There is a pretty loud outcry of outrage screeching its way through commercial and social media about this cover.

The predictable "giving criminals the sick glory they seek" piss and moan is pretty prominent.

The button involved here is sufficiently hot, in fact, as to get the mayor of Boston in on the indignation.



What Mayor Menino has to offer and, for that matter, what most of those who are bunged, bugged and/or bitchin' about it have to say are, to any reasonable person, legitimate and unarguable points of view.

Here's an additional point of view.

It's a shitstorm, to be sure.

And we've brought a lot of this shit on ourselves.

Print media is saturated with venom, vitriol, sleaziness, sexual prurience, character assassination, both personal and political...

...and we can't get through the checkout line fast enough to get home and start reading all about it.

Contemporary music is filled with sexist, sexually, misogynistic, racially slanderous abuse of women...

...and we can't get logged on to ITunes fast enough to download it.

Television and motion pictures are filled with....

...well, you get the idea.

We embrace the Kardashians as role models, we roll our eyes, but keep on buying the assorted products offered up by Lindsay Lohan, Justin Bieber, Chris Brown and dozens of other socially corrupted, if not corrupting, souls.

Then get our patriotic panties in a knot when a once relevant, now creaky middle aged once upon a time music magazine puts a picture of a kid who helped kill other kids on its cover.

And vow to right this terrible wrong by no longer buying this once relevant, now creaky middle aged once upon a time music magazine that fewer and fewer people are buying with each passing day anyway.

Fuck yeah! That'll show em!

We'll just shove that salacious shit right down the trash compactor where it belongs.

And just read that copy of Ann Coulter's new book while the commercials are on..

During Keeping Up With The Kardashians.

And Access Hollywood.

And Hardball with Chris Matthews.

And Hannity.

But just until Dexter comes on.

All this stress makes a loving soul look forward to an hour of watching a serial killer overflowing with good intentions.

Rolling Stone's putting Tsarnaev on the cover is tasteless, insensitive and offensive.

Three things that are fast replacing hotcakes when it comes to what we buy.

And, fyi, the earlier reference to "Both Sides Now" has nothing to do with the Joni Mitchell song.

It has to do with the parts of our mouths with which we all too often talk.

"Coming Up....A Special Report On The WheDaFuqHowee Tribe...."

Paging Potter Stewart.

The accomplished and respected Supreme Court justice, on the subject of hard core pornography, once offered this perceptive observation.

"It's hard to define, but I know it when I see it."

(CNN) -- The names, which some liken to slurs, spread everywhere -- triggering anger in the United States as well as South Korea.

Last week, KTVU, a TV station based in the San Francisco area, aired what it believed were the names of the Asiana Airlines Flight 214 pilots. A National Transportation Safety Board intern confirmed the bogus names -- phrases which sounded like "Something Wrong" and "We Too Low."
And hello, perfect storm. Or as one blogger put it -- "an epic mind-blowing fail."

The crash of the South Korean carrier had already hit racial notes -- with jokes mocking Asian driving or piloting skills and questions whether the crash had to do with the Korean culture.
U.S. comedian Bill Maher quipped on his show, "Now that we know the cause of that Asiana Airlines crash was the pilots flying too slowly, I don't want to hear another word about me doing Asian driver jokes." His comment followed an array of similar jokes on social media.
Phil Yu of the "Angry Asian Man" blog, said he was bracing himself for jokes after the crash.
"It's completely inappropriate especially because we're talking about a tragedy. People died, people were seriously injured," he said.
The crash prompted speculation as to whether the Korean cultural deference to authority played a role in bringing the Boeing 777 down on the San Francisco runway on July 6. This is a hypothesis made about Korean airlines long before the Asiana crash.
A blogger at Ask a Korean sarcastically asked: "What is it about American culture that contributed a local station with heavily Asian population to blindly buy the obviously false representation from the NTSB? Is there an inherent deference to authority in American culture that contributed to this gaffe?"
The bogus names prompted the South Korean carrier to say it would take legal action against KTVU, because "it was their report that resulted in damaging the company's image."
Several legal and PR experts questioned the wisdom of the lawsuit -- which the airline later said it would not pursue, while others on CNN's discussion board questioned whether the joke was even racist.
"Ah yes, the "r" word: racism. And the "o" word: offensive," wrote one commenter. "Get over it. A mildly clever person pulled a reasonably funny (if insensitive - to the victims of the crash) prank."
"I honestly believe nobody has a sense of humor anymore, and when someone does, they have to apologize for it. Get over it. It was hilarious!" another wrote.
Asian-American advocates say that creating vaguely Asian sounding names to crack jokes about a deadly plane accident that killed three Chinese girls is completely insensitive.
"Making up Asian names or mimicking foreign accents are not innocent forms of satire," wrote Paul Cheung and Bobby Calvan, of the Asian American Journalists Association. "Doing so demeans and hurts."

Racial jokes around the fatal air crash "are not benign," said Claire Jean Kim, an associate professor of political science and Asian American Studies at the University of California Irvine.
"Those kinds of jokes reflect a deeper view of Asian Americans as culturally different and inferior," she said. "That's not a joke, that has material effects. It leads to a general sense, even those who are born here in the U.S., they simply don't belong."
Kim says denying that something is racist is a sign of the times.
"People are minimizing it as a joke," she said. "In this particular period, many people claim that racism is a thing of the past, we live in a colorblind society, we should brush these things off."
The mocking of Asian names dates back to when immigrants arrived to the United States, said Gary Okihiro, founding director of the Center for Study of Ethnicity and Race at Columbia University.
"In the 19th century, many immigration officials who first greeted Asian migrants demeaned them, by first of all, making fun of their names because they couldn't pronounce them properly, or assigning them names like John Chinaman or China Mary," he said.
"Anything foreign seems to be open season or free game," Okihiro said.

I'm going to take a pass on putting a foot into the tar pit of "is it racist or not?", thank you.

I leave that to your own sensibility and/or moral compass to determine.

Couple of observations, though.

"...The bogus names prompted the South Korean carrier to say it would take legal action against KTVU, because "it was their report that resulted in damaging the company's image.....".

I'm not a credentialed P.R. "expert", but seems to me that if allowing a plane with three hundred people aboard and three pilots in the cockpit to crash because it was simply flying too low and slow doesn't fatally damage the company image, then stands to reason that the image will survive some low rent pranking.

And I think while there's no getting around the racial overtones of the joke, it's ill advised to over play the racist card, if only because too much crying race will inevitably have the same effect as crying wolf. And that would, and will, be a disservice to any and all who are obvious and genuine victims of racism in the future.

Finally, on the pointless debate on the tastelessness of the humor?

Let he or she who is without the habit of enjoying Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, Keeping Up With The Kardashians, Howard Stern or any of the hundreds of like cultural contributors cast the first stone.


Got kind of quiet all of a sudden, there, don't you think?


"I Know You Think That What You Think Is What You Know But You Need To Know That What I Know Is That What You Think Is Not What You Know...You Know?..."

Two people know, to a certainty, what happened.

One of them is dead.

Six women just, ostensibly, did their personal best to decide which of two interpretations of what happened was more plausible and made a decision.

At this point, in an ideal world, everyone else, and I sincerely mean everyone, would sit down and shut the hell up about it.

This, of course, is not going to happen for a long, long, long time.

Maybe even longer.

Because along with the basic list of life necessities, food, water, shelter and contact with others, let's not forget to add the intrinsic human need to express our opinion about everything and anything, regardless of our expertise, knowledge, awareness and/or insight into said thing.

When, in the clear light of it all, we should all just sit down and shut the hell up.

This, too, of course, is not going to happen for a long, long, long time.

Long being defined as never.

Those who might take exception to my opinion regarding their unfortunate need to express their opinion might very easily, and predictably, refute my point of view with an age old assertion.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion.

To no one's surprise, I'm sure, I have an opinion about that.

Actually, no, we're not.


I'm not sure what bright light of yore first coined that philosophic phrase, but I suspect it was someone attempting to defend their own expression, very likely one that had little or nothing to do with facts, truth, justice or the American way.

And I also suspect that it caught on, primarily because a lot of people who had plenty to say about things they had absolutely no knowledge or education or credibility about were delighted to have somebody sticking up for their right to articulate their lack of knowledge and education and credibility.

Kind of an early, more erudite way of saying "well, he gets to do it.."

Now, those who are already geared up to smack back with some uneducated, poorly thought out retort that, bet the farm, will include the words "God given", "freedom" and/or "Constitution", should just take a breath and read on a little.

Whoever first said "everyone is entitled to their own opinion" was well meaning.

They simply didn't finish the thought.

As it was finished, eloquently in my humble o, some years ago by the noted public servant, Daniel Patrick Moynihan.

"Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but they are not entitled to their own facts."

And what you might think, suspect, believe, hope happened, or didn't happen,  is not a fact.

It is your opinion.

As to the facts, here they are as I have been able to empirically research them.

Two, and only two people, know to a certainty, what happened.

One of them is dead.

Everyone, and I sincerely mean everyone, should just sit down and shut the hell up about it.


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

"When Will "Enough is Enough" Really Be Enough?..."

Fair warning.

What follows will, assuming you are a rational, reasonable human being, infuriate you.

I don't care.

What follows that may offend you.

I don't care.

HARVEY, La. - The body of a six-year-old, who has been missing since Saturday, was found in a dumpster near the end of the apartment complex where she lived, according to the mother of the child.

Ahlittia North was last seen by her parents when they put her to bed on Friday night. Her stepfather awoke the next morning to find that North had vanished overnight, along with a queen-sized blanket, a toothbrush and toothpaste.

North's body was discovered around 1 a.m. Tuesday, her mother said. Deputies returned to the apartments on Destrehan Avenue to question neighbors about whether they had heard or seen anything related to the dumpster.

"I woke up to the detectives knocking on the door around 1:30, 1:40-something in the morning. So, I'm figuring something was really going on, because they wouldn't be knocking on nobody's door this time in the morning. So I came out and I answered the questions for them. They asked me did I see anybody move garbage cans. I threw up when I found out, I ain't going to even lie. I threw up when I found out the little girl was missing, because, I'm going to be real, it could be my niece, nephew, anybody," said neighbor Janeisheia Biagas.

On Monday afternoon, JPSO released the identity of a person of interest in relation to North's disappearance. Matthew Flugence, 20, is the nephew of North's stepfather, according to the sheriff's office. His exact connection to the case was unclear.

Flugence has an outstanding warrant against him for an alleged sexual battery of an 11-year-old. He lived on the same block of Destrehan Avenue as North, JPSO said.

"Flugence remains a person of interest, and we have yet to locate him," according to JPSO Col. John Fortunato.

The search for the girl was massive and involved several law enforcement agencies, including the FBI.

During the search, the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office set up a mobile command center near the apartment complex.

The dumpster was removed from the scene around 5 a.m., according to neighbors. Around 6:30 a.m., neighbors and community members set up a vigil near North's home.

At 7 a.m., a dozen more deputies showed up on scene and blocked off a larger portion of the apartment complex with crime tape. FBI agents also showed up around the same time.

There is, I believe, a period in everyone's life where they struggle with the conflict that life inflicts upon us, the battle between having compassion and calling for justice, between trying to see all sides and seeing only the desire to retaliate, between turning the other cheek and, forgiveness be damned, turning a cold shoulder to anything but swift, certain extermination.

That period tends to be early in life, before years and years of sensory assault on our principles, morals, hearts and souls takes an inevitable toll.

I do remember a period in my own life like that. And I don't honestly remember any one moment when I turned a corner.

But, somewhere along the way, I did.

And I don't care.

I still believe in love. I believe in forgiveness and reaching down deep inside myself to find a reason to embrace when my every emotion and nerve ending is screaming out to push away. I believe in compassion and empathy and sympathy and as much regard for others as my humanity and capacity for common sense will allow.

I still abhor violence,  be it physical, emotional, spiritual or any other form it might take.

And if I can't fully embrace the belief, I'm willing to concede the possibility that God forgives all who are truly repentant.

But I no longer believe in the tenet that we should "not judge, lest we be judged".

At times, I am less a follower of the Holy Scripture than I am the words of Marge Simpson.

"Kill then all. And let God sort it out."

I no longer feel remorse or guilt or concern that I believe, with a loving heart and no malice intended, that some human beings simply do not deserve my forgiveness or my compassion or my sympathy or my empathy and, moreover, do not deserve to be alive on this earth.

That opinion likely tweaks the sensibilities of those who might offer that it's not for me to say.

I don't care.

I have lived over sixty years on this planet, I have two children who fill me with pride and thanks and I have five grandchildren, all under the age of 14 who are shining lights in a world growing seemingly darker with each new day.

I have been blessed with their good health and their happiness. And I have been blessed with never having to face what Ahlitta North's family is facing.

So, I cant begin to imagine what I would feel were one of my family in that headline.

Even with that, I have no problem believing that, should the being that committed this horrific act be convicted beyond a reasonable doubt, he should be eliminated.

Not treated. Not incarcerated. Not rehabilitated. Not paroled.


All that is necessary for evil to flourish is for good men to do nothing.

This kind of crime is not an offense open to interpretation.

It is, at its purest, evil.

And there is no cure for evil.

There is only extermination.

Perhaps my attitude makes me heartless.

Or cold.

Or unfeeling.

With all the love I can conjure in my own heart, I sincerely do not believe that.

But if it does...

...I don't care.

I have made a choice that, for the rest of the years that I am gifted to experience, I will care about that which is worthy of caring.

And, in this life, there is a very, very long list.

Evil is not on it.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

"...The Quality Of Mercy May Not Be Strained, But Stained Is Another Matter, Entirely..."

At this writing, the jury is still out.

But the verdict is in.

I haven't spent a lot of time following the George Zimmerman trial.

And I suppose for a guy who spends a lot of time researching what's up stuff for blog sites and podcasts, that seems unusual.

Last night, on my channel surfing way to Turner Classic Movies, I inadvertently stumbled across the latest endless blather on CNN, MSNBC and FOX NEWS.

The unholy trinity of cable news.

Spent about two minutes on each blather before moving on and, upon brief reflection, realized why this case interests me almost not at all.

Because it is, essentially, theatre.

Not justice.

And if Trayvon Martin had been a middle class, white kid and George Zimmerman a middle class, white guy, you can bet your newly arrived back on the shelves Twinkies that you would never, ever have heard about his case.

Unless, of course, you were a member of either respective family.

Or were called for jury duty.

And the ludicrous notion that seems to permeate all the discussions, on air, in print and online, that this case should be judged on its merits and not racially is as intelligence insulting as it is an exercise in futility.

As I write this and/or as you read this, there are hundreds, thousands of cases being tried all over the country that meet the same criteria as this one.

Somebody shot and killed somebody else and they are on trial for it.

But you haven't heard about any of those have you?

Unless, of course, you're a member of either respective family.

Or were called for jury duty.

I have no honest opinion as to the guilt or innocence of George Zimmerman.

And, frankly, given that I'm not on the jury, it's an affront to even offer one.

Not that that will stop the armchair geniuses from affronting us with theirs.

But, at this point in the circus, a twelve year old, let alone a first year law student, can see what all the hoopla is about.

Don't waste your time trying to find a law dictionary in hopes of defining the issues here.

You can find everything you need to know in your desktop Webster's.

Under P.

For pigment.

Friday, July 12, 2013

"It's Probably Only A Matter Of Time Before Fluffy Starts Showing Up On The Side Of The Milk Carton...."

Something very frightening has happened here.

What it is follows shortly.

(CNN) -- A Florida couple declined to answer the door just before midnight when a nearly naked woman knocked and screamed she had just been raped.

Rather, the homeowners called 911 Monday night.
The couple inside the home refused to let the woman in because they said they were afraid to open their door. In the 911 call, the woman can be heard pleading in the background. The distressed couple begged police to hurry. Their home is in an isolated area, and the couple feared for their safety if they opened the door.
It took about 11 minutes for police to arrive.
A subsequent investigation led to an arrest of a suspect and prompted the spokesman of the DeLand Police Department to remark that "unfortunately fear dictates the response anymore not knowing if (you're) being set up for other criminal activity."
Police spokesman Lt. Jack Waples added that if citizens are uncomfortable opening the door to someone seeking help, "tell the person to calm down, you are calling 911 now," Waples said in a statement.
"If there are two of you, one continues to talk to the victim reassuring them help is on the way while the other person stays on the line with the authorities," Waples said.
"You control how you respond. For example, tell the person to back away from the door to a place (you're) comfortable with so you can throw out a blanket or something then go back inside. Always beware of your surroundings around the entry way such as high bushes someone else could be hiding behind.
"Every situation will be unique in its own way and the decision to help is up to the individual depending on how much they can do to assist," Waples said.
Juan L. Vera-Soledad, 29, of DeLand was arrested in the incident and charged with kidnapping and sex battery with a weapon, according to a charging affidavit filed by police.
Vera-Soledad was in custody Thursday, and it wasn't immediately clear whether he had an attorney.
The incident began late Monday night when the woman was forced at knifepoint to enter a man's car at a Citgo in DeLand, a police affidavit said.
The motorist had been circling her several times in his 1998 four-door Toyota and then stopped his car and asked her to get in, the police report said. The man then got out of his car and revealed a silver switchblade-style knife, forcing her into the passenger seat, police said.
He then drove to a location and raped the woman repeatedly, the police document said.
When the man "then laid down in the backseat as if to take a break for a couple of minutes," the woman sat up, elbowed him in the chest, grabbed her pink shorts and fled to the residence, the document said.
The homeowner told police that "he heard someone outside banging on his front door yelling that she had been raped," the affidavit said.
Responding officers then searched for the suspect and found him with a "known prostitute" in his car, the report said.
What followed this online news story was the comments section, open to the public for opinion, observation and impression. It is presented here unedited, as it appeared at this writing.

Maybe because I have big dogs I feel safer but I would absolutely open my door.

I have a cat from hell, so I too feel safe.

 What follows is the world's stupidest thread.

 Oh my God you weren't kidding.

 Ok this made me laugh.

 What is with these cats from hell? I used to have one that you only had to look at the wrong way and it attacked. From what I am seeing they are not uncommon.

 Now, hear me out, because so many people on here are all "I would have answered the door with my gun and I would have been safe" about this whole thing...but what if someone developed a gun that fired pissed-off hell cats at people?! Nobody would ever attack you then. World peace would probably be at hand, even.

Great name. There is an old far side cartoon with a dobimatic. A device that fire doberman s at intruders

 Please ... don't start with the Far Side cartoons or I'll never make it to work this morning.

 f the dobermans shot bees at people when they barked it would be even cooler. Homer Simpson has corrupted my mind...

 Shut up and take my money!


 f I could upvote this +1000, it would be done!!

 Or invented an angry-bird-firing rifle...

 100% true story: A neighbor-lady heard a ruckus in her living-room one night and walked in there to see kitty on the windowsill going wildcat on a would-be intruder who was trying to get away but was hung up halfway through the curtains. Intruder ran, neighbor-lady ran over to comfort kitty and lock windows,noticing blood on the windowsill and drops on the floor just inside.

 We had a party for kitty the next day, complete with shrimp, catnip and balloons. Yay, cats from hades and points south!

 After my hell cat, I would take it over a 'greet you at the door while it plants you with its wet kisses' dog.

 Yeah, those are the dogs that say to the burglars, "Hey! Follow me! The jewelry is this way!"

 Precisely! Anyone coming into the home is a potential new friend. There's a reason they're called man's best friend...

you dont have dogs, mine bark up holy hell if someone they don't know is coming.

 Mine would bark too, but she'd quiet down once the burglar gave her a treat.

 Reminds me of that TV commercial with the barking cat...

 You're right, right now I do not. But no two dogs are alike. When I did my husky would act like yours while my lab would not, depends on the breed and temperament.

 Buggy hits strangers with (usually a closed mouth) like he's a porpoise and they are sharks. It's very off-putting so we put him up when people come over. Its his test to see if you will be afraid. If you are afraid then he opens the mouth. I would assume that intruders would be afraid. Duffel gets this vicious tone in his voice that is so un duffel like..

 Years ago in North Fort Lauderdale a drug addled guy tried to break into my townhouse through the patio door, but when my ten ferrets ran up to see if he was edible, he ran away. But I had already taken his picture and they caught him an hour later trying to break in to a neighbor's home. Ferrets can often look like giant rats to non-owners. I loved those little guys!

 I went to someone's house once who had a cat from hell..they had to put her away when company got there. Well me not thinking opened the door to the living room and they had let her out while I was in the room and luckily one of them intercepted the cat moments before she would have lunged at me. Felt bad because she really did a number on him and he was a member of the family!

That cat needs a good slapping show em who the boss is of the house. Too many people let the animal decide, thats where they give up all the power and the animal loses all rrspect for you

 If that's what you think, please never own an animal... showing dominance over an animal is not by striking it. You will not gain its respect, you will only gain fear.

Shut up you I d iot. I'll smack whatever animal I want. I'm at the top of the food chain.

No, your ma is at the top of your food chain so go and clean the litter box like she told you to.

Ok cesaer, i see where you are going with this. You think you are better than me just cause i would treat the cat the way it treats me. Sorry i am not soft ljke yourself. Thats whats wrong with this country, too many softies out there ruining things for us who are rugged and tough.

Cesaer? I prefer Victoria, thank you. I trained one of the hardest dogs to train, a husky, and it was done exactly the way a pack would have done it, a way a trainer would have done it. But really, go get an husky, or any dog and use your method and hit, beat or whatever method you think would work and tell me the results. You can only hit an animal so many times before it strikes back. You don’t train an animal with fear, you train an animal with respect. And you want to use this method on a cat?! And I never claimed to be better than you, I am purely giving my opinion on experience!

So tough you would strike an eight-pound cat? LMAO!!!!

Try to pick on something your own size for a change.

He tried to but his mommy grounded him

I have a 4.5 pound chihuahua/chinese crested that if you slapped him you would have to go find it afterwarrd

Smack an animal in front of me and they will never find your body.

It's a pet that can both give love and receive love, it's not a marine that needs to prove respect for his commanding officer. Closer relationships develop out of love not fear.

If a cat is not afraid of an animal twenty times its size, how are you going to teach it respect? They have brains the size of walnuts and they chase their own tails, the rotten little darlings.

Good luck training them to do anything but sleep for 20 hours per day:

"Lie down! Snooze! Good kitteh!"

Maybe you're talking about your own brain size because most cats I've met are pretty dam smart. Can't say the same for some of the posters on this thread

Well I'm not a cat person but I can't keep my dog from pouncing on me when I go home so I guess I ail in that department.

I've never had a cat like that! Poor thing. Sometimes I think animals get teased too much and react. I'm not saying your friend was abusive. It's just strange.

Cats are very territorial and unfortunately will strike at the closest person, whether it's someone they know or not, when they feel someone is intruding in their space. We used to do the same thing to the 'cat from hell' to protect visitors, because unlike dogs, they are not the easiest to train.

I've had a few cats growing up and they were never that way..maybe some are just more territorial than others.

Because looking at a cat in the eyes is a sign of aggression.So is picking them up and hugging them. They're animals like us, not toys.

First impression. 
It would be easy to write this comment thread off if it consisted of the back and forth ramblings of  two or three of those folks who seem to have, literally, nothing to do with their lives but ramble back and forth at each other in the comments sections of online news sites.
In this case, not so much.
I didn't do an actual count, but a quick retinal scan indicates we're enjoying the opinions of a couple of dozen people here.
And, by now, I'm taking, on faith, that if you're a regular reader of my work here, you've stayed with this piece to this point and you, like me, can feel the fear that this story has inspired.
A young woman, brutalized and in need of human assistance, found herself locked out.
And three very frightening things are apparent here.
That this kind of brutalization still lurks around us pretty much everywhere, pretty much all the time.
That our culture has put us in such a defensive posture that, faced with the chance to help someone, we have to err on the side of safety and offer only a phone call to emergency services while keeping our doors locked.
But, of the three causes for alarm, I can't help but think it's the third that's most chilling.
Apparently average, everyday individuals react to the brutalization of one citizen and the social dilemma of two others having to deny more aid to a desperate woman than they likely ached to provide with an inane, banal, arguably pathetic roundtable on the subject of...

...their pets.
Reading the comments once again, one is left, inevitably, with a choice of only two possibilities.
This entire group of all walks of life folks is made up of morons.
Or society has taken yet another giant step towards being so traumatized by the Clockwork Orange shade in which life seems soaked that they can only live their lives by living them in denial.
And talking about their cats.
And dogs.
And ferrets.
Apparently, no longer capable of offering insight or suggestion or, sadly, even outrage about the animal that caused a young woman to go desperately knocking on a door in the dead of night, in search of a helping hand.
It really doesn't get any more frightening than that.

Monday, July 8, 2013

" Bad News Travels Fast...And Continuously...."

First up, let's be clear on something.

Two young people died in the crash of the Asiana passenger jet in San Francisco and that was a tragedy.

Now, let's view this event for what it was.

The first crash of a commercial aircraft in America in almost three years.

Two fatalities in a group of over three hundred people on board the airplane.

Due respect to the families who lost loved ones, even the most casual observer would agree that this incident is totally qualified to be filed under "it could have been much worse".


But, if you follow the coverage, online and on air, you would be inclined to think that this incident is on a par with 9/11.

It was, and is, not.

And the continued over dramatization of it does a disservice to pretty much everybody.

While continuing to underscore how much media journalism has become less about factual reporting and more about sensationalism.

Not to mention illuminating the down side of a culture that offers up twenty four/seven television, radio and now, of course, the impish new kid on the block, the internet.

Here's a thought.

Enough already.

In lieu of that, how about a perspective check?

Look at a clock.

Thirty minutes from now, here in America, the same number of people who died in the San Francisco crash will be dead from injuries suffered in a car crash.

And that will continue every thirty minutes.

From now on.

But, my guess is that you didn't know that.

How could you?

There's no time to tell you about it what with the time required to play the video of the San Francisco air crash over and over and over.

And over.

Enough already.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

"Agree...Disagree...Feel Free...."

When it comes to perspective on the privilege of being an American, I'm reasonably sure that the first name that pops to mind isn't Marlo Thomas.

But, irony being what it is, she probably deserves props.

Perusing Facebook this morning,  a daily ritual that , for many of us, ranks right up there with the ingestion of coffee, the intake of fiber, the brushing of teeth and the emptying of bladder and/or colon, I realized that despite the inevitable flow of Independence Day good wishes, including, but not limited to, pictures of patriotically decorated homes, various and sundry foods that will be, or have already partially been, consumed and, of course, the obligatory "adorable is in the eye of the beholder" shots of the family pet afflicted with their owner's idea of what constitutes appropriate July 4th animal accessorizing, there were, plentifully, and predictably, posted, the usual offerings of political jabbing, dogmatic demonizing and/or philosophical posturing on all things jabbable, demonizable and/or posturable.

And it occurred to me that, perhaps, taking a page from the attitude adjustment manual that we all like to profess reading during the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons, we might all just put the fangs back in our face, box up the barbs and/or take a breather from berating and/or bitchslapping each other around our respective Beltways and, if only for a day, agree to agree on what we should all reasonably see as what's good about living in Uncle Sam's hood.

To wit...

On this fourth day of July, in the year 2013....

...we are free to go where we want....even if where you want to go makes you seem a little strange, while where I want to go clearly makes me normal...

...we are free to say what we want...even if what you say clearly defines you as an idiot, while what I say makes it clear that I am lucid, thoughtful and perceptive...

...we are free to choose how fast our vehicle will travel...even if the speed you drive is clearly maniacally reckless while the speed I drive is thoughtful and courteous...

...we are free to wear whatever we choose....even if what you wear is either hopelessly out of fashion or is best suited to those standing in line at the local Wal Mart while what I wear displays both a laser like grasp of good taste and a kicky, fun, free stylin spirit of adventure and non conformity...

...we are free to own a weapon of our choosing...although your need to proudly display the AR-15 on the family room wall leaves you open to reasonable suspicions of compensation for less than prodigious genitalia while my safely locked Glock indicates a cool, calm and conscientious combination of common sense and constitutional interpretation...

...we are free to openly voice our opinion of our government and those who inhabit it....even if your allegiance to the Fox News mentality is hilarious on a late night talk show level while my ability to see Ann Coulter as the Anti Christ clearly demonstrates my capacity for clarity...

....we are free to post pictures of patriotically decorated homes, various and sundry foods that will be, or have already partially been, consumed and, of course, the obligatory "adorable is in the eye of the beholder" shots of the family pet afflicted with their owner's idea of what constitutes appropriate July 4th animal accessorizing, while your need to do so shrieks your self esteem issues to the hardest of hearing while my poignant, even poetic, opines, observations and/or offerings underscore my complete understanding of contemporary culture and my intrinsic connection with all of mankind....


...we are free to exhibit our insightfulness, our ignorance, our blessedness, our bigotry, our wisdom, our woefulness, our soulfulness, our selfishness, the very worst of our demons, the very best of our better angels and the very basic elements of our humanity....

Put less pompously....

We are free to and me.

Title of a record album, turns out, done to inspire kids a couple of decades back.

By Marlo Thomas.

Patriotic platitudes.

From That Girl.

Only in America.