death by cop

Over the past year we have witnessed the deaths caused by police officers on duty that have led to demonstrations across the country and anguish for many families. The images above are of just some of the victims, and really focus on those of color when there are white victims, too. But this is not just about the emphatic point that “Black Lives Matter” or even the greater/counterpoint that “All Lives Matter”.

Those tenets are indiputable…or should be.

It is also indisputable that some lives lost at the hands of police were of persons who themselves were an active and real threat to the officers or someone else.

That begs the question as to how police officers are trained to deal with situations that have the potential to harm them.

The answer is, not very well.

I have read a number of articles in which even police officials admit that when police violence is a problem for a department, such as most notably in Baltimore recently, training of those officers may have been deficient.

So I was intrigued by this article about police training, specifically about trainees viewing videos in which cops get killed during routine traffic stops. They are shown so that the officers are aware that any stop can turn deadly, especially if they neglect the protocols they are taught.


One training officer states that “98% of the time nothing happens”.

That number is ridiculously wrong.

Look at it this way. Around 34,000,000 speeding tickets are written in the United States every year. And that does not include stops for broken taillights or illegal turns, or ignoring traffic signs, and it does not include all the other possible encounters law enforcement may have that could put them in danger.

Yet, in the 21st century, fewer than 200 law enforcement officers have died in the line of duty each year according to the “Officer Down Memorial Page” which tracks such deaths and lists the specific cause of each one.


Those causes include heart attacks, job related illnesses, drowning, vehicle pursuits, and other causes not the direct result of an assailant.

Let us allow that there may be a thousand or two thousand of other incidents when an officer’s life was on the line due to the unmitigated and unmistaken intent of the suspect, armed and dangerous, and ready to kill.

Yes, those situations are scary and yes officers should be trained to deal with them, and yes officers should be aware of them from the get go.

But no, the focus in training should not be that using your deadly weapon should be the is the first choice of action in response. For when that is your training that is how you will respond to persons who pose no threat to anyone such as Tamir Rice or John Crawford III or Amadou Diallo or Dontre Hamilton or Akai Gurley or…….well you complete the list.

Am I trying to minimize the danger in being in law enforcement? No, that danger is minimized by fact. At least the type of danger that is the be all and end all of these training videos, whcih can be quite graphic. It is easy to imagine that officers develop a mindset whereas their normal and very human desire to remain unharmed may lead to an overreaction to circumstances.

Here I am granting the benefit of the doubt in many of these shootings of unarmed civilians where the truth is, our law enforcement agencies frequently employ their own breed of psychopath, legally armed and with the authority to use that weapon and the rabid eagerness and willingness to do so, irrespective of the need to do so.

If your attitude is “shoot or be shot” you are mush more likely to do the former to pervent the latter, whether justified or not.

Proper training can prepare officers to better handle situations that could put them in danger. When they are taught that every one of over 34 million stops could present that danger when, in fact, fewer than 100 do, it is time to change the training to reflect reality.

I want my police officers to be prepared to protect themselves as well as the public. I do not want them to enter every encounter with a kill or be killed mindset.

We’ll all be safer in the long run.



President Barack Obama has been touting the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and its companion Trans Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TATIP). These are potential trade agreements, the former being negotiated with 11 other nations bordering the Pacific Ocean and the latter with Europe.

There have been accusations that the negotiations are secretive and that entering such pacts, no matter the assertions by the Administration, will result in the loss of American jobs. In that regard it is claimed to be similar as to what the effects were of the North American Free Trade Agreement, better known as the notorious NAFTA passed during Bill Clinton’s tenure that itself was highly praised in advance for its benefits for American workers and highly cursed since by the thousands, if not millions, of American workers who lost jobs as a result.

Obama has encountered resistance to TPP within his own Democratic Party, most notably from Senator Elizabeth Warren.

Currently there is Congressional legislation pending granting Trade Promotional Authority to the President, the power to cut trade deals and expedite their passage through Congress without amendments or procedural hurdles.

And Republicans are leading the way.

Now these are the same Republicans who have opposed just about any legislation favored by Obama, or any executive action, or any thought speech or motion by Obama down to whether he installs the new roll of toilet paper so it rolls over rather than under.

Affordable Care Act? It got no Republican votes even though its basic premise was first developed by Republicans.

Cap and Trade? Nothing has really been done to enact legislation that would allow companies to, in effect, trade for credits to allow more carbon dioxide emissions. But again this principle first emerged under a Republican. George H.W. Bush was President and cap and trade been cited as a market approach to reducing pollution. Senator John McCain was even the main sponsor of such a bill in both 2003 and 2005. Since Obama took office you’d think he had decided to confiscate the first born of every American family and sell them into sexual slavery from the Republican reaction if the topic was even broached.

Immigration reform? George W. Bush tried to get legislation passed and many Republicans favored passing some measures, though the details drew varying levels of support. Now, it seems, that any efforts by Obama to get some degree of reform is such anathema to Republicans that many are willing to self-deport as a symbolic gesture against reform.

And then there is the ongoing case of Iran and its intentions…or not…to build a nuclear weapon. The Obama administration, together with five other nations, has concluded a framework of an agreement with Iran that would prevent such a weapon from being constructed. Finalization of such pact is pending as the details are committed to the legal niceties.

This would appear to be a good thing, keeping an atomic bomb away from what is considered a rogue state. And I recognize that Iran could break the pact, though its actions will be closely monitored. But, then again, Japan could renounce our World War II Treaty with them, re-arm, and flood the U.S. market with autos and electronics, including those fascinating toilets (with the toilet paper coming off over the top, of course.

But first 47 Republican Senators sent an open letter to Iran’s leadership stating their outright opposition to ANY agreement and their intention to thwart Obama at every turn. Some have even voiced a desire for war against Iran in preference to even the most stringently enforceable treaty possible.

So, just why would Republicans all of a sudden fall all over themselves to work with President Obama on the TPA for both the TPP and TATIP? By god they’ve been willing to work with Democrats to get them to agree in the Senate in order to have enough votes to ensure passage.

In the past few years we have witnessed no cooperation between the two parties in Congess unless the American public was going to get screwed.

Senate Democrats may have maintained unity to prevent the fast tracking sought by Obama,


But the mere fact that Republicabns are siding with President Obama on this issue should be sufficient to raise suspicion if not simply reject the TPA out of hand.

The old saying is Politics makes strange bedfellows, commonly atributed to American writer and essayist and friend of Mark Twain, Charles Dudley Warner, though it may have derived from Shakespeare’s The Tempest.

Obama and Senate Republicans make for strange bedfellows indeed.

Anyone have pictures?



The announced and potential candidates for the Republican nomination for the 2016 Presidential election, as well as many of the more run of the mill pols like Louie Giohmert, have been characterized in the media as a clown car, careening down America’s highways, out of control.

I have bought into that metaphor though lately, due to sheer numbers, I have suggested that perhaps instead of a car, the GOP may need to utilize a C-130 Globemaster plane to carry its heavy heavy multitudinous load.

But other comparisons may be just as apt…if not apter…or at least as comical.

For instance, Superman had his mirror image opposite, Bizarro, described as

Since his hilarious debut in the 1950s, Bizarro has been a character of equal parts humor and confusion. The imperfect duplicate of Superman, the chalk faced hero lives on the cube-shaped world of Bizarro where everything is the opposite of life on Earth. Beauty is hated, ugliness is revered, and it is a crime to make anything perfect.


Simply change a few names here and you could be depicting any of a number of the GOP horde (or Hoard, depending on your desired connotation)

But as many of their public stances and utterances can only be portrayed in a kind way as “looney”, (instead of batshit crazy which is more precisely the case) invoking the Warner Brothers classic cartoon collection of personalities, Looney Tunes and deriving a Bizarro equivalent is today’s task.

A few examples.

Foghorn Leghorn‘s pomposity is readily apparent in such as Ted Cruz, always loud, and always right…except for when he is wrong which is……….ALWAYS. And ironically or not, Foghorn himself was the cartoon twin of a fictional Senator Claghorn from the Fred Allen radio show.

Foghorn is often accompanied by the young Chicken Hawk who admires his would be mentor. And we know that GOP leaders are surrounded by all manner of chicken hawks, eh?

Yosemite Sam is a blustery, rootin tootin gun toting egomaniac, ready to fire without provocation, a la Rick Perry.

The Tasmanian Devil is a whirling twirling blast of energy whose spoutings are complete gibberish. Mike Huckabee, Come On Down!

Wile E Coyote. He’s forever scheming to destroy Roadrunner but often finds the destruction turns selfward. This quote from Dean Wormer could very well be appied to Wile. “Put Neidermeyer on it. He’s a sneaky little shit just like you.” Rand Paul to a T.

Sylvester J. Pussycat is forever seeking to oppress those, such as Tweety Bird who are smaller and weaker than himself. Power hungry to a fault and willing to deprive a little old lady of one of her most prized worldly posssessions…who could possibly fil this role out of those eligible? Trick question. Why all of them of course.

Yet the cartoon characters many of us grew up with and stll admire and smile fondly at any recollection of them, within their Republican personnae, are anything but cute and amusing. Bizarro Looney Tunes to be sure.

And don’t forget, seemingly monopolistic The Acme Company represents the Koch brothers.

So while the tedious electoral road ahead to November of 2016 promises no Merrie Melodies, most Americans with the IQ of a sentient being and a modicum of common sense will be anxious to get to the finale of the cartoon and hear those glorious words




I suppose there is a legitimate place in the world for rock critics, as there is for critics of other artistic genres. But usually in those genres pretentiousness is inherent to the process.

Remember, it’s “Sex, Drugs, And Rock and Roll” the third and musical part designed to enhance and elaborate on the first two elements.

In 1998 I toured the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. In a small theater a film was shown depicting the evolution of muisc into what became known as rock and roll. A large part of rock’s Jurassic period was the tunes and instruments brought to the New World by the Scots-Irish, settling in the mountainous regions of Appalachia.

Out of that grew the ballads and folk tunes some of which are still sung today though in different forms with a distinguishable context. In turn that music was adapted, modified and retuned into Blue Grass, Country, and Country and Western.

Exposure to black music from the Mississippi Delta blues to the urban blues of the Chicago sound morphed into more rhythmic enhancements that Southern hillbillies, reared on country, stole for their rockabilly sound. Sometimes the rockabilly folk stole the blues or rhythm songs directly from the black which caused discerning whites to seek out the originals, usually…but not always…more talented and better.

Deejays such as Alan Freed and Porky Chedwick, played these “race records” on the radio and broadened the audience even more. Kids, always in rebellion against their parents in post World War II America, made these race records commercially viable enabling black artists such as Chuck Berry, Fats Domino, and Little Richard to cross over to the mainstream,.

Yet the parents and civil authorities sought to repress this music. Their repression was spawned in racism as they detertmined, probably with not a lot of deep psychological introspection, that the music appealed to sexual urges which would lead to miscegenation with black guys getting into the pure white panties of virginal (that’s a laugh) white teen girls. Since the black musical culture was known for its drug use, thanks to Harry Anslinger’s persecution of Billie Holliday and others, you had the twin bete noires of sex with Negroes and drug addiction interningled now with the rise of the Alan Freed declared ROCK AND ROLL, to scare the shit out of parents of the 1950’s.

But lo, those teens graduated from high school to go on to college or enter the work force or the miliatry and their younger brothers and sisters in the 1960’s (such as I) went full Monty on the rock, made a zillionaire out of a black man running a recording studio…Berry Gordy of Motown, of course…and then took to long haired invaders from foreign lands.

Vietnam was the first war with its own soundtrack that featured no conventional artists like the white bread big bands and torch singers of World War II or the Goerge M. Cohan jingoistic rallying singalongs of the War to End All Wars.

No, these were blacks and longhairs accompanying our troops into the trenches who also indulged in a big way in banned substances while simultaneously seeking out the bar girls of Saigon or Bangkok.

Sex drugs and rock and roll were a cojoined fact in a war that quickly became political enough to cause thousands of budding young writers to declare rock an art form worthy of interpretations of great insight which…if one were to fairly evaluate them… would reveal thier own bullshit quota had been reached by the second paragraph.

Not that rock music is incapable or unworthy of a serious critique. And true, many rock songs carried anti-war or racial equality, or pro drug use messages, but the deepest songs still required a beat and a certain feel to be popular and produce multi-millionaires from the populists who made the music.

My concern here is a piece I just read looking at the new Mumford And Sons album, Wilder Mind. http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/music_box/2015/05/mumford_and_sons_wilder_mind_reviewed_new_album_ditches_the_banjos_and_vests.single.html

Perhaps it’s me since I’m admittedly stuck in decades past for most of my preferred listening, but this review is inclined neither to move me towards purchase of or listening to the recording or send me screaming in the opposite direction away from it. Instead I almost wish I was in the author’s presence to stifle his mad descent into meaninghless comparisons and obscure references and just tell me whether the damned thing might be as pleasant to listen to as has been my experience with minimum exposure to prior Mumford And Sons efforts.

In fact, the group was on David Letterman last night playing one of the new tunes and I enjoyed it. Just as I have enjoyed other of their works on the maybe fifteen times they have appeared in my living room thanks be to the miracle of television.


I generally get my fill of new groups or new songs on late night TV, especially Letterman. But, while I glanced at some articles highly favoring a recent Taylor Swift album, when I saw her perform an excerpt on Letterman I just wanted to throw a shoe at her.It was trite and repetitious and over over dubbed and largely a piece of crap. Sort of how I feel about Seasons In The Sun by Terry Jacks.

Now this approaching 70 year old butt can still be moved to move (not as fast nor as long, to be sure) when the muisc gets to me. I also find meaning in much of MY music that is evocative of a certain time or place…or ex-girlfriend…or speaks to my conscience, such as U2‘s Pride (In The Name Of Loveor Springsteen’The Ghost Of Tom Joad.

But I love those songs for their sonic effect first of all and wonderful music’s sonic effect on me means I feel it in my bones. Dvorak‘s From The New World, especially the fourth movement, causes me to tingle just as much as the Stones‘ Jumpin Jack Flash. I don’t need some inflated ego self-appointed expert to tell me why or f it should.

Or maybe I’m just an old Fogie?


RWANDA-GENOCIDE-HEALTHChurch in Nyamata, Rwanda

I’m not sure if many of you have been watching the Travel Channel program “Breaking Borders”. In it a foreign correspondent and a food guy travel to areas of conflict and meet with locals to get individual perspectives on the conflict and their involvement in any questionable activiities. At the end these folks are gathered together for a dinner where open discussion is encouraged, some of which gets farily heated while remaining ultimately civil.

Sunday night’s show traveled to Rwanda looking at the 1994 genocide of Tutsis by Hutus. One young man, who was seven at the time, recounts how about 3000 people were slaughtered in a church. He was one of only seven survivors and did so only because his brother covered him with victims’ blood and instructed him to play dead. His entire family was murdered.

With smaller children the preferred method was to pick them up by their heels and to smash their heads against the church walls. Bloodstains are still visible. There are bundles of victims’ clothing on display and a room where many skulls and skeletal parts are exhibited.

The story takes us back to when the Belgians ruled and they made deliberate efforts to separate the Tutsis from other enthnicities, going so far as to measure their facial features in order to classify them. The Tutsis were then demonized which, together with evil government after liberation, led to the slaughter (800,000 in about 100 days) A couple of Hutus who were convicted for their parts in these murders were interviewed in prison.

What is remarkable is that great progress has been made in reconciliation. The man who lost his family and witnessed ugly murder harbors no ill will. In fact all sides seem to agree that the conflict between the two groups was nurtured by the Belgians and then succeeding governments when their did not appear to be a natural source of rivalry/conflict sufficient to spawn such horrors.

I am sure that is a gross oversimplification to an extent, yet still a reasonable overview of the evolution of the conflict

The folks at the dinner do have some areas of difference but it appears that this may be a result of the inability to fully absorb the horrors of the genocide and how they were affected.

Now that is my instant impressioin from viewing the program and I assure you there was greater depth to the program and undoubtedly much greater depth to be plumbed in that torn nation.

But as the Hutus and Tutsis are now living in peace, perhaps there is hope for other regions where similar long standing conflicts may have been eased, but remain a possible source of agony should the conflict again manifest itself violently.

Prior episodes have taken place in Israel, Sarajevo, and Belfacst, among other locales and it is quality viewing to observe the hosts try to draw the locals out.



A little over one week ago Kansas Governor Sam Brownback signed into law a new measure that permits anyone over the age of 21 to carry a concealed handgun, with no license or training required, so long as that person is not prohibited by federal or state law from possessing weapons.


Ah, yes, the good old days when Dodge City, Kansas was notorious for bootlegging, bribery, and gunplay.

Kansas has but one Dodge City, with a broad expanse of territory sufficiently vast for an empire; we have only room for one Dodge City; Dodge, a synonym for all that is wild, reckless, and violent; Hell on the Plains.”

— A Kansas Newspaper in the 1870’s


Most of us are familiar with Dodge City only through the TV show Gunsmoke,  which the intrepid and unshaken Matt Dillon served as Marshal, chasing off or killing all mannner of scalawags and miscreants in order to protect Miss Kitty, Doc, Chester, Festus, and all the other worthy citizens.

But, despite the stories told in 635 episodes spread over twenty TV seasons, the real Dodge City was much more both dangerous and intriguing. In the link above there is a photo gallery of the city both historically and as it exists today, its Wild West reputation maintained as a tourist trap.

The new law is both ironic in the face of Dodge City’s history and potentially tragic in that Boot Hill may need to be updated and expanded.

For the lesson of Dodge City (and Tombstone, Arizona) is that they were part of the Wild West for one main reason and are still the Wild West only for the benefits of tourists for one other main reason.

Wild? Guns

Mild? No guns.

Note the picture at the top? Those folks are the members of the Dodge City Peace Commission. You may recognize the names of some of them.

Top row, L-R  W.H. Harris, Luke Short, W.B. Bat Masterson and W.F. Petillon.

Bottom, L-R    Charles S. Basset, Wyatt S. Earp, Frank McLain, Neil Brown

Yes THAT Wyatt Earp and THAT Bat Masterson, both stars of their own TV series.

And that famous Gunfight at The OK Corral? Also starring Wyatt Earp as well as his brothers and Doc Holliday who made a notable guest appearance in Dodge where  he first met Wyatt.

Both towns  notorious for gunfights and rowdiness and both towns tamed by…ready for this…are you sure you are prepared….GUN CONTROL!

You see Earp traveled to Dodge City when the state of its character resulted in a letter to the Evening Star of Washington, D.C.

Dodge City is a wicked little town. Indeed, its character is so clearly and egregiously bad that one might conclude, were the evidence in the later times positive of its possibility, that it was marked for special Providential punishment.

And Kansas’s own Hays City Sentinel editorialized

Dodge is the Deadwood of Kansas.. Her incorporate limits are the rendezvous of all the unemployed scallawagism in seven states. Her principal business is polygamy without the sanction of religion, her code of morals is the honor of thieves, and decency she knows not.

Wyatt and his fellow commissioners to the rescue.

Intending to restore order, one of the first things the new lawmen did was to initiate a “Deadline” north of the railroad yards on Front Street to keep the commercial part of the city quiet. On the north side, the city passed an ordinance that guns could not be worn or carried. On the south side of the “deadline”, those who supported the lawlessness continued to operate as usual, with a host of saloons, brothels, and frequent gunfights. The expression “Red Light District” was coined in Dodge City when the train masters took their red caboose lanterns with them when they visited the town’s brothels. The gun-toting rule was in effect around the clock and anyone wearing a gun was immediately jailed. Soon, Dodge City’s jail was filled.


I’ll grant you the entire town was not immediately tamed. The growth of railroads into Texas which negated the need to push herds to Dodge was a major factor in change. But it is notable that at least a part of the town was peaceful after the gun ban was implemented, certainly not subject to the frequent random violence in the wanton section of town.

Likewise the entire Gunfight in Tombstone resulted from the Clantons and their cohorts defying that town’s ban on guns which were supposed to be surrendered upon entering town. They were confronted by the Earp brothers and the ubiquitous Doc Holliday. (Please now remember that the Earps were Republicans enforcing gun control.).

Another little quirk here is that one of the Clanton survivors claimed they had their hands raised in surrender…a la Michael Brown.

Whatever, the principle here is that these towns were not tamed and rendered safe for ordinary citizens until casual gun possession and use was ended. And yes, I recognize there were other elements in the taming of the West but those other elements themselves were why eliminating the open presence of guns was desirable.

Yet in Kansas it is now legal to conceal carry and in many states or localities where open carry is the rule your chances of facing a gun that, in the course of daily activity that can occasionally entail a minor confrontation, may now be escalated into a major, possibly lethal, confrontation.

So watch out honking at that driver who cuts you off in Kansas and most assuredly don’t raise your middle finger to him. And definitely be careful of accidently jostling a guy in a bar.

Matt Dillon can’t help you.



On the heels of the just announced agreement with Iran on its nuclear program, negotiated by China, Russia, Germany, France, England, and, of course, the United States, comes praise for the diplomatic efforts of President Barack Obama.


In that framework of a final agreement, which is to be reduced to its legal language by June, Iran is to scale back its nuclear program signficantly and a series of inspections and safeguards will be implemented to ensure compliance.

Earlier this year Obama took major steps to normalize relations between the U.S. and Cuba after more than a half century of rancorous discourse, travel taboos, economic sanctions, and assassination plots.

In the ongoing battle against climate change—the most difficult part being the intransigence of conservatives to even acknowledge the problem as something to seek resolutions to—last November Obama announced a bilateral agreement with China in which that nation works to reduce emissions.

This triumvirate of accomplishments… an Axis of Non-Evil?… certainly is more worthy of Nobel Peace Prize scrutiny than anything Obama did prior to being honored with that award in 2009, the year he entered office.

Of course the praise for this feat is near universal in this country as Congress rejoices that, with the threat of Iran nukes eliminated, it can finally pare the Defense budget to a reasonable level that will still allow for our security as a nation.

Oh, I wish. Republicans right and righter (no left in that Party) are vociferous in their condemnation of the pact and issuing vague threats…well, not so vague…to attempt to dismantle it. They seem to be in utter defiance of the Benjamin Franklin adage

There has never been a good war, nor a bad peace.

They seem determined to commit war on Iran no matter the cost.

One can reasonably express skepticism that Iran will fail to keep its bargain or that the inspection process will somehow fail or that, just maybe, instead of nukes Iran has the largest garage in the world with a battalion of Ted Kaczynskis producing pipe bombs to be mailed to each American household.

But, it does not matter what the terms of the agreement are nor how staunchly they can be enforced. Were Iran simply to surrender all nuclear materials it possesses, with Geraldo Rivera hosting the biggest live TV event since the opening of Al Capone’s vault so the world can bear witness, these critics speak and act as if nothing will satisfy their concerns short of bombing Iran into submission.

Will there be strict compliance with this agreement should it go into effect? How the hell do I or anyone know that. And strict compliance means Iran builds no nuclear weapons. But, absent strict compliance, is there some basis for forecasting whether it’s true and clear goal…preventing Iran from raining nukes down on Israel, the U.S. or any other nation..is achieved?

Well look at this list of treaties dealing with limiting nuclear arms.

  • Treaty of Tlatelolcol           1967
  • Treaty of Rarotonga          1985
  • Treaty of Bangkok             1995
  • Treaty of Pelindaba           1996
  • Treaty of Semipalatinski    2006
  • START I                             1991
  • SALT I                                1972
  • ABM Treaty                        1972

Some of these treaties have expired of their own accord. Others experienced the withdrawal of at least one of the signatories including the United States.

From a technical viewpoint, have all these treaties been upheld while in effect? I don’t know and I don’t care. The principal purpose of each and every one of these diplomatic coups was to avoid mushroom clouds that were killing people.

Since there have been none of these mushroom clouds appearing with the intent of killing large numbers of humans since August 9, 1945, I look at them as a success. Not unequivocably so, but the expiration and/or violation of any of them has not resulted in catastrophe.

But we all know that prior to this basic agreement’s inception, there was  a wide call among the neocons to just go ahead and bomb Iran as the primary preferred pre-emptive action to be taken.

Here on Moyers and Company Robert Perry scores the pre-agreement commentary by such as John Bolton, Thomas Friedman, and Joshua Muravchik that appeared in either the Washingtton Post or the New York Times. Friedman actually advocated for arming ISIS to help thwart Iran while the other two were all in for the U.S. to bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities.


Bolton continued the contrived warmongering of the Bush Administration of which he was a part (also getting paychecks from Reagan and Bush I as part of his resume) by ignoring or lying about some basic facts. Here  he is taken to task for doing so by Jon  Schwarz.


And there are even commenters on a Post-Gazette editorial who extend their record of inane insanity by urging us to have war with Iran now rather than waiting until later.


Iranians seem to be pretty damned happy.


Surprisingly that grumpy old red state conservative Pope Francis not only spoke favorably of the deal but had the temerity and audacity to do so during his annual Easter address. According to many folks in this country promoting peace is not very Christian.

Alas, no matter the outcome of this deal, thwarted by Congress or not, observed fully by Iran or not, unilateral destructive action by Israel or not, this small step towards peace will remain that. Just one small step for man, but forever leaping into war for mankind.

Because, indeed, because they have seduced My people, saying, ‘Peace!’ when there is nopeace—and one builds a wall, and they plaster it with untempered mortar

Ezekiel 13:10



Last week Governor Mike Pence signed into law the Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act  (IRFRA) which, in essence, provides that individuals and businesses in that state, if charged with violation of anti-discrimination laws, criminally or civilly, may invoke their sincere religious beliefs as a defense.


As noted in many media reports Indiana joins nineteen other states and the federal government in passing similar laws, or at least laws with very similar titles, though the wording may differ in significant ways.

What the law does not do is to permit racial or other forms of discrimination, most especially against the LGBTQ community, What it does do, in the simplest terms, is if there is an anti-discrimination law or ordinance in place, a person—as defined in this law—may use their religious beliefs as a defense to any action taken against them for discrimination in violation of such laws.

However, Indiana does not currently have a state law banning discrimination against the LGBTQ community, so members of that segment of our society were already subject to discrimination. The new IRFRA does nothing to change that situation.

An article written by an Indiana lawyer analyzes that state’s law and distinguishes it from those similar laws passed in other states.

Indeed, as Gov. Pence provided in his statement yesterday: “Fortunately, in the 1990s Congress passed, and President Clinton signed, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act—limiting government action that would infringe upon religion to only those that did not substantially burden free exercise of religion absent a compelling state interest and in the least restrictive means.”

The flaw in this implication is that it is misleading for several reasons. The federal act was deemed inapplicable to state actions. Consequently, several states have copied the federal act or have adopted similar legislation. A fair collection of all religious freedom statutes and court decisions can be found here. (Hats off to Liberty Counsel for making the effort to compile this list and publish it.) Upon my quick scan, Indiana’s version of the bill most resembles a similar law passed in Texas in 1999 but even that bill contains significant limitations that Indiana’s does not.

What is clear is that Indiana has not copied the federal legislation or those passed by other states, but has instead added more expansive language as seen below. The IRFRA adds several clauses which rightly give pause to the endless possibilities of using religion and religious freedom as a sword and a shield.


He notes how different the Indiana law is from other states and cites some cases already litigated in them.

First, the definition of “exercise of religion” does not require that it be compelled by, or central to, any system of religious belief.

Another objection he voices is that any “person” charged with discrimination may use his “exercise of religion” as a defense without involving the government entity that banned such discrimination as a party to the action.

But the most severe objection of all, is that the law is so poorly written as to be vague and/or ambiguous so that a proper interpretation of it and how far reaching it is is nigh impossible. That likely will result in prolonged, extensive, and expensive litigation as this is all sorted out.

As of this date the only governmental units in Indiana with such anti-discrimination laws or ordinances in place are the cities of Bloomington, Indianapolis, Evansville, South Bend, and the counties of Monroe and Marion. So the type of discrimination of concern here is not illegal elsewhere in the state.

So the protests against the law are not entirely misplaced nor is the concern expressed by a number of businesses such as the NCAA, Angie’s List, and others. Of course the jewel of the NCAA’s money generating machine, The Final Four, is in Indianapolis this next weekend.

So it could be that the first practical reverberations will be evident during this upcoming event. I have not heard of such plans but I imagine various advocacy groups could attempt to provide opportunities for businesses to discriminate to test the waters, so to speak.

As to the Tournament itself, a pox on all their houses, but their corruption is another issue.



I just had a thought. At least it’s not as dangerous as most of my impulses.

While reading an article about Bill Clinton’s possible role in Hillary’s campaign, and having seen a headline where former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley stated that we need to get rid of the Clinton—Bush mindset, I was inspired. (Also expired and perspired but that’s for later)

Let us have a Clinton vs Bush contest in 2016, but Bill against Dubya, not Hillary against Jeb.

There’s no Constitutional problem with a third term for either because, as the Teabaggers have been telling us for several years, the Constitution has been taken away, just like school prayer, everybody’s guns, and their freedom to worship  the two or three time divorced Conservative heroes of their choice.

You ask, “how is this a good idea?” And I pretend I am on a Sunday morning network political talk show and reply, “How is it not?”

Don’t ask again, I’m moving on with my own talking points. (I am a HUGE fan of Meet The Press)

How in the world could one not appreciate another Presidential campaign involving these men, but for the first time, facing off directly.

The contrasts are clear. It would be as if Sandy Koufax were to come out of retirement to pitch to a similarly unretired Willie Mays. Their records are clear, if not written in stone…or, as in the case of Koufax and Mays…written in BaseballReference.com.

One easy comparison would be to say one sucked and the other one was sucked. But that would be crude and lowdown and I refuse to go there.

Another easy comparison is that one finally brought the federal budget back into balance with a surplus four years running as he left office while the other immediately brought yearly deficits back to life.

One used his powers as Commander-in Chief (CINC) to deploy troops with a loss of approximately one hundred as a result. The other used his powers as Commander-in-Chief to deploy troops who suffered deadly losses of over 6000.

One saw the creation of nearly 23 million private sector jobs during his tenure and the other saw the creation of fewer than 2 million private sector jobs during his.

But I’m taking myself far too seriously here. What I am really concerned about is entertainment value.

Just imagine the delight the media will take in bloviating about draft dodging vs AWOL, about “not inhaling” vs drunken, cocaine fueled escapades.

Post-Presidency fund raising from foreign despots vs Post-Presidency crappy artwork.

Avoiding your Vice-President because you never got along anyhow vs avoiding  your Vice-President because you refuse to hang out with known criminals.

But there is one main reason Bill, rather than Hillary Clinton should run. We probably will not hear the word Benghazi more than 6453 times in attack ads if Bill runs while the number would be infinite if Hillary did.

On the Bush side running George instead of brother Jeb means the deepest desires of their mother, Barbara,  to not have another Bush in the Oval Office will be satisfied.

And I kind of like the old gal.



If one reads letters to the editor, comments in response to letters to the editor, Facebook posts and comments, or other sources written by the hoi poilloi…and even on occasion written by the should-be-better polloi….you, like myself, may have been struck by the use of certain words rendered devoid of meaning because they have been submitted in place of a similar word which, when spoken, sounds like the word employed but which is spelled quite differently and which entails a definition or proper place in our English language no way close to what the writer intended.

One of these sets of homophones most cited is the interspersion of they’re, there and their as if they were interchangeable.

Hint. They are not.

I hate these people. They’re either ignorant or lazy in their posts and you look at them and there they are.

I want to take these folks and stuff them in a pale pail where I wear them out so their verbal wares are nowhere in sight. At least on that site. And if their sins are repeated I will have them cited. Of course most of us are sighted, or we wouldn’t be reading this.

Perhaps as punishment we can give them fare to travel to the fair and force them to subsist solely on the fare they’re able to find there. Then they can hone their skills and ability to home in on the problem of they’re use of there when they mean their.

When they think of you, be glad they’re not standing there picturing in their minds a ewe, though when they repeat these mistakes over and over again they should feel sheepish. But far too often these days in texts with who knows what subtext they use u even though Thant is long gone.

If they do not have fare to get to the fair a reasonable alternative might be to send them in search of ore downstream by canoe with hope they have a good oar as they wend their way to there o’er the stream. As they row they may find some fish roe. Or while using their oar (and their wiles) they could work up an appetite so we will send them off for ore with Hors d’Ouevres. But while they’re still here before their canoe goes there in search of ore using an oar we will hear what questions they have about their quest.

We know they have no sense of how many cents this quest costs though surely they could scent this information out. I mean what does it cost to buy this trip and say Bye? Or, in fact, to oar their way to the ore which is to be found there for their benefit.

One may suspect that if we turn thee dummies loose they will lose their way so we must weigh the odds of this event occurring. And while they use their wiles to get there perhaps they can call on some dairy farmers to cull their whey there. We do know there is no assurance, as we threw them out there to use their oar to get the ore, they might not get through since they will not be on a thruway.

We ought also to assess whether the weather is safe to convey them on a journey in the aughts when Mel Ott is long passed and now in the past so their task will not be successful but rather will come to naught. I do not know if any knots will be untangled.

It is easily evident that we should never hire these language miscreants  for higher forms of employment in our hierarchy. Not even if they abandon the stream for higher ground.

While I prefer to have my prose soar, and I read many pros whom I emulate, I get sore when I read the abuses of language. Collectively I believe our sensitivity to this abuse manifests in less than an hour and as we are grown we are apt to groan when reading.

Yet, though we ourselves reign as superior wordsmiths as these homophones rain down upon us we must rein in our tendency to gloat.

Avoiding violence is our goal so may we never raise a shoe to shoo these writers away even as we ourselves eschew the same mistakes.

Naturally as we pen our paean to our own abilities it would be unwise to wield the peen of a hammer against whom we rail. For if we do we may be signaling our own death rale and our shame for doing so will be real as we cannot reel that back in.

I hope this is a whale of a tale for you as I wail about language abuse as I desire to spank the tail of all who offend even if the corduroy wale of their pants stings my hand.

What is plainly true is that in days of yore you’re less likely to find examples to offend your love of language.

I am just glad I avoid the pain of putting my hand through a pane of glass so I can watch where I threw the treats for my forest friends of whom I am fond and quietly sigh, deer dear me.


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