Rapid Response Team

Rich Galen has a good one today:


or at


and click on the entry for 30 March.

Perhaps some of our local politicians should read this and heed it.


Looking Forward

I wandered on by Ringo's again today, on the way to the post office.

Billy was out front on the bench, again, slurping his Slurpee and reading the fishwrapper. Today he was eating some of that Wonderoast chicken.

I plunked my butt down on the bench next to him.

"Hey. Hey. Like, s'up, dude?" he asked.

"Not much. Got any more of that chicken?"

"Yeah. Yeah. Uh...don't tell Leece, but I got it out back of the store. It was still in the bag, man, the rats hadn't got to it."

"Yeah, OK. Gimme one of those laigs, there," I said. He did, and I too started snuffling.

"Did you see the fishwrapper this morning?" he asked.

"Nope. I didn't get a copy of the paper, for some odd reason," I told him.

"Courtner's taking over that economic development thingie for southeast Colorado. Quite the self-serving little article there," Billy said, "I wonder if they ever think about doing some real reporting to find out how much of that is true and how much of that is self-serving horse...poop."

Well. There ya go. Courtner, you will all recall, was our stay-at-home economic development cheese from the old LJDI days. When LJDI was given the boot, she got a golden parachute over to Ken Salazar's office. Now she is going to be in charge of the Southern Colorado Economic Development District.

"Ain't she pals with Ron Davis?" Billy asked.

"I think so. I don't know for sure, but that's the word," I said.

"So the Old Guard is firmly in control again, huh?"

"Yep. The Old Guard that did so much for us in the way of economic development is firmly in control again. One step forward, three steps back," I said.

Billy muttered an expletive having to do with feces and a highly improbable bit of sexual athletics.

"Couldn't have said it better, Billy," I agreed, "though there is one good thing."


"That SCED never did much for us anyway, so we aren't going to lose much," I noted.

"Huh. Good point. So if we don't expect much, we won't be disappointed. Hey. Hey. I thunk all these outfits were supposed to be workin' together, you know, that regional concept thingie the mayor was talkin' about last year," Billy observed.

"Another good point. Was it only last year? Seems longer. Well, so they'll all be working together so as not to accomplish much. Betcha there'll be lots of interesting expenses on the ol' expense account, though. A nice dinner here, a nice dinner there, a nice plush hotel stay here, a trip to one of those upscale resort areas there. Can't do economic development unless it's at a nice plush hotel, you know."

Our kids and grandkids have so much to look forward to. Chief among those, it is increasingly apparent, is ... leaving.

"Hey. Hey. How's Leece doin' with Perfesser Akkerman? He's a real gutbuster, you know. I heard him speak at Asbury Theological back around '98 or so, I think. Very nice guy, but not one to cut a lot of slack. He expects a lot. I even thought about goin' back to school after listenin' to him."

"Ain't that the truth. She's carrying a high A average for the course so far. He likes her writing style and her thinking. She's going to kick your butt if you get into Foster and the disciplines. You sure you want to do that?"

"Um...I bin thinkin', I might stick with basketball. I ain't bin in school for awhile. I dunno if I want to duke it out theologically with Leece. I might just stick with Toots and basketball. We kin kick yer butts on that. "

A man's gotta know his limits...

"An' I'm thinkin', you know, she's havin' such a good time with this thing, I think I'm gonna sign up next go around. I'd love to have another master's, and the way she talks, this one would be a lot of fun. It'd sure cut into my bike ridin' time though."

Well. Then again, the limits are where you set 'em.


The Fishwrapper and That Pesky Constitution

I rode by Ringo's on the way to the post office. Billy was sitting on the bench in front of the store, slurping down a Slurpee and eating some Cheetoes. He was also reading the fishwrapper.

"Hey! Hey! How's it doon?" he asked.

"Good, dude, howbowtchu?" I replied.

"Hey! Didja see this web poll survey thingie in the fishwrapper?" he asked. He was somewhat agitated.

"You mean the one 'Do you agree that the Bush administration should not be allowed to unilaterally fill US attorney vacancies'?

"Yah, that one. Hey. Hey. Do you suppose anyone at the fishwrapper has a clue about the Constitution of these United States?"

"From that question they asked, I'd say not," I replied.

"Yeah. Yeah. Maybe they should check Article II Section 2," Billy suggested.

"You mean that part about '...and he shall nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, judges of the Supreme Court, and all other officers of the United States, whose appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by law: but the Congress may by law vest the appointment of such inferior officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the courts of law, or in the heads of departments...'. That part?" I asked.

"Yeah. Yeah. I don't think Congress has vested the appointment of the US attorneys directly to the Prez, has it?" Billy was curious.

"Nope. Still requires Senate confirmation, last time I heard," I said.

"Huh. Well. I see they are particular about the Bush administration doing that. Does that mean it's OK for other administrations to do it? You know, like...oh...say The Hill got elected. It would be OK for her to directly appoint? Ignore the Senate? That kind of thing? It's just a Bush deal?"

"Yep. That's what it looks like. Makes ya wonder if there's a buncha moonbats over there, doesn't it?"

"Oh yeah. That pesky Constitution. It do get in the way of things, don't it?" Billy was chuckling in his Cheeto bag.

Indeed it does. But only if you know what's in it. That doesn't seem to worry either the fishwrapper or the respondents to The Question.

Another view on self-defense

You'll all recall that awhile back we had the hoohah over in the Middle School, wherein the school administration came up with a policy that completely disregarded an individual's right to self-defense. Apparently that policy has been changed, though we haven't actually seen it circulated that. Whether that's because the school hasn't circulated it yet or it's stuffed into some backpacks with forgotten homework assignments remains to be seen.

Down in Texas, the guv just signed into law a thingie called "The Castle Doctrine". It's based on the old concept that a man's...OK, let's defer to political correctness and changing demographics...a person's home is his/her castle. (You'll note that I didn't say a "person's home is their castle"; I'm only going to go so far with this PC nonsense.)

But the Texas law goes further than that. It goes well beyond the right to self-defense at home, though that seems to be what most people, including the chairman of the Texas Republican committee, think it's about. Here is a press release on it:

Republican Party of Texas Applauds Governor Perry and Republican Legislators for Signing "Castle Doctrine" Bill

Austin - Today, Republican Party of Texas Chairman Tina Benkiser applauded Texas Governor Rick Perry for signing Senate Bill 378.

Senate Bill 378 authored by State Senator Jeff Wentworth (R-San Antonio) and sponsored in the Texas House by State Representative Joe Driver (R-Garland) states that a person has no duty to retreat from using force if that person is attacked in a place where he or she has a right to be present, if he or she has not provoked the attacker, and if the person using force is not engaged in criminal activity at the time the force is used.

"Protecting one's family and home from violent criminals is of paramount importance. I commend our Republican legislators and Governor Perry for passing this important crime deterrent," said Tina Benkiser, Chairman of the Republican Party of Texas.

Senate Bill 378, sometimes referred to as the "Castle Doctrine," also creates immunity to a civil action applied to any lawful force (including deadly force) as justified by existing penal law outlined in Chapter Nine of the Texas Penal Code.

"Texans stand their ground when defending their home and family. This law will make sure they are not treated like the criminals who have invaded their home in the first place," concluded Benkiser.

Senate Bill 378 was signed by Governor Perry on Tuesday after being debated and passed overwhelmingly by both the Texas House and Senate.


Note that there is no duty to retreat and that this doctrine applies not only in the home, but anywhere the attacked person has a right to be. The caveats, of course, are that the attacked person has not provoked the attacker, and that the attacked person is not engaged in criminal activity at the time of the attack.

That is actually the way it is here in Colorado. The Texas law just spells it out much more clearly.


The Army's Land Grab

From Wes McKinley, forwarded by Jeanne Fenter:

Lawmakers allowing the state to withdraw consent from the proposed military land grab in southeastern Colorado just passed on 3rd reading in the Colorado House of Representatives. The vote was 59 – 6.


Wes McKinley


Pass the thanks.


Comments by Fenter:

The hearings have been compelling. Having a presence there does make a difference. The students from Hoehne, Kim, and Cheraw delivered excellent, well researched, well documented arguments for the bill and against the expansion before the State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee. They were particularly effective with committee members commenting how impressed they were with the youth in this area. At the second hearing, Friday, the sides of the House Chamber were lined on both sides by students in their blue jackets and the balconies were full.

Now, it is on to the Senate and the next rounds. Wes McKinley has represented us well. Ken Kester is co-sponsoring in the Senate. I hope we can continue to build on the momentum and support his bill. It is our future.


"An Inconvenient Truth..."

Or...A Tale of Two Houses.

HOUSE # 1:

A 20-room mansion (not including 8 bathrooms) heated by natural gas. Add on a pool (and a pool house) and a separate guest house all heated by gas. In one month alone this mansion consumes more energy than the average American household in an entire year. The average bill for electricity and natural gas runs over $2,400.00 per month. In natural gas alone (which last time we checked was a fossil fuel), this property consumes more than 20 times the national average for an American home. This house is not in a northern or Midwestern “snow belt,” either. It’s in the South.

HOUSE # 2:

Designed by an architecture professor at a leading national university, this house incorporates every “green” feature current home construction can provide. The house contains only 4,000 square feet (4 bedrooms) and is nestled on arid high prairie in the American southwest. A central closet in the house holds geothermal heat pumps drawing ground water through pipes sunk 300 feet into the ground. The water (usually 67 degrees F.) heats the house in winter and cools it in summer. The system uses no fossil fuels such as oil or natural gas, and it consumes 25% of the electricity required for a conventional heating/cooling system. Rainwater from the roof is collected and funneled into a 25,000 gallon underground cistern. Wastewater from showers, sinks and toilets goes into underground purifying tanks and then into the cistern. The collected water then irrigates the land surrounding the house.

Flowers and shrubs native to the area blend the property into the surrounding rural landscape.

HOUSE # 1 (20 room energy guzzling mansion) is outside of Nashville, Tennessee. It is the abode of that renowned environmentalist (and filmmaker) Al Gore.

HOUSE # 2 (model eco-friendly house) is on a ranch near Crawford, Texas. Also known as “the Texas White House,” it is the private residence of the President of the United States, George W. Bush.

So whose house is gentler on the environment? Yet another story you WON’T hear on CNN, CBS, ABC, NBC, MSNBC or read about in the New York Times or the Washington Post. Indeed, for Mr. Gore, it’s truly “an inconvenient truth.”




Skywalking and The McDonald's Cup

Leece and I were enjoying a ride out west of the Swink metroplex yesterday evening.

We were westbound on CC coming up on 71, and there was DinkyDau Billy, sitting there by the side of the road. He had panniers on the Fat Possum and looked like he'd been on the road for awhile.

He was guzzling the last of a bottle of water.

"Hey! Hey!" he hollered, most cheerfully.

"Hi Billy," Leece responded, coming to a stop and hopping off her Tassajara.

I noticed she didn't hop very nimbly. This was a pretty good ride and I suspected she was getting a bit sore.

"We've had a pretty good ride this afternoon but I'm starting to get a bit sore," she told Billy,"but we haven't seen you for awhile. Where have you been?"

"Yeah,well, you know, sittin' in that office all day will getcha kinda outa shape," Billy said, somewhat smugly, I thought. And then he continued. "All them little chocolate snacks from the Deb Shop go straight to your butt, you know."


Billy sometimes isn't the sharpest knife in the drawer. She stood there, by the side of the road, glaring at Billy and breathing a bit...well...you know. She was a bit winded from the ride, and so was I, it being against a pretty good breeze and all, but that kind of snorting I was hearing was more like a horse about to toss a rider over the fence.

"Ignore him," I said, somewhat sotto voce,"trust me, your butt's just fine."

Now we were both being glared at rather balefully. Wimmin. Sometimes you just can't make 'em happy.

"Where have you been, Billy Boy, Billy Boy, oh where have you been charmin' Billy?" she asked.

"See? She likes me. She called me 'Charmin'' Billy'," he said, looking at me rather triumphantly. I think he was missing something.

"You might be missing something there, Billy," I said.

"Uh huh. A few quarts or maybe a few screws," Leece noted, "and you ain't doin' so good yourself."

Ummmm... "Ain't". She said "Ain't". Not a good sign.

"I been over to the Grand Canyon checkin' out that glass-bottom walkway," he said,"it was like, very cool."

"Huh. How'd it turn out?"

"Good. Real good. It wobbles a bit in the wind, but that just adds to the ambience," he said.

I'll bet it did. Not me. No way. Not in this life.

"Hey. Hey. How'd the basketball game go with the thuglets?" he asked.

"I got my butt whipped. We've been challenged for another shot at it," I told him.


"Yeah. "Stick It Where the Moon Don't Shine" Tookie; "In Yo Face" Froggy; "Mad Dog" Michael and "Crazy Hands" Steverino challenged us, me and Leece, to a game next Sunday over at the church gym. They said they're going to wipe up the floor with us. And then we get to take them to McDonald's."

"Really. They seem...cocky," he observed,"can I play too?"

"Nope. I asked. You scare them. Besides, we don't want to risk all that orthodontic work," Leece chipped in.

"And anyway, those dreadlocks of yours are a liability. I overheard them talking about how they'd step on them and trip you up if you played," I went on.

"Hey. You gots any more water?" he asked.

"Sure. Here." Leece handed him one of her water bottles. He took it and wiped the mouth of it with a hand that looked like...well...let's just say we didn't really want to know where he'd had it stuck.

He guzzled from it and handed it back.

"Uh...no, that's OK, Billy, you just keep that one," Leece told him.

"Well thanks," he said, "Hey, I gotta git on home, I ain't been there in a coupla weeks. I gotta get cleaned up, too, I ain't hit a shower in a coupla weeks, either. I'm gonna go by and watch 'em kick yer butts next week. Can I go to McDonald's too?"

"Sure you can, Billy, but you pay your own freight," Leece said.

"Huh. And here I was gonna talk to you about distractions to the worship discipline," he sniffed,somewhat put off.

"Good deal. I'd like that. Study up, Billy," she replied.

"Uh huh. You might want to make sure youse up ta snuff on the subject," he said,"You might want to brush up on Foster."

And with that, he hied on down the road.

Leece and I stood there in the evening sun, sniffing Eau d'Cowpoop from the feedlot down the road, before hopping back on the bikes an pushing on.


The Trial and Tribulation of John and Elizabeth Edwards

Right now, the big news is that Elizabeth Edwards' cancer is no longer in remission and has metastasized to at least one of her ribs.

That makes it a Stage 4 breast cancer. It ain't 'bone cancer'. It doesn't work that way. It's a Stage 4 breast cancer, plain and simple.

The five year survival rate for Stage 4 breast cancers is 20%, less by some sources. Some do better, some don't. I'm quite familiar with those kinds of stats under those kinds of circumstances. Some do better and some don't. Whatever else it is for the Edwards, it's going to be a long, tough trip.

So I've got good wishes and prayers for the Edwards', their politics aside.

Or are they? Their politics aside, I mean.

I was listening to them this afternoon and I could not help but think...they're in complete denial. OK...if so, they wouldn't be the first. It's a horrific thing to come to terms with. Been there, done that, got more of that t-shirt than I ever want to see again.

But then a sort of cold objectivity set in.

Is it denial? Or is it a politicizing of the event?

The human in me hopes it's just denial. I can both understand it and accept it...or I could if John Edwards were not A Man Who Would Be President.

The cynic in me sees it as a grab for the sympathy vote. Plucky fellow pushes on despite family tragedy. Wow. That's worth a vote.

But no, it isn't.

There are millions of people out there, cancer survivors, caregivers, relatives of patients, who, like me, see anything smacking of opportunism over this as the epitome of cheapness. Cheap, tawdry, political opportunism.

I would prefer that A Man Who Would Be President be more grounded in reality. Denial and wishful thinking is for the hoi polloi like me. I want my leadership to be able to deal with facts and reality without sounding like Pollyanna after she's been tokin' a blunt with a couple of Tijuana dope dealers.

I would prefer that A Man Who Would Be President not think I, and millions like me, who are intimately familiar with the whole process of cancer, are so stupid as to buy into such Pollyannish nonsense.

Pack it in, John. Go home and take care of Elizabeth. You'll never get another chance. You can come back and go for the political brass ring another time. Which is more important? Her, or another run at the office? If it's another run at the office, you'll still have my prayers and my best wishes in this terrible time for your family...but you'll never, never, never in all God's creation and time have my vote.



One of our commenters pointed out that the link in the last post seemed to be for a non-profit clearing house rather than a specific "Colorado Biodiesel" company. I believe our commenter is correct.

OK then. So what's the scoop with biodiesel in the lower Ark valley? Over in the San Luis, they seem to be going great guns.

Did you know that the US military is one of the largest users of biodiesel? Did you know that Fort Carson is way up on the list of US military biodiesel usage developers? Yep. Just Google the text string:

military biodiesel

and look at all that stuff that comes back.


How do we set here in Otero County? Are our local farmers interested in this? Are any of them pursuing the idea of oil seed crops as an alternative to more traditional crops? Are any of them using biodiesel in their machinery?

Wouldn't that make a good series of articles in the fishwrapper? The potential impact of biodiesel production in the lower Arkansas Valley. Perhaps a series of interviews of local political figures, in which they are asked Questions about their views on the subject? Find out how much they actually know? If they actually know anything? Perhaps see if there is any plan in place to cash in on the growing...the fast growing...biodiesel industry? Are any of the local financial institutions working on the 'issue'? What does the Chamber of Commerce have going in the way of drawing in new business related to biodiesel...no...wait...that's someone else's problem.

I did an advanced search on the simple text string 'biodiesel' in the fishwrapper archives, and found absolutely nothing of significance regarding the subject. I searched from 01/01/2000 to the present. There are only sixteen articles returned, most of which mention biodiesel only in passing.

Wow. It might even be a good presentation subject for the next Wake Up Breakfast, in between rounds of Kumbaya.

Or is this going to be another opportunity urinated away down the storm drains?

Oil seed crops. Biodiesel. Wow. But...would that affect the watermelon seed spitting contests at the Ark Valley Fair?

Meanwhile...how's that tourism thingie coming along? That tourism advisory board thingie. It doesn't seem to be much of a priority, does it? How are we fitting in with what Fenter's outfit is doing? Are we fitting in? Huh. Another good series for the fishwrapper.

Ah well. I guess I'll go read about the Cheraw quilting contests or whatever.


Where do we stand?

From today's Chieftain:


An excerpt:

DENVER - Colorado’s biofuels research coalition announced its first major project Monday, a public-private partnership to create new transportation fuels and other products from crops.

Gov. Bill Ritter said the Colorado Center for Biorefining and Biofuels, or C2B2, will create a partnership between businesses and the newly formed Colorado Renewable Energy Collaboratory.


How does that affect us? Is that biodiesel outfit still coming to town? The fishwrapper reported that the business that was coming in was "Colorado Biodiesel". I don't see them listed as partners/participants in this Colorado Renewable Energy Collaboratory. Is that significant? I went to "Colorado Biodiesel" website here:


and find no mention of La Junta.

So. Where do we stand? Anyone know?


Seatbelt Laws: Good idea or Interfering with Darwin?

In today's Chieftain:


Some excerpts:

"Rep. Joe Rice, D-Littleton, said his bill (SB181) will help the state save money and an estimated 30 to 50 lives a year in Colorado."

Hey. That sounds pretty good. At least Joe is bringing up da munny. What money, you axe?

"Rice said the state would be able to spend $14.5 million a year from the federal government on transportation that it now must spend on highway safety projects."

Aha. You know, that works for me. I use seatbelts, and have done so since long before it was 'la ley'. Anyone who has ever been around airplanes or race cars knows that seatbelts work as safety devices and also help keep you stabilized in the vehicle, aerospace or ground.

So is the law just more gummint interference?

I don't much care if Joe Dirt or Jane Soccermom wears a seatbelt or not. There has been enough of an education process over the decades that the benefit of wearing seatbelts is obvious. But if someone wants to reinforce Darwin's theories about survival, what do I care, so long as that person isn't causing me any problems?

And that's the rub.

"Rice rejected complaints from Republicans that the federal mandate amounts to blackmail, saying the federal government is just balancing the books on the money it has to spend on hospital bills for Medicaid patients injured in car crashes because they weren’t wearing their seat belts.

‘‘It’s not blackmail, that’s where the money comes from,’’ Rice said.
Rice said the proposed new law also would save the state an estimated $72 million over the next 10 years in medical costs..."

We all know about medical costs and health and auto insurance costs. This is a way to try to keep those costs down. It interferes with Darwin's theory about natural selection; that is, the stupid tend to be weeded out of a species through natural selection (OK...so I tweaked it a bit...) and government regulation tends to do that as a matter of course, but I kind of like the idea of making a seat belt violation a primary violation, if it will help keep my costs down. The question is...will it? Or will insurance companies and health care providers just come up with other ways to siphon money from us?


From "Geek with a .45"

“Tyranny and thuggery [are] minimized when the following conditions are met:

* There is a rule of law that reflects genuine justice, and its implementation is reliable, repeatable, and predictable, and from the point of view of the predator, inexorable.

* There is a citizenry that is well equipped, physically, morally, spiritually and ethically to confront directly, if need be, the said thugs and would be tyrants.

* The rule of law approves of their so doing, noting their actions to be in the interest of society,


* Society at large understands that in so doing, its interests are served, and applauds the service thus rendered.

”Conversely, tyranny and thuggery tend to maximise in direct proportion to the degree that these conditions are not met.”



Whistleblower suit goes to US Court of Appeals

Officer's whistleblower suit allowed to advance

He was dismissed twice in case that pits free speech in cyberspace against right to discipline employees.

Christine Ferretti / The Detroit News

HAMTRAMCK -- A rookie cop's long fight to regain his job after being fired for moonlighting with a muckraking Web site could be inching toward resolution.

The U.S. Court of Appeals last week refused a bid by the city of Hamtramck and Police Chief James Doyle to dismiss a whistleblower lawsuit by onetime Officer Dennis Whittie, 29, of Ferndale.

He was dismissed twice, in part for operating the gossipy Web site
HamtramckUncovered.com that included nuggets about the force such as promotions and awards but also allegations of indiscretions by city officials.

"I look forward to this trial. I am confident I will prevail," Whittie said. "They didn't expect me to stand up for myself. They expected me to fold. I haven't."

Pitting arguments about free speech in cyberspace against governments' right to discipline employees, the case is the second of its kind in Michigan in the past month.

Attorney John Clark, who is defending Hamtramck, didn't return phone calls seeking comment. Hamtramck Fraternal Order of Police President Richard Betleja said the case boils down to whether Whittie "had the right to say the things he did on the Internet and write a thank you letter to a local paper without department approval."

Hired in 2001, Whittie worked for the department for two years. His troubles began when his site -- now defunct -- made public the criminal record of the Department of Public Works' Steve Shaya. The site also accused another official of violating state law by holding down three government jobs.

He was fired in October 2003, but an arbitrator gave him back his job with back pay in January 2005 after he filed a lawsuit. He was fired again in October 2005 after writing a letter to a local paper thanking residents who assisted him with an arrest when he didn't have backup.

Now, he's in a race against time. Whittie is working as an emergency room technician at Henry Ford Hospital, but his certification as a police officer will expire if he's not reinstated by April 18, he said.


Firing the US Attorneys

As we all know, there's a huge flap over the firing of eight US attorneys by Alberto Gonzales, the Attorney General of the United States.

Kennedy, Schumer, Edwards, and all the rest are calling for Gonzales' resignation. They accuse Gonzales of a political witch hunt in the firings. They are...incensed. They are...morally outraged. They are...righteously indignant.

And they seem to have forgotten a little bit of political trivia:

Janet Reno fired all 93 US Attorneys within a short time after taking office as Attorney General.

"In 1993, shortly after she was installed as attorney general, Janet Reno sent an unmistakable signal that her Justice Department would primarily serve the political ends of Bill Clinton rather than the ends of justice. At once, she fired all 93 of the country's United States attorneys. According to no less an authority than Ted Olson, President George Bush's chief post-election attorney, Reno's move was extreme and unprecedented. "In order to maintain continuity in thousands of pending prosecutions, and as a statement to the public that elections do not influence routine law enforcement, the nation's top prosecutors are traditionally replaced only after their successors have been located, appointed, and confirmed by the Senate. On instructions from the White House (she claimed it was a 'joint' decision; no one believes that), Reno ordered all 93 to leave in ten days. There could not have been a clearer signal that the Clinton campaign war room had taken over law enforcement in America." "

That excerpt is from David Limbaugh's (no...that's 'David', not 'Rush') book, "Absolute Power".

But it isn't quite correct. One US Attorney wasn't fired, at least not immediately. That was Michael Chertoff, who was kept on at the request of New Jersey senator Bill Bradley, a powerful Democratic senator:

"Published: April 1, 1993 The United States Attorney for New Jersey, Michael Chertoff, can keep his job through the end of the year, New Jersey's United States senators said today.

Senators Bill Bradley and Frank R. Lautenberg said they had consulted with Attorney General Janet Reno, who agreed to let Mr. Chertoff keep his position a little longer.

Mr. Chertoff learned of the decision right before he held a press conference concerning Sol Wachtler's court proceeding in United States District Court here. Mr. Wachtler, the former Chief Judge of New York, pleaded guilty to sending threatening letters to his former lover.

"I'm grateful and gratified of their confidence in me," said Mr. Chertoff, who was appointed in May 1991 by President Bush to serve a four-year term.

Ms. Reno announced March 23 that the Clinton Administration would replace the current crop of Republican-appointed Government lawyers with its team of prosecutors. She had all United States attorneys submit resignations effective this Friday. "

That is from the New York Times, April 1, 1993:


Partisan politics. Where long memories are a definite hindrance, and where truth is the first casualty.

Or maybe it's simply another example of Who you Are, and Who you Know.

The Finest Justice Money Can Buy?

In a time when who you are and who you know clearly determines what kind of justice you get, from the lowliest municipal courts to the highest courts in the land, we see yet another example of such favoritism in the Gobin case.

Here we have the scion of a wealthy family, a family of influence, squeezing by with a 60 day county jail sentence for running a meth lab over in a residential area in Rocky Ford.

I gotta wonder if Haysus Mojado would have gotten such a deal...no...wait...Mojado...no, he would have eventually been deported so he could come back and do it again...

But would some white trash like Willy Joe Ray Bob gotten such a deal? Would Guillermo Jose "Down for Brown" Sanchez have gotten such a deal? I don't think so. Neither of those guys have pillars of the community, the great and the near-great, writing letters of support for them. They don't have the right connections. They can't pull any political or economic weight. They can't have the system just make it all go away because of who they are. And of course, Mr. Gobin said he was sorry.

Meth is the scourge of the nation. It's one of the worst drug epidemics in our history. It's the Destroyer of Life. Its byproducts from labs poison homes and neighborhoods. It is one of the filthiest abominations in our society.

Sixty days for creating a chemical time bomb, for the manufacture of a lethal poison, right there in the residential 'hoods of Rocky Ford. Tell me...how far is 1724 Washington Avenue from Washington Primary School? Looking at the map, it looks like maybe five blocks. So how many school kids walked by Mr. Gobin's little home pharmaceuticals enterprise every day?


There ya go. Now we know how much we all matter to the criminal justice system.

Oh...got doubts about that? Check this:





A Question...

The Question has been asked: "Do you monitor the comments on the blog?"

And the answer is, no, I do not. I used to, but not for quite some time now. Comments are posted as they are made by the commenters.

I would suggest to commenters that they exercise a bit of prudence, since no one is truly anonymous on the 'net. If threats are made, for example, it's easy enough to trace via server and other logs from BlogSpot and other sources back to the originating machine. It takes a warrant or subpoena to do that; no ISP will release that kind of information without a court order. But those kinds of documents can be gotten; it happens every day.

Little Suzy's Dance Lessons

Here is a pretty good rundown on the stupidity of raising the minimum wage. Yep, that darling of the Democrats, the raising of the minimum wage, so as to give the lowest end of the economic spectrum a 'living' wage:


Let's see...we have a local business...there's so much that comes in every year, from which the business owner makes his living, and since he takes all the risk and hasn't seen a 40 hour work week since Genghis Khan instituted same for his Hordes, one might reasonably expect him to take a reasonably decent chunk for his own. Maybe. Depends on what needs to be done to maintain the business, pay the rent, the rising utilities, other rising costs, and so on. "Rising costs"?

Does that include...paying the staff?

Huh. You mean...paying the wages of the counterman or the stockboy or the cashier is an...expense?

So...if there's only so much coming in, and the business owner ain't gittin' no raise, and the roof needs patching and the cost of doin' bidness goes up...what does that mean?

Why, it means that the stockboy and one or two of those cashiers gets cut. Or, the prices get raised on goods and services. It's gotta come from somewhere.

Hey. Those Dems in the Congress and the state house are really in touch with reality, aren't they?

Thank them, next time you feel a jolt of sticker shock.

No...wait...it's all Bush's fault, him and Halliburton and Big Oil.

You can also download the Employment Institute's brochure on the minimum wage here:


and more substantial information here:


Starting to eat their own young...

The Democrats are starting the self-feeding frenzy in earnest:

CBS) NEW YORK With the race for the Democratic presidential nomination already in high gear, the Reverend Al Sharpton jumped into the fray today with some tough criticism for Senator Barack Obama. The outspoken reverend offered the harsh comments to Obama just as he looked to build support for his candidacy in the black community.

"Why shouldn't the black community ask questions? Are we now being told, 'You all just shut up?'" Sharpton told CBS 2's Marcia Kramer Monday. "Senator Obama and I agree that the war is wrong, but then I want to know why he went to Connecticut and helped [Sen. Joseph] Lieberman, the biggest supporter of the war."

Sharpton also questioned why Obama supports "tort reform, which hurts police brutality victims."


Joe Lieberman? The 'biggest' supporter of the war? C'mon, Al, pull your head out of wherever you have it stuck. Joe Lieberman is really the most sensible candidate the Dems have...but he's a Jew, which is worse than being Catholic (ask Jack) and he's actually sensible...so that cuts him out of the running. Meanwhile, we have such as The Hill, Barack 'Soundbite' Obama, 'Rude' Rudy, John Edwards, and whatever other leavings can be scraped together to put together a ticket.

Any wagers about The Clintonistas pulling out all the stops to dig up some real dirt on Obama? They'll find something...they're good at it.

The sad thing? They actually have a chance of winning.

Oh well. If we're really lucky, the Repubs will put Fred Dalton up for The Big Ticket item.


Mad Cows and Alfalfa

I was standing in front of the meat counter, there in America's Favorite Place to Shop, suffering some sticker shock whilst looking at the beef. Leece was down counter a bit, checking out the chicken prices.

Billy was adjusting his tinfoil hat as he came walking over.

"Hey. Hey. Youse gice spend all your time here?" he asked.

"I might ask you the same question," I replied,"Leece is thinking you follow us around looking to mooch eats and free cappaccino."

"She might want to try an AFDB," he chortled,"sounds like she might be a little paranoid."

Right. I could see myself making that suggestion.

"Check the beef prices," I suggested.

Billy took a peek.

"Holy %*@^_@%*#^%$@!!!!" he exclaimed, somewhat colorfully, taking a quick peek down counter to see if Leece had picked up on his slippage, "What's up with that?"

"Well...first they were screwing us over the Mad Cow scare. Now they're screwing us over the blizzard. Did you know that southeast Colorado's blizzard has served as an excuse to jack up beef prices all across the country?"


"Yep. In eastern North Carolina, they'll tell you that out west in Colorado the 'beef industry' is in ruins, and because of that, they've had to raise prices."

"Those *@^%$#$^%!!!!" Billy exclaimed.

"That's fairly accurate, Billy," Leece said, coming up behind him and causing him to jump out of his bike shoes and turn crimson at the same time, "but a bit crudely put, don't you think?"

"Uh...uh...uh..." Billy stuttered.

"You can also thank some of those ranchers and farmers, especially the farmers, who sold out and took off. There's an article in the Chieftain that explains how prices on alfalfa and corn go up as land available for farming goes down," she said.

"Yeah. I gits it. And so if the feed prices go up, then the beef prices go up," Billy picked up.

"Yep. Add to that any other excuse, real or imagined, and you'll find that the beef producers are as big a group of pirates and opportunists as the oil industry, down to the people who run the pumps at Loaf."

"Huh. So tell me...what's economic development doing about factoring all that in? Or are the local power brokers still stuck on bidness as usual?"

"Good question, ain't it," I asked,"Well, you know, most of the power brokers' kids are either old enough for college, or just about there, or even grown and moved away. You don't see many of them hanging around here. So once the kids are grown and gone, and the dog dies, they too can sell out and move away. So long as the status remains quo, they'll squeeze that last buck out of the rest of us before selling out and moving to some place that won't extradite..." I was interruped by Leece choking a bit on her cappaccino.

"But I thought Wayne had brought in that biodiesel outfit, which was going to help not only with jobs but with giving farmers more growing choices, you know, like for oilseed crops," Billy added.

"Wayne? Wayne? Who? Bruce Wayne? Batman?" I asked.


"He's tugging your toga, Billy," Leece said,"nobody's going to remember Wayne. In fact, judging from that one twinky and his anonymous post, they'd like the rest of us to forget as well, while they muscle in and take credit for it all."

"Yep. Give it six months, Billy. If that biodiesel thing works well, it will have been a Ron Davis and LJDI project from the beginning. If it doesn't it will have all been Wayne Snider's fault. Meanwhile, the same old beat goes on. The rich get richer and sell out, all the while attending the Wake Up Breakfasts and singing Kumbaya, while everyone else wonders if they'll have a paycheck tomorrow."

Forward thinking, visionary leadership. You gotta love it.


Jungle Ball

So I'm over at Dee's place, playing basketball in the driveway with Tookie, Froggy, and Steverino.

Tookie's wearing her red,white,and blue doo rag.

Steverino looks at me, with his ball cap on backwards, and says, "OK, dude, lessee yer stuff, if ya gots any...".

Froggy's finishing up her third set of a hundred pushups.

I can see that I have no choice but to pull out all the stops.

Ten minutes later, as Tookie plowed into the pavement, Froggy was shaking her jammed fingers, and Steverino was dripping blood all over the pavement, they were whining that I was cheating.

"Nah. You guys are wimps. You can't quit till you need an orthodontic surgeon. There ain't even any teeth on the court yet."

They all trooped into the house, whining some sad song about cheats and thugball.

Dee patched 'em up. Went through half a box of bandaids. Stuck Froggy's hand in a bucket of ice.

Tookie said, "If we played on a real court we'd kick your butt."

Froggy and Steverino agreed.

I looked at this motley collection of refugees from Faddah Flanagan's School for Wayward Thuglets and thought, "The oldest one's only ten, and I'm a lot bigger than any of 'em. What have I got to lose?"

"Hah!" I said, "You guys kick my butt, I'll take you to McDonald's."

So we went over to the church gym.

A half hour later, kneed in the groin, nursing a fat lip, my sunglasses frame bent, a black eye in the making, and holding what I thought sure was a broken nose that was hemorrhaging all over the court, I looked up at the ceiling. It was easy to do, since I was laying flat on my back.

"Yo! Yo! Dawg! You gonna git up?" This from Tookie, looking like a leftover from the cast of Boys in the Hood with that doo rag, bouncing a basketball off my head.

"I don't think he can," that from Froggy, who was doing a couple of dozen jumping jacks to keep from cooling down.

"I like chipotle on my nuggets," chimed in Steverino, who was wiping blood - mine - off his shoe.

Ten-zip, their favor.

So we went to McD, where we scarfed down a pile of nuggets and fries, and they argued and bickered over who was the best ball bopper.

And there I was, with three of my favorite people in the whole world.

Who says life ain't good.


Playing a Part

I was sitting there in Subway at Walmart, waiting for an oil change and tire rotation on the Jeep, and slurping a diet Coke, when Billy came walking through the front doors of the store. I saw him through the window and waved.

He came in and plunked his butt down. He reached for my diet Coke; I slapped his hand away and told him to go fetch his own. "Dude!" I said,"who knows where those meathooks have been. Keep 'em off my stuff!"

He looked like he was going to pop his cork. That was strange. Billy has become very mellow since he started riding bikes.

"I bin over to town," he said, "and I was eatin' some grits at the Copper Kitchen. One a them banker types got on my case."

"Really? About what?" I asked.

"He said I was one a them troublemakers on the blog and that I should oughta be ashamed a myself. He said people like me was the problem, gettin' in the way of the solution."

"Oh really..." I replied, "and what else did the self-righteous and self-satisfied shi...jerk have to say?" Hanging around Leece was having an effect on me.

"That was it," Billy said, somewhat mournfully.

"Well, there's a whole bunch of people who tried to be part of the solution, me included, and we pretty much got our noses shoved into a pile of crap because of it."

"You mean CAP?" he asked.

"Yeah, that, and the tourism thing, and pretty much anything else around here," I said. "You know, you can't always get what you want; we have to compromise to make things work, but generally, a community can come to a sensible consensus. But look at what's happened over the last year or so."

"Yeah. That CAP thing was a real good example of a bunch of diverse interests and viewpoints workin' together to come to one a them consensus thingies."

"Yep, and look what happened to it. Flushed right down the toilet to cater to the interests of a couple of motel owners," I said, "all that time and effort wasted. We had a real good effort going throughout the community, and rather than taking that ball and running with it, the political leadership threw it all away."

"And now we have nothing, not a thing, going for tourism," Billy said.

"Oh sure we do. We have the tourism committee. Well, not yet, but eventually. Handpicked by city council. Like the airport board. And we have the Kit Carson and we have the Fox, and we have lots of 'opportunities' downtown."

"Opportunities?" Billy asked?

"Yeah. Pessimists call 'em 'empty buildings'."

Billy choked on his diet Coke. He had fetched one while we were talking. He may have even paid for it. I wasn't sure.

"Well, we have that water exemption for octagenarians, and we have the pooper scooper ordinance, and we have the pit bull ordinance," he said.

"Yep. All of 'em the product of local legislative action either without getting any facts or by ignoring facts, one or the other," I agreed.

"And now we have a new economic development guy," Billy noted.

"Sure do. But tell me this. What's his plan? Wayne attended council meetings and gave them progress reports. He was open to questions. He presented a plan and a budget, and it was open to anyone who asked. But has anyone seen The Davis Plan? I guess council has. Is it one of those executive session secrets? Do We the Taxpayers get to see what was so good about it that they dumped Wayne? Or are we back into the LJDI 'Pound sand, taxpayers, and give us mo' munny' mode?"

"Yeah. But if you ask those questions, then you're the problem. You ain't playin' a part."

"Oh, there's a lot of people 'playing a part', Billy. Like that idiot who posted on the blog about how we really didn't know the facts, about how Wayne didn't really do anything to bring in ATT or the biodiesel outfit. You know, the two outfits that showed up and wrote letters in support of Wayne. We ain't supposed to notice that. We're just supposed to say, 'Yassa, Cap'n, Ise shakin' it'; Ise too stupid to reed dem minnits, Cap'n, thank y'all, Cap'n, fo' 'splainin' it all to me, Cap'n."

"Makes you wonder, doesn't it?" Billy asked, "I mean, who's in the sack with who, and why? Don't it get just too frustratin' to have an obvious pile of BS shoved down your throat, and then tole 'you's the problem, boy'."

"Yeah. I have a suggestion for 'em, Billy, but I think it's anatomically impossible to accomplish."

And with that, we went off to see if the Jeep was done.


"Another such victory over the Romans and we are undone"

Leece and I were sitting there in The Barista with Tookie, enjoying some Blue Bunny peanut butter and fudge ice cream. Toots had sprinkled hers quite liberally with crushed chocolate-covered espresso beans. The beans were having an effect. Tookie had her ball cap on backwards and was bouncing up and down in her seat between spoonsful of ice cream, beating out some kind of rap rythm with her spoon. She was...wired.

Billy wandered in.

"Billy. How are you?" Leece asked.

"I'm good, I'm good," he said, looking somewhat askance at Tookie.

"Yo Billy!" she exclaimed cheerfully,"Like, dude, wut up wit dat Fab Fo'?"

Leece just put her head down on the table.

"I'm glad you asked, Tookie," he replied,"I was kind of thinking that it was like a Pyrrhic victory for them."

Leece sat up. "Pyrrhic victory? I seem to remember something about that. Didn't it have to do with a battle of some kind?"

"Yep. Ol' Pyrrhus of Epirus got into it with the Romans a couple of times, once at Heraclea in 280BC and again at Asculum in 279BC. Both of 'em cost him dearly, but it was the last one that led to that 'pyrrhic victory' thing. One of his dumber generals was going on about the great victory, and as he stood looking out at the slaughter, Pyrrhus made his comment. That's been shortened down to "Another such victory over the Romans and we are undone". The Romans had enough troops to take such losses; Pyrrhus did not," Billy explained.

"So you think city council won a Pyrrhic victory"? Tookie asked.

"Yep. I think so. I think this vote may have been the one that broke that camel's back," Billy said,"I can't believe the amount of anger I'm hearing. It's like people have really had enough of a council that absolutely refuses to listen to the constituency and keeps on making decisions that set us back instead of taking us forward."

"I don't agree, Billy," Tookie challenged.

"You don't?"

It was kind of strange, watching a caffeine junky six year old argue with a scholarly type like Billy. Billy's dreadlocks, tinfoil cap, biking suit, and dreadlocks - and somewhat informal regard for personal hygiene - coupled with his somewhat batty mental state added to the almost surreal air of the event.

"Nope. It ain't cost 'em nuthin," Toots expounded. "Nope. Nuthin'. She was pop-dancing in her chair. She looked a lot like that old Nissan commercial. Maybe that's why she has decided to become an automotive designer for Nissan.

"How so?" Billy asked.

"The four who voted against Snider have nothing to lose. They played it the politically correct way given the way things are here in The Smile Hi City. If there is voter backlash, they ain't paid to be council people so what do they really lose? But if there's no voter backlash, they be in tight wit Da Man..."

"Tookie! KNOCK IT OFF!" This from Leece.

"Yo! Wut up wit youse, huerita?"

"THAT'S IT!" I said, admittedly somewhat forcefully, "Get yourself over there and put your nose on the wall till further notice!"

"Man. What is it with the youth of today?" I asked, somewhat rhetorically, "We get bad attitudes and bad Spanish in one dose. That's hard to take."

"Yo yo, dawg, ever'ting be ever'ting wit dat lil one. Like, chill. She jes be flossin'".

"Billy. Put a sock in it. I am not in the mood for this nonsense," said Leece.

"Well, shucks, I was just trying to be, like, you know, cool," whined Billy,"you needa take it easy, Leece, I'm a disabled vet."

"If my nose goes flat from this wall I'm going to sue you."

"TOOKIE! You put a sock in it too!"

Mississippi Kites and Economic Development

We were sitting on the park wall, watching the first Mississippi kites of the year wheeling about in the sky. There were maybe half a dozen or so. We were slurping some limeades from Sonic.

Billy came skittering by, on his way to feed the pigeons down at the courthouse. He had a bag of week-old bread hanging from the Fat Possum's handlebars.

"Hey. Hey. How's it doon?" he asked, loosening the strap on his cycling helmet and adjusting his...personals...under his bike suit. That last one had Leece gargling on her limeade just a bit.

"Pretty good. How 'bout you?" I replied.

"Fair. Hey. Hey. They's pretty much into it on that blog thing over the economic development vote, ain't they?"

"Yep. Most everyone seems to be somewhat irritated over the vote. That's nothing new. In fact it seems to be par for the course these days," I observed.

"Yeah. Yeah. Hey. That one guy said that the newspaper and the blog give outsiders the impression we's a buncha Hicks from the Sticks."

"Ummmm...not in quite those words, but he's kind of missed the point. The point is that what's being said on the blog is very much representative of what's being said everywhere in town. You oughta hear the stuff being said while basket bumpin' in Walmart. It makes the blog look downright tame," I told him. It was true. There should be some ears a-burnin' just over the basket-bumping exchanges.

"Huh. Yep. Them after church confabulations at Village Inn and Wendy's are interestin', too. Same kinda stuff. The benches at Loaf and Quickees seem to be full of tea-dumpers too."

Billy calls irate citizens 'tea-dumpers' after the Boston Tea Party. Billy's a student of history, you see.

"There's one guy who seems to support The Four," I said, "and I think he has really missed the boat on that one. He's taking shots at Friedenberger especially."

"Yeah. I saw that. Thing is, everything he did was out in the open. He talked about it at council meetings. He didn't hide behind executive session," Billy observed.

"Yep. I think one of the straws that broke the camel's back was when Grasmick told city council what LJDI was doing was none of their business. With we the taxpayer funding LJDI's stay-at-home director to the tune over over a hundred thousand a year, I think it was Grasmick and the LJDI board that missed the boat on that one."

"LJDI was screwing Snider, which is why he quit them, and then came on with the city," Billy said, "I remember that part of it. Wasn't that over the way they screwed the pooch over Six Star? Didn't LJDI drop the ball on that deal? Isn't that why that building was vacant so long?"

"So I've heard. But LJDI was so secretive, who really knows what was going on. I heard one of the board members got his finger in that pie and sure didn't pull out any plums."

"Yeah. Hey. I heard there was eight people who appeared before council and spoke in favor of keeping Snider. And no one spoke in favor of bringing in that Davis feller."

"Yep," I acknowledged, "Yep, that's what it says in the fishwrapper. But you'll also remember that there were dozens of people who appeared before council putting up some good arguments against that stupid pit bull ordinance, and what good did that do?"

"Yeah. And this is the same bunch that went against the community's recommendations over sales tax vs lodging tax," Billy recalled.

"Yep," I agreed.

"So now we's behind the power curve again, on both tourism and economic development," Billy noted.

"Yep," I agreed.

"Huh. Hey. Them kite's looking pretty hungry," Billy said, watching the kites, "they's wheelin' and dealin' like so many politicians."

"Yeah. Hey. How about going down to the courthouse and bringing some of your pigeons up here for them to gobble," I suggested.

"I'm seeing one of those metaphorically allegorical allusions in that statement," Leece noted, piping up for the first time.

Edjikated wimmin. What can ya do wit 'em?

In this fishwrapper article, we see Grasmick telling council about all kinds of contacts and leads being 'worked' by LJDI:


None of them ever went anywhere. None of them. That didn't seem to bother the LJDI supporters.

Here's another where LJDI and its supporters basically told city council to shove it where the moon don't shine:


Just do an advanced search on "LJDI" in the fishwrapper's online archives. There's plenty more, including that silly letter where council should have spoken plainly rather than waffling and trying to sooth ruffled feathers over why the city dumped LJDI to begin with.


South Mouth

At the celebration of the civil rights movement last Sunday, Hillary Clinton suddenly remembered her Roots and developed a bad case of South Mouth. While reading a verse from a church hymn, The Hill suddenly sounded like Aunt Jemima on a bad hair day. And then she 'dee-clahrd' hersef to be a product of Selma. Ummhmm...like anyone up at Yale knew where the Edmund Pettus Bridge was, back then.

Not bad for a Chikaga girl who transplanted to Arkansas to live in the First Trailer, and then bailed to go live in Noo Yawk.

I wonder if she were to come to La Junta if she would pick up the "Eeeeeee!" and 'youse' and start using her car horn instead of a doorbell.

She certainly is...adaptable.


Economic Development

Ron Davis was appointed to the Economic Development position.

The vote was 3 against (Friedenberger, Mestas, Moreno)

and 4 in favor (Rizzuto, Martin, Johnson, Sneath).

The splits are getting to be very predictable these days.

More on the VA

The Chieftain has a good article this morning:


An excerpt:

"Staffers for U.S. Rep. John Salazar, D-Colo., said it is common for veterans to wait more than a year for the VA to render a decision on a disability claim and several more years if a decision is appealed. Currently, Salazar's office is assisting in the disability claims of more than 100 veterans across the district. There are an estimated 80,000 veterans in the 3rd District and 400,000 statewide."

Why is that? Do they hope the vets will just go away?

Another excerpt:

"Larry Alvarado, a Vietnam veteran and longtime local activist, said he's seen veterans tear up their paperwork in frustration over the long delays in disability decisions."

Well. That doesn't do much for the vet, but it does help reduce the caseload, doesn't it?


Stonewall Jackson and Gunga Din

Leece and I were at Quickee's, having taken a short ride around the Swink metroplex on our bikes. We were enjoying a cup of ...something...from the cappaccino machine.

Billy walked in, plunked his helmet down on our table, and went over to get his own cappaccino.

"Huh. You notice anything different about Billy?" I asked Leece.

"Yeah...yeah....where's his tinfoil hat?" she asked.

Billy came over and sat down with us. Neither of us wanted to ask about the tinfoil beanie. Sometimes questions of a personal nature could trip Billy's trigger.

"Hey, you and Toots were pretty hard on the churches the other day," Leece said to him, "what was that all about?" I thought that I'd rather ask him about the tinfoil hat.

"Well...you know, I did the polysci thing at Berkeley. I was gonna get a Phud and write books about alternate political systems and maybe teach, after the war."

"Yes?" Leece waited for him to go on.

"But summa my, well...experiences...over there got me to thinkin' about theology and all, so that's why I took off to Oxford. I was seriously gonna get an M-Div and maybe even be a preacher."

I had never heard that before.

"Go on, Billy, this is interesting," Leece told him.

"Sure. Well, you know I'm an Old Testament kinda guy. That comes from growin' up in Lexington and hangin' around VMI when I was a kid, before I got all radical, like. I yoosta go to the same church as Stonewall Jackson was a deacon in."

"Really!" We were both astounded by this news.

"Yeah. Lexington Presbyterian. But I don't hold with no predestination, and neither did Jackson. Why he stuck with it I dunno, but I dint. I wanted to study Old Testament history, you know, really get into it. But when I got to Oxford I found there's a big difference between biblical scholarship and everyday churching," he explained.

"I'm finding that out myself," Leece observed, "in fact, one of the books we read for the last class discussed that in some detail."

"Yeah. Yeah. So you knows that biblical scholars look at things a lot different than, oh, say, your average congregation member who was maybe raised up in the church and has it all down by rote."

"Ummhmmm...yes, there is a big difference between a scholarly examination of things biblical and Sunday school, like Tookie was talking about," Leece mused...

"There can be some serious disagreement and tension, even though both approaches have to do with the same thing," Billy went on.

"OK, we know that, it's well-documented and even taught in orientation courses for would-be biblical scholars," I said, "but what's that got to do with anything?"

"Well...a lot of people today that are outside the church, the church in general, not any particular one, tend to be seekers. They ask questions. They aren't going to want to sit there and listen to sermons and lessons that just repeat the same old comfortable things like for the last forty years or so. And people who have been in the church awhile tend not to like Questions being asked, and how well do you think I'd go over in most churches, I show up with my dreads and bike suit and stuff?"

He had a point. Personal experiences over the decades proved that one.

"So you agree with Tookie on this 'neo-Pharisaic' thing?" I asked.

"Somewhat," he answered, "people get real comfortable with their view of theology, especially if there ain't a lot of analysis or serious examination to it. So there's a conflict between the two types of mindsets, just like between the serious scholarly types and yer basic Sunday school teacher. People can get real self-righteous and judgmental, and what does that do to a church? Or to new people who are looking?"

"Huh. But you seem to get along with that preacher?" This from Leece.

"Oh yeah. I've gone by his church and listened to some of his teaching sessions, he has 'em in the evenings on Sunday. Ain't no preachin', just teachin'. He's pretty good at it. He's workin' on his second master's, you know, and he's an adjunct at one of the universities. Some day he's gonna make a good perfesser."

"You've been to church?" Leece was astounded. Again. So was I.

"Yeah. I hang out in the back just outside the doors, and listen. Couple weeks ago he did a teachin' on their article of faith about communion. I loved the way he tied it in all the way back to Mosaic days. People miss that you know. They talk about 'Judeo-Christian' values in this country but they don't never go back past 1 AD except for cool quotes. And this country does not have a good history concerning the Jews. But it's all part a the same thing."

"So are you going to go back?"

"Oh yeah. I can go to a church like that. I just can't take one of them what's all self-satisfied with where they is at the moment. It's a process, like I said. Remember that line from Kipling's poem about Gunga Din?"

That one threw me.

"I'm familiar with the poem, but which line do you mean," I asked.

"When Kipling writes...'By the livin' Gawd that made you...' " Billy said.

"OK. And?" This from Leece.

"How many times have you heard that "Living God" thing?"

"More than once," we both agreed.

"It used to be, might still be, in the oath of office that the cops take over at city hall," I added, "I used to wonder what would happen if someone refused to use that phrase when taking the oath."

"That's a Constitutional issue, and a good one, but it's not a theological issue. But doesn't that phrase imply a continuing process, a developing relationship, throughout one's life?" Billy asked.

"Of course it does," said Leece.

"How can you have that without asking Questions?"

"I don't think you can," I said.

"There ya go. Then we have...oh...the different kinds of spirituality. Lots has been written about that, but think about Mulholland in his "Invitation to a Journey." You guys familiar with that one?"

We were.

"First off, Mulholland is pretty much in the Wesleyan camp. When Mulholland starts talking about 'social spirituality', he mentions how social spirituality is a descriptive of our 'spiritual pilgrimage' in our culture. And we know what Wesley had to say about social spirituality."

This was getting real interesting. I had no idea Billy was into it this much. Leece appeared to be somewhat fascinated as well.

"Wesley said many times that there is no personal holiness without social holiness. You gotta think about the different holiness movements here in the US. Once you understand the differences between them, it starts to make more sense."

"You mean like the American Holiness thing and the others," Leece asked.

"Exactly. If you have someone who is focused entirely on that personal holiness thing, some ugly things can start happening. They can end up separating spiritual life from daily, or cultural, life. You can end up with a couple of things, neither of which is very good. On the one hand we have people who are very self-righteous, very judgmental, and who view the world with disdain for the sinners and those who do not share their views. These are the ones who rail on about Planned Parenthood without offering any alternatives, other than maybe spouting reams of biblical references. Spouting reams of biblical references to people who either do not believe or who believe but are looking for answers to their questions is pretty much useless. There has to be some rational connection to that 'cultural' or 'social' spirituality, otherwise, they's just so many words. On the other extreme, you have what we could lump together with the liberal moonbats, someone whose social view is so skewed as to be completely detached from reality."

I was thinking of a few moobats as Billy went on.

"So this 'social spirituality' could also be said to be a 'contextual spirituality', keeping one's spiritual sense balanced with what's going on in one's culture, one's society," I added to the conversation.

"Yeah, I think so. Maybe not 'balanced'. How about 'connected'? As to the two extremes, either type, unbalanced - or unleavened maybe is a better term - by the other, is very destructive, and both types tend to control a church. Once that starts to happen, they 'flavor' the attitude of the church, and that is what both drives people away and keeps others from coming in. Especially in today's culture."

"So you don't think all churches are whacked, and all church-goers for that matter?" Leece asked.

"Nope. Quite the contrary. Though if you examine what most church-goers are looking for these days, especially those who have been going for a long time, I don't think you'll find it has to do with breaking new ground, or seeking through questioning. It has more to do with maintaining a certain spiritual 'comfort level', and they are going to resent anyone who upsets that," Billy explained further.

"But that would also drive people away, wouldn't it?" I asked.

"I don't think so. I think it would be more likely to keep new people away. You know, the ones who will come into a church for a little while, and then leave. Ask 'em why they don't stay. See if I ain't right," he went on.

"So meanwhile, the churches suffer declining populations, here in the US, while Islam continues to grow dramatically."

I remembered some comments about that not too long ago.

"Yup. And it's also why some of these newer preachers, like that guy who wrote "A New Kind of Christian", with some newer ideas, have churches that are growing dramatically. They combine both the biblical scholarship view with the basic maintenance operations you get in most churches today. They have room for Questions. They understand this, and adapt to it. You see, most people, even though they don't go to church, do have a relationship with God. It's just that they don't find the means to develop that in churches the way they operate today," Billy said.

"Yeah. We had a conversation with a young lady today who said almost that very thing," I said.

Leece nodded in agreement.

"So there you have it. The question, like Tookie asked, is what, if anything, do we do about it. And do we want to do anything about it anyway?"

More questions. People don't like questions. Questions require answers, and too often the answers are not what people want to hear.

The Inner Couch Potato, Darkness at Noon, and the US Army

Scott Smith has written an editorial about Pinon Canyon and the Army. It's in today's Chieftain:

Land, whoa: Please leave prairie intact

as has Bob Ewegen in The Denver Post:

PiƱon expansion a dust bowl threat


Wally Reed Redux

The Army - you remember the Army, they of the "Be All You Can Be" and "Army of One" commercials - the Army's 'solution' to the Walter Reed fiasco was to replace the current commander with the fellow who had preceded him. It appears that some of the current stink started back when he was in charge. So what's the point of replacing one loser with another?

That apparently is a point that struck home with Secretary of Defense Bob Gates, who said:

"I am disappointed that some in the Army have not adequately appreciated the seriousness of the situation pertinent to outpatient care at Walter Reed. Some have shown too much defensiveness, and have not shown enough focus on digging into and addressing the problems."

as he accepted the resignation of the Secretary of the Army and there was another change-of-command at Wally Reed.

As Frank Harvey, the now former SecArmy toured Wally Reed last month after the blowup, he blamed some of the NCO's for the problem. Could be. Might very well be. But what were the officers doing why all this was going on? Who has the command authority, and responsibility? The NCO's? It doesn't work that way, and for once, the Army seems to realize that hanging a few lower ranking types while those actually responsible slide isn't going to cut it.

Harvey and some others pointed out that the problems at Wally Reed are not endemic. They pointed out some nicely appointed hospital rooms and even some day rooms with plasma TV's. Actually, the plasma TV's is big deal. Ask anyone who works with Homeland Defense grant money. Plasma TV's are apparently a necessity to the security of the nation in some jurisdictions, so we should be glad there isn't a shortage of them in the private sector. But that's another story...

But he missed the mark, widely.

We the People don't care about his dog and pony show. What we care about - what we should care about - is that wounded GI's don't have to fill out buckets of government paperwork to get the care that they need and deserve; that they actually get the care that they need and deserve; and that we don't want any moldy rooms, mice, rats, or defunct HVAC systems or other such nonsense in their hospitals.

And so the shakeup continues. Meanwhile, Frank can contemplate this all from the shrouds of whatever golden parachute those guys always seem to come up with.



http://tinyurl.com/3aoeto (Washington Post link; may require free registration to view)


Wally Reed

"Hey Billy!" I hollered at Our Stalwart as he cycled by the city building this afternoon.

"Yeah? Yeah?" he slid to a stop.

"The Secretary of the Army fired the gen'rul in charge of Wally Reed," I told him.

"Oh yeah? Good. Couldn't happen to a more deservin' guy," he muttered, "that **#%@* has been livin' high on the commissioned hog while the grunts have been dealin' with rats, cockroaches, moldy walls, and more paperwork than the IRS can generate on a bad day. I ain't got no sympathy for 'im. He'll still retire with a good pension and some outfit will hire 'im as a consultant. Prolly one a them health insurance outfits like CNIC."

"I expect so. After all, look at what happened with Creighton Abrams and Westy. They led us down the primrose path and came out smelling like roses. A lot of people consider 'em all-Merkin hee-roes."

"It's the American way,"Billy said, "splatter enough self-serving bovine excrement around, especially with a liberal coating of patriotism, and you'll have all kinds of people hoppin' on the bandwagon. Like that dustup between Westy and CBS, but he still came out a hee-roh."

"Well, as a conventional thinker, Abrams was in fact a great soldier," I noted, "even Patton considered him an equal when it came to fighting an armored division or corps. Though I'm not sure what all that's got to do with Wally Reed."

"It's the Army..." Billy snickered, '"like that commercial on the teevee."

"Oh. Hey. That's funny."

"Uh huh. But they wasn't in a conventional war, was they?" Billy asked, "nope, they wasn't. Dint need them conventional thinkers over there back then. Don't need no conventional thinkers now at Wally Reed. What we need is some unconventional thinkers who can git things done."

"Yup. And Wally Reed isn't the only place in that fix," I said.

"Nope. T'ain't. Say. When they gonna announce the economic development pick?" Billy asked.

"I heard at the next council meeting."

"Huh. Well. Hey. Gotta go."


Historical footnote:


City Council Meeting

The agenda for Monday night's city council meeting is here:


The selection of the economic development director is an action item for the mayor.

Jeanne Fenter adds this comment:

"The City Council Meeting, Monday, March 5, 2007, 7:30 pm, is an important occasion. The vote for Economic Development Director will be a decision for the economic future of La Junta and Southeastern Colorado. The council needs to feel the seriousness of this decision through the presence and/or participation of the stakeholders this will directly affect."


The Question

We were sitting there in The Barista, the four of us, me and Leece, Tookie, and DinkyDau Billy.

Leece was reading the textbook for her next class while Toots was slowly savoring some Blue Bunny peanutbutter and fudge over which she had sprinkled some crushed espresso beans. She was drawing something. Billy was idly slurping his latte while flipping through Whiston's Josephus.

"I wuz thinkin' 'bout that bidness of the church group and who was supposed to help 'em," said Billy.

Tookie looked up from her Blue Bunny, eyeballed Billy, and licked her spoon. She was sitting there with her ball cap on backwards. I think she was back in her rock star mode. So much for Stanford, for the moment, at least.

"No, I'm going to be a designer,"she said,"for Nissan."

I've always had this feeling she can read my mind.

"And?" she queried, turning back to Billy.

"Yeah. There was once a time when the churches were the places you went first for such things as that. People never wudda thunk about whining about the gummint doin' for 'em. It just dint work that way."

"Nobody wants to mess with churches these days," observed Toots, "there is too much neo-Pharisaic baggage to deal with. I like Sunday school cuz I get to color, but you ain't gonna get a lot of intelleckshul discussion goin' there."

"Tookie. Stop trying to talk like Billy. And what do you mean, 'neo-Pharisaic'?" This from Leece, who had looked up from her book at the beginning of the exchange.

"Well...too many churches are way too legalistic and way too judgmental. It's set in stone for the congregations. Lookit any of 'em. How many young people, twenty-somethings and thirty-somethings, do you see in them? Why do you think that is?" Tookie was on a roll. "I read that book, 'A New Kind of Christian,' that one you borrowed from Poppy for your next course. That's got some real good ideas innit."

"OK, we'll grant that point, and I agree with you about the book, but what do you mean, 'neo-Pharisaic'?"

"Who were the Pharisees? And how did they react to Jesus and his teachings?" Tookie asked.

"Yeah. Yeah. And there isn't much difference with a lot of those church-goers today, either, when they come to lookin' at new people who come in with Questions," Billy picked it up.

"Eggzackly," Tookie went on, "they don't wanna hear anything that pops that little bubble that they've worked so hard to blow up. They don't want a buncha little smart alecks like me coming in and asking questions. It's real easy to go all legalistic. You don't have to think. No pain between the ears. Takes the intellectual load off." She eyeballed Leece over that properly pronounced 'intellectual.' Leece eyeballed her back.

"Oh. The old, 'the bible is the word of God and how dare you question' thing?" Billy sat up in his seat, "Oh yeah, I went through all that when I was thinkin' about gettin' an M-Div out of Oxford. They get into that comfort zone and the last thing they want is some preacher up there makin' 'em think too deep about stuff. The way they go on, especially them literalists, you'd think God handed autographed copies of the KJV, the New Testament as well as the Old, to Adam and Eve in the Garden."

"Yup. So fresh off the Zondervan presses the ink wasn't dry yet," giggled Tookie, "and so when anyone new that doesn't fit their mold shows up, they get the neo-Pharisaic cold shoulder."

"So, you aren't a literalist, Billy?" asked Leece.

"Oh no, no way. Nope. If we're going to take religion and theology serious, we gotta question. We gotta ask. It's a process. It ain't set in stone. You gotta ask questions to better understand not only your own relationship to God, but man's relationship with God. That's first year stuff. Very basic. Literalism is nothin' more than stagnation. Hey. Hey. Remember we wuz talking 'bout you learnin' Hebrew and I tole you that Esther was a better book to translate than Ruth? You know, for like, learnin'?"

"Yes, I do," replied Leece,"in fact, it was right here that you did that. Why?" she asked.

"Well, Esther is a real good case in point. I remember we wuz doin' translations out of the Greek and Professor Berlin..."

"Berlin? Berlin?" asked Tookie, perking up considerably, "Adele Berlin, the world famous biblical scholar?"

"Yeah," replied Billy, miffed at the interruption, "Why?"

"Just wondering. So, you were translating from the Greek like in the Septaguint? Not Koine Greek?" she asked.

We all stared at her. We seem to do a lot of that.

"Uh...yeah..." Billy confirmed that. She licked her spoon and stared back at him.

Somewhat nonplussed, Billy continued: "So if you look at the Greek versions of Esther, compared to the Hebrew, you see that all kinds of things have been added, mostly politically correct stuff to bring it up to what they thought it should be rather than what it was, at least according to the Hebrew."

"I liked Vashti," shared Tookie,"she told Ahaseurus to pound sand. He was a moron, and Haman was a idjit." That last earned her a glare from Lisa. Tookie ignored it. She was really pushing her luck.

"Haman was a bad man, Tookie," she said.

"He was a bad idjit," Tookie replied,"and speaking of politically correct translations, what about Samuel?"

We all ignored her. We could only take so much precocious obnoxiousness.

"Back to this thing about churches,"Leece said,"That's not true of every church. There's that bald-headed preacherman of Billy's who's...well...different."

"Yeah. Yeah. He plays pretty good basketball, but there's more to it. You remember that preacher that was goin' on about Planned Parenthood?"

"Yes, I sure do," said Tookie, "he was long on mouthy rhetoric but short on solutions, even partial solutions. Very neo-Pharisaic, if you ask me."

Nobody had asked her. That didn't stop her from kicking in her two cents worth and then some. She was being exceptionally precociously obnoxious. She's very good at it.

"Huh. Huh. Well, that basketball-playin' preacher went to see the people at Planned Parenthood and he found them to be pretty decent folks. He gots a fundamental ...uh...I hate that word but it fits...disagreement over abortion with 'em, but you know, Planned Parenthood exists because the churches have failed in their greater responsibilities, and families ain't doin' much better in many respects." Billy was really on a roll now. "Yeah, so now we have the gummint stickin' its nose into things it shouldn't, and we accept it, because it's easier than doing something ourselfs."

"Yep," said Toots, "so what'd he do after that? Turn in his Right-to-Life license plates?" She is developing a rather ascerbic wit.

"He went back to his own church and the congregation made up baskets of supplies for the Pregnancy Center, for the wimmin who need some help. I guess that's a continuin' thing. Some outfits will just point fingers at them wimmin like they gots big red A's on their foreheads. That's more of that neo-Pharisaic attitude. Don't it make more sense to hep 'em out? Yeah, it'd be better if they didn't get pregnant, but they are, and they's keeping the babies rather gettin' an abortion. So why not a helpin' hand? Why pass it off on the gummint? I took some stuff over there, too, but I don't think they liked my dreads," Billy looked a bit crestfallen over this.

"Hey Billy. I think your dreads are cute. I've been thinking of doing my hair in dreads, too," Leece offered some moral support.

I looked at her, trying to visualize that. I couldn't.

"I like that other preacher," Tookie observed,"the one that dresses like a priest."

Silence met that observation.

"He can really play the piano," continued Tookie.

"Oh, you mean Father Bernie from the Anglican church," said Billy,"yeah, he's a hoot. Very well educated and very well read. I hear he's a better cook than even Leece or your mom."

Things were getting out of hand.

"Did you know that guy, the basketball preacher, even does prayer walks through town?" Billy asked.

"What? What's that mean?" This from Tookie.

"Certain days of the week he goes around town and maybe sits on the bench and prays for people he sees, and for the community. You can go with him if you want. I have," Billy shared.

"You have?" Leece had her eyebrows way up on that one.

"Sure. Where do you think we got the idea for helpin' the Pregnancy Center? It came to us while we wuz sittin' there and I was prayin' that joolry store didn't blow up with all that toxic waste in there," Billy explained further.

"Billy. You never cease to amaze me. You're quite the guy," Leece said.

Billy turned bright red and said, "Aw, shucks..." and buried his nose back into Whiston's Josephus.

"So whatter we gonna do?" asked Tookie.

And that's the Question, isn't it.