Wednesday, March 4, 2009


Florida's gene pool must be getting shallow. Take this 911 call placed by 27-year-old Latreasa Goodman in Fort Pierce last Saturday:
"The (McDonald's) manager just took my money and won't give me my money back, trying to make me get something off the menu that I don't want. I ordered chicken nuggets. They don't have chicken nuggets, and so I told her, 'Just give me my money back,' and she tells me I have to pick something else off the menu. She is not going to give me my money back, and she don't have the right to take my money."
The operator responded, dutifully, that neither a McNuggets shortage nor a refund dispute qualifies as an emergency. Goodman's reply:
"This is an emergency. If I would have known they didn't have McNuggets, I wouldn't have given my money, and now she wants to give me a McDouble, but I don't want one. This is an emergency."
Goodman, who ended up calling 911 three times, was arrested and charged with Misuse of 911 Communications. Now, as if to prove that she truly is dead from the neck up, she's doing TV interviews defending her actions. Idiot.

Abuse, like stupidity, takes many forms. For every Latreasa Goodman with a cell phone there's a latter-day Father Coughlin with a microphone -- and thousands of disciples hanging on every word.

Neal Boortz is one of the few talk-radio hosts I can tolerate. The popular libertarian voice has some advice for his megalomaniacal colleagues:

"...when you get on talk radio, don't ever get the idea that these people are your followers. They're not. They're your listeners."
To the soft-headed masses who venerate talk-radio hosts as "thought leaders," Boortz offers this revelation:
"Let me tell you what my job is, what a talk-show host's job is. It's just this easy: I attract listeners to a radio station and I hold them there long enough to play commercials for them. That's it. That's what we're supposed to do. Now, we happen to do that with political thought, political commentary, maybe a little humor thrown in here and there. But we are there to hold listeners for commercials, so they'll go out and buy stuff."
Talk radio's followers will, of course, take issue with Boortz, and I doubt that he presumes it possible to "fix stupid." Still, I find his candid perspective refreshing.

The First Amendment is a wonderful thing -- while we still have it, anyway. There's legislation before Congress that would reinstate the so-called "fairness doctrine," widely regarded as a move by Democrats to muzzle conservative talk radio. It's a stupendously lousy idea, restricting the freedom of broadcast speech, but just this week we learned of far more sinister threats to our liberties.

Bush-Cheney, weighing its options after the September 11th attacks, considered employing some damned disturbing executive powers in waging the "war on terror." In an October 23, 2001 memo* from its Justice Department, the White House got the legal go-ahead for the U.S. military to attack residential buildings and office complexes inside the United States, deploy high-tech surveillance against U.S. citizens and suspend First Amendment rights.

If the Patriot Act was the edge of a slippery slope, this memo was a precursor to martial law.

Most of the actions discussed in the October 23rd memo were never taken, but it wasn't officially rescinded until seven years later, just a few months before Pres. Bush left office. And three other memos claiming executive powers to unilaterally suspend treaties, bypass restrictions on domestic surveillance and take other actions without the approval of Congress weren't rescinded until five days before Barack Obama's inauguration.

Bush-Cheney kept these legal opinions in its pocket -- just in case.

I'm having a hard time not invoking the word, "fascist." Considering how often I hear Obama-Biden's agenda referred to simplistically as "socialism," however, Bush-Cheney was at least as fascist as the current administration is socialist.

In fact, I think I'll make that a rule -- anyone who calls Pres. Barack Obama a socialist is required to call Pres. George W. Bush a fascist. I mean, either be consistent or just shut the hell up.

Ultimately, of course, those labels are irrelevant -- the Constitution matters. Individual liberties matter.

So let's stop cherry-picking the Constitution, shall we? If we value the right of free speech for ourselves, then we value it for other citizens and for the media. It means that we endorse the exercise of speech that we find objectionable, including criticism of our own speech. The First Amendment also instructs us to celebrate the right of citizens to practice religious faith -- including the choice to practice no religion at all -- free of government mandate or suppression.

Further, the way I see it, each and every citizen who's passionate about free speech and a free press bloody well better rise up and defend, with like vigor, the right of individual citizens to keep and bear arms -- in for the First Amendment, in for the Second (and vice versa). The Second Amendment establishes the one right that ensures all others, and there's no better illustration of its importance than the previous administration's plans to shred the Constitution.

And so on.

Ideologies be damned -- ideologies are threats to liberty. The Constitution is our touchstone, and independence is the foundation on which we stand.

*The newly released memos are available on the DOJ website.