Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Moving Finger Writes

Joseph Stack was mad at the IRS. So he typed a long rambling screed on his website in which he set out a litany of grievance against the government, churches and politicians which you can read by hitting the following link:

He was so mad at the IRS that he set his house on fire, gassed up the private plane that he owned and flew it into an office building where the IRS had an office. He killed himself and an IRS employee who had served 2 tours of duty in Viet Nam. Other folks were injured but nobody else died which has to be something of a miracle.

Samantha Bell, Stack's daughter had earlier referred to her father as "a hero" a claim that she later recanted. However, she later said that "[i]f nobody comes out and speaks up on behalf of injustice, then nothing will be accomplished."

But her Dad wasn't speaking out against injustice. He was writing crazy shit on his blog.

Just like me.

Some people live inside their heads a little too much. If you think about it, only a complete narcissist would believe for 2 minutes that committing a terrorist act would effect any kind of meaningful change.

Stack's insane plan reminds me of the time 20 years ago when a young man came to me for legal advice. He had gotten charged by the DEA for possessing weapons and drugs. He had lawyered up with a guy who he said told him that while the lawyer thought he had a shot at suppressing the stuff the Feds has seized he told his client he might want to consider a deal. The young man told me that he was inclined to go to trial.

" This will be my chance to expose the DEA for what it is," he actually told me. " I want to show the world that they will do anything to get a conviction. They will regret the day they charged me. I'm not afraid to stand up to 'em."

" Well," I said." If that's your reason for going to trial you might as well plead out."


"Because you're nobody and the world doesn't care. You will be forgotten 5 minutes after you go to prison."

The Internet helps guys like Stack live inside their head instead of dealing with reality. The blogosphere is full of guys (and they're mainly guys) like Stack who have to reconcile their sad lives with a inflated self-worth that has no evidence to support it. And they spend an inordinate amount of time blaming everyone else for their troubles. Because when you live inside your head all the time you don't get any insight into your situation.

Joseph Stack was mad at the IRS and so he flew a goddamn plane into an office building. Last time I looked the Service was still collecting the tax. Last time I looked folks were still filing their returns.

Joseph Stack's kamikaze mission changed nothing. Because he was nobody and the world doesn't care.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Vox Populi: Revival Catchers

My buddy JR hadn't heard the news about faith healing evangelist Benny Hinn's wife filing for divorce.

JR: No! You're kidding!

Me: No! Get on the Internet and see for yourself.

JR: I wonder if he fell out when he got served with the divorce papers.

Me: Fell out?

JR: You know what I'm talking about. The afflicted that turn to him for healing always fall out after Pastor Hinn lays his hands upon them.

Me: I dunno. He would be more likely to fall out when he gets the subpoena for his bank records.
JR: You know what? If we ever get tired of practicing law we could become revival catchers.

Me: Huh?

JR: We could get hired to catch folks after Pastor Hinn heals them. Those guys that you see doing it on TV? Bet they don't do that for free.

Me: What do you think an experienced revival catcher could make in this economy?

JR: I don't know but it's got to beat practicing law. And it would be more useful besides.

JR may be on to something. Still, I would think that Pastor Hinn's most immediate need will be the services of a Charlatan Catcher when he gets hit with a Notice of Deposition from his wife.

Wonder where you can apply for that?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

My Sunday Feeling

Unlike some folks I know, I wasn't particularly keen on watching Tiger's much anticipated news conference, especially when I heard that the audience was hand-picked by him and his handlers and that no questions would be taken. Indeed, it was for that very reason that the Golf Writers Association boycotted the event.

I didn't get around to watching it until after work on that day when ESPN showed the entire speech. The opinions concerning same were, predictably, all over the map. Some folks found it disingenuous. Others found it compelling and moving.

Me? I saw a man whose expression and skin color gave the impression of someone with an extreme case of nausea. I saw a prideful man brought low by amazingly foolish and indiscreet behavior. I felt sort of the same about Tiger's speech yesterday as I did about about Bill Clinton's video deposition over the Monica Lewinsky affair. The use of the camera in both cases made the subjects appear almost to be at the other end of a gunsight. And I felt badly for them both although neither had anybody but themselves to blame.

Which Tiger forthrightly acknowledged in no uncertain terms.

Lee Trevino has been quoted recently that Tiger would have been better off had he pulled up a lawn chair in his backyard and told the media the truth from the get-go. But that's not Tiger Woods' style. Apart from competition on the golf course where the law of the jungle obtains, his every image and utterance has been carefully orchestrated.

Until now.

Sure, the cynical heart that beats within my breast suspects a desire on his part to not only save his marriage but his "brand." The first step, of course, was to minimize the moral dimensions of his acts by blaming it on pathology. No matter what he said yesterday, the moral implications are delimited by blaming it on an addiction. Indeed, there are some who question whether impulsive sexual behavior rises to the level of alcohol or substance abuse. I don't have an opinion on it one way or another. Perhaps it is true that his wife, who mercifully did not attend the speech (I refuse to call it a news conference), insisted upon his entering a treatment facility as a precondition to a possible reconciliation. Perhaps not. We do not know. And it is none of our business.

Driving home last night I listened to the local sports call-in show. Predictably, many of the scholars and theologians checking in were shocked by Tiger's acknowledgement that he intended to return to practicing the Buddhism of his Mother's faith. As one high minded genius pointed out "Praying to Buddha isn't going to do him any good."

Point of order: Buddhists don't pray to Buddha. And Buddhism has many tenets with which Christians would be comfortable such as the condemnation of lying stealing, striving for meaningless things and sexual misconduct. As Woods himself said " (Buddhism) teaches me to stop following every impulse and to learn restraint." The Baptist preacher could say the same thing about the Bible.

The nonsense about the relative efficacy of Buddhism to the saving of souls was wisely cut off by the host. After that, the callers were pretty much equally split as to whether he was sincere and whether or not his problems were any of the callers' business.

I have always said about these matters that if the wronged spouse feels led to continue in the marriage after an affair then that is pretty much dispositive of it for me. I still feel that way. But Tiger Woods has an obligation to apologize if for no other reasons than his carefully crafted image as a loving family man and role model for the kids that participate in programs funded by the Tiger Woods Foundation completely evaporated a couple of days after Thanksgiving.

But at the end of the day, Tiger Woods is not a politician or a religious figure that strayed. He's a golfer. And trust me, he is not the only member of the PGA tour that has strayed from his vows. He is just the most spectacular example of it.

Do I believe that he is contrite? I cannot judge his heart. But I have to figure that for a man as prideful and arrogant as Woods-which he also acknowledged-to get up there even under the laboratory conditions imposed by him for the speech and lambaste himself for a quarter hour weighs in favor of a finding of sincerity.

The man at the end of the gunsight looked as if he might puke at any minute during his speech. This was a man brought low.

I believe him. Why not?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Vox Populi: The Salesmen

I had no sooner taken off my coat than I heard a knock on my door. 2 guys in blue parkas with AT&T emblazoned thereon.

Guy 1: How are you today? We're from AT&T.

Me: So I gathered.

Guy 2: And we are going door to door to make sure that folks in the neighborhood are aware of the opportunity to get in on a new product. Have you heard about all of the cable we've been running around here?

Me: Yeah. U-Verse.

Guy 1: That's right Sir! Could I ask you who your current cable and Internet provider or providers are?

Guy 2 is starting to write on a yellow legal pad.

Me: Look fellas, I'm happy with my service.

Guy 1: We understand your reluctance. But most people are really pleased with all of the content we can provide. It's pretty much constantly expanding. If you let us know you're currently with we can show you how much you can save.

Me: Really I'm good.

Guy 2: I bet if you give it a try you'll be amazed. 30 day free trial. You don't like it. Fine. We can't save everyone. Money back guarantee.

Me: Can't save....

Guy 1: What you got to lose?

Guy 2: Know anybody that's got it?

Me: Matter of fact I do. She hates it.

Guy 1 : Well, unfortunately there are some people whose service issues we can't resolve or they won't let us resolve. But we do have a 97% retention rate.

Me: Gentlemen. I'm good. Really.

Guy 1: Well, thank you for your time.

Guy 2: Sorry we couldn't interest you.

Me: Well, you can't save everybody.

Guy 1: Pardon?

Me: Nothing.

I need to remember to get that "No Solicitation" sign.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

My Sunday Feeling-Valentine's Day Edition

Today is Valentine's Day which is easily the least liked holiday for most guys that are brave enough to express an opinion on this matter. Be that as it may, Valentine's Day, that most extortionate "holiday," worse than Christmas even, serves as an appropriate backdrop for the latest turn of events with America's fun couple John and Elizabeth Edwards.

As we know, former John Edwards staffer Andrew Young wrote a book about the Edwards entitled "The Politician" in which he writes extensively about his efforts to hide the affair between John Edwards and Rielle Hunter, going so far as to claim the daughter she bore as his own illegitimate child. He also portrays candidate Edwards as a nickle plated phony and Elizabeth as a scheming meddler with a flaming temper.

Young has given numerous interviews about the book and I guess he is on a tour in support of same in which he is reading excerpts from it and/or giving talks about it. Because Elizabeth is pissed. And she has threatened to sue him if he doesn't stop speaking about the Edwards' troubled marriage.

Here is where it gets interesting. Elizabeth has threatened to sue Andrew Young for alienation for affection, an archaic cause of action which is still on the books in only about 7 states, North Carolina being one of them. As we like to say at times like these around here, this is a teachable moment.

Alienation of affection is one of two "heart balm" laws that state that a jilted spouse may sue to effect revenge against a third party who horsed around with the jiltee's spouse. Alienation of affection is a tort claim against a third party who induced a spouse to leave the marriage. Criminal conversation is another cause of action likewise sounding in tort (as we say) against a third party for having sex with the jiltee's spouse. As I stated earlier, most of these old heart balm laws are no longer on the books for reasons that should be fairly obvious.

Arkansas's experience with its own heart balm statutes is instructive. About 1981 or so, the Arkansas Supreme Court issued an Order in which it said that it would no longer entertain any appeals of any orders concerning these two causes of action. The Court said something along the lines that divorce is sufficiently painful and life changing without imposing tort liability upon people when a marriage breaks up. As they weren't going to hear anymore of these cases, the Court told the Arkansas Legislature that they might as well strike these statutes off of the books.

Which the Ledge did. And the laws eliminating these statutes was swiftly signed into law by-guess who?-William Jefferson Clinton who was Governor at that time.

As I recall, the irony of this was not particularly lost on anyone at that time either.

I actually know somebody who got threatened with criminal conversation. He took up with a woman who lived in one of these states. She and her husband were separated and going through an acrimonious divorce. Neither side had any interest in reconciling. It was Splitsville except for the property settlement. To put pressure on her to settle her ex threatened my friend with a lawsuit for criminal conversation as they were conversatin' while she was still legally married. Of course, this is unfair and ridiculous. And once her private investigators discovered that her ex didn't exactly have clean hands in this department himself, away went the threat of a lawsuit. And all is paradise once again.

Now let us turn to the situation at hand. Edwards claims that Young's covering for her horndog husband's marital misdeeds with uber-headcase Rielle partly led to the breakup of her marriage to the aforesaid horndog. Good luck with that. Insofar as is known, John Edwards never had sex with Andrew Young although one could sure make the case that Young is givin' both John and Elizabeth a good screwing right now. Elizabeth knew about the affair and still amazingly acquiesced to her husband's megalomaniacal decision to run for President.

How could she not have known that all of this sordid business would come to light?

Elizabeth Edwards says she will drop it if Young donates $250,000 to the Wade Edwards Foundation, a non-profit group named for her late son, quits yakking about her and her marriage to Horndog and turns over all the threatening and hectoring messages she left on Young's phone.

If I'm Andrew Young, I paraphrase Wellington and tell her to "Sue and be damned." She may be in a suin' mood but she can hardly sue the real target defendant because Horndog is paying Rielle's bills and the child support for her child. It wouldn't look good for Elizabeth to be preceived as trying to take bread out of her soon-to-be ex-husband's child's mouth. But she has no real claim against Young. And she's pissed. So her lawyer's cobbled together this stupid theory.

And you think your personal situation is fucked up.

I wish all of these really unpleasant people a Happy Valentine's Day. Y'all deserve each other. If you don't believe me hit the link: These three had more stories going at once than Stephen King.

Anyway, Happy Valentine's Day to you too! I hope you are not celebrating it with someone in any jurisdiction that still has these stupid heart balm laws on the books.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Fear and Loathing at the Super Bowl

The late author and crazy person Dr. Hunter S. Thompson on sportswriters:

There is a dangerous kind of simple-minded Power/Precision worship at the root of the massive fascination with pro football in this country,and sportswriters are mainly responsible for it. With a few rare exceptions like Bob Lipsyte of the New York Times and Tom Quinn of the (now defunct) Washington Daily News, sportswriters are a kind of rude and brainless subculture of fascist drunks whose only real function is to publicize and sell whatever the sports editor sends them to cover...

Which is a nice way to make a living, because it keeps a man busy and requires no thought at all. The two keys to success as a sportswriter are: 1) A blind willingness to believe anything you're told by coaches, flacks, hustlers and other "official spokesmen" for the team-owners who supply the free booze...and 2) A Roget's Thesaurus, in order to avoid using the same verbs and adjectives twice in the same paragraph.

HST could get plenty over the top in his prose style. Indeed, the above-excerpt, brought to us by the good folks at, was relatively restrained. But I bet Doc would never have described Razorback guard Courtney Fortson as having "more moves than a boa constrictor on a mouse farm" as did a certain local sports "editor" in his column in today's sports page.

"Requires no thought at all" indeed.

My Sunday The Apocalypse Is Upon Us Now Feeling

There old eyes have seen some amazing things over the years. Many of these things I have chronicled in this space. But Sunday will be the damndest thing that I will have ever witnessed because the New Orleans Saints, long the laughing stock of the National Football League, will be playing the Indianapolis Colts in the Super Bowl.

The Colts are favored by 4 or 5 points. And that is probably about right. But to me, the mere fact that the Saints, the Saints that were beyond inept when I was in school down there, the same ones that damn near lost every game despite being picked to win the Division that pre-season, are in the Super Bowl is nothing short of astounding.

Oh, they have flirted with decency during the Bum Phillips and Jim Mora regimes. But they always figured out some way to shoot themselves in the foot to either miss the playoffs or lose in the first round.

Sure 3 years ago they made it to the NFC Championship. But they went out and got drilled by the Bears. They followed that up with 2 mediocre seasons and Saints fans everywhere, myself included, just shrugged and thought that the rightful equilibrium in the known universe had been restored. The Saints are back to sucking. All is right with this world.

Now this.

There is a part of me that doesn't want to watch. Not for any reason owing to the apocalyptic nature of their appearance in a game that they haven't gotten within sniffing distance in the history of the franchise. No.

Heart disease runs in my family. I simply don't know if I can actually watch the typical Saints "blow a lead and then come from behind" or "get cuffed around for 3 quarters and then blow 'em out in the 4th quarter" performance they tend to specialize in during the Super Bowl. I may keel over.

Please guys. Get a lead. Hold it. Win in regulation. Or get whacked. But I don't know if my ticker can handle the usual Saints dramafest in this, the ultimate game in franchise history.

I've seen lots of incredible things in my 54 years. If the Saints pull this off, I will have seen it all.

Go Saints! 911 is on Speed Dial at my house.