Category Archives: Doh!

Memphis knows how to throw a party (or something) for St. Pat

catechismNo doubt some will cite this as evidence that my Ménière’s has reached the point at which I need a hearing aid.

But in my defense, my wife was out in the hallway when she said this, and I was in the bathroom with the exhaust fan running — although the door, I admit, was open.

Anyway, she had come upstairs to tell me that her youngest brother was on his way to the St. Patrick’s Day parade in Memphis (my wife’s family, the Phelans, are real Irish Catholics, not pretenders like me), and that he had told her something alarming about that parade.

She said the people on the floats throw catechisms to the crowd.

At least, I thought that’s what she said. I considered it a bit odd — most such parades aren’t that, shall we say, holy — but nevertheless arguably appropriate, since St. Patrick converted the heathen Irish to Christianity.

Then my wife said something odder. She said she thought that sounded “dangerous.” I reflected that maybe so, if they were hardbacks. But they could throw paperbacks, and maybe there are some abridged, pocket-sized versions…

Then she said other things that made me wonder. I asked her to repeat the first thing she’d said.cabbage

This time, I thought she said they were throwing “catechists,” and that did sound dangerous. If you go throwing people, religious education teachers, off of floats, someone could get hurt.

But something about this version sounded even more suspicious, so I finally asked her directly whether she had indeed said they were throwing catechisms or catechists.

She roared with laughter at this point (which frankly I don’t think is the kindest way to deal with my affliction). She had been saying, “cabbages.” They were throwing cabbages from the floats.

Yeah, OK. That could be dangerous.

You can stop laughing now…

Look out! What's that they're throwing? The St. Patrick's Day parade on Beale Street.

Look out! What’s that they’re throwing? The St. Patrick’s Day parade on Beale Street.

Burl’s 1st-hand account of the Great Missile Alert of 2018

Your truly with our correspondent Burl in Hawaii on a less-panicky Saturday in 2015. Note the rainbow.

Your truly with our correspondent Burl in Hawaii on a less-panicky Saturday in 2015. Note the rainbow.

You’ve no doubt heard about the false alarm in Hawaii today:

For 38 harrowing minutes, residents and tourists in Hawaii were left to believe that missiles were streaming across the sky toward the Pacific island chain after an erroneous alert Saturday morning by the state’s emergency management agency.

“Ballistic missile threat inbound to Hawaii,” warned an 8:07 a.m. message transmitted across the state’s cellphone networks. “Seek immediate shelter. This is not a drill.”

Only after an inexplicable delay by the state agency — during which residents scrambled to seek shelter and contact relatives — was a subsequent message sent describing the missile warning as a “false alarm.”

Not satisfied with mainland newspaper accounts, I turned to our intrepid correspondent on the scene, veteran newspaperman-turned-historian Burl Burlingame, to tell us what it was like.

Initially he responded with a text that said:

We’re OK but the neighbors have resorted to cannibalism.

Journalists are conditioned to react to incipient annihilation with gallows humor, and protocol required that I respond in kind, so I said, “Perfectly understandable, under the circumstances.” Then, with patience born of decades as an editor waiting for reporters to get off their a__es and file the actual story, I waited.

Eventually, he filed his report via Facebook Messenger. It follows:

In Hawaii, at 11:45 a.m. on the first working day of every month, sirens go off all over the state. You can hear them almost everywhere. Civil defense has them to warn of incoming missiles, but mainly because we’re a seacoast state with a low land mass that can easily be hit with a tidal wave or earthquake from almost any direction. Such natural disasters aren’t iffy; it’s just a matter of when …

So we take such alerts seriously.

The alarm clock on my phone was set for 8:10 a.m. this morning, so when it made noise I dimly perceived it as my wake-up call. Was it ever! It took a few moments to focus on incoming alerts and the top one said that missiles were incoming and it was not a drill.


For a while, we’ve been getting practice alerts that are worded similarly — thanks, Trump! — although this one was most clear. But there were no sirens, no ancillary information being broadcast. Being an ex-journalist, I was pretty suspicious of a single phone alert with no backup.

I woke up the wife and told her to prepare to fight in Thunderdome after the imminent nuclear annihilation. She said OK and went back to sleep. Since she’s the night editor at the paper, I suspect she’s pretty busy this evening dealing with “I was there” stories.

There was some commotion in my neighborhood as folks were packing their cars. To go where?

I had an appointment at 10 a.m. to deliver a lecture and people were expecting me there, so I went. The electronic highway signs were already flashing MISSILE ATTACK WARNING IS AN ERROR / THERE IS NO THREAT and I mentally filed away the revelation that they are tied in with Civil Defense.

Many people were caught away from home and family. People dashed home or to churches. Tourists were rounded up off the beaches and sequestered in hotel lobbies. I expect there might be casualties from the panic.

No info yet on how this happened. It’s possible it was an online troll attack. People here are blaming Trump, but we’re expecting him to blame Hillary.

Good report. Short and to the point. And he didn’t speculate about anything he wasn’t sure about.

Gov. David Ige has now attributed the mess to a state employee’s errant push of a button. Yeah… I think the good folk of Hawaii are going to want a more complete answer than that…

The USS Arizona memorial stands as grim reminder that attacks from the air DO happen, even in paradise.

The USS Arizona memorial stands as grim reminder that sudden attacks from the air DO happen, even in paradise.

Who can be as foolhardy and reckless as Trump? The Democrats…


Here’s an excellent example of why it won’t be the Democrats who save us from Trump.

At least, not these Democrats.

Possibly the most foolish thing Trump has done in the last few days (and yeah, I know there are a lot of exciting entries in a crowded field) is this, at the very moment we’re facing an increased threat from North Korea:

President Trump has instructed advisers to prepare to withdraw the United States from a free-trade agreement with South Korea, several people close to the process said, a move that would stoke economic tensions with the U.S. ally as both countries confront a crisis over North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.

Withdrawing from the trade deal would back up Trump’s promises to crack down on what he considers unfair trade competition from other countries, but his top national security and economic advisers are pushing him to abandon the plan, arguing it would hamper U.S. economic growth and strain ties with an important ally. Officials including national security adviser H.R. McMaster, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and National Economic Council director Gary Cohn oppose withdrawal, said people familiar with the process who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal White House deliberations.

Although it is still possible Trump could decide to stay in the agreement to renegotiate its terms, the internal preparations for terminating the deal are far along, and the formal withdrawal process could begin as soon as this week, the people said….

You know why those top aides don’t want him to do this, especially now? Because they have brains. They know that free-trade agreements bind nations closer together, aside from producing more wealth overall.

This is absolutely no time for slapping allies in the face in that part of the world — or anywhere, of course.

But fortunately, there’s a loyal opposition out there poised to the save the country from this nonsense, right?

Uhhhh… no (imagine I said that in a Butthead voice). This was in the Post the same day as the above:

 Democrats facing reelection next year in states President Trump won are seizing on trade at this early stage as a crucial issue and a Republican vulnerability.

But rather than jeer Trump’s protectionist positions, Democrats are echoing them and amplifying them, arguing that Trump has failed to fulfill his dramatic campaign promise to rip apart trade deals.

“When we say renegotiating NAFTA, we mean a transformation, something substantial, not just going through the motions,” Sen. Robert P. Casey Jr. (D-Pa.) told union leaders recently, referring to the administration’s talks over the North American Free Trade Agreement.

For Democrats, Casey’s pitch signals a wholehearted revival of their labor roots and a sharp departure from the free-trade tilt of the past two Democratic presidents, Barack Obama and Bill Clinton….

So, according to these Dems, the trouble with Trump is that he’s not Trumpy enough.

Notice how eager they are to repudiate the views of the last two Democrats who won presidential elections?

Brilliant, just brilliant….

D’oh! is right. What century do you think this is?


Seeing as how she and Warren have gotten into blogging lately, and grown more sophisticated in their use of social media and such, I was disappointed when I didn’t find an embedded video with the online version of Cindi’s column today.

After all, it started this way:

IN ONE OF MY favorite Saturday Night Live skits, a just-exonerated Bill Clinton walks to the podium in the Rose Garden for a news conference, gives a thumbs-up to his supporters, declares “I … am … bulletproof,” and walks away. After a moment, he turns, walks back to the podium and adds: “Next time, you best bring Kryptonite.”

Our legislators must feel the same way after Circuit Judge Casey Manning discovered that they have bulletproof armor that protects them from criminal prosecution….

You have to realize what a special thing it is for Cindi Scoppe to make a pop culture reference that way. She doesn’t do pop culture. She is the most all-work-and-no-play person I know, and her readers are the beneficiaries of that affliction. So I particularly appreciated this reference, and immediately went hunting for a video clip…bulletproof

which I could not find. At least, not right away. (I’d be happy for some of y’all to show me what I missed.)

Oh, I found one that may have been the right one. NBC had taken it down. And then added insult to injury by saying, “Don’t worry, though. We have plenty of other stuff to watch.” Like I’m here to be entertained. Like any other “stuff to watch” will compensate for the lack of the one clip I need, the one being quoted.

Join the 21st century, folks. Rather than hiding your content, leverage it by allowing other media — including blogs and even newspapers — to praise your creativity and urge other people (perhaps people who have the time and inclination to watch that “other stuff” you’re offering) to seek it out. You’ll be a winner in the long run.


‘So remember, guys: Don’t use your phones…’

Sort of had to do a double-take when I read this account of the due diligence being applied by Libyan authorities in try to track down those who attacked our consulate. It starts out with good news, but then…

BENGHAZI—Four people have been arrested in connection with the attack against the American consulate here that resulted in the death of the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans, a Libyan official involved with the manhunt for the militants said.

Libyan security sources have a larger group of people under surveillance, the official said,

The Libyans have organized a multiagency task force, combining all available resources to hunt down the suspected Islamic militants, including intelligence, defense and interior officials, said the official. He declined to say how many suspects that the Libyans were watching, citing sensitivities of the continuing investigation.

“There is a group now that is under our custody, but there is a group we’re following to know who’s connected to them, and they are monitoring their phone calls,” the official said….

OK, guys, we’re right behind you, so remember: Don’t use your phones or anything. We’ll keep putting this out in the media so you’ll know…

Those ex-intel/Special Forces guys who made the anti-Obama video ought to do a Libyan edition, seeing as how they’re all about operational security.

From ‘legitimate rape’ to the Country Club

Just a quick post to give y’all a chance to comment on today’s two main trending stories. First this:

Rep. Todd Akin said Monday that he will not give in to calls for him to end his Missouri Senate campaign after his controversial comments about “legitimate rape.”

“I’m not a quitter. My belief is we’re going to move this thing forward,” he said during an appearance Monday afternoon on Mike Huckabee’s radio show. “To quote my friend John Paul Jones, I’ve not yet begun to fight.”

Akin also said he still sees himself as the right candidate to take on Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), even as many Republicans have begun to doubt it. He apologized for his remarks but said it doesn’t mean he should end his campaign.

“I feel just as strongly as ever that my background and ability will be an asset in replacing Claire McCaskill and restoring some sanity in government,” Akin said. “Just because someone makes a mistake doesn’t make them useless.”

Akin has found himself in hot water after saying in an interview airing Sunday that “legitimate rape” rarely causes pregnancy. Akin was explaining his no-exceptions policy on abortion…

And then this:

The Augusta National Golf Club, home of The Masters tournament, said Monday it had admitted female members for the first time, following years of criticism both public and private over its stubbornly-held policy of admitting only men as members.

Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and South Carolina investment banker Darla Moore were both invited and accepted membership, golf’s most prominent club said in a statement. The club’s next season opens in October.

The step breaks with the 79-year-old private club’s practice of admitting only men, who make up a veritable who’s who of corporate America. The club has been under pressure from corporations, some members, a prominent women’s organization, and most recently President Barack Obama, who said through a spokesman before this year’s Masters tournament in April that he thought women should be invited to join….

I congratulate Darla and Ms. Rice, assuming of course that they wanted to join. If they invited me, of course, I’d have to refuse in light of the Marx rule (that would sound so much better than admitting I couldn’t afford the dues). I’m not sure whether this changes anything in the larger picture, unless they didn’t have ladies’ tees before. But as I said, I’m happy for the new members, especially since I know one of them.

I am not capable of thinking like a feminist or anyone else who is into Identity Politics, but I’m imagining that if I were a feminist, I’d be looking at today as sort of a mixed bag. You win some ground, you lose some ground.

No, scratch that. Given the general reaction to Akin, it looks more like a win-win.

One last thought — someone needs to break it to Nikki Haley that Darla got in and she didn’t

No question, Ronald Regan was a great Amercian

OK, now we’re getting into the nit-picking, since this time it was small type way down in a slide, rather than the title of an initiative. And it wasn’t the candidate himself who made either mistake:

First “Amercia,” then “sneak-peak,” and now “Ronald Regan.” No wonder the Romney campaign is searching for a copywriter. (Required skill: “Ability to edit and proof own work.”)

Buzzfeed spotted the latest spelling error from the Romney team on Wednesday after taking a look at a slideshow the campaign’s pollsters put together for bundlers, and the rest of the Web appears to have taken notice. (The Gipper’s last name is spelled Reagan.) Among the international outlets currently running the story: Britain’sTelegraph, Canada’s Star and Ireland’sIndependent.

The typo was in a chart showing the approval ratings of incumbent presidents in the May before their re-election attempt. “Ronald Regan” was noted as having a 53 percent approval rating. (For the record, Obama’s was 47 percent, according to the chart).

But that’s the way it works. Poor ol’ Gerald Ford stumbles once, and the heartless media marketplace labels him a klutz.

For Romney, it looks like it’s gonna be spelling. Sorry, Mitt; them’s the breaks.