Thursday, December 04, 2003

Plain-speaking cowboy

Love him or loathe him, when he was in Congress, Wyoming's Alan Simpson was always entertaining, almost a throwback to the days senators and representatives nearly (or actually) came to blows in the halls of Capitol Hill.

Well, the big guy's at it again, according to this Washington Post story (third item) about Simpson's activity with the Republican Unity Coalition, a "big tent" GOP group. When the "famously anti-gay" Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan., formally protested Simpson's support of the gay marriage court ruling in Massachusetts, with a letter from pastor Fred W. Phelps urging the construction of a monument in Cheyenne featuring the biblical admonition against homosexuality, Simpson fired back with this response:

I just wanted to alert you to the fact that some dizzy shit is sending out mailings and e-mails from the Westboro Baptist Church -- and using your name! I'm certain that you would not want this to continue or some less-alert citizen might think that you, yourself had done it. We know that is surely not the case, because you are a God-fearing Christian person filled to the brim with forbearance, tolerance and love -- and this other goofy homophobe nut must be someone totally opposite.

Quite Sincerely, Al Simpson.

Man, do we need this guy back in the Senate.

Zevon gets five

Warren Zevon tallies five Grammy nominations, including Best Contemporary Folk (??) Album for The Wind. I'd be surprised if he doesn't capture at least one award, though, face it, folks, were Zevon still alive and well, he'd never have gotten a second thought from the nominating crowd.

On the other hand, we can only hope the Oscar nominations mirror those of the film-oriented Grammys. If so, we'll see The Folksmen, et al., performing the theme to "A Mighty Wind" come Feb. 29.

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Meet Freddy

The newest member of the household. He's named for my dad Fred, and we adopted him from the Las Vegas Valley Humane Society on Nov. 15, when he was eight weeks old. He's 100% boy, rambunctuous but completely affectionate. He also has a keen sense of smell (which Willow totally lacks), so cooking the turkey and stuffing and dealing with the leftovers has been an adventure. He sleeps with us on the bed and is completely at home. He and Willow chase each other around the house ... when they aren't curled up together asleep. We think we'll keep him.

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Why newspapers remain important

Sources tell the Review-Journal that Wendell Williams will be fired from the city of Las Vegas, perhaps as early as today. His former supervisor, Sharon Segerblom, will be allowed to keep her job, which is only appropriate. Segerblom couldn't really discipline Williams without the support of the city higher-ups who kept giving him raises and promotions (including former Mayor Jan Jones, who encouraged the city to get as many employees in the Legislature as possible), even as he was violating policies and breaking laws.

Had the Review-Journal (and a much lesser extent, the Sun -- or, more to the point, Jon Ralston) failed in their relentless pursuit of the facts in this case, Williams would have not only kept his job, but quite possibly continued up the city hierarchy, landing lifetime patronage posts for a lot more people than his "special friend," Topazia Jones.

This is the type of story that TV just can't nail. It requires weaving disparate strands of information into a coherent narrative (with appropriate visuals). It's not soundbite-friendly ... until all the evidence has been gathered, the story told, the argument made. It's why newspapers (even if they one day become completely virtual) remain important. It's a proud day for print journalism.