An AK-47 assault rifle kills a valiant young deputy sheriff. Nobody should have access to a weapon like that

Guns make human beings painfully vulnerable to each other’s brutality.

The damage guns inflict can prove eternal. And the damage follows the victim, the shooter and their loved ones. Shadows grow longer with each setting sun.

And now, Kyle Pagerly, a deputy Berks County sheriff, a former military police officer in the Balkans and Iraq and a volunteer firefighter for Spring Township, is dead at 28.

Pagerly was fatally shot Wednesday night in Albany Township with an AK-47 semi-automatic rifle by a man, Matthew Connor, 25, who was dressed from head to toe in camouflage, according to police.

Connor was shot and killed at the scene by law enforcement officers.

There are too damn many guns out there. No private citizen should have an AK-47.

Period.

To think otherwise is insanity.

The ghosts of gun victims are all around us.

Shades of Teddy Roosevelt! Obama turns into a bully

Must have been something Barack Obama ate for breakfast.
The conciliator-in-chief suddenly became the commander-in-chief today, blasting away at the Republicans in an East Room news conference.
Instead of receding into the background like faded wallpaper like he often does, the president suddenly manned the oars and railed against tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires, for big oil companies, for hedge fund managers, for corporate jet owners, for wealthy people of all shades and stripes, and for lavishly compensated bloggers such as yours truly.
With the debt-ceiling deadline looming August 2nd and the budget talks going in circles like a NASCAR race, Obama scoffed down some Wheaties this morning and dusted off his bully pulpit.
It will be much more difficult for him to dust off the Republicans in this gunfight.

Former top aide throws (figuratively) Bachmann under a campaign bus

Personally, I think that Michele Bachmann is about as ready to be president as Sarah Palin or Snooki.
Apparently so does her former chief of staff, who says Bachmann is not prepared to assume the White House in 2013.
Evidently she’s not ready to be a history professor either, but I digress.
Then again Ron Carey also served as chair of the Minnesota Republican Party and he’s a big Tim Pawlenty guy.
So take Carey’s diss of Bachmann with a grain of salt. Adding a shot of tequila is optional.

Federal grand jury lights up Blago like a firecracker one week shy of the 4th of July

Well, a federal grand jury sure clubbed former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich into a convulsing heap today.
It convicted the Flimflam Man on 17 of 20 counts, finding he brazenly abused the powers of his office in a series of attempted shakedowns captured on undercover government recordings.
Blago heard the word “guilty” over and over again until his ears bled.
Now the dude who seemingly would barter with Beelzebub if given the chance is facing a maximum of 300 years in prison, although 8 to 12 years of incarceration seem more likely.
Apparently this jury had a higher IQ than the knuckleheads in his first trial.
This time the verdict was unequivocal, with the jury of 11 women and one man finding Blagojevich guilty on 17 criminal counts he faced, including charges of wire fraud, attempted extortion, bribery and conspiracy.
The marquee charge in the case, of course, involved an attempt by Blagojevich in late 2008 to cash in on his power to name a replacement in the U.S. Senate for newly elected President Obama.
So you could say they brought down the sky on Blagojevich, who otherwise would be as featureless as the wind if it weren’t for all his freaking hair and utter lack of ethics.
The jury at his first trial last summer found him guilty of lying to the FBI, though that panel of village idiots somehow deadlocked on all the other counts. That impasse set the stage for a retrial.

Now it could be fun to see what kind of spin the ever-delusional Blago puts on his disastrous day in court.

Now that he has dissected the NBA draft, Obama dribbles into the stalled debt talks

I often am amused that just because my politics are not wide right of Genghis Khan, some Zeke Blogosphere denizens think I believe that President Obama can walk on bourbon, can multiply hot dogs and rolls, and can give sight to the blind (Republicans).

Actually, Obama is no deity to me.

For instance, he is too detached at times for me. I think a president should be tethered to the reins of leadership, a guy who knows when to lead the charge over the ramparts without tripping over the micro-managing details.

So it’s about time Obama steps directly into the stalled debt talks, which often are as weird as the art of Andy Warhol.

After Republican negotiators abandoned those talks Thursday over Democrats’ insistence on including tax increases in any deficit-reduction plan, Obama finally got around today to inviting Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Republican leader Mitch McConnell to separate meetings Monday, shifting the negotiations to the highest levels.

Glad that Obama found elbow room in his schedule.

Congressional Republicans want to reach a deal on about $2 trillion in spending cuts over 10 years before agreeing to raise the nation’s borrowing limit, currently capped at $14.3 trillion. The Treasury Department has said it has until Aug. 2 before its ability to pay U.S. debt runs out.
Of course, maybe the U.S. shouldn’t pay its debts. It then would have something in common with all the unemployed American workers killing time at home on the sofa.
The crux of the dilemma is this. Democrats want cuts in spending but think that additional tax revenues and closing tax breaks are essential. Republicans are aghast at more stimulus spending and huge tax hikes on American job creators.
Hate to blow through the weekend faster than the NASCAR field, but I can’t wait for Monday.

Americans not exactly gushing with student-council enthusiasm over lack of raises

You will need a crowbar to pry loose the scowls on American workers who stand smack on the edge of financial failure and are about to fall into the abyss of bankruptcy.
The economic gloom is circling like vultures over beleaguered employees. Evidently 9 out of 10 American workers are not expecting salary increases next year.
The bad economy is like a hot knife through cold butter when it comes to slicing into consumer spending.
And a double-edged sword. Plummeting economic confidence puts an even bigger crimp into the possibility of economic growth.

Despite troop drawdown, we'll remain stuck to Afghanistan like gum to a shoe

President Obama, even though the Phillies will be playing the Cardinals at the same time, is delivering a speech in prime time tonight and is expected to announce that 10,000 troops will be withdrawn from Afghanistan by the end of this year, followed by another 20,000 next year.

About time. Our military presence there should have been covered by the sand and cobwebs of time long ago. After all, what’s the point anymore? The fighting in Afghanistan, unlike tonight’s Phillies game, doesn’t come with a scoreboard flashing the final score.

This is a war that can’t be won in any conventional sense in our lifetime. At best, victory would mean a stable and democratic Afghanistan. Don’t hold your breath. It would take years for that miracle to break a sweat. And if it does happen, it truly will be a miracle of loaves-and-fishes proportion. The Afghans don’t go to the Hamptons for the weekend and they don’t go to the polls.

Indeed, why do we need to stick around in Afghanistan? If we lose this war, defeat would mean that the Taliban is back in control and spawning terrorism on a grand and global scale. But we’ve gotten better at tactical counterterrorism, so the risk of a Taliban resurgence has been termed small at this point.

So why expose our men and women to senseless harm, in essence morphing them into lame ducks as well as sitting ducks as the troop withdrawal escalates?

Then again, it seems folly that we will ever be able to totally put Afghanistan in our rearview mirror. It appears, unfortunately, that U.S. interests will be yoked to the Middle East forever and a day. Or at least until Armageddon rears its ugly head and the ultimate End Game engulfs us.

Graphic cigarette labels hopefully will motivate smokers to butt out before they check out

Yes, I used to smoke years ago. I was young, dumb and fearless. Now I’m old, dumb and fearful.

But smart enough to know that a huge trapdoor is waiting to open under anybody who smokes.

Why anybody smokes today astonishes me. Everybody knows that cigarettes open a huge can of hurt, slicing up like lungs like barbecue brisket. They are almost as bad for you as navy bean soup. And even riskier than having a Cobb salad with ranch dressing.

Plus, a carton of cigarettes today costs almost as much a row home in Reading.
Nevertheless, there still are morons out there who smoke.
So now the FDA is flexing its muscles.
All cigarette packs sold in the United States will be required to have one of nine horrifyingly graphic images. All packs, cartons and advertisements will be required to publish the new warnings by October 2012.
The graphic images must be accompanied by text such as “Smoking can kill you” and will be required to cover the top 50 percent of the front and back of cigarette packs and 20 percent of print ads.

That should give even a Cigar Store Indian pause before lighting up.

As you can imagine, tobacco company execs have smoke coming out of their ears over this and would love to stick a lit match to the labels.

R.J. Reynolds argues that the new requirements are unconstitutional because they violate the First and Fifth Amendments as the government is trying to “confiscate the top 50 percent of both sides of cigarette packaging.” The company says that with the images, the government is not warning consumers but rather telling them not to buy a lawful product.

Philip Morris told the FDA that “any government requirement that compels a private entity to carry a message not of its own choosing raises constitutional concerns.”

Figures they would blow smoke over legalese to cloud the issue that they are selling a killer product.

Republican candidates aping Reagan

Sit one out for the Gipper!

As much as Ronald Reagan hated Commies, the Gipper knew when to punt.

After all, for those of us who learned from the Vietnam nightmare that kept playing on the back of our eyeballs when we put head to pillow each night, avoiding wars that America can’t afford and the American people won’t sustain is prudent policy.

Reagan knew that and was smart enough not to get stuck in similar quicksand scenarios.

No so for certain Republican uber-hawks playing with their nunchucks and hand grenades at policy meetings in recent years.

Fortunately, the Republican president field now is mimicking Reagan and not swearing on a stack of Bibles that we must do whatever it takes to win the war that America launched after the 9/11 attacks.

Mitt Romney, for one, is trying so hard to ape Reagan that he has memorized all of Ronnie’s lines in the Bedtime for Bonzo movie classic.

Being a father doesn't have to be harder than facing a long par-5 with a wicked wind in your face … just make sure your playing partner is a loving mother

Happy Father’s Day to all you dads.

And let’s not all deceive ourselves. While dads are important, the true superstars of family life are the mothers.

I think that’s primarily a matter of biology. Children feel closer to their mothers who toted them along like groceries in the womb for nine months while their fathers were in a water hazard on the golf course or simply in a watering hole.

And partly a matter of being there. Kids relate to mothers who cleaned up their puke, cooked for them, shopped for them, indulged them and pampered them while their fathers were in a water hazard on the golf course or simply in a watering hole.

Not that all fathers are MIA. A lot of dads show up for Little League games and scream batting tips at Junior even though the old man hit .196 in Little League.

By the way, for you young fathers out there and for those who hope to be dads someday, there’s really no trick to it. Just have a big wallet so you can spend lavishly on your kids for the remainder of your life, not to mention your estate, let the mother take care of everything else, and memorize some words to live by:

Such as …

“You’re going to sit there until you eat your dinner. I don’t care if you sit there all night.”

“Delayed obedience is disobedience.”
“When I say no, I mean no. Why? Because, that’s why.”
“If you don’t stop crying, I’ll give you something to cry about.”
“Two wrongs do not make a right.”
“As long as you tried your hardest, that’s all that matters.”
“I’m spanking you because I love you. This hurts me a lot more than it hurts you.”
“If I didn’t hear it, you didn’t say it!”
“Shape up or ship out.”
“That’s so funny? Wipe that smile off your face.”
“We’ll do it the right way. My way.”
“Don’t ask me, ask your mother.”
“This is your last warning.”
“You’re grounded for life.”
“Let that be a lesson to you.”
“Son, don’t ever get married. And tell that to your kids.”
“Enough is enough!”
“Do what I say, not what I do.”
“I do not want my last words to be, ‘Son, you know that gun’s loaded.'”