Archive for June 2009

Covering A King’s Death

Posted: Friday, June 26, 2009 at 12:44 pm
By: Doug Lund
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Now would be an excellent time for congress and the president to get things done in Washington without a lot of media scrutiny.
The death of Michael Jackson has news operations putting just about everything else on hold..and that will likely be the case until Jacko is planted. 
 The many faces of Michael Jackson. Which one was your favorite?
Kim Jong il, That funny little creature running North Korea could test an A bomb in the atmosphere and it wouldn’t get as much attention as non stop reports about whether or not the king of pop was popping prescription pills which led to his premature demise..or questions about what happens to his kids now..or who’ll be doing the make-up for his funeral?
So, Lund, are you saying that Jackson’s death isn’t news?
Oh, no..I wouldn’t go that far.
CBS News reporter, Roger Mudd made that mistake 32 years ago and it just might have cost him the chance to be Walter Cronkite’s heir as Evening News anchor.That’s Roger Mudd in the middle with fellow CBS newsmenRobert Trout and Eric Severeid in 1964.
It was August 16th, 1977.  I was sitting in the Keloland newsroom when our production assistant, Michelle Lang…who was clearing the news wires..shouted out, “Oh, my god..Elvis Presley is dead!”
After the initial shock, we all went into reporter mode.. scrambling to line up stories with local angles on the death of Elvis. (Presley had performed at the Arena twice in less than a year.)
I did an interview with a Sioux Falls woman who was a huge Elvis fan and had a house full of memorabilia to prove it. She was devastated and cried uncontrollably. (great tv)
We also did a feature with a professional photographer who had dozens of photos from both Sioux Falls Elvis concerts. Plus lots of reaction from everyday folks..meandering about town..who couldn’t believe that the king was dead.
At 5:30 that night, we all huddled around a television set in our studio..anxious for details from Memphis.
“This is the CBS Evening News,” said the off camera announcer, “with Roger Mudd substituting for Walter Cronkite.”
Cue Roger…
“ Good Evening,” he said…then began blathering about the debate over the Panama Canal treaty.
What?? The king of rock and roll drops dead on his toilet at Graceland and you’re not leading with it??
We, like millions of others across the country..couldn’t run fast enough to switch channels to ABC and NBC which both gave the Elvis story extensive coverage and top priority.
I’m not sure if it was Mudd himself or some brilliant old school CBS producer who decided in his mind that Panama was more important than the death of “some overweight over-the-hill singer." But it turned out to be a public relations disaster for the Tiffany network and for Mudd in particular..whether it was actually his fault or not.
Four years later, his name was still Mudd because, when Cronkite retired, he lost the anchor job to Dan Rather..who quickly brought the CBS Evening News down to number 3 and managed to hold it there for the next 25 years.
Just like Elvis, the death of Michael Jackson is certainly newsworthy..but is it so important a story that everything else gets shoved to the back burner in order to make room for empty interviews with the likes of McCauley Culkin or Emmanuel Lewis because they might shed some light on what really went on behind the closed doors of Neverland?
I really don’t know.
What I do know is that in an atmosphere of intense competition these days, the line between tabloid journalism and informational news is pretty fuzzy and that news operations have become profit centers instead of loss leaders.
That means in order to gain and hold an give them what they WANT and right now, they think you want Michael Jackson wall to wall.
Are they right?
Hmmm, what would Roger do?

Lund at Large Talkin’ Trash

Posted: Tuesday, June 23, 2009 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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One of the real joys of retirement is being able to wake up each morning naturally (or in my case by nature calling) without a screaming alarm clock jarring us into consciousness.
Every morning except Monday, that is.
Monday is garbage collection day and apparently everyone in our part of town subscribes to a different trash hauling company because they begin rumbling through the neighborhood at sunrise and don’t finish until noon. As many as 10 different haulers using trucks that are long overdue for a muffler job, roar in and out of driveways..then choose my intersection to stop and rev the engine to 5000 rpm’s so there’s enough power to operate the compactor and squish their loads to make room for more. It’s especially bad on recycle day when the sound of beverage cans being dumped into big metal bins can be heard for miles.
I got to wondering just how many garbage haulers there are in town and, to my amazement, discovered there are 42!

When Waste Management came to Sioux Falls a few years ago, many were concerned it would undercut the independent haulers and put them out of business.Maybe I’ve seen too many episodes of “The Sopranos” but I figured that some big flat-nosed guy named Tony from Joisey would come here and intimidate all the smaller garbage guys into folding up or selling out.
Obviously that hasn’t happened.
Back in the olden days, I was a garbage hauler myself and loved it. 
Actually my little hometown didn’t have a garbage service so when the trash at home piled up and needed removal, mom would have me load up the trunk of our 1953 Mercury and let ME drive it to the dump a mile west of town.  This was long before I had a driver’s license..but after making a few trips with me, she let me go it alone.
I never told her..but sometimes I’d pick up my friend, Dixon Hoberg, to ride along.
Mom might have been too trusting because at least twice along that mile stretch of gravel, I became distracted and drove right down into the ditch. Fortunately, the car was never damaged and I was always able to drive out again..but I’ll tell you, making those garbage runs was a big deal to a 14 year old kid.
Dump runs weren’t usually necessary because my folks, like every other family in town, had a rusty 50 gallon barrel by the alley which was our incinerator. Light a fire with the Sunday paper and toss everything..including tin cans..into the flames. Great billows of black smoke from cereal boxes, chicken bones and potato peelings would fill the air. Eventually that barrel would collapse from one too many aerosol can explosions and it would be time to head to the Volga Co-op to negotiate for another one.
I suppose the environment is cleaner since backyard burn barrels and leaf burning were banned..but I still have fond memories of both.
Something to think about on those mornings when you’ve been startled awake by noisy garbage trucks banging away out the front door.

Father Didn’t Always Know Best

Posted: Friday, June 19, 2009 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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I caught a whiff of cigarette smoke on the golf course the other day and it immediately triggered memories of my father.
Dad was only 70 when he died 32 years ago.
I say ONLY 70 because as I get closer to that age it doesn’t seem so old and by today’s life expectancy standards, I guess it really isn’t.
Harry Lund probably would have lived longer had he never touched a cigarette or given them up at the first sign of trouble. But, even though he was a smart guy, he, like a majority of men from his generation, never really considered smoking to be all that harmful much less a vice. Dad holding me in his lap and what’s left of a Camel cigarette in his fingers.
He lived for several years  after he finally did quit but because of asthma and emphysema and his choice of Camel straights, the damage had been done; his lungs were shot.
Dad’s coughing at night was legendary. It could go on for hours and would wake up everybody in the house. My poor mom got very little sleep because of it but never complained…at least not to us.
If the coughing got too bad, dad would sometimes find relief by going out into the living room and sitting in his rocking chair. It was a fine chair for watching television but not designed for sleeping and he’d wind up dog tired with a sore neck by morning.
One of my greatest fears is suffocation so it was particularly frightening in those last years to see dad struggling for air with the least bit of exertion. Eventually it got to the point where even the oxygen and medication dispensed through a breathing machine didn’t help much.
He was tired of going to the hospital and wouldn’t have gone the last time had we not talked him into it. He knew he wasn’t coming out of there alive and had resolved himself to the fact that 70 years on this earth was long enough.
It wasn’t long enough, of course. There was a lot more he would have liked to do.
In going through his woodworking shop after he died, we found several unfinished projects lying about; pieces of black walnut he’d turned out on the lathe for another grandfather clock he was making. In one corner, were boxes of old auto parts he’d picked up at an auction somewhere in case he decided to restore another antique car. On the wall hung a calendar with a date circled. It was for an upcoming parade he planned to drive his Model T Ford in.
Once or twice a year, I get a chest cold so bad that it worries Linda to death and reminds me that I’m my father’s son. I have coughing jags that sound exactly like his used to. The only relief seems to be sitting upright in a chair all night leaving plenty of time to ponder questions chest x-ray was okay but I wonder if the doctor missed something. Maybe my lungs haven’t healed in the years since I quit smoking. Will I be making a one-way trip to the hospital?
But, unlike dad, I always get better..eventually.
Which reminds me..I have some unfinished projects around here that I need to be getting to.

A Day With Ella

Posted: Wednesday, June 17, 2009 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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Linda and I are babysitting today..well, Linda is babysitting..I’m sitting here writing about it offering to do my part as soon as I’m finished which is why I may be dawdling some.
But it really is great to have a little kid running around the house again looking for the toys and music boxes she knows grandma keeps hidden away especially for her…plus asking questions….lots and lots of questions.Grandpa..can I play your guitar? Pleeeeeeeeeese?Ella, who turned four in March, has had a rough couple of years due to her susceptibility to nearly every illness known to kid-dom.. especially her ears, nose and throat. The last few weeks have been especially difficult because between monthly bouts with strep throat..she fell off the monkey bars at daycare and fractured her little arm.
For some time now, her mom and dad have been worried sick over Ella’s constant battle with tonsil and ear issues that would have her waking up at night screaming in pain.
Plus she seemed to be having trouble hearing and snored like a lumberjack. After several visits to the doctor, it was decided to take some drastic action. So, last week, on the same day her cast was removed, Ella underwent surgery to take out her tonsils and adenoids plus had tubes put in her ears.
She’s just now starting to act like her old self and ready to tackle the world of daycare again..but not before she spends a day or two with grandma and grandpa who had forgotten about the challenges (and delights)  of dealing with a four year old’s curiosity and limited attention span.
I’m this afternoon’s entertainment director and plan to strap her into the back seat of our Camaro and go for a convertible ride to the lake for a picnic consisting of orange juice (she’s on doctor’s orders to drink lots of fluids to keep her still tender throat from getting too dry and bleeding again) and some cold macaroni and cheese..or maybe a cheese pizza..or perhaps a stop at McDonalds where she may or may not eat a kid’s meal..depending on the prize that comes with it.
Later we’ll stop at B&G for a strawberry ice cream cone which she can now enjoy for the fun of it rather than sore throat therapy.
After that we might head over to the neighborhood city park playground where she can go down the slide and on the swings all she wants but no matter how much she begs, we’re not letting her near the monkey bars. No sir..not on our watch.
By the time her daddy picks her up this evening after work, I’m sure Linda and I will look at each other remind ourselves how we’re getting too old to keep up with an active child like Ella. But, like with all of our grandkids, we’ll also be anxious for the time when they can come back.
Just give us a couple days to recuperate.

So Long Old Friends

Posted: Friday, June 12, 2009 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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I don’t know how in the world I ever got to sleep at night before television.
While most people require absolute quiet and darkness to achieve a proper night’s rest, I have to have a little light and a little noise to lull me into slumber.
I’m not sure if it’s a basic fear of the dark or to be alone with just my own thoughts but even as a kid, stuck in the same bedroom with my two brothers, I insisted that the closet light be left on with the door open just a crack. That provided the necessary illumination and my little portable radio, tuned to KOMA and turned down low, gave sufficient background to let me doze off.
Linda has learned to cope with my quirky need to have the bedroom TV on by keeping her earplugs handy to shut out both the audio and the snoring.
My addiction to TV doesn’t end there. I’ve always had portable radios with TV sound so when we travel I could  tune-in to television programs. You’d be surprised at how many shows really didn’t require a picture..especially the situation comedies like “Seinfeld” and “Cheers.” 
Linda, God love her, actually became a willing participant in enabling my habit. For Christmas one year she gave me a little hand-held black and white TV which proved to be a rather dangerous distraction while she would occasionally offer to take the wheel while I watched an episode of “Everybody loves Raymond.”
One Father’s Day, she gave me a dandy little portable color TV that got really good reception and could run off power from the cigarette lighter.
It was handy to have along when we made overnight visits to the homes of friends or family who didn’t offer such luxuries as a bedroom TV.
It was a little bulky, though, so a few years later on my birthday, Linda got me the latest in cutting edge television technology..a hand-held COLOR model.  It was a little tough on batteries but really came in handy for watching the Vikings or Twins games during family picnics in the park. ( I know, I’m ashamed.)
 Adiós mis compadres
I only bring this up because as of Friday June 12th, all of these wonderful toys that have kept me entertained and tranquilized for so long have become as useless as wine glasses at a lutefisk feed.  The switch-over to digital television has made them extinct.
I’ve known this day was coming, of course, and sort of mentally prepared for it. But they have been such good friends and good company for so long it’s hard to just toss them out on the electronic trash heap with the VCR machines, cassette tape recorders and antiquated computers.
Wait a minute!
Somebody just sent me this ad.
Honey, guess what I’d like for our anniversary this month!

What Month Is This Again?

Posted: Tuesday, June 9, 2009 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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Our desert daughter, Christy, arrived here last Sunday evening from Phoenix. 
Linda and I went to pick her up at the airport and sat double parked outside the baggage claim..waiting. (It’s great that Allegient offers non-stop flights in and out of Sioux Falls..but they really should figure a way to speed up the process of getting luggage from the plane to the passengers.)
Finally, we could see Christy coming through the automatic doors to the outside only to have a blast of frigid air just wipe the smile clean off her face.
Using a magazine to shield her from the chilly rain driven by 30 mile an hour winds, she ran toward the car..threw her bag in the trunk and hurriedly jumped into the back seat uttering a couple expletives about the weather even before saying hello.
Can’t say that I blame her.
Christy and her mom have been looking forward to this get together for weeks.
South Dakota in early June can be wonderful and Linda was hoping to spend a lot of time with her talking, laughing and sipping wine out on our newly power-washed decks attached to our newly painted house enjoying mid-70’s sunshiny days and soft..mild evenings with air perfumed by the nearby lilac bushes.
Instead, we get the month of March all over again which has Christy  going through her mother’s closet looking for heavy sweaters to wear rather than the cute little sun dresses she had packed for the trip."Honey, we could use a little more wine to take the chill off please."
Personally, I’d rather endure a cold June in South Dakota than the scorching heat of an Arizona summer but Christy would not.
She has now lived most of her life in warm climates..far away from the fickle mysterious weather extremes of her youth. She has adapted to the heat and grown more sensitive to any temperature below 65 degrees.
Jay Trobec says it’s supposed to be nicer by the weekend.
I sure hope so, otherwise I’m afraid the current women in my life will decide that if it’s going to be too cold to be outside..they might as well head to Flandreau in search of some hot machines to play INSIDE the casino.

Powerball Dreams

Posted: Sunday, June 7, 2009 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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Seeing that nice young man from Mission, South Dakota hit the big Powerball jackpot reminded me of a story I wrote a couple years ago after another big money prize had been claimed. Since we’re in to Summer re-runs (or REPEATS as we used to call them) I thought I’d  do a REPOST for those who might have missed it.Sometimes when I have a hard time falling asleep, I close my eyes and imagine that I had just won the Powerball Lottery Jackpot and 300 million dollars.
Oh, man…what would I do with all that money?
I know it’s not very Christian to have such fantasies, “the love of money being the root of all evil” and all that.Plus there’s the biblical warning about it being easier for “a camel to walk through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into heaven.”But I can’t help it.
We may not want to be..and most churches say we shouldn’t be..but the majority of us are, by nature, materialistic and measure success  by the amount of “stuff” we have or the size of the amount in our checkbook.
My first thought when I saw someone had won the 314 million dollar Powerball Saturday night was..I suppose they’ll take the lump sum and after taxes only wind up with about a third of it. That just doesn’t seem fair.
Like they won’t be able to squeak by on 114 million.
Anyway, back to my fantasy. 
I’ve just won 300 million dollars.
Linda and I are jumping around in our now too small house screaming for joy.
“What’s the first thing we’ll do with our riches?”
“We’ll give 10 percent to the church.”
“Which church?”
“I don’t know pick one.”
“Don’t you suppose churches might have a problem receiving money that came from  gambling?”
“Not the Catholics..didn’t they invent bingo?”
“’ve always had a problem with my religion.”
“Okay, let’s forget that for now. How about the kids?., we’ll set them up financially for life, of course.”
“Who should get how much? Some need it more than they all get the same?” “Will there be hard feelings? What about inheritance taxes they’d have to pay?”
“I don’t know, we’ll work it out..stop fretting about it.”
“I’m not fretting, I just don’t want the kids to be hurt by our attempts at generousity.”
“Maybe we better call a lawyer."" How much will that cost? Won’t they try rip us off?" " I don’t know. Who cares? We’re loaded.”
“Well, I suppose we should probably build a mansion somewhere in town and fill it with the finest furniture, a pool and plasma TV’s for every room”.
“Yeah, like you don’t watch enough TV already!” “Sorry…I guess you’re right..we should get a nice new place but I wonder if our friends will think we’re just showing off and maybe not want to be our friends anymore?”
“Who cares..we’ll find new friends.”
“Don’t be ridiculous.”
“Cars..I want lots of cars. Oh, and motorcycles. I’ve always wanted a Harley. Now I can have as many as I like.”
“Why.. you can’t drive more than one vehicle at a time.
“You just don’t get it do you?” “Heck, we can even buy a private jet airplane and fly anywhere we want.”
“Who’s going to fly it?”
“We’ll hire a pilot.”
“Wouldn’t it be kind of stupid to hire a personal pilot that we’d probably only use a couple times a year?” Besides, where would we go?”
“I dunno..Europe, I suppose.” “We could buy a fully-staffed yacht and sail to all the fancy ports along the Mediterranean.”
“Oh sure, I can just see the two of us pasty-white overweight Midwesterners roaming around by ourselves on that big boat in our swimming suits”
“Besides, I’m scared of the water, caviar makes me gag, champagne is overreated  and I sure wouldn’t feel very comfortable being waited-on hand and foot by strangers in white pants.”
“Well, for cryin’ out loud, we’ve suddenly got this fortune and there’s nothing you want to spend it on.”
“You don’t have to yell.”
“Sorry..we have never argued about anything like this before.”
“I know. Everything was fine until we got all this money.”
“How would you feel about just giving it back?”
“Doug…Doug..wake up!”
“You were having that bad dream again weren’t you?"

An Ace In The Hole

Posted: Friday, June 5, 2009 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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“Hey, and Linda want to join Joanie and me at the Alpine for a drink?” said my pal Denny Graves when he called one evening a few days ago.
We usually get together with the Graves’ at least once a week, but I could tell there was a different tone in his voice this time..almost anxious.
“Something’s up with Denny,” I said to Linda after hanging up.
“Oh, God, I hope there’s nothing wrong,” she replied.
Those concerns quickly disappeared when we entered our favorite little neighborhood food and beverage establishment to find them sitting in a booth..Denny looking like he’s about to bust with his news…good news, no doubt, from the look on his face.
I knew he had played golf earlier that day because he’d asked if I could join him. Unfortunately, I couldn’t but it was clear from the little grin on his lips I should have.
“You shot well, didn’t ya?” I said.  
Denny Graves and me. So many golf little time.Denny and I have been golfing buddies for nearly as long as we’ve known each other; 30 years or more.
We’re mediocre players at best but share a passion for the game and a similar handicap.  We are competitive but never combative which makes our outings an enjoyable experience even if we shoot a lousy score.
Whenever one plays a game without the other, the first thing we do when we get together is ask about their round insisting on a hole by hole..shot by shot account.
Our wives find these rituals puzzling but most golfers understand.
“Well,” Denny said..almost laughing now, “I did have an excellent day.” He then produced a score card from the East Nine at Elmwood on which he’d drawn a circle around the fourth hole and a big number 1 written inside.
He had done it!
After all these years and thousands of rounds, Denny had finally achieved the ultimate glory for any golfer; A HOLE IN ONE!
I let out a whoop that caused other Alpine patrons to momentarily look up from their Wisconsin beer cheese soup wondering what was the heck was wrong with me.
It was a real hole in one too..not one of those little executive-course aces some people report to the TV stations and newspapers.
Nope, he used a 7 iron for the down wind shot of 163 yards. Luckily, he had joined up with another group so there were plenty of witnesses.
The only thing that sort of dampened my enthusiasm about this golfing milestone is that I wasn’t there to see it.
Oh well, maybe on the next one.
Congratulations Buddy!

GM, The Events Center And Other Annoyances

Posted: Wednesday, June 3, 2009 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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Sorry, it’s been awhile since my last entry.
I’ve started several blogs in the last couple days concerning a few issues that I find troubling but then had to ask myself, “Do you really want to go there?”
So I’ll try to be brief.
Monday, General Motors finally filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy. Usually, that would be considered bad news (You know, “As GM goes the country.”) But we now live in a bizzaro world where up is down and black is white.  Investors see the GM bankruptcy as a good thing..sending the stock market up 250 points.
Some say GM shot itself in the foot by not building the types of vehicles  people want and the planet needs.  Perhaps that’s true but I seriously doubt folks are all that willing to give up their pick-ups and SUV’s in exchange for little underpowered roller skates that get 50 miles a gallon..but have no real room for passengers or luggage and would get squished in a confrontation with a deer.
Where’s Ralph Nader when you need him?
Instead of spending billions of dollars to bail out General Motors (which looked to cheap labor from Canada and Mexico to become the kings of outsourcing) I’d much rather this country put that kind of money toward developing a modernized efficient rail system which would reduce the number of fuel guzzling semi trucks that belch-out plumes of pollution and chew up the nation’s highways at 5 miles to the gallon.
See, now I’ve ticked off my truck driving son-in-law, a brother-in-law who’s a truck dispatcher and a golf buddy who has been an owner/driver for 30 years.
Let’s see, what other topics have I been hesitant to comment on?
Oh, yeah..the events center thingy.
I really thought  the recession had put that one way down on the priority list..but, nope, up pops the task force report this week which recommends a 150 million dollar investment in a new 15 thousand seat arena built at the same site as the antique arena which might crumble and collapse at any moment. Okay, that last comment was mine but to hear committee members talk you’d think because the arena is over 50 years old it simply falling apart and has to go.
Same with Howard Wood field. It, too, is so old it’ll take six million dollars to make right.   Really?  For what?  Shoring up crumbling concrete? More comfortable seating? Nicer toilets?  I understand that a large chunk of it would be for replacing the press box. If that’s so, I know a few people in the construction business who could probably build a pretty darn nice press box for less than a million bucks.
The truth is, most people who want the events center want Howard Wood outta there so there’ll be more room to park.  What we’re not hearing so much about is the cost to relocate. Even with free land and some infrastructure in place, the school board says it’ll still need 15 million dollars from somewhere to build a new track and football field.
Is anyone else asking; do we really need an events center to accommodate 15 thousand people at a cost of 9-thousand dollars a seat?  Are we really missing out on that many big name performers to justify that kind of investment? What performers are still out there touring who have the ability to sell 15 thousand tickets?
Well, there ya go, old anti-progress fuddy duddy, now you’ve taken up sides against Mayor Munson..who you like a well as your long-time good friend, Jim Woster, who sits on the events center task force.
I should just stop right there..but I can’t help myself.
This was the title of Todd David Epp’s blog on last Monday.
Pastor Steve Hickey Rejoices In Murder of Kansas Abortion Doctor.
Well, Todd David could probably be rehired by KSFY for writing sensationalized headlines like that.
I must admit  it made me curious enough to read on..only to discover that the pastor..who is an outspoken pro life advocate..said the shooting made him sick and sad adding that such acts of violence only do harm to their cause.
Todd David also seized the opportunity in his blog to once again bring up Leslee Unruh’s name suggesting that its people like her and her “legion of goons” who take the law into their own hands.
I don’t know Leslee very well..but I’m pretty sure she’s not packin’ heat and has no intention of gunning down any abortion doctors. Todd David just hates it that she hasn’t buckled under his endless barrage of name calling and attempts to discredit her integrity.
Just for the record, the latest Gallup poll shows that 51% of adults in this country now consider themselves to be pro life..compared to 42% who say they’re pro choice.
As recently as last year, the numbers were reversed..50% pro choice to 44% pro life.
Anyway, after hearing that Pastor Hickey was receiving personal threats because of his story and threatening legal action, Todd David did what all bullies usually do..he backed down..writing a “clarification” on his Keloland blog..then retreating  to the safety of his personal blogs where he blasts Keloland for “knuckling under to right wing zealots” when it decided to pull his stories on Hickey.
Expect a little name calling directed at me in 3…..2….1….