FPR’s own Caleb Stegall has been busy making news. Turns out he’s the attorney representing four of the Americans who were being held in Haiti on kidnapping charges. Here is an AP news story.  Here is Caleb on CNN reading a statement from his clients. Here he is on the Today Show. And here is a piece accusing him of being a right-wing wacko who writes for an electronic journal called Front Porch Republic.

Local Culture
Local Culture
Local Culture
Local Culture


  1. He may be a wacko, but he’s our wacko!
    Congrats Caleb, we’re all very proud…did you see Katie Couric…what’s she like?

  2. Cheeks, all this intemperate longing for newscasters with gams, its shameful buster. They are real people, just like you and me…just with enough cold hard cash to not be real people. Then again, I’m sorry if I’ve gone off and insulted the human race again by hinting that you are , ehh…ahem, “real people”. Voegelin aint discussed much down at the lunch counter, no matter how much it might be needed. I don’t think CBS News has ever heard of it either, which at least partially accounts for their reduced gravity and generally flummoxed interpretations of the days events.

    But, back to Farmer Stegall Esquire. Just a little unsolicited P.R. advice here for my fellow malcontent. You needs to chaw a cheroot a tad and let er go out before going into these “smoke-free” corporate environments and then use it as a prop…gritting it in yer teeth a bit and grinning, once in a while , leaning back and putting yer weight on yer heels whilst flaring the suspenders , thence rolling back onto yer toes, grabbing yer cheroot in yer fingers and holding it up to your collar bone while grinnin like a polecat and letting loose a series of pronouncements that will scare their lily livered, popularly confused and thoroughly flattened heads to a fair-thee-well.

    You sir, are a Kansas Attorney with certain crazy notions of community and so this packs a lot of fear in the hearts of our post-modern suburbanites and their City Handlers…use it to the hilt. Theatre man, Theater. Nothing so alarms the opposition as a country lawyer with suspenders, a grasp of yarnin and a well-chewed Cheroot. We shall reserve the handing around of the wicker-clad flask of corn liquor before the news producers cut the camera for the second lesson. The slight front gap in the teeth cosseting a fat cigar, Jaysus H. but you were made for this part! Scare em but good by jeez.

  3. From a Front Porch perspective, the best thing is that the biggest legal case in the world (until the next one comes along) was won from a little office in Perry, Kansas, population: 900.

    New York City, eat your heart out!

    What was that Brooks was saying about meritocracy? It’s only true if you believe it’s true.

  4. DD SAbin, formerly DW, dude CAleb is right, you are one smart cookie. If he adheres to your sagacious and loquacious wisdom he’s in the White House…hooray!
    Yes, chew on that old ceegar, pull it out of your mouth all wet and damp, and bounce it off Katie chest about three times for emphasis…wow, now that’d be TV worth watchin’ no matter what Peter’s says!
    Caleb or DD (formerly DW), I’d really appreciate it if one of youns would blog on the idea of sending aide to Haiti and Africa for the last fifty-seventy years or so and those poor people haven’t YET figured out how to feed, clothe, and house their families on their own volition!!!!!

  5. Mr Cheeks,

    The problem with AID in places like Liberia, or other similar countries in Africa is that it arrives in a place with minimal institutional capacity. Specifically, many of these states have trouble expanding very far beyond the actual capital. The money is given to ‘national’ bank accounts that are often little more than personal checking accounts of individuals we (in all seriousness) term leaders.

    For a quick, but by no means exceptional example, check out the credit card statements of Mr Blaise: http://www.globalwitness.org/media_library_detail.php/556/en/congo_is_presidents_son_paying_for_designer_shoppi

    We spent billions of dollars in Zaire knowing that 90% of state funds went directly to Mobutu.

    Who is the real culprit?

    AID has, for lack of a better term, generated a culture of dependence that is hard to overcome. For example, Mali had a ‘regular’ locust swarm devastate the country a few years back. The gov claimed they needed, let us agree for simplicity, $100 to tackle this problem. 60% of the way through, they spent the $100 and required another $200. In both instances, the international community paid.

    The problem in Africa is not lack of resources, but inadequate resource management. Most states do not function as states – no matter how much we want to believe. This would take far longer than the space alloted, but simply to say we deal with formal Africa when we should be looking at the veranda – informal Africa. There exists little connection between leaders and ‘governed,’ urban and rural. In some cases, one can argue that the concept of citizen has yet to take hold. Elites have no incentive to change the system – read William Reno’s Warlord Politics.

    I could go on. Only to say that too often the finger is pointed at the recipients of AID without looking at the institutional dysfunction that ensures it fails before it even leaves our pockets.

    Last example, that I love to share. Do you remember the whole “We Are the World” let us feed Ethiopia? The guys starving were mainly rebels. The government was that loving Soviet-styled Derg regime led by Mengistu. They charged us up to $10K per plane in landing fees to deliver free food. I’ll let you guess whether they let the rebels eat. Some made it to ensure the cameras would catch it and more would come. More ‘free’ food more money for the regime and food for its army.

    Again, who is the real culprit?

    Sorry, as I’ve mentioned before, Africa is my love and I too easily get carried away.

    Peace and Grace,

  6. JP, yes, yes that’s just terrific…!
    I really wanted someone to say it…an explanation I mean and yours was excellent and seems plausible enough.

    So, here we have oppressed human beings…no job, no liberty, no nothing! Human beings who don’t have a clue what to do, or the chahoones to act if they knew what to do?
    What, the civilized world continues to support them because they can’t figure out they’re better off trying to overthrow their ruler/boss/chief/el supreme than squat there, hungry and naked and watch their children’s stomachs swell up.
    Who do I blame? The West of course. We are such total asses, thinking we’re doing ‘good’ when in fact we’re supporting, encouraging, and condoning what in effect is slavery.

    We are the hypocrites!

    What these people have to learn is that there are costs associated with freedom. If they don’t want to make the sacrifices necessary for liberty no one can do it for them. As far as I’m concerned they can remain in servitude, if that’s the life they choose.

    JP, thanks again, always appreciate your straightforward comments.

  7. Mr Cheeks,

    I need to add one thing: most would rather not live in servitude but resist/overthrow by what means?

    Robert Bates recently wrote a great book called “When Things Fall Apart.” He has an interesting thought: In Africa, you have to disappear and become invisible in hopes of being left alone or you have to keep accumulating more guns/power and out-gun the competition.

    Many of these people cannot afford the cost as the daily struggle is survival.

    We are to blame for supporting the system. I’m not sure I am willing to go as far as to blame those who do their best to avoid having violence inflicted on themselves.

    Besides our own short-sightedness, I ma not sure I am even willing to blame African elites as they lead us by our noses and take advantage of a system that benefits their self-interest.

    Yes, individuals have to stand up for their communities. In many cases, simply trying to avoid the state and living a daily life is a victory. It is my experience that large parts of Africa do not associate themselves with central authority. Yes, it can help but it rarely amounts to much – hence the farce that is the current push for decentralization. We decentralize authority but the center keeps human and material resources – good luck.

    I’m not sure where I am going. Only to say that the long term answer in Africa must be local. It must be about building local communities that function, are connected to their population and can effectively engage with the population. Some states, perhaps Ghana, are further along – although it still does not really govern the north. Other states have nowhere to begin – Somalia.

    Realpolitiks being what it is will never permit non-interference. The Elites will continue to play off one ‘power’ against another. No one wins – too many lose.

    The West will never allow China unfettered access to resources it requires – uranium in Niger, coltan in Congo, Bauxite in Guinea, etc. Only to say that Africa will never be allowed to go its own path, sort out its own conflicts…

    I mean, why does Africa need armies? Who is invading? Armies are vanity projects that have little basis in reality…I digress.

    I ramble and lead nowhere.

    Peace and Grace,

  8. JP,

    Thanks again. You’re an African expert, I’m not. But, freedom is a human endeavor, perhaps best achieved in a local milieu as you say. Perhaps in a tribal sense. But if we are to be human, we must strive for freedom, as best we understand the notion.
    It seems to me, perhaps incorrectly, that many of the third world peoples have given up. Surrendered themselves to a demonic force and I find that frightening, because of the potential, and sad, because they are my human brothers.
    I not only enjoy your comments but respect them. I look forward to your “digressions.”


  9. I gather these gentleman require decent and proper representation. Your colleague, Caleb Stegall, appears to be quite able. I am more familiar with his past involvements in e-journal and webzines, and always found his contributions appealing and insightful. He spoke candidly and well about the importance of the local and getting back to his roots in Kansas.

    Yet, it appears to me that these gentlemen had other obligations closer to home — children, wives, family. Why were these folks in Haiti?

    Honestly, aren’t there places in the states that could you such Christian brotherhood and charity. I grant you that local plight isn’t as trendy as the awful Haitian situation, but it’s as real.

    Whenever I see this type of engagement it makes Tom Fleming’s perspective, outlined in The Morality of Everyday Life, all the more pressing…our obligation takes the form of concentric circles…the closer in proximity and consanguinity the more obligation I have towards you…St. Augustine was spot on when he noted that one cannot be responsible for the world…”since one cannot help everyone one has to be concerned with those who by reason of place, time, or circumstances, are by chance more tightly bound to you.”

    Fleming points out, quite correctly, that “before the 20th century, the concept of universal obligation that comprehended strangers as well as friends and neighbors was embraced by only a handful of visionaries and a good part of the whole duty of man consisted of minding one’s own business.”

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