Friday, December 28, 2012

The End of 2012: Guns, Guns, and More Guns, Tea Party Hacks, and Asteroid AG5, No Need to Duck and Cover

As the Year of Our Lord 2012 winds down the country's rush to insanity seems at full throttle. Rationality is in fact so increasingly rare that at some point we'll have to declare it an endangered species.

A quick glance at today's newspapers and net dispatches confirms that we are our own worst enemy and the sum of our fears.

Gleeful gun shop owners are pointing with pride to empty shelves in their stores as weapons of mass murder fly out of their doors at record rates. The sales of high capacity ammunition clips have gone through the roof also as the paranoid among us gather up all the armament they can before the government attempts to clamp down on such weaponry. The current philosophy seems to be, if you can't kill a whole bunch of people at once, why own a gun at all?

Out in Phoenix, the self described "toughest sheriff in America" and part time birther conspiracy buff, Joe Arpaio claims he will have armed volunteer posse members standing guard at Maricopa County schools within a week. It is reported his volunteers must go through a background check and 100 hours of training. Hopefully the background checks will be a little more in depth than the ones that allowed James Holmes and Seung-Hui Cho to load up on assault type weapons. Holmes, of course, is the Aurora, Colorado theater murderer and Seung-Hui is the guy who ran amok at Virginia Tech. Newtown, Connecticut killer, Adam Lanza didn't have time for his background check when he tried to buy a weapon a few days before the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre. His need for speed led him to employ the weapons his mother trained him how to use at local gun ranges. As we all know, he, tragically, learned his stuff well.

In Chicago today police recorded the 500th homicide of the year. As awful as that is, it still isn't the record for the Windy City. In 2008 there were 512 murders. Meanwhile in New York City, eight year old Natasha Brunson received a teddy bear gift set through a local charity. Along with the stuffed animals was a hand gun deposited there by a person unknown. Well that is the next step isn't it? Arm the kids and let the little shits defend themselves for God's sake.

Down in Washington D.C. the nation is careening toward the fiscal cliff mainly because republican speaker of the house, John Boehner has absolutely no influence on the members of his own party. The GOP sold its soul to the Tea Party crowd and now they realize what they've bought into. The only thing remotely similar is in pre World War II Germany when there were actually politicians who thought the Nazis were needed to face down the communists, but could be controlled. Boehner's own plan "B" which would have never been accepted by the president in the first place, was considered too liberal by his chock ful 'o nuts wing and never even went to a vote. Now we are at the last hour and the brakes on this big old bus have just failed.

The fact is the Tea Party members of congress hate the government they are supposed to be helping to lead. They also loathe the president for a couple of reasons and one of them has nothing to do with his politics. In an online issue of The Slate, outgoing republican congressman Steve LaTourette of Ohio talks about the Red State Bloggers and how any attempt to compromise with the democrats causes mass hysteria and accusations that you're a RINO, or republican in name only.

Well you have to do what you have to do. So when we do go sailing over the edge and taxes go up for everybody and budget cuts rip every one's program to shreds, most notably the military's, we'll see who the public blames. All indications, considering the election results in November, lead most to believe the Tea Party republicans are going to take a real hit, as well they should.

Finally, NASA scientists have assured the populace that Asteroid AG5, a 450 foot wide chunk of rock, will miss the earth in 2040. This is no doubt disappointing news to the Apocalypse, Please crowd. They were all ready in a funk because the end of the Mayan calender didn't cause the world to go upside down. They'll just have to wait for another prophet, or comet, or zombie scare to rile up the masses and The History Channel,

As for me I could have cared less about AG5. If I make it to 2040 I will be the most shocked human being on the face of the planet. Indeed, 90 years of age seems a bit out of my reach considering the life style. So if you make it there yourself, you're on your own.

Another long weekend looms.

Keep the faith and remember the words from a largely unwatched movie: If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything.

sic vita est


Thursday, December 27, 2012

Deport Morgan and The Westboro Baptist Church Takes a Hit

The newest bugaboo of the gun totin' crowd is one Piers Stefan Pughe-Morgan, nee Piers Stefan O'Meara. Morgan is a CNN talking head and British. That is a dangerous combination on just about any subject as far as the American right wing is concerned. However, now that Mr. Morgan has expressed his opinions in regard to current American gun laws and those among us who own a Bushmaster .223 the outrage has reached epic proportions.

In fact a petition was started on the White House web site, We the People by one Kurt N. who claims to be from Austin, Texas. It states, "British citizen and CNN TV host, Piers Morgan is engaged in a hostile attack against the U.S. constitution by targeting the second amendment. We demand that Mr. Morgan be deported immediately for his efforts to undermine the bill of rights and for exploiting his position as a national network television host to stage attacks against the rights of Americans." It is unknown who Kurt N. really is and if he is an actual resident of the United States. The personal history and background details of the contributors to chat sites, message boards and the like are always a tad hazy. In fact, for all we know Kurt N. may actually be a Kenyan posing as an American citizen. I might be too, but then I digress.

What started all this was an interview, or debate of sorts between Morgan and one Larry Pratt who is the Executive Director of something called The Gun Owners of America. Pratt apparently insisted that the only real answer to gun violence in the United States is to put more guns out there and into the hands of people like, say, Kurt N. Morgan reportedly responded this way, "You're an unbelievably stupid man aren't you?"

Now I'll tell you up front I didn't see that particular exchange. I did, however, catch Brother Pratt's act on "Hardball" when he tried to sell the same line to Chris Matthews. Kurt, I'm going to be honest with you, buddy, I'm going to have to go with Piers on this one. Pratt and the Wayne LaPierres of this country are not only stupid, but criminally stupid.

Be that as it may, according to Yahoo News, Kurt N.'s petition now has 81,000 signatures, although as far as anyone knows for sure, it could be Kurt, Pratt and LaPierre working as fast as ferrets with phony user id's. Hey, it is the web; everyone can be anyone they want as many times as they want.

On another front, Reuters is reporting that five other "We the People" petitions have been filed referencing the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas. They call for the government to do things like formally declare the church to be a hate group and revoke its tax exempt status. 475,000 persons in total have signed on to one or more of them.

It is hard to argue with that sentiment. When your church website name is it pretty much says it all.

Spurring the anger was a threat made by the reverend Fred Phelps and his flock of 40 plus, mostly relatives, to picket the funerals of the murdered children in Newtown, Connecticut. They would, of course, have been celebrating their gruesome deaths, claiming God is punishing the United States for accepting homosexuals as fellow human beings.

Pastor Phelps actually has bigger problems than meaningless petitions at the moment. The happy hackers at Anonymous and UGNazi have crashed his site, infiltrated twitter accounts and posted church member personal information on the net. It couldn't have happened to a nicer bunch.

Lord, it has been a long and foul, year. Frankly, it can't end quickly enough. 

Next stop, the edge of the fiscal cliff.


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

All Hail Ares! Jesus Who?

Here in the good old U.S. of A. the body counts in various parts of the country continue to rise as we celebrate the birth of the Christian Lord and Savior.

MSN News is reporting that William Spengler, the 62 year old ex-con who laid a deadly trap for firefighters in Webster, New York, left a note saying, among other things, "I still have to get ready to see how much of the neighborhood I can burn down and do what I like doing best, killing people."

Spengler, who did 17 years in prison because he beat his grandmother to death in 1981 with a hammer, burned down seven homes and shot four firefighters, killing two of them. In addition an off duty police officer was wounded by shrapnel. An unidentified body was found in the ruins of the home he shared with his 67 year old sister, Cheryl.

Police say he was armed with a Smith&Wesson .38 revolver, a pump shotgun, and our old friend, The Bushmaster .223. How he got his hands on all this armament is a bit vague since, as a convicted felon, he was prohibited by New York law from possessing any firearm. However The New York Times, citing local authorities, has stated there have been recent reports of guns being stolen from area homes.

Well there you have it. Who needs a black market, or even some whing ding travel by night gun show? Just creep into a neighbor's house, you know the one who claims he has that AR15 in order to keep us all safe from guys like this, and steal it while the guard is asleep at his post. Well either that, or from your mother.

Meanwhile, Wayne LaPierre, current NRA shill, was quoted as saying "Israel had a whole lot of school shootings until they did one thing." That one thing, according to LaPierre, was post armed guards at schools.

Israeli officials quickly pointed out to CBS News that LaPierre is, of course, full of horse shit. In the past 40 years there have been two school shootings in Israel, both perpetrated by Palestinian terrorists. The first was in 1974. The last was in 2008, which was 14 years after the Israeli government began putting lightly armed guards at not just schools, but markets, bus stops, and various other venues.

The Israeli's also noted that they have far stricter gun laws than the U.S. and the constitution of Israel doesn't guarantee anyone the right to bear arms. In other words, don't compare us to yourselves, you desperately sick twists. We're threatened by outside armed forces while you're dealing with members of you're own demented gun centric society.

Of course that will never stop some deadly goof like LaPierre from extolling the virtues of what amounts to a para military state here in America. That is what he, the NRA leadership, and the gun manufacturers want. Their goal is nothing less than a population so frightened of itself that leaving the house unarmed is unthinkable.

As predicted, gun sales are going through the roof, as are sales of high capacity ammo clips. Every one wants a fix of manhood before the government finally attempts to slow the carnage. Every one wants to be capable of killing as many people as possible in the shortest amount of time.

There is something terribly wrong with our civilization. It seems nearly all of us want to be Jason Bourne, John McClane, and John Rambo. Unfortunately too many of us are Adam Lanza, James Holmes, and William Spengler.

We're a bunch of addicts and the pushers are relentless in their glorification of the drug. You can't be a patriot without a semi automatic weapon. You can't depend on anyone but your Glock. Yes, kneel and take this bullet, Brother, may it serve you well.

Indeed. All hail, Ares!

Jesus who?


Friday, December 21, 2012

The NRA Speaks

You have to give it to Wayne LaPierre. He knows how to fire up a crowd. The executive vice president of the National Rifle Association went before the media today and addressed the brutal massacre that occurred one week ago in Newtown, Connecticut.

According to Mr. LaPierre the monstrous attack was caused by everyone and everything except the NRA and the presence of assault style weapons in our so called culture. He blamed Hollywood movies, video games, music, the courts, gun free zones on school campuses and of course, the media.

He wants a cop in every school, saying, "The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun." Well sometimes. The Slate reports that on April 20th, 1999 at Columbine High School in Colorado an armed sheriff's deputy named Neil Gardner was on duty as a security officer. He had been stationed there for a couple of years. Before that day was over Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold had murdered twelve fellow students and one teacher with semi automatic weapons.

Mr. LaPierre went on to blame the federal government for not aggressively prosecuting those who illegally own weapons. He failed to mention that all the weapons involved in the spree shootings over the last few years had been bought legally and were duly registered to their owners.

In addition he was critical that there isn't a national data base that makes a list of mentally ill and presumably unqualified gun owners available during background checks.  Unfortunately for the babies in Newtown, the theater patrons in Aurora, Colorado, and a bunch of college kids at Virginia Tech such a data base would have been useless. Adam Lanza, James Holmes, and Seung-Hui Cho wouldn't have turned up on any of them. Despite multiple red flags, especially with Seung-Hui, they all had slipped through the cracks for one reason or another. In Fact Holmes' only offense up until he opened fire had been a traffic ticket. The only clue that he was, as they say, a little funny in the head was his visits to a school psychiatrist who took no action to have him hospitalized. Lanza's deteriorating mental health was apparently a carefully guarded secret, kept zealously by his mother. Until he blew her head off he was totally under every one's radar.

Mr. LaPierre claims the media's extensive coverage of such tragedies does nothing but encourage copycat killers. I guess if you're him you have to say something. Besides it probably would benefit the NRA if no one knew 20 six and seven year olds were gunned down ruthlessly in their classrooms. Hey, if no one talks about it, it didn't happen did it? And if it didn't happen you can't blame the NRA for encouraging what amounts to a nationwide war zone.That is where they are going with this you know. They want a society so paranoid, so frightened of itself that everyone will own a gun.

The reaction to LaPierre's remarks were fairly swift. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg called it a "shameful evasion" and described it as "devoid of soul searching." Former Republican National Committee Chairman, Michael Steel was quoted as saying, "I don't even know where to begin." He added, "I just found it very haunting and disturbing that our country is now talking about arming our teachers and principals in classrooms."

It is going to be a long battle and the NRA is going to fight every two bit regulation, every proposed act that would restrict even the most deadly of weapons and the accompanying high capacity ammunition clips. They are going to seek to intimidate law makers and they are going to wage a delaying action as the memory of this latest outrage fades from those not directly impacted by it. They are going to look us all straight in the face and say more guns are the only solution to the gun violence in this country. They will be lying. The NRA has blood on its hands and if the leadership of the organization cannot accept that reality they are delusional and, you guessed it, should be declared mentally ill and banned from owning weapons.

Meanwhile, NBC news is reporting that in central Pennsylvania three people were murdered by a gunman, who was then either killed by the cops, or committed suicide. Three state troopers were wounded.

Stay tuned. The hits just keep on coming.



Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Eve of Destruction

Here we are at last. After decades of dire warnings and preparation it is finally the eve of destruction. Well at least it is according to more than a few people who have been able to divine that bit of information from the Mayan long count calender. The calender ends tomorrow and so, these prophets say, will life on the planet earth.

Panic buying of doomsday supplies are being reported both in China and Russia. It would seem the Chinese were inspired to this panic by the 2009 disaster movie, "2012" starring John Cusack. Apparently it was a big hit over there because in the film the Chinese military builds a few high tech arks which saves the the worldly elite and a few commoners who manage to stowaway on them. In fact there are accounts of con men in Shanghai working the elderly crowd, asking them to hand over their savings in one final act of charity. Why the con men, or charities would need the cash if the world is going to end hasn't really been explained, but hey, who cares about details when you're staring into the gaping black maw of Armageddon.

In Russia a newspaper article, purportedly written by a Tibetan monk, confirming the final curtain has caused a rush on everything from candles, to flashlights, to salt. Over in the French Pyrenees the mayor of the village of Bugarach has put the mountain, Pic de Bugarach off limits to outsiders. The word on the street is that the flat topped peak is in truth an extra terrestrial airport: that the ET's who walk among us are going to flee the doomed planet from the summit taking along a lucky and no doubt chosen, few humans.

The cause of our demise is a bit fuzzy. Some believe the mysterious and undiscovered planet Nibiru, aka Planet X, will come crashing into us. Others say it will be a comet that has been stealthily lurking behind the sun. Then there are claims of vast solar flares wrecking havoc. I personally blame it on the reality TV show "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo," but that is just me.

Also unclear is what time the catastrophe will occur tomorrow. There has been a shocking lack of concern about the exact hour and time zone. I mean I want to know if it is going to happen at say one minute after midnight, or noon. I have a bottle of fine Irish whiskey ready to go, but I want some heads up before I twist off the cap and start to dance a jig. Coping with Gotterdammerung and a killer hangover all at the same time will simply be too much to handle. Indeed, I want that perfect buzz, that sharp cutting edge of both impairment, yet complete awareness when my species takes its final bow.

In the end, as it were, I beg your indulgence. If no one is going to be around to read this blog after today I feel editing and spell checking are both exercises in futility. Besides I've always been a bit lazy when it comes to such drudgery.

It was all fun though, at least most of the time anyway. And now comes the moment to say good-bye. Unless, of course, all these idiots are wrong and tomorrow is just another cold windy December day here on the southern plains. But that couldn't be could it? After all plans have been laid, supplies bought, and mine shafts occupied. Some even have their passports handy so that when they get to Saturn there won't be any hold ups at customs.

No, this is it. It has to be. Too many insist the end is well-nigh. Government denials are just a cover up. 

So, see you on the other side. Don't forget to bring your toothbrush.

Mr. Scott, one to beam up.

Over and out.


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Tyranny of Guns

Early this morning a conservative friend of mine told me that banning the sale of assault type weapons in the United States wouldn't change anything about this country. He claims no amount of legislation will halt the sort of nightmare that visited itself on Newtown, Connecticut.

So there you have it from one perspective. Take no action whatsoever. Someone just needs to tell the parents and grandparents of twenty babies their kids were murdered because they were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. Yes, you have our sympathies, but their deaths are the price we pay for personal freedom in the United States. And oh, by the way, how 'bout them Dallas Cowboys?

Then of course there are guys like Larry Pratt. He is the executive director of something called Gun Owners of America. He, along with at least one Oklahoma legislator, believes the answer to all this violence is more guns. Arm the teachers, arm the principals, arm the school custodians. Never mind that practically every educator and law enforcement official in the U.S. thinks that idea makes about as much sense as attempting to put out a fire with a bucket of gasoline. When pushed by Chris Matthews, Pratt finally started babbling about how the American public needed military style weapons in order to protect itself from the government. Other comments on the internet this morning parrot that same line. We need the guns to protect ourselves from tyranny.

Mr. Pratt and the others did not specify when the tipping point would be. You know, that moment when they and they alone decide the legally elected government of the United States of America needs to be forcibly overthrown. One would presume they will have the courtesy to let the rest of us know when the revolution begins.

The London Daily Mail's online edition today printed some chilling statistics.

While the United States has only 5% of the world's population, we own 50% of all firearms available to mankind.

190 Americans were shot this Saturday alone.

94,388 Americans will be shot, wounded, and killed by years end.

In Australia 37 people were killed by firearms last year. There were 60 gun related deaths in Spain and 39 in England and Wales.

During the same time frame 9,484 people were killed outright by firearms in the United States.

You know what tyranny is? Tyranny is having to plot an escape route from a movie theater every time you see a film, because there is no telling when some demented fuck will show up on stage with an AR15. Tyranny is sweating blood every day you send your child off to school, because schools are now the targets de jour of every whacked out loner who has his hands on a Bushmaster .223. Hell, tyranny is believing you must pack a weapon every time you leave your home.

Simply put I can't believe we're even arguing about this. I can't fathom any rational human being seeing the need own, or sell a semi automatic assault style weapon and thirty round clips of ammunition. Hopefully at some point we'll grow mature enough to realize that owning the biggest, most deadly, gun in the world doesn't equate to manhood. America, are you more free than the Australians because you can buy a weapon of mass murder? Are you more free than the British? Do you really think someday you'll need to storm the west wing of the white house? Do you actually think you'd be successful when you do?

This is madness, utter madness.

Today in Newtown funeral services will be held for James Mattioli and Jessica Rekos, both forever age six. In addition wakes will be conducted for Charlotte Bacon, Daniel Barden, and teacher, Victoria Soto.

Meanwhile earlier this morning, according to various sources, Longmont, Colorado police discovered four people shot to death in an apparent murder suicide. Police arrived at the scene after a call was made by an unidentified woman to 911. The dispatcher reported the woman screamed, "No, no, no!" then heard a gun shot. A man then came on the line and said he was going to shoot himself. A second shot was heard, followed by silence.

Kris Kristofferson once wrote this lyric, "Freedom's just another word for nothing else to lose." It has never seemed more true than today.

Welcome to America. Just keep in mind if you bunch up and don't continue moving, we can get all of you with one burst.


Monday, December 17, 2012

It Has To Stop Now, The Guns Must Go

"How do you capture the essence of a six year old in a few words?"

From the obituary of Noah Ponzer, Sandy Hook Elementary School first grader.

Well the short answer to that heartbreaking question is you can't. Neither can you possibly explain the joy and pride felt by a loving parent when it comes to their child. Just as you cannot explain the depths of their sorrow and grief as they bury their son.

Noah's funeral is today. So is Jack Pinto's. The photos of both children published on the web show smiling, happy kids with beautiful wide eyes filled with not only their futures, but the futures of their community and this nation. They were going to be our tomorrow along with eighteen others who will be laid to rest this week.

At some point Nancy Lanza will also be buried. She was a single, well off mother of two. She is reported to have enjoyed gardening among other things. One of those other things was target shooting. At times she would take her son, Adam along with her to the gun range. Friends say that she felt teaching him about weapons and gun safety would help provide him with a sense of responsibility. Shortly before he ran amok at the Newtown, Connecticut grade school he shot her in the head four times as she lay in bed.

Here in Oklahoma republican state representative, Mark McCullough responded to the tragedy in typical National Rifle Association fashion. He is quoted as saying, "We cannot continue to be shackled by politically correct, reflexive anti gun sentiment." He also said he is going to put forward legislation that will allow teachers and school administration officials to legally carry firearms at school, during classes.

Well, Mr. Representative, I hate to be crude, but you're full of shit.

The constitution was drafted in the 18th century by a bunch of white guys, many of whom owned slaves. It was written during a time when the United States had an extremely small full time army and before there was a military draft. It was at a point in history when, in the heat of battle, you pulled off one shot and after that were more than likely to have to use your rifle either as a spear, or a fucking club. The founding fathers never dreamed of Bushmaster .223's and thirty round clips. They had no idea there would be Glocks or Sig Sauers.

So the bottom line here is I don't give a rat's ass about what the bill of rights say. Hell, no one has been paying attention to the constitution since John Adams signed off on the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798. All that NRA bullshit, all the chest thumping about the constitution doesn't mean squat when your baby has been shot multiple times in his or her classroom by some demented punk.

If Barak H. Obama is the man I hope he is, he is going to go after every semi automatic assault style weapon out there. He is going to stop their sale and the sale of ammunition clips that let a sick twist like Adam Lanza twitch his finger thirty times in a row without reloading. Mr. McCullough, if that lack of weaponry means you and Ted Nugent won't be able to get erections you'll both just have to invest in some Viagra.

This murderous nonsense has to be stopped right now. The first step is to get this type of firepower, these instruments of mass murder, off the shelves of gun stores and the tables at gun shows immediately. We've proven time and time again that we, as a civilization, aren't capable of controlling ourselves when it comes to handling them. Adam Lanza didn't use a knife, he didn't use a box cutter. He used a gun. So did Jimmy Holmes, so did that crazed loser at Virginia Tech. So did the monsters in Tucson and Wisconsin.

As many have all ready said, we're getting too good at these memorials. We say all the beautiful words about the victims and how the community must and will pull together after the barbarity. What we don't do is something meaningful about preventing it from happening again. If this isn't the moment, if this isn't the time to do just that, we're lost as a country. We're murdering our kids for God's sake.

Noah Ponzer was a twin. His sister, Arielle was in another classroom and survived. Chances are if the police hadn't responded as quickly as they did the Ponzer family would be burying both children today. When the cops found Adam Lanza he had plenty of bullets left, enough they say to have murdered every child in the school.

Yes, now is the time to lock away the deadly toys. All you gun enthusiasts simply need to find something else to do with your lives. The great American play period must end. If it doesn't we'll have failed every one of those kids and teachers in Newtown, Connecticut. And honestly, that would not only be unconscionable, but in every sense of the word, immoral.


Saturday, December 15, 2012

Newtown, Connecticut: Day Two and What We Know

We now know that much of what we were told yesterday by multiple media sources was wrong. Foremost is the Newtown, Connecticut murderer wasn't Ryan Lanza, but his brother Adam. We also know Adam Lanza's first victim was his mother and she was killed at her home and not at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. He shot her in the face, making identification difficult and the killing extremely personal, but then what would you expect from a loving son. It has been disclosed Mrs. Lanza was not a full time employee of the school district, but she may have substituted for teachers at times, or been a volunteer, but even that is speculation and it could well be she had no connection whatsoever with the school.

We do know that Adam Lanza used weapons which were owned by his mother and some of her friends described her as an avid gun person who enjoyed going to shooting ranges. On some of her trips to pop off a few rounds she would take both her sons with her. What is now tragically obvious is that Adam had a real talent for the sport. MSNBC reports a relative said Mrs. Lanza, as a single mother,  wanted guns in the home for self protection. So we also know how well how that worked out for her.

The shooter has been described by various sources as brilliant, or at least very bright, but troubled and may have suffered from a mild form of autism. He was home schooled for awhile, however when he did attend a public institution of education classmates described him as a loner, who didn't want to attract attention to himself. Does any of this sound familiar?

Back in 1995 when Timmy McVeigh blew up the Murrah Federal Building here in Oklahoma City he knew there was a day care center on the ground floor and children would be killed. However, after he lit the fuse he ran away and didn't have to see the carnage he wrought. Adam Lanza walked into a couple of class rooms and looked into the wide eyes of babies and then shot them with cold blooded precision and efficiency. He was, indeed, a different breed of cat.

There are reports, rumors really, that Lanza had an altercation at the school with some of the staff the day before the massacre. This wasn't a spur of the moment, fit of white hot anger, type of thing though. Apparently he tried to buy a rifle at a sporting goods store on Tuesday, but because of Connecticut's gun purchase waiting period he left without completing the transaction. Obviously he was already committed to carrying out horrifying mayhem.

The dead have been identified and the media is awaiting their names. The citizens of Newtown, Connecticut, even those who aren't parents have, in all probability, moved from the initial rush of shock and disbelief, into that grim and oppressive feeling of utter violation and depression. It is only going to get worse as the Christmas season in their community is filled not with joy and good cheer, but a terrible parade of funerals.

There are two other things we know right now. One is that somewhere on this world wide web, a tea party asshole is claiming the entire tragedy was staged by the Obama administration so he could crack down on gun ownership. I promise you it is out there this very moment. What I can also promise you is that another Adam Lanza is buying guns and ammo as I type. He is investing in black clothing and deciding where he can inflict the highest number of casualties and cause the greatest amount of shock and pain. Merchants won't question his motives for wanting an AR15, or a 100 round drum magazine. Lets face it, a sale is a sale. Besides, we're not a bunch of Communists for God's sake. America is, after all, a free country.

Can't you tell?


Friday, December 14, 2012

The Familiar Nightmare: We're Nuts

How can this keep happening? Sometimes I look at this country and find it utterly incomprehensible.

It is an all too familiar nightmare. A man, dressed in black military style clothing, carrying at least two hand guns, walked into the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. He proved to be terrifyingly efficient. By the time he was done, according to current reports, 26 people were dead, 20 of them children. One of the six adults was found at what police are calling a "secondary location." Apparently only one person escaped with wounds. It was not a spur of the moment thing. It had all the trappings of a well planned terrorist assault.

According to unfolding reports on all the major networks the shooter was named Adam Lanza. He was in his early twenties. He's dead now, raising the body count to 27. One has to assume he killed himself, although we can always hope a cop whacked his sick ass. His mother taught a kindergarten class at the school. She and a number of her students are among the dead. One of his brothers might have been the victim in the "secondary location," but no one knows for sure. As always confusion and conflicting information are swirling about like a strong wind whipping trash through an alley.

The president of the United States of America, the father of two girls, just spoke to the nation and delivered a brief, but emotional statement. He had to pause several times and more than once wiped at tears in the corners of his eyes.

He offered no specifics about what can be done to address this sort of monstrous bullshit, other than saying "we need to come together and do something meaningful about it despite politics."

At this point I would normally rage about how easy it is for an evil fuck like this to get his hands on deadly weapons. But you know it is too easy all ready. If you don't you're a complete idiot. And the guns aren't going to go away. In fact tomorrow gun sales will soar just as they did right after Jimmy Holmes opened fire in an Aurora, Colorado theater a few months ago.

Twenty families, many of whom probably have their Christmas trees up and presents for their kids wrapped and hidden away, will now have to bury their children. There is nothing that can be written, or said that will ease their pain. There is nothing that will be uncovered, or reported that will sufficiently explain this ferocious insanity to them. There is no why, there is only what happened.

The fact is we're nuts, dangerously nuts, and we all have guns. To paraphrase Jim Morrison, "our brains are squirmin' like a toad." We'll kill large numbers of our fellow human beings in malls, schools, movie theaters, and on the street. We'll kill babies.

We are, in the end, the sum of all our fears. Merry Christmas, America.


updated reports have been incorporated into the original draft of this post.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Fiscal Cliff, Robert Bacharach Still in Limbo, and Kamikaze Republicans

USA Today's David Jackson is reporting that an ABC/Washington Post poll shows that 49% of Americans approve of President Barak Obama's handling of the "fiscal cliff" negotiations. Only 25% of those asked approve of the way republican John Boehner is conducting himself during the talks. The same poll found 65% believe the election victory gave the president a mandate to raise taxes on everyone making $250,000 or more.  

So what is the problem? Why is there a delay in reaching a settlement?

Well it is becoming painfully obvious the republican leadership doesn't give a rat's ass about polls, or future elections at this point. Their major concern right now is holding out as long as they can for all the yahoos who contributed hundreds of millions of  dollars to Mitt Romney and a bunch of crackpot senate candidates; then watched in shocked horror as all that money bought them nothing more than a psychotic Karl Rove rant. Yes, one has to think that the republican establishment, while wishing they could excommunicate every tea party asshole out there, knows they have to deliver something to the money people. After all, those contributors are bottom line dudes and they aren't used to getting screwed. You can never tell what jobs might, or might not be available in the private sector once you leave congress. And who knows? Charlie and Dave Koch may have sent brother Boehner a Christmas gift that included a dead fish wrapped in a bullet proof vest.  

Republican senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell was quoted as saying, "Look the election is over. The president may enjoy these political rallies, but it is time to get serious." In McConnell's mind that probably means the president needs to do whatever he and Boehner want him to do. Unfortunately Senator, you're lost somewhere south of the twilight zone. This president obviously doesn't want it to happen, but if the Great American Bus goes over the cliff in January because republicans won't cave on the tax issue guess who the public is going to blame? The first hint is his name isn't Barak Obama.

At this point in time the difference between republicans and democrats has never been more stark. The GOP wants to lower the deficit by cutting social security cost of living increases, raising the retirement age, and slashing medicare and medicaid benefits to the poor, aged, and infirm. The democrats want to raise taxes on people making more than a quarter million dollars a year.

Meanwhile the senate finally confirmed Tulsan John E. Dowdell to serve as a federal district judge. However republicans are still holding up the confirmation of Robert E. Bacharach to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. No one is clear on why this travesty remains ongoing. Democratic senator, Patrick Leahy of Vermont was quoted as saying, "With the American people's re-election of President Obama, there is no good purpose to be served by this further delay." He was referring not only to the Honorable Judge Bacharach, but 19 other judicial nominees who have been languishing in never never land for months now. Bacharach has the endorsement of both Oklahoma republican senators, although in an act of outright cowardice, neither would buck their party when democrats tried to push his nomination out of committee before the election. Apparently one of three things is holding up the Bacharach confirmation. One, republican senators are unaware that the election was last month. Two, GOP law makers want to prove to everyone they still have cocks. Three, Bacharach is a Jew.

Take your pick. The end result is the same.

There is a certain feel to all this. It seems the republicans are, at the moment, in some sort of bizarre kamikaze mode. They apparently feel there is no need to look ahead to future elections, that Gotterdammerung has arrived and all there is left to do is go down spectacularly in flames. Maybe they think everyone will be too stupid to remember all this in two and then four years, or perhaps they secretly believe in that Mayan calender thing.

Whatever the case, right now they do look to have all the attributes of a doomsday cult trudging off to the Kool-Aid dispenser.

If that is the case, good riddance. Their act has gotten exceedingly old and it is time to get things done around here.

 As it says on the door of a brewery somewhere, laboremus pro patria.



Monday, December 10, 2012

Right to Work in Michigan: The Scam is On

Well those rascally republicans in Michigan are up to no good. An act is being fast tracked through the legislature that would make the state the latest home to "right to work."

Right to work is a euphemism for what amounts to an institutional effort to eliminate organized labor.

Here is how things work. In most places, including Michigan at the moment, if workers at a factory, or company gather enough signatures they can petition the National Labor Relations Board, or NLRB asking to have a union represent them in collective bargaining agreements. Usually there is a union behind this movement and there are a number of reasons the employees sign the petition cards. It normally has to do with wages, working conditions and such. Once a certain percentage of the employees sign onto the idea, the NLRB calls for an election to be held to certify that the union, whichever one it is, will be authorized to represent the workers. As with any American election there is a campaign where the union and its supporters actively lobby for their side. Conversely, the corporation and those who don't want a union do the same. At the end of the campaign there is a vote among all eligible employees. Management is not allowed to participate. If the majority of employees vote to certify the union the business becomes a union shop and everyone, even those who didn't vote for it, become members. This is widely known as majority rule.

In a right to work state, the employees who didn't vote for the union don't have to join, don't have to pay union dues, but do get the exact same benefits and wages as those who do join. In some corners this is known as welfare, although those accepting the wages and benefits negotiated by an entity they refuse to join, or support would probably differ with that opinion.

This is all supposed to promote personal choice, although we as a nation don't accept that when it comes to other elections. If we as a city, or state decide to hike the sales tax through a referendum, everyone has to pay it. We don't let those who opposed it off the hook when they buy their new gun.

The truth is this whole right to work thing is a scam meant to destroy the power and influence of organized labor. It reduces the monies unions have to contribute to political candidates and keeps the employees fractured and in disagreement with each other. It also gives the company immense leverage when bargaining with the union and provides them with a base of employees it knows won't go out on strike if the union members vote to call one.

And that is the key here. There is not a union out there that orders its members to strike without a majority of  them first voting to do so. The portrait of some cigar smoking union boss with a five o:clock shadow ordering unwilling members to walk the picket line is simply Chamber of Commerce propaganda.

In Oklahoma the people voted for right to work a number of years ago. The state Chamber of Commerce spent untold millions on the campaign. Then governor, republican Frank Keating jubilantly told a rally, after the votes were counted, that, "We've sent a message that Oklahoma is now open for business." Not long after that GM shut down its massive plant and Bridgestone-Dayton Tires moved their operation to Mexico, proving that right to work doesn't mean diddly squat when it comes to promoting middle class blue collar jobs, or corporate loyalty to a region.

Of course up in Michigan the GOP controlled legislature is trying to do things differently. The authors of the bill have utilized a procedural rule that prevents the law from being voted on by the public. They maybe assholes, but they aren't stupid. They know that a statewide vote on the issue would probably sink it in a Detroit minute. Besides, the whole concept of right to work is to ignore majority rule in the first place.

Indeed, divide and conquer. Not even Adolph and the boys won a majority before they were able to outlaw free elections. Sometimes you have to take decision making out of the hands of the people and give it to those who know better. Just ask any number of despots world wide.

The corporate minds of this world, in conjunction with their hired hands over at the GOP, really need organized labor and its money to go away. Eliminating a major source of funding for democratic congressional and presidential candidates, not to mention increasing the old profit margin is a dream they've had ever since workers started to unionize. It is the age old concept that for any company to be successful they must be able to relentlessly screw their employees over.

Big business is trying desperately to convince workers that things like a 40 hour work week, overtime pay, insurance benefits, sick leave and paid vacations are written in stone. That they don't need organized labor to enjoy them.

Right. Don't believe it for a minute. Once the unions have gone the way of the Dodo these Scrooges are going to run wild. Just ask your average Wal-Mart employee how much fun it is to work there. There is your template of how it will be everywhere and in every industry.

There is your future with "right to work."


Friday, December 7, 2012

Friday Dispatches: A Day at the Ritz, Obama on a Roll, Boehner in Denial, Dead Nurses and Children, and Jimmy Massey in Stripes

My father can tell you exactly where he was on this date 71 years ago. He was a seventeen year old kid sitting in the Ritz Theater in Muskogee, Oklahoma when the manager stopped the film, walked on stage, and told the audience that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor. At that moment, for ill and good, this country changed forever. By the time the war was over he was in the navy, serving in the Pacific. One of his best friends, the guy I'm named after, was dead on some Philippine island. And the United States of America had become the preeminent world power. Mainly because we had a major hand in defeating some truly evil fucks, Americans became utterly convinced that not only were we always right and good, but a ravaged world needed us to be the planet's police force. It is an attitude that permeates our national character to this day.

It still astounds and angers us when others on this blue ball don't think we're always right and good. It aggravates us to no end when people feel we are exploiting them and the natural resources of their country. Finally, it genuinely pisses us off when other governments don't do what we want them to. What we did as a nation nearly three quarters of century ago was indeed right and good. It was, perhaps, our greatest moment and achievement. However in triumph we morphed into something that at times can be arrogant, overbearing, and downright deadly. We don't like to admit it. In fact, some will read this and accuse me of practically committing treason. It is the truth though. And deep down we all know it.

Be that as it may, on other fronts, Barak H. Obama's approval rating, according to a AP/GfK poll, has reached its highest level since he put out the hit on Osama bin Laden. It sits, at the moment, at 57% and a majority of Americans believe he will improve the economy over the next four years. Of course almost of all that support comes from registered democrats. The poll finds that nine out of every ten democrats approve of the job he is doing while only two in ten republicans think the same way.

Other encouraging news is that the unemployment rate has hit a four year low and 146,000 new jobs were created in November. Someone should send that news to one John Boehner. Mr. Boehner, head of the republicans in the house of representatives went before the press to explain no progress has been made on the budget. He is demanding the president submit a new plan that is, "going to take a step toward us." The big sticking point is the whole tax thing again. Boehner, who is apparently unaware of recent election results, appears to be still kowtowing to the glittering two percent, the extraordinarily wealthy among us, who will have to absorb a tax increase under the Obama plan. Congressman, does the name William Barret Travis mean anything to you? You might want to take a look at how things turned out for him.

A couple of days ago two Australian DJ's decided to call the King Edward VII hospital in London, pretend to be the Queen and Prince Charles and inquire into the health status of the Duchess of Cambridge. She was there due to acute morning sickness. Yes, it was just a prank and all in good fun. Everyone had a great laugh when the call was played on Australian radio. Earlier today, according to Reuters, the nurse who initially fielded the call, Jacintha Saldanha was found dead in her home. The cause is still not official, but London's Daily Mail has reported that police feel it was a suicide.

In Iowa deer hunters discovered two bodies believed to be Lyric Cook-Morrissey and Elizabeth Collins. The two girls were last seen on July 13th of this year as they rode their bicycles near a park. No word on the cause of death is available yet. NBC NEWS reports authorities are "leaning" toward reclassifying the case as a homicide.

Here in Oklahoma City, yesterdays "The Oklahoman" ran a story by Tim Willert regarding the status of Mr. Jimmy Lee Massey Jr. Massey was ordered to stand trial on charges of drug trafficking. Specifically he is accused of being in the methamphetamine business. His co-defendant is Francisco Gomez. This sort of thing isn't unusual in this town and state. In fact at times it seems like more Oklahomans cook meth than do pot roasts. However, Massey along with Luis Ruiz, is also charged with the murder of Carina Saunders. Her dismembered body was found in a duffel bag not quite 14 months ago. Since then rumors have swirled and public disclosure of evidence has been scant. No trial date has been set in the case.

So there we have it. Pearl Harbor Day, Obama on a roll, Boehner in denial, a dead nurse in London, two dead children in Iowa and Jimmy Massey in the dock, but not for murder, at least not yet.

All in all just another gray December afternoon. Hopefully, as the song says, everyone will, "be good, for goodness sake."

sic vita est


Thursday, December 6, 2012

Trouble in Egypt: Riots, Molotov Cocktails, Tanks, and Group Gropes in the Streets

As we knew it would things have taken a decidedly deadly turn in Egypt. President Mohammed Morsi's power grab immediately led to demonstrations protesting his autocratic decrees. Those demonstrators opposing Morsi are now being met in the streets by crowds of fundamentalists and rank and file members of the Muslim Brotherhood. NBC and Reuters are reporting that after three hundred or so anti Morsi protesters staged a sit in near the presidential palace a large number of the Brotherhood gathered, ran them off, and burned down their tents. The immediate result of that action was a full scale riot featuring rocks and Molotov cocktails.

The grim figures are seven dead and three hundred and fifty injured. The Egyptian army, who will probably have the final say in all this, deployed at least four tanks and several armored personnel carriers around the palace in order to bring peace to the scene.

General Mohamed Zaki was quoted by the state controlled radio as saying, "The armed forces and at the forefront of them the Republican Guard will not be used as a tool to oppress the demonstrators." Well that certainly is a double edged sword. The General is apparently letting Morsi know that the army isn't going bail his ass out, but at the same time he is telling the opposition they are, in effect, on their own. It would seem the military, the time honored arbitrator of all things political in Egypt, is biding its time to see which way the winds finally blow.

Last week pro Morsi mobs blocked members of the Egyptian judiciary from their offices, harassing and intimidating judges in an effort to make sure their man's edicts went unchallenged. In addition there has been an uptick in the number of instances where women have been sexually harassed and set upon in public. No one really knows if this is due to a concerted Brotherhood effort to keep women off the streets or not. Obviously fundamentalist aren't big fans of women in the first place and the Brotherhood knows all too well that they played a large part in the demonstrations that brought about the downfall of Hosni Mubarak. It has been speculated that some of the attacks seem a bit too orchestrated to come under the heading of just a bunch of wild and crazy guys looking for some fun and a quick, crude, grope, but no one has any real proof. All of this sordid behavior was highlighted by a disturbing video making the rounds on the web that showed a crowd of lechers descending upon a female French journalist as she was making a TV report.

The violence has spread nationwide as Brotherhood offices in Suez and Ismailia have been torched. Also a Brotherhood leader in Alexandria was severely beaten. It is unclear as to how long and far the military will ultimately let the violence go. Obviously Morsi thinks they have his back or he would have never started this putsch in the first place. However, one has to think he never dreamed that there would be such wide spread and determined opposition. Perhaps, as others have done recently, he made the mistake of relying too heavily on his in house pollsters

The only thing truly certain at the moment is that Mohammed Morsi isn't backing off and he is setting himself and the Brotherhood up to run Egypt for a long, long time. Anyone who disagrees with that notion will ultimately be dealt with one way or the other. No doubt a list of names is being compiled at this very moment and if yours is on it you can count on a late night knock on the door sometime in the near future. We've seen this sort of thing too many times and in too many places. Democracy provides a wonderful means of pulling off a huge scam to get yourself elected to power, but once there it needs to be chucked out the window as quickly as possible. I mean if you can't run a country for life, why take the time and trouble to run it at all?

Just ask Hugo, among others.


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

John Boehner is a Funny Guy and Has The Tea Party Purge Begun?

John Boehner is a funny guy. He and other members of his party put together a budget proposal and sent it to the president a little bit ago. This was in response to the proposal made by the president last week. In it, Mr. Boehner and his party advocated sweeping cuts to medicare and medicaid and a reduction in cost of living increases for social security recipients. He pointed out that the plan would close loop holes and shut down deductions and that everything would be peachy keen and no one would ever have to pay more in taxes. That would include the GOP keepers in the top two percent income bracket. Of course he didn't say which loopholes and deductions would be closed, but I'm sure he considers himself more of a big picture sort of person.

The reason this should provoke a grim smile from many people is that it is the exact plan that was pushed by Mitt Romney when he was campaigning for the presidency. You know, the one a majority of voters rejected along with Mitt on November 6th. Yes, it would seem Mr. Boehner and his boys have it in their heads that somehow they run the show and the public, which resoundingly rejected their fiscal ideology simply doesn't count. Well you have to keep your owners happy one way or the other don't you.

The president reacted this way when asked about raising tax rates on the top two percent of earners, "we're not going to be able to get a deal without it." In other words there is no compromise available to Boehner and the republicans that will allow the richest among us to not pay more. Back in the 60's we called this a "non negotiable demand."

Of course many will and have pointed out that last weeks opening offer by the president and this weeks counter offer by Boehner and Co. are merely bargaining ploys. That everyone in their right mind knows that the answer is somewhere in the middle and now that both parties have played to their bases they can begin moving in that direction.

Of course not everyone on the GOP side is actually in their right mind. That is why today NBC NEWS is reporting that the republican leadership purged four of its members from committee seats. David Schweikert of Arizona and Walter Jones of North Carolina were removed from the Financial Services Committee. Tim Huelskamp of Kansas and Austin Amash of Michigan were booted off the House Budget Committee. Jones, Huelskamp and Amash all voted against the republican budget bill saying it didn't go far enough when it came to reducing the deficit.

NBC quoted an unnamed republican staffer as saying, "These guys are clearly not team players. This isn't about ideology; this is about how you treat the people on your team." Well maybe it isn't about ideology, but five will get you ten that right before those clowns were shown the door someone said to them something along the lines of, "you stupid sonsofbitches got Obama re-elected and we're not kowtowing to you any more."

Indeed, if a deal is to be struck, if a great compromise must be made, you can't have ideologues from your own party gumming up the works in critical committees. In a strange fashion we might have just seen the first step taken in marginalizing the tea party hacks. The republican leadership is obviously tired of their bull shit and isn't going to put up with it any more. The message here is that principles are one thing, but governing is another beast entirely and you'd better figure out the difference in a hurry.

So right now the term de jour is "fiscal cliff." It would seem the nation is careening toward it at breakneck speed. Everyone wants to avoid it, because if a compromise isn't reached all parties, coast to coast, rich and poor, sick and retired will get fucked. No one, either on the hill or in the white house, wants to see that happen, because if it does Americans are going to blame the entire District of Columbia for it. Barak Obama says he is willing to make cuts in entitlements to ease the pain of people like Sheldon Adelson and John Schnatter. However it has become perfectly clear he isn't going to let them off the hook. They are going to pay more--no ifs, ands, or buts. John Boehner and his pals better figure that out pretty quickly, other wise they need to learn how to fly.

Yes, live together ladies and gentlemen or in two years many of you will looking for jobs in the ever shrinking private sector. This president has nothing to lose. He can spend every penny of his political capital right now. After all, he can't take it with him. None of us ever can.

Over and out.


Monday, December 3, 2012

Susan Rice and the Maddow Theory

It is a convoluted world we live in. People do things for reasons that are sometimes apparent and sometimes not so apparent.

I personally tend to go with straight forward motives when it comes to behavior both political and criminal. Bill Clinton was on the stump this fall on behalf of Barak Obama because in four years his wife will be running for president. Jimmy Holmes opened fire in that Colorado theater because he is crazier than bats on peyote. And finally, a gaggle of republican senators are after Ambassador Susan Rice's head simply because they want to prove that even after losing the national elections they still have penises.

Ms. Rice, who is the U.S.'s chief representative to the U.N. has been rumored to be in line for the Secretary of State job when Hillary Clinton goes off looking for a campaign staff. A gang of GOP senators led by John McCain have gone ballistic, even though the president hasn't nominated anyone for the post at this time. In fits of absolute apoplexy they have blamed Ms. Rice for the Benghazi disaster, then the supposed cover up, and even a couple of embassy bombings back before al Qaeda was a house hold name and she had a job at State that meant something. The way they've been acting you'd think the president had floated the name, Hugo Chavez out there for the job. Their opposition has rivaled that of the late, unlamented, Joseph McCarthy both in tone and scope.

So what is the deal here? Why do these people go absolutely off their nut when her name is mentioned, even after having met with her and the interim CIA chief privately? Is it really the aforementioned testosterone factor? Is it that the senators are a tad bitter that a few weeks ago black Americans and women told them and their candidates where to shove it? Can it be they truly don't like women of color, no matter what their qualifications?

Well last week along came Rachel Maddow. Maddow is the host of an MSNBC show and a known screaming liberal, not to mention an up front homosexual. She has a theory. It is a shade Byzantine and perhaps a bit too subtle for the likes of republicans, but it begins like this. On November 6th one of the senate seats the GOP lost was held by Scott Brown in Massachusetts. It was, in fact, the seat formerly held by Ted Kennedy before he went off to that great touch football game in the sky. Brown was a moderate of sorts, but then when compared to some of the other loons the republicans ran practically everyone, including Josef Goebbels looked moderate.

Be that as it may, democrat Elizabeth Warren won 54% to 46% and Mr. Brown was prematurely retired. However, one of the other names being bandied about for Secretary of State is John Kerry. Kerry, of course, holds the other Massachusetts senate seat. In the Maddow plot line things go this way: the GOP puts the kibosh on the Rice nomination and they let Kerry slide in. That opens up a senate seat that will be decided by a special election. Scott Brown is still very much available to run and one would suppose eager to do so. If he were to win the republicans would pick up another seat in the senate and make life even that much tougher for one, Barak H. Obama.

Maddow had NBC NEWS chief foreign correspondent, Andrea Mitchell on and asked her about it. The wizened Mitchell has been around for years and seen quite nearly everything when it comes to Washington shenanigans. She actually seemed as befuddled as just about everyone else when it came to the reaction of the McCain posse to Rice's possible nomination. She even thought there was a chance that one or more of the senators believed Rice had committed a personal offense against them at some point. It was, she postulated, the only reasonable answer for all the vitriol. After listening to Maddow she shrugged and admitted her idea might have some merit. Her exact words were, "It is as good a reason as any." That is hardly a ringing endorsement, but it emphasizes that even veteran observers of hard ball politics are scratching their heads over all this.

I've always known the republicans are a vicious lot, never to be trusted. However, if the Maddow theory is right it proves there are some higher thought processes going on in the reptilian cores of their brains that I would have never given them credit for.

Unfortunately for all of us, conspiracy theories are by nature never proven, or disproven. Even if I had Brother Oswald on video admitting he assassinated Jack Kennedy there would be those who claim I had doctored it. That I was part of the vast plot. If Susan Rice's nomination is killed, or if she is never nominated in the first place and Kerry is, we'll never know for sure if it was all by design, or just happenstance.

In the end what really matters is that the republicans need to finally come to grips with the fact their power base is dwindling. They need to realize that savaging an accomplished ambassador who happens to be an African American woman isn't exactly the way to reach out to the people who shunned them last month. Yes, gentlemen, those demographics that kicked your ass aren't going to magically turn around. You might want to think about that as you ferociously libel Susan Rice, no matter what your true motives are.

After all, sometimes it isn't the end game itself. Sometimes it is how you got there that will come back and bite you in the ass.

sic vita est


Friday, November 30, 2012

Amir Jennings is Still Missing

A little over a year ago, then eighteen month old Amir Jennings went missing in South Carolina. While there was a great deal of local coverage, the story of his disappearance never hit the national media hot button like Caylee Anthony's did. There are a number of theories as to why that was and still is. Most of them have to do with race and gender. Apparently the national media decided the public just isn't as interested in missing cute young black boys as they are in missing cute young white girls.

This blog posted about his disappearance and his mother's subsequent trial back in September. Since then the breaking news is that there is no breaking news. In fact the entire gruesome mystery has dropped completely out of sight, much like the Oklahoma City death of Alina Fitzpatrick has. Only family and friends remain concerned, heart sick, and desperately pressing for answers.

The last time anyone saw Amir Jennings it was the 23rd of November, 2011. A time line furnished by WBTV in Charlotte, N.C. reports that in early December of that year family members began to confront Amir's mother, Zinah about his location and safety. Dear old mom took it on the lam and on December 18th her mother, Amir's grandmother, reported both of them missing to police. On Christmas Eve of 2011 Zinah Jennings was involved in a car wreck and picked up by the cops. At first she denied she even had a child, then she said he was with friends in Georgia. Just to cover all her bases she then told authorities he was actually with friends in North Carolina. Finally, in a spasm of intense maternal concern, she told police that her son had disappeared and it was up to them to find him. The only thing the police did find was a blanket in the trunk of her car with blood on it. It eventually turned out to belong to Amir.

Cadaver dogs were called in, but an extensive search of an eight mile radius around the Jennings home turned up nothing, despite one relative recalling seeing Zinah with a shovel in the back yard after her child had dropped off the face of the planet. A $10,000 reward for information yielded none. By the end of January of this year Zinah Jennings was charged with "unlawful conduct toward a child." Her lawyer claimed she was mentally ill and "lacked sufficient insight, or capacity to make responsible decisions." Another relative claimed she displayed symptoms of schizophrenia. Whatever the case, when the trial was over she got ten years of hard time. To this day she refuses to say where her son is. Her mother has speculated that she might have given him away, or sold him. Tragically, those are the most optimistic scenarios available.

A quick glance at Google shows about nineteen pages of posts and stories about Amir before they peter out and morph into other things. Almost all of the stories come from the Columbia, South Carolina media. There are a few other articles from other nearby outlets, but in truth the big boys, CNN, FOX, MSNBC, CBS, ABC, and NBC have very little, if anything, to say about the disappearance or his mother's trial. It would seem little Amir is just another lost soul in a world too chock full of lost souls. The outrage and scrutiny that followed Caylee Anthony's case simply did not exist.

The suspicion here is that it didn't have to be that way. That if some producer, or reporter at any of the national news organizations would have pushed hard for extensive coverage of Amir's disappearance the public would have been all over it.

You hear about FOX being the red network and MSNBC being the blue network and such and such. That is all fine. When it comes to politics any more I just assume I'm getting a biased review of what is happening. What is truly bothersome is that the national media decides what we will know and how much we will know about it. Amir Jennings' disappearance had nothing to do with politics, it is just that some wankers in three or four editorial board rooms decided he wasn't important enough to warrant our attention.

If you want to find the true threat to an informed public, you don't have to rage about slanted politics, or government censorship. All you have to do is think of Amir Jennings. If a dangerously few people in this country don't believe we need to know about something, no matter what it is, then we won't. The lives and deaths of human beings will fall through the cracks That is the power of the press in the early 21st century. It isn't a comforting thought, but few of us will dwell on it. The rest of us won't because we haven't been told to do so by some news anchor. Stories which focus on minority kids obviously don't sell advertising time. The brutal truth is if some cretin who has a mind focused on nothing more than the bottom line decides Amir Jennings' story can't sell ads, then screw the kid--let's talk about something else.

Such is the attitude and soul of what we can call the new journalism.

sic vita est


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Deja Vu for Egyptians Everywhere

That didn't take long did it? Mohammed Morsi, the first democratically elected leader of Egypt in its roughly 5,200 year history took office in June of this year. This month he has begun acting suspiciously like his predecessor, the deposed and imprisoned Hosni Mubarak. Morsi, who has been a member of the Muslim Brotherhood since 1977, moved quickly after his election to solidify his position with the Egyptian army by replacing a number of high ranking officers with people he could trust. By last week he must have decided he was in solid enough with them that he could begin the hallowed process of becoming "president for life." He issued edicts which in effect told the nation's judicial system that they couldn't rescind, or challenge anything he said or did until a new constitution was approved by a parliament his party controls. Think Dick Nixon's most intense wet dream coming true.

This really isn't something new in Egypt. In fact it is a tradition of sorts dating back to the Pharaohs. Before Morsi there was Mubarak who is currently, if he's still alive, doing life in prison for his part in the killing of protesters prior to his ouster. Before Mubarak there was Sadat. He was assassinated after an eleven year reign by fundamentalist army officers. Prior to Sadat there was Gamal Abdel Nasser, a former Colonel in the army who, with Muhammad Naguib, led the overthrow of King Farouk I in 1952. Naguib actually served as Egypt's first president for a while, before Nasser grabbed power and chucked him into indefinite house arrest. Farouk himself was more concerned with high end European shopping sprees and dining on raw oysters than he was with running the place, so no one was sorry to see him go off into exile. Then there were the British. They actually controlled the country from 1879 through the second word war, although they let Farouk and others of the Alawiyya Dynasty act like they were the head of state. It was sort of like the Romans did with Herod back in the day.

The problem Morsi has is that until Mubarak's last stand none of the other guys who were in charge had to worry about the people of Egypt. No, their main concern was the support of the Egyptian military. As long as the guys in the tanks were in your pocket it didn't matter what the average Joe in the market thought of you. That appears to have changed and changed dramatically. Hundreds of thousands took to the streets when they'd finally had their fill of Mubarak. He responded brutally and was eventually run out on a rail. Yesterday a report by the AP says close to 200,000 people filled Tahrir Square in Cairo and they were not happy campers. The focus of their anger was their new president and his sudden drift toward another autocracy.

The AP story, written by Maggie Michael and Sarah El Deeb, says the protests weren't confined to just Cairo. That in fact some Morsi opponents mounted attacks on several offices of the Muslim Brotherhood across the country, setting fire to at least one. The report also states that at least 100 people were injured in what amounted to a massive gang fight between protesters and Brotherhood members in the city of Mahalla el-Kobra.

So it would seem Morsi is at a crossroads. He can back off his Tsar like proclamations and lose face with his base. He can strike some sort of compromise with the judiciary that will mollify the masses, although what that could be remains unseen. Or, he can go all Mubarak by calling out the troops and turning them loose on the crowds.

Morsi has a Ph.D. in engineering from the University of Southern California and was a professor before entering the frenzied world of Egyptian politics. He also spent seven months in the slammer because Mubarak didn't like his attitude and what he was saying. Presumably he understands that a show of deadly force would only push Egypt to the brink of complete anarchy. Of course you never know what wildly elegant dreams are swirling in his head right now. Obviously he believes he has all the answers and everyone else in the country can't do anything but foul them up.

It certainly appears he badly underestimated the Egyptian populace's desire for real democracy. The people in the streets don't want just a name change at the top, they want a fundamental change in the way the system works. They thought they had it when they dumped Mubarak and elected Morsi. Now he is starting to look like every other guy they've had to deal with. The difference, at this point anyway, is that it seems they aren't going to put up with that sort of political buggery any longer.

Perhaps a call to Hugo Chavez over in Venezuela is in order. He probably has some helpful tips on how to pull this sort of thing off and I'm sure he'd be open to helping out a rookie. After all solidarity must be maintained among those in charge.

Democracy is a pesky thing, especially when you're the only one who knows what is right and good. God only knows what sort of cracked ideas the Hoi Polloi might have when it comes to The Grand Plan.

The AP says more demonstrations are in the works for Friday. Look for this to get ugly in the extreme. Right now the only real question is the size of the body count.


Monday, November 26, 2012

The Great Texas Secession

It appears the hyper-conservatives in Texas have decided that since they can't run the United States of America the way they want to they'll just leave. Well, not leave as in move to Belize, or Ecuador, but secede from the U.S. I'm sure that sounds like a great idea to someone, but hasn't it been tried before?

It certainly has. In fact one hundred and fifty one years ago when Texas and other parts of the south couldn't get their way they all jumped ship. It ignited what is known around here as the Civil War. By the time it was over, depending on which figures you go with, between 620,000 and 750,000 Americans were dead. That was back when the population of the nation was 31 million. If the same proportion of people were to die of combat and disease right now there would be 6.2 million fewer of us.

Of course the neo secessionists insist their withdrawal from the states united would be a peaceful one. A big bunch of them even signed a petition saying so. It has been forwarded to the white house for further review with 116,000 signatures. Boy that sounds like a lot doesn't it? A quick glance at the 2011 U.S. census bureau's estimate of the Texas population reveals that the state has 25,674,681 residents. Now I'm not a big math whiz, but simple subtraction tells me that leaves 25,558,681 people who haven't signed up for the trip. In addition some guy in Austin has started his own movement. His petition calls for Austin to secede from Texas if Texas secedes from the Union. He has 8,000 signatures.

I'm not sure how serious these clowns are. It is obvious though that what we have here is a gaggle of frustrated loons who still can't believe the republican party didn't win the presidency a few weeks ago. Barak Obama is the rusty nail they can't get out of their foot. He is the itch they can't scratch.

The conservative site admits that for every dollar Texans send to the IRS the state gets ninety-four cents of it back. Then again I suppose they wouldn't need it if they never sent it in the first place. Of course they might miss the $4 billion in federal research and development funds they get every year. I'm thinking they would probably miss the four naval air stations, the seven air force and twelve army bases and all the ensuing money they bring in. I didn't even try to look up how much federal money is spent on highways, lakes, dams and other infra structure. Then there is that social security money that would suddenly go missing as well as medicare, the border patrol, the postal service, NASA, and God knows what else. Galveston, I wouldn't count on a whole lot of help after the next big hurricane blows through.

Is this nonsense really going anywhere? Obviously it isn't. It is just a bunch of redneck hooligans venting and trying to draw attention to themselves. I suppose we should simply be grateful they're not burning crosses on the town green, although that could be coming. You never really know what will happen when the trailer park trash gets cooked on meth and runs amok.

Actually if you think about it long enough there is this terrible urge to agree with them. Let them secede and fend for themselves. At least it will reduce the number of republicans in the house and will raise the national IQ by a couple of dozen points.

In fact I should start a petition of my own, a nationwide one. It will say something along the lines of, "We the People of the United States of America want Texas kicked out of the Union. They're nothing but a bunch of arrogant assholes anyway and we'd be better off without them." Indeed. It is worth pondering.

E Pluribus without out 'em.

All in favor say aye.


Friday, November 23, 2012

Thanksgiving Day

So yesterday, here in the United States, it was Thanksgiving Day. The origins of the holiday are a bit murky, but it is generally agreed that it began with small band of European immigrants who were barely scratching out an existence on the rocky shores of Massachusetts in the 17th century. These, "colonists" threw a harvest feast and it was attended by a number of Native Americans who provided much, if not most, of the food. This was during a brief period of time during which Native Americans actually thought the Europeans were a small and stupid lot and were to be pitied rather than feared and hated. It didn't take long for them to figure out the reality of the situation.

During the American Civil War Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president, declared the fourth Thursday of November to be a national day of thanks giving. Many of the Federal forces exercised a cease fire on the day and it was recognized by at least some of the confederate armies squared off against them. Of course by then the rebels were, thanks to massive casualties, dramatically shrinking in number so any day that would stop the bleeding, even for a few hours, probably seemed like a good idea to their commanders.

As with all things the day evolved and by the 20th and 21st centuries it became the day that kicked off the frenzied Christmas shopping season. A great feast would be enjoyed with the family, football would be watched, then all hell would break loose in department stores nation wide for the next month.

It was certainly that sort of day around here yesterday for us. Before it was over three kids, one fiance, and two grandparents were in attendance. We gorged ourselves on roasted fowl, corn, a casserole of seasoned bread crumbs, celery, onion, herbs, and chicken broth known either as dressing, or stuffing; brown and serve rolls, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, apple pie and whipped cream. A moderate amount of wine and beer was consumed. After it was done everyone went home with full bellies and slept soundly. Well at least I did.

Of course things aren't nearly as cushy as our crowded apartment was yesterday for vast numbers of people on this blue ball we call earth. The World Bank estimates in Asia, Africa, and parts of Latin America 500 million people live in "absolute poverty." That 15 million children die every year of hunger. That one third of the world is under fed and and another third is starving.

UNICEF estimates that 1.3 billion human beings live on less than $1 U.S. per day and that 3 billion exist on less than $2 per day. They also believe around 24,000 people die of hunger, or hunger related diseases every day. That is pretty simple math. I usually take about two hours to write and edit a post. That means while I'm typing and correcting what I've written, 2,000 will have perished from the face of the planet because they didn't have enough to eat.

Well, as Judge Smails said in the movie "Caddy Shack," "The world needs ditch diggers too." Besides those are places far, far away from the north side of Oklahoma City and people none of us know.

Unfortunately that isn't entirely true. The Oklahoma Food Bank web site says this state ranks 7th in the number of people per capita who are hungry. That 13% of Oklahoma's population is "food insecure." It also says that of the elderly clients it serves, 32% report they have to choose between medicines, or medical care and food. The Families Feed Families web site says 54% of children enrolled in Oklahoma public schools qualify for reduced cost or free lunches. Other sources say the figure is 59%. In the Oklahoma City school district alone 83.5% of the students qualify for free or reduced cost lunches. It is estimated that 13% of the elderly here are at, or below the poverty rate.

Yes, for some of us, as Dickens said, "it is the best of times," but for billions of others of our species "it is the worst of times."

I have several friends, close ones, who criticize me for being too negative, for always pointing out what is wrong rather than what is right with this nation and world. They are probably correct. I mean I could have spent all this time talking about what a perfect Norman Rockwell scene it was at our's and tens of thousands of other places yesterday. However, given the numbers, it is really too easy to remind some of us that everything isn't so peachy either locally, or abroad. I'd like for it to be hard. I want it to be hard, but the despair is too wide spread and deep to utterly ignore it. It won't just go away if we don't think about it. It won't stop from happening unless we do something about it.

Do I have that answer? Nope. I'm not even close to having one.

It is a small planet though. The devil isn't that far away from any of our doorsteps. That is something all of us might keep in mind. Most of us have worked hard to achieve what we have and enjoy, but thousands of millions never even got a chance to succeed. They were, in essence, shot down on take off. It is tough to concentrate on learning anything when your stomach is shrinking to the size of a prune and the flies swarm all over your baby brother.

In the end John Donne said it the best. He wrote, "No man is an Island of itself; every man is a piece of the Continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away to sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friends or of thine own were; any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankind; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee."

Think about it while you enjoy your leftover turkey and all the fixin's. If for just a second, think about it.


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Infidelity, Lawyers, PR Firms, Political Posturing, a Dismembered Body and Another Lunatic

It didn't take long. Three of the four principals in the scandal that ended David Petraeus' tenure as the head of the CIA have hired pros to watch their backs.

NBC News has posted a story by Reuters that says Petraeus has hired D.C. lawyer Robert Barnett of the firm, Williams and Connolly LLP. Barnett is a high profile guy who is reported to have negotiated book deals for both Barak Obama and Sarah Palin. It was not mentioned whether he has any divorce trial experience which, in all probability, will come in handy for the retired general in the very near future.

Paula Broadwell, the general's biographer who had the affair with him, has taken on the Glover Park Group to represent her. It is a PR firm, and who doesn't need a little good PR, especially when you end up taking down a war hero and the head of the CIA. Glover Park Group lists, among others, former Clinton press secretary Dee Dee Myers as a consultant. Broadwell is reported to have recently returned home to Charlotte, NC for the first time since all this hit the fan. She is married to Scott Broadwell, who wikipedia says is a Interventional Radiologist. They have two sons together. One has to think that the dinner table conversation on Thursday will be a bit strained, not to mention awkward. Lord only knows how the question, "So, did you enjoy the stuffing?" will be delivered and interpreted.

Jill Kelley, the woman who Broadwell is accused of harassing through emails and who enjoyed a little risque cyber chat with General John Allen, is reported to have hired D.C. trial lawyer Abbe Lowell. Reuters notes that Lowell has represented such luminaries and moral stalwarts as former senator John Edwards and former GOP lobbyist, Jack Abramoff. Wikipedia says he also served as minority house counsel to the democrats during the impeachment of Billy Jeff Clinton. All that makes him one heavy hitter. The Reuters story also says that Kelley has hired Judy Smith who they report is a "well known crisis PR manager." Given reports of the Kelley family's finances and debts it is easy to assume both parties wanted cash up front for their services.

I suppose we should have expected all this. Everybody hires a lawyer now days. Everyone wants some spin meister to clean up the detritus left behind in the wake of lust and stupidity. After all, image and litigation are everything and can turn any situation completely around with a quick, soulful, look at the camera. Watch for book deals and extensive TV appearances for all involved. The media is going to want a piece of this action and they have deep pockets. After all, if you're going to behave like some run amok Roman noble you might as well have someone figure out a way for you to make a buck at it. This is America you know, we aren't all communists for God's sake.

Meanwhile here in Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin has announced that the state will not expand the medicare health program, thereby leaving an estimated 150,000 state citizens uninsured. In a story in the Oklahoma City paper, "The Oklahoman" Megan Rolland reports that Fallin claims the health care program is "unaffordable" and in any event will be "stymied by strict federal guidelines." Those strict guidelines probably have to do with things like contraception, preventive care and pre existing conditions. What Fallin is doing is playing to her political base, which here is an especially vitriolic branch of the Tea Party. She knows the Feds will now do what she refuses, but she can look at her somewhat wildeyed constituents and say she didn't play along with Obamacare. The story quotes state house minority leader, Scott Inman as saying, "Instead of allowing Oklahomans to establish and create an Oklahoma health care exchange, she (Fallin) and republicans have simply extended the invitation to the Obama administration to come to our state and do it for us."

Well you have to do what you have to do, especially when you're up for re election in two years and many, if not most, of the people you need to vote for you think Barak Obama is a Muslim socialist who wants to cede the sovereignty of the United States to the U.N.

Finally, in Oklahoma City, in what is becoming an annual autumn ritual, police discovered the dismembered body of a woman. Pieces of Janet Kay Hume, age 77 were found in different parts of her home last Wednesday. Her son is accused of shooting her and storing at least some of her body in a freezer. In a story in today's "The Oklahoman" written by Andrew Knittle and Nolan Clay, a relative of Gerald David Hume is quoted as saying he is "a known schizophrenic who hears voices and requires treatment." According to the report police removed from the home a serrated kitchen knife, a reciprocating saw, a Whirlpool freezer, a pair of blood stained safety glasses, a trash bag with blood stained and cut up women's clothing and, inevitably, rifles, handguns and hundreds of rounds of ammunition.

So there you have it. Infidelity, lawyers, PR firms, political posturing, a dismembered body, and another deadly lunatic. I'll say this, if we're anything we are predictable.

sic vita est


Friday, November 16, 2012

Exuses, Excuses, and More Excuses

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day:
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Dylan Thomas

Yes, from every nook and cranny of the republican party the anger has blazed since election night. Mighty Mitt struck out and blame is being placed everywhere and on everyone.

The former candidate explained it this way to his money people. Obama's big policy gifts won him the election, "the old playbook of using targeted initiatives to specific interest groups, especially the African-American community, the Hispanic community, and young people." In other words the president bought the election. It had nothing at all to do with the Romney campaign's cynical and racist suggestion that Obama had purposely removed work for welfare requirements so black people could sit on their ass and wait for their checks. Or his party's own record of claiming that just about every Latino in the country is illegal and should be forcibly removed from the premises. Or the suggestion that if young people want to go to college they should borrow the money from their parents. It certainly couldn't have been that ad about Chrysler moving jobs to China which was a blatant lie. And it could not have had anything to do with Mr. Romney changing positions on issues with about the same frequency as the rest of us change clothes. Indeed, the 47% turned out to be more than 50%. It wasn't my fault.

Paul Ryan explained the disaster this way. "I think the surprise was some of the turnout, especially in urban areas which gave President Obama the big margin to win the race." Well when you do everything in your power to make it impossible for some people to vote, it tends to piss them off and make them want to vote even more than they would have under normal circumstances. Americans are weird that way. Tell them they can't vote and they'll show up in record numbers. And when they do, they'll vote against the yahoos who tried to keep them away from the polls.

GOP guru Karl Rove has been babbling insanely ever since FOX declared Ohio would go to Obama. He is talking faster than an auctioneer on speed and as near as anyone can tell has blamed everyone and everything, including a democratic plot to suppress the vote. Well you have to say something when you've blown hundreds of millions of other peoples dollars and don't have squat to show for it. My $150 donation to the Obama campaign not only helped put my man back in the oval office, but scored me two free bumper stickers. Tell me who got more bang for their bucks, me, or the Koch brothers.

Then there are the Tea Party people who blame the GOP establishment for forcing Romney down their throats. They moan that if only a true conservative had run the election would have been theirs. Yessiree Bob everything will be fine if we just move further to the right. That will certainly sway the 39% or so of the white people who voted for Obama. One can only pray that in four years that is exactly what the republicans do.

And speaking of Tea Party guys, there is Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association. He went on the radio and had this to say about why Obama won the Hispanic vote so convincingly. "Recently most immigrants come from the third world where people don't possess the Protestant work ethic and expect government to take care of them." Obviously the man hasn't checked out the ethnic make up of most contract construction crews, or even taken a peek into the kitchens of just about every restaurant in the United States. He also failed to explain why, if third world governments are so busily taking care of "them," all these folks decided to move here. I mean if it is all that cushy in say Honduras, why make the trip at all?

Of course it gets weirder, because the Tea Party is inherently weird in an ugly fashion. There is a web site that claims Obama was re-elected because of massive voter fraud.The authors contend Romney actually won by a landslide, but the tabulation software was rigged thanks to a company owned by George Soros. The site is circulating petitions for a recount. That would be a recount everywhere.

In October Georgia GOP state senators sat in on a four hour briefing which explained how Obama was using the "Delphi" mind control technique to get Americans to accept his plan for a UN run communist dictatorship. Obviously to get to that point he had to win re-election. Who knows what sort of subliminal hocus pocus was used to program untold millions of Obama voters. Luckily white males, or at least most white males were apparently immune to the nefarious goings on because they refused to vote for him. Finally there is a guy named Alex Jones. He suggests that Obama used the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Project, or HAARP to create and then guide hurricane Sandy into the east coast thereby ensuring his re-election. HAARP actually exists. It is based in Alaska and scientists there do experiments in the ionosphere testing technologies that apply to missile detection and radio transmissions. Hurricane creation and guidance is not on the agenda, at least not the public one.

So there we have it. Obama bought the election and despite every shred of evidence to the contrary, Rove is convinced republican votes are being supressed. The tea party whacks are howling their republican candidate wasn't conservative enough and claiming Hispanics are genetic socialists. Then, when it comes to the real fringe, Mitt actually won, but George Soros caused us to miscount the ballots, and finally, mind control came into play.

Yes, everything has been explained perfectly. The idea that a majority of voters simply didn't buy into the bullshit ideas of republicans had nothing to do with it. The reality is you can't win with just white folks anymore. And the notion that you can spend a year insulting every person of color, including Latinos, then not see them flock in droves to the other side is, pardon the irony, completely alien.

Actually I prefer Rush Limbaugh's analysis of the situation. He went on the air and predicted the republican establishment would blame him and him alone for the debacle. That's my Rush. The man and his ego never rests.

Thank God for weekends and football. Sometimes this simply becomes a bit much.

Warp speed, Mr. Sulu, warp speed.