Friday, June 29, 2012

A Hearing in Florida, The Germans Unite Jews and Muslims, the British Think We're Cruel and Unusual, and Jerry's Pension

As the month melts away and morphs into July today's news dispatches have gone to the decidedly weird side of the aisle.

Down in Florida George Zimmerman appeared in court asking to be released once more on $150,000 bond. That would be the same amount that sprang him the last time he was let out. Of course that was before it was discovered he was sitting on $100,000 plus in donations collected through a web site. And before it turned out his wife fudged a little bit when she testified she didn't know how much money had been brought in. The judge has taken the appeal under advisement and will rule on it later. MSNBC reports attorneys for both sides ended up in a shouting match before the hearing was over. One can only wonder what unholy and bizarre carnival will unfold once we get to the actual trial. Dueling audio and medical "experts," plus a long litany of witnesses who didn't actually see anything can be counted on.

Over in Germany a court issued a verdict banning the circumcision of babies for religious reasons. The ruling was based on the fact that the boys hadn't consented to the procedure. It did say that when the children were of an age to be able to choose their religion they could make that decision themselves and be circumcised then. Leave it to the Germans to finally get Muslims and Jews on the same page about something. Leaders of both religions have expressed extreme outrage over the decision.

In the U.K. the British High Court has stopped the extradition hearing of Shawn Sullivan. Sullivan is accused of molesting two young girls in Minnesota and raping a third back in the nineties. The reasoning behind the ruling is that Mr. Sullivan could be at risk of being put in Minnesota's civil commitment program. It is a program that allows the state to indefinitely detain a person found to be sexually dangerous. The British judges ruled that Sullivan would suffer a "flagrant denial of his rights" if Minnesota chucked him away under those statutes. Sullivan fled the U.S. right before being charged with the crimes. He initially went to Ireland where he holds a dual citizenship. He snuck into England because the Irish convicted him of assaulting two twelve year old girls after his arrival.

And back here in the states once more it turns out our pal Jerry, the tickle monster, Sandusky is still eligible for his state pension. The Pennsylvania Employees' Retirement System is on the hook to Sandusky for right at $59,000 a year. After his death his wife Dottie would be due half that amount. The System's rules do provide that a former state employee can forfeit his or her pension if he or she "commits certain crimes that breach the member's duty of faithful and honest public service." Sex crimes didn't make the list of  "certain" offenses. A member of Sandusky's defense team who visited his client in jail says that Sandusky is looking forward to his appeal, is "undefeated" and firmly believes he did nothing wrong.

Well of course not. As the song goes "all the cops are sinners and all the sinners saints," or something like that.

The weekend has arrived just in time. Much more of this and I'll start thinking the Mayans might be right, or at least should be.  


Thursday, June 28, 2012

Affordable Heath Care and Along Came a Spider

Those howls you hear right now are coming from every conservative hack in the nation. The Supreme Court, with the unexpected help of Chief Justice John Roberts, has just upheld the validity of the Affordable Care Act of 2010.

Republicans everywhere are gnawing madly at their tails as if they are squirrels who just had them run over by a large truck. It was not the decision they wanted, or expected from a court that has largely been defined by political, rather than judicial philosophies.

In writing for the majority Roberts said that the Affordable Care Act was a "valid exercise of congress's power to tax."

Roberts, along with justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor and Kagen formed the majority. Justices Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas and Alito dissented.

As I type liberals everywhere are dancing in the street and talking about what a great victory it is for the president of the United States. And, I suppose it might be right now. However if you look at things a little closer you might catch a glimpse of a spider hiding in the corner.

Roberts also wrote these word about the decision. (The court and justices) "possess neither the expertise nor the prerogative to make policy judgements. Those decisions are entrusted to our Nation's elected leaders, who can be thrown out of office if the people disagree with them. It is not our job to protect the people from the consequences of their political choices."

Is it just me, or was the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court delivering an obtuse pep talk to not only Mitt Romney, but those who support him? He certainly just handed Romney a galvanizing issue that he can glom onto. It is one far more concrete than vague promises of speeding up an economic recovery that is already underway without his help. It certainly lets him off the foreign policy hook where he has all the experience  and nuance of a Sarah Palin.

Strengthening that dark little suspicion is the part of the decision that allows states to opt out of the program without fear of losing any federal medicaid funding. In other words the law is on the books in Washington, but in places like Oklahoma it won't mean squat to the average person. The legislature is sure to refuse to participate and now they can do it free of penalty, thanks to John Roberts.

I suppose we should take the victories that are handed to us and revel in them for a while. We can also have a great laugh at the expense of all those fools on twitter. MSNBC is reporting the social media was flooded with hyper angry tweets, many of which stated the authors were going to move to Canada now that the court has approved public funded medical care. Good luck with that relocation folks. Just for your information, Canada has had public funded medical care for years now. In fact, it exists just about every place else you go on this blue ball. We're the only industrialized nation left arguing about the issue.

So it is a win for Obama and in a way it is a win for Romney. He is all ready on the tube screeching about, "Obamacare". Mitt's only problem will be the questions about him supporting almost exactly the same type of program up in Massachusetts. Those will be uncomfortable moments for him, but I'm sure he will muddle through after being thoroughly coached in the arts of denial and deception.

Look for millions to pour into pro Romney super pacs from every mover and shaker in the medical and pharmaceutical industry. Mr. Obama and the Supreme Court have hit a raw nerve. After all, it can't be a free country unless there are people dying of curable diseases all over the place. Providing medical care for some indigent is so unamerican, not to mention it isn't nearly as glamorous, or fun as building bombs and dropping them on someone.

We all have our priorities I suppose. Mitt Romney just found his.

November can't get here quick enough.



Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Summer Doldrums and Poll Numbers

The summer doldrums have arrived. The heat has creeped into the triple digits here on the southern plains and the air can best be described as molten.

Hunkering down in a darkened apartment with the air conditioner going full bore while watching episodes of "Ghost Hunters" play endlessly on cable seems perfectly sensible. Indeed, the less movement the better. Sip gently and slowly at the gin and tonic and pray to God that the can of Glade air freshner covers up the stench of that Oliva Series G robusto before the wife gets home.

Everything seems to have settled into slow motion. The basketball playoffs ended badly. Despite promises to the contrary no charges have been filed in the murder of Carina Saunders. Alina Fitzpatrick's death appears to be as much of a mystery now as it did last November. There is no word as to when the trial, or trials will begin in the Kelsey Bransby killing. Jerry Sandusky is being serenaded nightly in a Pennsylvania lockup by fellow inmates. In Norway, Anders Breivik is still as crazy as a bed bug on acid.

The only real action at this moment comes from the pollsters who are parsing percentages on the presidential race. In their unending desire to predict how the election will come out they continue to spew numbers left and right.

According to the latest NBC/Wall Street Journal poll Barak Obama's slim lead over Mitt Romney has remained fairly steady. Right now it stands at 47% to 44%.

The break down of the numbers really show no surprises, well almost none. Obama leads among African Americans 92%  to 1%. Among women his lead is 52% to 39% and in the Latino community it is 66% to 26%. He also leads in the contest among independents 40% to 36%.

Romney has a commanding lead among the Tea Party mob 94% to 1%. Also, and you knew this was coming, white voters prefer him to Obama 52% to 38%. He also leads in three other categories that all start with the word "white", but why beat a dead horse. By now we all get it. The same people who say George Zimmerman is innocent aren't going to vote for the president.

Where it gets dicey for the Mittster is in some of the swing states. The poll shows that in Florida, Colorado, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin, Romney trails Obama 50% to 42%.

In those same states 18% of voters think Romney's business experience is a positive, but 33% consider it a negative. MSNBC's report speculates this is because Romney has "yet to define himself" and credits Obama's attack ads. It could also be that in many of those locales voters understand that they are just the sort of people Bain Capital loved to layoff when they swallowed up various enterprises, gutted them, then walked away with millions in profits.

Finally there is this double edged sword. 58% of all Romney supporters say they are voting against Obama rather than for Romney. In other words, we don't necessarily think the guy is qualified, we just hate Obama so much we're willing to vote for anyone other than him. Although it is probably a stat that doesn't do much for Mitt's ego, he'll take it every day of the week. Any port in a storm and all that.

The election is still a long way off. Romney hasn't even hinted at his choice of a running mate, although it is obvious casting calls have been made. Many are reading for the part, but only one can be chosen.

Ultimately we are a fast food society that is subject to swooning over the newest version of pizza and the latest concoction at the local Subway sandwich shop. What happens right now, short of some sort of a complete mental breakdown on either candidate's part, will mean very little come November.

No, it won't be decided until after the conventions and the leaves begin to turn in October.

For now there is nothing to do, but lazily gaze at the poll numbers and wonder what sort of monster electric bill will be in the mail next month.

Keep the blinds closed and stay out of the heat. Save your strength for the hysteria that is out there on the horizon like a blooming, billowing, thunder head.

For now anyway, reflection is the watch word. Inaction should be the calling.


Monday, June 25, 2012

The Republican Party Goes Schizo and Pass the Cerveza

The republicans have a problem when it comes to immigration in general and they really have a problem when it comes to illegal immigration.

Huge numbers of them, that would be the blue collar, hourly wage earners, who have caved into their xenophobic instincts, are driven into raving fits when it comes to the vast Hispanic population. They don't even need to see an illegal immigrant to be pushed over the edge. Resentment and anger bubble to the surface every time they stop at an ATM machine and have to choose between a screen in Spanish, or English. They rant about jobs being stolen and a whole culture being swallowed up by foreigners. Their perception is that Latinos don't want to become Americans, they want to be Mexicans, or Hondurans, or Costa Ricans living in America. They see these people fleeing failed governments and economies, but then trying to impose many of the same bankrupt ideals here.

The republican establishment desperately needs this angry crowd at the polls in November. Without them they are staring down the shot gun barrel of an Obama second term.

Unfortunately, though they'll never admit it in public, or will at least dance around it, these same movers and shakers in the  party--the business owners, the industrialists, the restaurateurs, the corporate farmers all want and need as many illegal immigrants as they can lay their hands on. If you own a construction company it is a hell of a lot cheaper to operate with immigrant labor than it is with home grown talent. Not only do you not have to pay them as much, but things like insurance and medical liability become non factors. In most instances you no longer have to worry about a union and if  your accountant is good enough and you don't mind cutting a few legal corners you can even pay them under the table. At that point you don't have to worry about the feds getting involved in your life. Well, at least not until you get caught.

And if you are a consumer this all slides down to you. Think how much that western omelet and home fries would run you if the guys in the kitchen hadn't just climbed out of the windowless van from Vera Cruz. Picture the cost of that new roof if the company actually employed native tradesmen, rather than those hombres from Guatemala.

Yes, as a party the republicans are completely schizo on the issue of what to do with illegal immigrants.

That is why, other than one dude from Texas, they really didn't go into a frothing fit when the Supreme Court struck down large parts of Arizona's illegal immigration legislation today.

Curiously, the court left alone the part that says a police officer stopping someone is required to make efforts to verify that person's immigration status with the Feds. In most parts of the world this would be known as profiling. Somehow I doubt if an Arizona cop stops me outside of Tempe he, or she will try to make sure I'm not an illegal from Canada.

They did strike down the state requirement that all immigrants must register with the feds. And, in order not to take that profiling thing too far, the supremes declared it unconstitutional for state and local police to arrest people without a warrant even if the officer has probable cause to believe a person is illegal. In other words they can't run you in just because you speak Spanish, but not English.

They also struck down the statute--and this is my favorite because it is so perfectly republican--that makes it a crime for an illegal to either work, or seek work. Yes, lets not limit the labor pool here. After all, those heads of lettuce must be harvested at just the right moment.

The republican hierarchy is on a very thin rope here. They have to keep the lid on their lynch mobs when it comes to things like illegal immigration. Racism as an ideal is a fine thing, but you can't let it cut into the bottom line. Profits, after all, are everything.

The big boys have grown addicted to the tea party types. Watching them try to work with them is like watching a complete dipsomaniac trying turn away from the bar after one drink.

The lesson they are learning is simple: You can't live without them and sometimes you just can't make them shut up.

Cerveza por favor!


Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Bell Tolls for the Tickle Monster

In a moment of desperate fantasy last night, Joe Amendola, the defense attorney for Jerry Sandusky, asked Judge John Cleland to release his client to house arrest pending his appeal. Cleland petty much treated that proposal the same way he'd treat a fly settling on his forearm. Shortly there after, the former Penn State defensive coordinator and founder of The Second Mile Foundation was led away in handcuffs as a large crowd cheered.

It doesn't get any more appalling than this.

Sandusky set up the foundation in order to "help" at risk boys, many of whom had no idea what life with a father was like. He then systematically sodomized more than just a handful of them, traumatizing them beyond any one's capacity to understand. Scars will remain for entire lives. Therapists will be assured of constant work for years.

The final outrage in all this was that Sandusky's youngest adopted son, Matt came forward through his attorneys this week and accused his father of sexually abusing him also. Up until that moment Sandusky had every intention of testifying on his own behalf. When the prosecution let Amendola and the rest of the defense team know what would happen if he did, they quickly folded their cards. One can only imagine what went through Mr. Amendola's mind at that moment. The testimony all ready presented was damning enough, now here was his client's own son ready and willing to send his father away for the rest of his unnatural life. I suppose the only thing he could do at that point was start planning the appeal and begin praying that his client's checks don't start to bounce.

God only knows what Dorothy Sandusky's state of mind is at this point. The poor woman claimed until the very end she didn't believe her husband was capable of such behavior. Now she is faced with the fact the man she loves is going away forever, convicted of perhaps the most heinous of crimes and her own son is saying he is one of his victims.

Sentencing is scheduled in September. NBC is reporting the minimum Sandusky faces is 60 years. When you're 68 like Sandusky, that is known as throwing away the key.

Unfortunately, or not, this isn't over yet. Not only is Sandusky headed to a correctional facility, but others might be joining him soon. Perjury charges are being leveled at former athletic director Tim Curley and former university vice president Gary Schultz. They stand accused of lying to a grand jury about what they knew of Sandusky's lifestyle and tastes. Former Penn St. president, Graham Spanier, who was fired in November is under investigation also.

What were any of them, Joe Paterno included, thinking? Were they in such denial that they couldn't accept the growing body of evidence? Were they convinced they had to keep quiet so that the reputation of the university and its football program would remain as pure as heaven on earth? Or, did they just not give a shit?

Whatever the answer to those questions Penn State University now knows it is going to be paying out big bucks to all sorts of young men. The school issued a statement saying it is seeking to "fairly compensate the victims" and asked them to help, "facilitate the resolution of claims against the university arising out of Mr. Sandusky's conduct." In other words, it isn't a matter of whether the school is going to pay the victims, it is a matter of how much they are going to pay. Look for long and contentious negotiations to begin shortly. There is blood in the water and the feeding frenzy is about to start.

Meanwhile the man who described himself as the tickle monster to one of his accusers has been remanded to the sheriff's department. His attorney is going to argue that pre trial publicity tainted the jury pool beyond redemption and prevented any sort of fair hearing of the evidence. He will be trying to slay windmills.

Jerry Sandusky is gone. He is never going to see the light of day again.

The only question remaining is why didn't it happen sooner? There probably won't be a real answer to that, just more excuses.

However, as proven by that mob cheering Jerry Sandusky's incarceration, everyone who has witnessed this grotesque debacle is tired of excuses. As we all should be. More heads will roll. Bet on it.


Thursday, June 21, 2012

George Zimmerman on Tape

The defense team of George Zimmerman has just released a police video of him trying to explain what happened the night he shot and killed Trayvon Martin.

Zimmerman, of course, claimed then and now the whole thing was a case of self defense. That he was viciously attacked by the unarmed Martin and that under the Florida stand your ground statutes he was completely justified in shooting him.

As always it depends on who you believe, or rather what you believe when it comes to reading the transcript of Zimmerman's account of the affair.

He says that as he was driving by that night he saw Martin, "leisurely looking" at a residence that had recently been burglarized. According to Zimmerman since it was raining he didn't understand why Martin wasn't rushing home. In his words, "I just felt like something was off about him." To put it another way, here was a black kid, hoodie up wandering at his own pace through a neighborhood that he didn't look like he belonged in. One that had suffered a string a recent break ins.

That is when things got complicated. According to Zimmerman he lost sight of Martin, drove around the block, got out to give the police an address and then was confronted by a particularly aggressive young black man.

He said to me, "Yo, you got a problem?" I said to him, "No, I don't have a problem, man."

In his words, "I reached into my pocket and I was looking for my phone and he punched me in the nose. And I fell backward, to the side, somehow I ended up on my back. He ended up on top of me and he just kept punching my face and head."

Zimmerman says that when Martin saw his gun he told him, a bit melodramatically, "You're going to die tonight."

"I just pinched his arm, grabbed my gun, I aimed it at him and fired one shot." After shooting the seventeen year old in the chest Zimmerman told police Martin said, "You got me here. You got me, you got it, something like that."

Zimmerman claims he was screaming for help while all this was occurring, but no one came to his aid.

Every poll taken in regard to the incident has shown that the majority of white people who read the MSNBC report and or actually take the time to watch the video, will believe George Zimmerman. The majority of black people will think it is all so much bull shit.

Here is what we know according to the police tapes of the conversations with Mr. Zimmerman that night. He refers to Martin and those who look like him as "punks" and complains that, "they always get away." He tells the police that Martin is running. The dispatcher, stunned and concerned asks him "are you following him." When Zimmerman tells him yes he is advised, "we don't need you to do that."

We also know that two separate audio experts analyzed the screams for help recorded over a neighbor's phone. Both concluded that it was not George Zimmerman's voice.

Beyond that, what Zimmerman didn't know was that Martin was on the phone himself that night, talking to a girl friend. He was complaining that some stranger was following him. She told Martin he should run and he responded that he was going to start walking faster.

There is no evidence that Zimmerman ever identified himself to Martin.

Much has been made in the conservative media about traces of marijuana found in Martin's blood stream that night. They have studiously avoided mentioning that Zimmerman also tested positive for a drug. It was the prescription med, Restoril which is used to ease insomnia and anxiety. As with every drug there has to be a listing of possible side effects. With, Restoril it goes like this, "rare side effects include back aches, hallucinations, memory loss, mental or mood problems such as anxiety, agitation, aggression and unusual behavior."

Finally we know Zimmerman and his family is a little fast and loose with the truth, at least when it comes to money. They played the indigent while concealing well over one hundred grand from the court, shuffling it back and forth between different accounts to avoid detection.

Unfortunately the only two people who know what really happened that night are George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin. Martin can't speak for himself. What a jury is going to have to decide is whether the evidence supports, or contradicts George Zimmerman's version of the events.

No matter what the outcome the ugly fact remains that George Zimmerman's actions, his feeling that "something was off with him," his assumption that Trayvon Martin was a "punk," triggered the entire tragedy.

And make no mistake, it is a tragedy and, sadly, a uniquely American one.

We just can't get beyond it. I'm not sure we ever will.


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Awash in a Sea of Red

The Oklahoma primaries are a week from today and for the most part democrats have decided to not waste their time and money by running for office. Indeed in this the reddest of red states the entire local government is in the hands of a pack of baying right wing wolves. They are creatures so perfectly convinced of their righteousness and patriotism that when challenged on any issue their faces swell, veins bulge, and drool forms at the corners of their mouths. They begin to bellow and thump their chests and use terms like "liberal pansies", "communist traitors," and "filthy socialists."
When people see this phenomenon in person for the first time many come to the conclusion that spontaneous human combustion is not only a possibility, but a probability.

I don't have the stats in front of me, but even a casual glance at state legislative races show that republicans are falling all over themselves trying to get into office while democratic challengers are few and far between. Who can blame them really? Being a democrat in Oklahoma right now is rather like being an escapee from a leper colony.

The only entertainment value in this round of state elections is the odd sight watching republicans attack each other. They spend much of their time claiming to be the most conservative of conservatives. They attempt to paint their fellow GOP candidates as somehow too far left. They go off on riffs about how they hate Barak Obama more than every other person in the world. They promise to turn back the socialist tide of universal health care. They are a bit vague on how a state representative from say Guymon can do that, but hey, to a true believer the message, not the means is everything.

Seeing all this hysteria is to understand how some monstrous little cretin like Adolph Hitler took control in Germany and the ayatollahs grabbed power Iran. It is politics as a religious movement. It is a wave of arch conservative evangelism that before television was confined to musty smelling tents in the hills of Pushmataha County. It is a great leap back into a fictional time. It is a revision of all history so Orwellian in nature that it simply takes the breath away.

Suddenly all the founding fathers were evangelicals who based this country solely on the bible. The Great Depression would have ended sooner if FDR had just left things alone. In fact and this was years ago, the local daily paper ran a political cartoon blaming Roosevelt for starting the second world war. Later on down the road Bill and Hillary personally killed Vince Foster. John Kerry didn't deserve his medals. Now the president is foreign born and yes, yes, we know the great recession started under Bush, but just let us run things again and we'll fix it.

They are white and are watching their race become a minority. Anger and hatred are their mediums. And in Oklahoma they are in absolute control.

So why exactly will I take the time to show up at the polls next Tuesday when my choices are severely limited? Indeed, why even go in November, when my ballot cast for Barak Obama will mean nothing thanks to the electoral college?

Maybe it is that tiny bit of Rhett Butler in me. That part that says to Scarlet O'Hara something along the lines of, "I don't join lost causes until they are really lost." That might be it.

The truth is probably closer to this: I just want the vicious sons of bitches to know it isn't unanimous in this state. At least not yet. At least not as long as I'm here.

Morior Invictus.


Monday, June 18, 2012

Is This The End of Passionate Jerry?

"I'm a very passionate person in terms of trying to make a difference in the lives of young people."
Jerry Sandusky, former Penn State defensive coordinator, Second Mile Foundation head and accused pedophile.

Passionate is probably a word Mr. Sandusky should have avoided. Of course he should have avoided many things over the last fifteen years or so, but a growing body of evidence is starting to indicate he didn't.

The latest blow to the defense came when the court allowed an un-aired portion of the interview between Sandusky and Bob Costas to be heard by the jury. Why NBC chose to edit the exchange out of the original broadcast is unclear. It shows Costas, who may, or may not be Katy Couric's long lost twin, grilling Sandusky about his involvement with at risk youth.

Sandusky opened himself to the question by saying, among other things his actions with certain youth may have been "misinterpreted." He went on to say, "I worked very hard to connect with them, to make them feel good about themselves. To be something significant in their lives."

Then Costas came with this, according to MSNBC, "But isn't what you're describing the classic MO of many pedophiles? And that is they gain the trust of young people, they don't necessarily abuse every young person. There were hundreds if not thousands of young boys you came in contact with, but there are allegations that at least eight of them were victimized. Many people believe there are more to come. So it is entirely possible that you helped young boy A in some way that was not objectionable while horribly taking advantage of boys B, C, D, and E. Isn't that possible?"

I don't know about anyone else, but if I'm innocent of grotesque charges such of these my personal response would have been something like, "It isn't possible, because I didn't molest, or abuse anyone." End of story.

According to the transcript Jerry Sandusky said this: "Well you might think that. I don't know. In terms--of my relationship with so many young people. I would--I would guess that there are many young people who would come forward. Many more young people would come forward and say that my methods and what I've done for them made a very positive impact on them. And I didn't go around seeking out every young person for sexual needs that I've helped. There are many that I didn't have--hardly had any contact with who I have helped in many, many ways."

NBC news analyst, Wes Oliver is quoted as saying, "A reasonable interpretation of that statement is that he did in fact have sexual contact with these young men he supposedly helped."

You think, Wes?

Sandusky's attorney is all ready trotting out a personality disorder theory to try to explain away the bizarre letters Sandusky wrote to some of the victims over the years. He even hinted that the condition, Histrionic Personality Disorder is the cause behind some of the old coach's behavior. Symptoms include, desperately seeking the approval of others and overly dramatic and inappropriate conduct to get attention.

I'm sorry, but the average lay person is going to consider that argument prima facie bullshit. The, "its all a scam for money," line seems more reasonable by a few degrees than that one.

At this point one has to wonder what is going through the minds of Sandusky's family. He has been married to the same woman since 1966 and has six adopted children. If they truly didn't know anything there must be a gnawing sense of horror and repulsion. You can deny things in your heart and mind only so long before the sheer weight of the evidence causes a complete collapse of everything you've always believed.

Of course it maybe that the sheer horror is so great that everything has just shut down for them. Indeed, in his last days Penn State head coach Joe Paterno appeared more befuddled than anything else. Right up to the end he seemed completely unable to understand the gravity of what was happening to not just Sandusky, but himself and his beloved university.

This is all ugly in the extreme. Defense attorney, Joe Amendola has to be plotting out plans for an appeal all ready. The trial certainly isn't going his client's way and he is bound to know it.

No, for Jerrry Sandusky the writing looks to be on the wall.

Barring some rogue juror, he is done.


Friday, June 15, 2012

Sheldon Doubles Down, The Tickle Monster and More

Sheldon Adelson says, "...redistribution of wealth is the path to more socialism and to more of the government controlling people's lives." What he didn't say was that he has a redistribution of wealth plan himself. He and his pals want it all. He would prefer that we not argue with him about this. He also expects us to like struggling to pay the electric bill and being driven into bankruptcy because our health insurance dropped us at the first sign of real trouble.

Hey, everyone is entitled to an opinion. Sheldon is also busy trying to buy the big white house on Pennsylvania Avenue. Initially he bet on the wrong horse, pouring $20 million into a pro Gingrich super pac. Now he is trying to make amends. Recently he gave $10 million to the pro Romney super pac "Restore Our Future." There are wild rumors that he is willing to spend upwards of $100 million to assure himself a large chunk of Romney's ass once he wins the election. These are stunning figures, but then he is worth $24 billion with more coming in every day from casinos in Vegas and Macau.

Those less polite than myself would call this outright bribery and honestly, even as I try to remain civil I keep picturing the last scene of the movie Quo Vadis. As the camera pulls back the Praetorian Guard is selling the Emperorship of Rome to the highest bidder.

Republican Senator John McCain is not comfortable with all this spending either. McCain was quoted as saying on PBS News Hour, "Much of Mr. Adelson's profits come from his casinos in Macau. Maybe in a round about way foreign money is coming into American political campaigns." He went on to say, "That is a great deal of money and we need to go back to the realization that Teddy Roosevelt had, that we have to limit the flow of money and that corporations are not people."

For those with a short memory, or little taste for politics in a speech at the Iowa state fair last year Mitt Romney said, "corporations are people, my friend."

Of course the Raging Right has never had much use for McCain. They would have preferred the brain dead Sarah Palin to him. Besides, he is the guy who lost to Barak Obama. It is a sin so terrible that he will forever have to walk the streets of Washington ringing a bell while calling out, "unclean, unclean!"

It has been a strange and grotesque seven days. Locally there is more than a little speculation that the shooting death of Kelsey Bransby was simply a tragic and stupid accident. There seems to be no movement toward a trial of those suspected of the brutal murder of Carina Saunders. Both police and press are completely mum regarding the death of Alina Fitzpatrick.

Up in Centre County Pennsylvania the trial of former Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky continues. Yesterday a witness described more disturbing encounters with the old coach who liked to call himself, "the tickle monster." That revelation sent the needle of the Captain Howdy Creepy Meter right to the top, not that other emerging details haven't all ready.

Yes, it may be a good time to kick back with a few Samuel Adams' and a steak cooked just a shade less than medium rare. The feeling is that it is going to be a summer of turmoil. That awful carnival known as the George Zimmerman trial will be rolling into town and the presidential campaign will be heating up. It is highly likely more cannibal zombies will wander the streets eating the homeless, especially during the republican convention.

In the end it appears the Latin phrase, "semper in excretia sumus solim profundum variat," explains it all.

Now for that beer.


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Jerry In Love, Shellie In Jail, and No Happy Endings

Up in Pennsylvania's Centre County Court the testimony against former Penn St. assistant coach Jerry Sandusky is tumbling out in lurid and awful detail. MSNBC is reporting that a witness today is saying that in 1998 Sandusky forced him to perform oral sex and at other times insisted on returning the favor. He claims Sandusky intimidated him by saying that if he told anyone he'd never see his family again.

The witness, who MSNBC will not name publicly, said Sandusky later apologized for the threat and told him he loved him. He also funneled Penn State football tickets to the boy for years to keep him on the string. The witness, now 25 years old told the court he kept his silence until last year because, "I was scared, ashamed, and embarrassed."

Earlier in the trial former assistant coach Mike McQueary testified that he was "certain" Sandusky was having anal intercourse with a boy in the Penn St. locker room showers when he wandered in there one night. His only reaction to the grotesque tableau was to slam a locker door loudly, hoping Sandusky would hear it and know someone else was around. McQueary, who was then a graduate assistant and not an actual staff member, says he was in such shock he didn't know what to do.

He called his father that night, which the father verified. The older McQueary told his son to tell head coach Joe Paterno about what he saw. McQueary says he did that the following day. Unfortunately we know where that went. Straight into the dead letter file. That is why Paterno was fired and others are facing criminal charges for perjury, obstruction and generally being assholes.

Sandusky's attorney, Joe Amendola continues to maintain that all this is a crude shake down and has pointed out several of the witnesses are suing the university and a couple are suing Sandusky himself. He has made some bizarre statements about the normality of Sandusky horsing around in the showers with the boys and giving "raspberries" on the bellies of children among other things. He has said this sort of behavior is common in the athletic world.

I can't speak for Penn State's "athletic world" but I was involved in organized sports from the ages of eight through eighteen. In those ten years not one coach showered in the same area as the team and certainly none of them ever gave any of us raspberries on the belly, or anywhere else. Amendola's assessment of the situation in that regard ranks right up there with Michael Jackson saying he saw nothing wrong with children sleeping with adult men.

Big Joe also put into evidence that part of the Bob Costas interview where Sandusky denied he was sexually attracted to boys. Analysts are speculating he did that in order to get Sandusky's denial on the record while actually avoiding calling his client to the stand.

Yes, after this deluge of pedophilia and sodomy it would probably be best for Coach Jerry to keep as far away from the witness stand as possible. Lord only knows what the jury would make of that affable smile after hearing what they have lately.

Meanwhile in Florida the wife of George Zimmerman has been jailed on charges of perjury. Her bond has been set at $1000. At issue is her failure to mention a Paypal account associated with a Zimmerman web site during his bail hearing . The web site, which has been taken down, was an appeal for donations to a defense fund. When first reported the amount of money taken in was put at over $200,000. That figure has been revised down to around $135,000. That would still be about $135,000 more than Shellie Zimmerman told the court under oath that her family had at their disposal to get her husband out of jail.

Zimmerman, the man who shot Trayvon Martin, had his own bond revoked earlier. In doing so Judge Kenneth Lester said, "There are several factors that weigh against his release. Most importantly though is the fact he has now demonstrated that he does not properly respect the law, or the integrity of the judicial process."

Ouch. Defense attorney Mark O'Mara's job just got a little tougher. The jury might look at that self defense plea with a jaundiced eye now that the accused has "demonstrated that he does not properly respect the law, or the integrity of the judicial process."

It hasn't been a good week for either Jerry Sandusky, or the Zimmermans. Of course it could be said things haven't been so great for their alleged victims either. They are either dead, or on course to spend the rest of their lives in therapy.

There aren't going to be happy endings in either of these affairs no matter what their dispositions. You can't bring back the dead and you can't forget what happened to you. As is far too common the only winners will be lawyers and psychiatrists. It looks like everyone else will have to go the Paypal route.


Monday, June 11, 2012

Jerry Sandusky in the Dock: New Lows and a Lingering Stench

So here we go. The Jerry Sandusky trial has begun in Pennsylvania and before it is over many a stomach will turn and the cringing will be wide spread and unceasing. Sandusky, a former Penn State defensive coach, is charged with 52 counts of sexually abusing up to 10 boys over a 15 year period. Two separate grand juries have accused him of using his connections with the once proud and pristine Penn State football program to lure them into his Second Mile Foundation where he slowly groomed them to be his sexual victims.

Prosecutor Joseph McGettigan, a deputy attorney general said in his opening remarks that the state will show, "systematic behavior by a predator." Those are ugly words, but then the whole sordid affair is ugly beyond all description. It is so bad that it brought down venerable Penn State coach Joe Paterno and at least three different PSU administrators, some of whom might be facing criminal charges themselves. Covering up a recruiting scandal or some alum's cash gift to a player is one thing. At many U.S. college football programs those sorts of things are considered simply the price of doing business. However turning your head the other way while your facilities are being used as a lurid Roman spa by some run amok pedophile is another animal all together. Not even the nearly beatified Paterno could survive the outrage.

First day testimony included one victim saying he endured up to 40 "uncomfortable incidents" when he was 12 and 13 years old. Things began with mutual showers, then moved on to hugging, caressing, rolling around on the floor and finally to having his hand placed on Sandusky's genitalia and of course attempted sexual penetration. The witness said Sandusky treated him as his girl friend, often placing his hand on his knee. He was also awarded with numerous gifts from Sandusky and was worried that those gifts would cease if he said anything about the behavior.

What does one say in the face of this? Well defense attorney, Joe Amendola says the reason for all these claims and charges is brutally simple. The accusers in his words are, "troubled youths out for a big pay day." He points out that six of the eight prosecution witnesses who claim abuse at Sandusky's hands have all ready filed civil suits. He says, "the testimony is going to be awful, but that doesn't make it true."

Ah, there you have it. This is all one huge shake down, although it is unclear where the big pay day would come from. The only possible source would be the university itself, because The Second Mile Foundation has shut down. It is uncertain where any unspent money it once had might be found. And quite honestly you wouldn't expect Sandusky himself to be that fabulously well to do. However, if you're Amendola you have to say something right? Especially when your client is looking at 460 years in the joint and a life expectancy of about thirty minutes if turned loose in the yard with the general population of just about any prison in America.

Amendola even surprised those in attendance by listing Sandusky as a possible witness. Desperate times call for desperate measures. You are talking about a high risk maneuver that most lawyers would never even consider.

The prosecution, however doesn't have clear sailing either. It plans on calling former Penn State assistant Mike McQueary to the stand. McQuery is the guy who told Paterno about a lewd scene in the Penn State locker room between Sandusky and an unnamed youth. Paterno told his boss who told someone else who didn't tell the cops and that is why the entire university looks complicit in this deal. The problem is McQueary has changed the details of his testimony and the time line is problematic. McQueary insists the incident happened in March of 2002 while prosecutors are saying it occurred in February of 2001.

Yes, it is a tale of degeneracy and in the end institutional cowardice. It isn't going away anytime soon either. If convicted you can expect a long freight train of appeals from the Sandusky legal team. If there is a hung jury bets are the prosecution won't give up after one trial. If Mr. Sandusky is acquitted he will personally survive, but just about everything else in his life will have gone to hell. His only hope will be a decent pension plan because the man is at this moment permanently unemployable. He will have to disappear into the depths of the South American rain forest to escape the hounding he is going to receive from the media and others.

No matter what the outcome we're all going to want to scrub our hands and we're going to want to scrub them often. This grotesque stench is going to linger. Especially on the campus of Penn State University. Happy Valley no more.


Friday, June 8, 2012

Friday Dispatches: Robert Bacharach's Nomination and Hopper and Cooley's Charges

The Honorable Robert Bacharach is on the cusp of getting screwed because republican senators want to play hard ball politics during an election year. Bacharach, a Federal Magistrate, was nominated to the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. He has been fully vetted by the Justice Department, was awarded impeccable ratings by the American Bar Association, and was finally endorsed by both Oklahoma senators. He also had the terrible misfortune of being named by Barack Obama.

In a story in today's Oklahoman written by Chris Casteel, Senator Tom Coburn reportedly has told Judge Bacharach that "he might not get through the senate confirmation process this year." Well of course not. It is an election year and if their man Mitt wins in November he can nominate some fire breathing conservative who will attempt some right wing social engineering on the party's behalf.

Coburn was quoted as saying, "I think it is stupid." What he didn't mention was that he was part of the problem up until a few weeks ago. Coburn sat on the nomination for months until The Oklahoma Publishing Company through The Oklahoman called into question his reluctance to give the go ahead. Within forty-eight hours of that subtle jab Brother Coburn found religion and gave the nod. Shortly after that he became a gushing fan of Robert Bacharach praising him to no end.

Now Coburn can let his cohorts in the party do what his Oklahoma keepers told him not to while maintaining he is innocent of political thuggery. Trying to spread the blame, Dr. Tom immediately claimed democratic Senator Patrick Leahy, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee has used the same tactic in the past. However Casteel reports that on Wednesday Leahy pointed to a report by the Congressional Research Service. The report finds that the senate confirmed 28 district and circuit judges at the end of G.W. Bush's first term and another 22 in the last few months of his second. That would be when Leahy and the rest of the democrats in the senate knew Barack Obama was preparing his inaugural address.

Meanwhile, back in Oklahoma City, an article by Tiffany Gibson details the charges being brought against Cole Dean Hopper and Danielle Marie Cooley. Hopper and Cooley are in the Cleveland County jail awaiting trial for the murder of Kelsey Bransby. According to Gibson, Hopper is facing second degree murder and Cooley is being charged with an accessory count.

Apparently Cooley was being looked at early on in the investigation, but denied being in the apartment when Ms. Bransby was shot. According to an affidavit, after she was arrested she initially continued to maintain she wasn't there, but finally caved in and admitted she was.

According to Gibson's story Cooley told police she thinks the shooting was accidental. She also says she doesn't know what happened to the gun or the shell casing.

Hopper is still denying he was there when the killing took place.

Bail is set at $2 million apiece.

Look for this pair to hire separate lawyers. It is going to be an acrimonious breakup between the reported boyfriend and girlfriend.

And there you have it. Dirty politics and a brute stupid felony. Sometimes The Big Parade becomes ugly and tragic, but as we know it never ends.



Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Oklahoma City Thunder and The Close Thing

Here is how close a thing it is when you talk about turning a sagging pro basketball franchise into a winning proposition. In the 2007 NBA draft the first  over all pick went to the Portland Trail Blazers. The then Seattle Super Sonics were picking second. There were two players that everyone, I mean everyone, agreed would be the first two selections. One was the hulking big man Greg Oden out of Ohio State and the other was a skinny kid who had played one year at Texas named Kevin Durant.

Durant was a pure shooter, but there were questions about his strength and therefore his durability in a league that plays over twice the number of regular season games that colleges do. Portland went for the big man and understandably so. Big men are at a premium no matter what the level of play. Seattle immediately took Durant.

In the mean time up in the Pacific Northwest, Sonic's owner Howard Schultz, the coffee shop magnate, was struggling with a shrinking fan base, a rotting arena, and a populace who refused time and time again to finance a new arena. And really, who could blame them? They had just shelled out for a new football stadium and a new baseball stadium. Of the three major league franchises in town the Sonics were the least popular and hadn't won a NBA championship for something like thirty years.

Enter Clay Bennett of Oklahoma City along with a group of bankers, oilies and other assorted high stakes corporate gamblers. Bennett made all the right promises at first with the caveat that the team had to have a new arena. NBA fans in Seattle began to feel the sand shift beneath their feet.

Oklahoma City was hungry for a team. We had successfully supported the temporarily relocated New Orleans Hornets after Hurricane Katrina laid waste to the Big Easy. During that two year run we felt we had proven we could be a viable home for a franchise.

The powers that be in Seattle, abetted by a majority of the city's population wouldn't budge on the arena deal and perhaps thought Bennett was bluffing about shipping the team to the southern plains.

Unfortunately for them, he wasn't. In a year the Sonics became the Thunder and began playing their home games in downtown Oklahoma City. That first year on the court was abysmal. At one point the Thunder were on pace to set a NBA record for losses in a single season. The original coach was fired not even halfway through the season.

Last night, a scant four seasons later, the Thunder chopped the legs out from beneath the San Antonio Spurs and qualified for the NBA finals. Until next Tuesday, when those finals begin the win ranks as the single greatest moment of sports in OKC history. The city which had been built in a day, but had been fractured from its inception because of divided collegiate loyalties had come together as one. The arena, the town and large parts of the state were thrown into absolute delirium by the win.

Normally stoic and sane people immediately started babbling about dynasties. They pointed to the line up and the ages of the stars that had led the team to the promised land. Indeed, a couple of years ago one of them, James Harden had been busted for trying to buy a beer in a local bar not because he was drunk, but because he was under the legal age of 21. It is all, for the instant, magnificent madness.

The wunderkind who is the driving force behind much of this is Kevin Durant. He has led the league in scoring three years running. He was second in voting for MVP during the regular season this year. He has been known, on more than a few occasions, to drain an impossible shot with only a couple breaths left in a game that drives a dagger into the heart of the opposition.

Last night with fourteen seconds left to go he could be seen hugging and kissing his mother at her court side seat.

There is still work to do. The Thunder will face either the star studded Miami Heat, or the wily and grizzled Boston Celtics. Neither of those two outfits will go quietly into that good night. It could all, still, come to a crashing halt.

Be assured that right now no one in this burg, other than perhaps coach Scott Brooks and the team itself, is thinking that far ahead. Right now the city is still rocking and rolling. Ecstasy is far too mild of a term to describe the local mentality.

It is a real life Horatio Alger saga that no one can fully, or properly explain.

It makes one wonder what would have happened if Schultz had tightened his belt and hung onto the team, or found local ownership that would have kept the Sonics in Seattle. He did neither and the organization fell into Bennett and Co's lap.

It also makes you wonder what would have happened if Portland had gone with the skinny shooter from Texas rather than Oden. I mean Durant was there for the taking and to paraphrase the song, his future is so bright we all need shades. They didn't however and as the Oklahoma City Thunder was closing in on this perfect of all moments in March, the oft injured Oden was waived by the Trail Blazers. His physical ailments were such that he never even completed a full year of competition.

It is good to be good and sometimes it is really good to be lucky. The planets lined up just right for Oklahoma City this time around. Somewhere down the road that won't be the case.

When it happens it will be another story at another time. Right now everyone is loud, proud and more than just a little giddy.

Thunder up, baby. The finals are coming to town. Who would have ever dreamed it?


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Humans, We're Whats For Dinner: The End is Always Near

Every now and then we Americans go a little funny in our collective head. I'm suspecting that because most of us grew up with a Christian background we have this morbid fascination with all things apocalyptic. We keep looking for signs of it and we see them everywhere and in everything. If you are a raging born again evangelical you even want it to happen. You know that in your perfect, doubt free, faith you will escape it. You will be miraculously transported directly to paradise while the rest of us have to suffer the messy consequences.

Twelve years ago it was the Y2K unraveling that had people stocking up on canned food, bottled water and, because we are Americans, guns and ammunition. Since then there have been minor brushes with hysteria, most due to some evangelical radio hacks who needed a quick influx of cash for personal reasons.

This year the big thing is the end of the Mayan calender. That comes in December. Of course the Mayans themselves think all this end of the world stuff is some sort of weird North American fad, rather like chia pets and reality TV. But, who needs their input? They fled their cities for no apparent reason even before the Spanish could get to the continent and burn them at the stake for heresy and fun. Obviously they can't be trusted to interpret their own civilization's legends, traditions and myths. They are quaintly mistaken when they say the end of this calender simply means the start of a new one. After all, name even one of them who has watched the History Channel.

Unfortunately for us, December is a long way off and to the average American that is rather like a decade. So, to tide us over until then we have come up with the "Zombie Apocalypse."

Apparently this all started last week when a guy named Rudy Eugene went out of his mind, either all on his own, or because of the weird chemicals found in bath salts and chowed down on the face of a homeless man. It was on a Miami street and Eugene was quite naked. Police had to shoot him numerous times when he refused to cease dining.

Later in the week a Maryland student named Alexander Kinya admitted to killing his roommate, eating his heart and part of his brain. There was no mention of whether he had a poster of Anthony Hopkins in the room, or not.

Then there was the case of Canadian porn star, Luka Rocco Magnotta. Magnotta who has been in videos featuring him performing sex acts with men, women, transsexuals and possibly other species of mammals, was busted in Berlin yesterday. Reportedly he had moved up from killing kittens on line, to taking out a young student in Montreal. He is alleged to have stabbed the bound man multiple times for the benefit of a Canadian "gore site". After eating some of his flesh, Magnotta dismembered him and sent various body parts to political offices in Ottawa.

All these things have caused a stir in the apocalypse soon community. Currently "Zombie Apocalypse" is number two on the Google list of trending searches.

It has gotten so bizarre the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a statement saying it doesn't know of any virus anywhere in the entire universe that would re-animate the dead. Spokesperson for the CDC, David Daigle says there isn't even one that would cause live people to act like zombies. Left unsaid is that until George Romero put together that gruesome little black and white feature movie 40 plus years ago, no one had ever associated zombies with cannibalism.

Yes, unfortunately it only happens in the movies and on cable's AMC channel. What a downer.

Luckily there will be more than a few who believe that hand in hand with the end of life as we know it there is a government conspiracy to hide it from us. It wouldn't do to have panic in the streets and, quite honestly, there just isn't enough room in the secret mine shafts for everyone.

It must be a real comfort to the rest of the world knowing people like us control the largest arsenal of nuclear weapons on the planet.

Indeed, praise the Lord and pass the salt. The end, as so many of us know, is always near. Eat hearty while you can.




Monday, June 4, 2012

The Ten Year Tweet: Justice In Kuwait

Well things could be worse I suppose. Take the case of 26 year old Hamad al-Naqi. Reuter's is reporting that a Kuwaiti judge found him guilty of, "insulting the prophet, the prophet's wife, the rulers of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain and of misusing a mobile phone to spread his offensive remarks." In other words, watch what you tweet in Kuwait, there is no telling who will see it and what they will do about it.

Al-Naqi denied the charges and maintains that his twitter account was hacked by a person, or persons unknown. The judge, Hirsham Abdullah was having none of his excuses and hit him with the maximum of ten years. The sentence was protested by some Kuwaiti officials who are clamoring for al-Naqi to be executed. Indeed last month, the Parliament of Kuwait endorsed an amendment that would make insulting God and the prophet by any Muslim a crime punishable by death. Now that is political correctness.

Al-Naqi's attorney maintains that even if he did actually tweet the remarks he is guilty of a "crime of opinion," rather than a crime against national security. Unfortunately in some places one's opinion is a crime against national security if it differs from those in charge. It is a lesson Mr. al-Naqi just learned the hard way. After all Kuwait isn't Norway, where Anders Breivik's maximum sentence will be barely more than twice that of al-Naqi's and he killed 77 people.

The reality is, as it always is in that part of the world, a bit more complicated. Al-Naqi is a Shi'ite and the people running the shows in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain are all Sunnis. Tensions between the gulf states and Saudi Arabia and Iran are growing almost daily. It comes as no surprise then that al-Naqi has been accused of having links to Iran, which he also denies.

There is a move by the Saudis to unite their armed forces with those of the gulf states and to present a solid front in the region when it comes to foreign policy and defense. Many Shi'ites and the ruling clergy in Iran see this as a power grab by Saudi Arabia. Iran desperately wants to be viewed as the single super power in the region. They would love to be able to undermine the gulf state rulers and get rid of the Saudi royal family. During the ensuing chaos they would emerge as the next great thing in world power politics. Their proxies installed in places like Kuwait and Bahrain would toe the Iranian line. It would be a sort of Shi'ite version of the Warsaw Pact with the Ayatollahs in charge. Not only would they have a couple of nukes, but more importantly control most of the world's oil reserves.

So with the stakes set so high in a place where no one has a sense of humor to begin with, irreverent tweets are not going to be tolerated. Loose lips won't sink ships, but they will get you chucked into the slammer, if not killed.

Al-Naqi has twenty days to appeal. Apparently some appeals in similar cases have resulted in reduced sentences. That maybe what happens here. The judge played to the crowd with the ten year term, then after everyone cools down a bit he lets al-Naqi walk after a mere five, or so.

Of course to the average American this is all barbaric and incomprehensible horse shit. It is why vast numbers of us would love for someone to come up with a viable energy source to replace oil. That way we can tell all these goofs to stick it where the sun doesn't shine. Let China and India deal with the bastards for a few decades while we run loose and fancy free.

It won't happen though. Too many guys in places like Houston are making too much money with the status quo. Swelling bank accounts are a tit that can't be turned away from. There is no incentive for the boards of the big oil companies to change anything when it comes to energy consumption in this country.

So unfortunately for the rest of us it looks like we're stuck with them for a while. Just watch what you write. They are really, really touchy about stuff. I mean think about it. If they are willing to throw away the key on Hamad al-Naqi for a decade, imagine what they would like to do to you and me.



Saturday, June 2, 2012

Friends For Anders Breivik and George Zimmerman Back in Stir

Norway's Ila prison is expecting a new inmate in a month or so. Our pal Anders Breivik, the man who managed to kill 77 fellow human beings in a single day last summer, appears headed to that august facility. Anticipation is such that a new wing, being built just for him, is near completion. The construction may give us a hint as to the direction the Norwegian judicial system is leaning in this case. Apparently the prison officials don't believe that Breivik will be declared insane, which, of course, he is. Obviously the Norwegians understand that there is a huge difference between knowing a guy is a deadly psychopath and legally declaring him as such. The rules change when that happens. Psychiatrists get involved and they are not a trade to be trusted, especially when it comes to mental illness. Some therapist, full of him, or herself, is liable to spend a few months chatting with Anders and then because of their astute counseling declare him cured.

No, that wouldn't do at all. The Norwegians may have the most liberal sense of justice and punishment in the world, but they probably aren't prepared to let this maniac walk after a couple of doses of Valium and a few confessions about his relationship with his mother. In fact they consider him so dangerous they are not willing to let him mingle with the general population of the prison, for fear he will inflict further mayhem. It is an interesting school of thought. In the United States we would have isolated him because the reigning theory locally is that the goof wouldn't last a day in the exercise yard before someone shoved a shiv into his gut fifteen or twenty times.

Norwegians being Norwegian are now looking for professional friends to interact with their future guest. They believe twenty-one years of isolation is simply too cruel. These, "friends" would, I suppose, be trained in all manner of self defense and will be paid to chat, play chess, and participate in other activities with inmate Breivik.

The Norwegians have what maybe the lowest rate of repeat offenders in the world. It stands at only twenty percent. Maybe what they have and will be doing is right. The stats seem to validate their attitude toward and their treatment of the criminal element. However, one suspects in this instance they know they are dealing with a completely different breed of cat. Letting a convicted thief have the key to his own room and free run of the grounds is one thing. Dealing with a complete monster who looked into the faces of the vast majority of his victims right before he shot them is another.

Meanwhile, back in Florida someone else is headed to the lockup. George Zimmerman, the man who killed Trayvon Martin, had his bail revoked by Judge Kenneth Lester. He ruled Zimmerman and his family "engaged in material falsehood" during the bond hearing last month. Assistant State Attorney, Bernie de la Rionda put it more bluntly. He said when Zimmerman's wife led the court to believe the family was penniless it was a "blantant lie."

This all came about because the Zimmermans forgot to mention a web site that was soliciting donations for a defense fund. Before the site was taken down it raked in what was initially reported as $200,000 plus, although the latest figure being talked about is around $134,000.

Benjamin Crump, the attorney for the Martins, jumped all over it. He is saying this goes to prove that Zimmerman is not credible, which is far more polite than calling him a liar and that the entire defense depends on his credibility. He has a point. If Dead Eye George lied about a few hundred thousand dollars to get out on bail, you can only imagine the fabrications he'll spew when it comes to not doing hard time. Mr. Zimmerman will probably be held in isolated protective custody, however it is all but certain the state of Florida will not solicit the public for paid "friends" to keep him company.

It was a weird week. In Oklahoma City two people were charged in the murder of Kelsey Bransby. In Norway Anders Breivik is looking for friends. In Florida George Zimmerman will soon be wearing the orange jump suit once again. It seems birds are coming home to roost everywhere and they are all calling out, "forever more, forever more."

Infinitus est numerus stultorum.