Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Robert Bacharach and the Last Screw

Then the last screw turned for Robert Bacharach. In today's Oklahoman, Chris Casteel reports that senate democrats were unable to break the republican filibuster that was blocking Bacharach's nomination to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Sixty votes were needed to bring the nomination to the floor. At that point a simple majority would have landed Bacharach a seat on the court. The democrats managed only 56. Two independents voted with them as did three republicans.

Two who didn't were Tom Coburn and Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma. Both senators were on record as "strongly" supporting the nomination. Coburn had been quoted as saying that the politics being played with the nomination was, "stupid." Inhofe reportedly is on record as saying such shenanigans are unconstitutional. Obviously, neither man let stupidity or something as inconvenient as the constitution stop them from leaving Bacharach twisting in the wind. One can only hope their support of Mitt Romney will be equally as effective and decisive.

During the vote both senators played the coward's hand. They voted present rather than either yea, or nay. Now they can run around saying they didn't vote no to everyone who knows Bacharach is eminently qualified for the seat and they can look republican leaders in the eye and tell them truthfully they didn't vote against the party.

Afterward, in a fit of hypocrisy not usually seen outside of the boardrooms of evangelical churches, Coburn praised Bacharach as, "the best appellate court nominee he'd seen in his eight years in the senate." He went on to say that the nominee was a "pawn" in a political game.

You think, Tom?

Coburn claims he will push for Bacharach's nomination even if Mitt Romney becomes president. I'm sure that promise will be of great solace to the honorable Mr. Bacharach and Coburn's commitment to it will rank right up there with the many promises made to say, the Sioux Nation back in the 1800's.

Inhofe said he didn't want to vote against Bacharach, but didn't want to break with a custom that has been used by both parties for years. Unfortunately, as Vermont senator Patrick Leahy has pointed out, the democrats have allowed an up and down vote on judicial nominees during presidential election years for the last two decades. Of course Inhofe has never been one for such details. In remarks on the senate floor he is reported to have called the situation "awkward." Yes, senator, betrayal usually is, especially when you have to try to explain it.

So there you have it. The seat on the 10th Circuit Court has been open for two years. As a federal magistrate Robert Bacharach has heard more than 3000 cases both civil and criminal. He has the highest possible rating by the American Bar Association. None of that matters to republicans in the senate who, despite their oft heard complaints about activist judges, have now proved they'll turn down the right man so they might be able to get some conservative toady on the bench at a future date.

The whole shameful spectacle makes you wonder if Coburn and Inhofe made a great show of publicly washing their hands afterward.

How long, Oh Lord? How long?



Monday, July 30, 2012

Chick-Fil-A Gate

Oh the outrage! As I write, anger, angst, and condemnations are flying about like diamond hard grains of sand in a wind storm. It is impossible to look on the Internet without seeing a story regarding all the political and social finger pointing. It is madness personified. It may cause yet another civil war.

The fight over the Affordable Health Care Act? Why that is just a minor spat. The war in Afghanistan? It is hardly comparable to this. Right wing encroachment on birth control and the freedom of a woman to choose? Not worth coughing about.

Here is what we have worked ourselves into a frenzy over now. The head of the fast food chain called Chick-Fil-A has said he is opposed to gay marriage.

Well that is certainly important enough to stop the presses everywhere. Liberal politicians are frothing at the mouths and some are even wanting to ban Chick-Fil-A's from their wards and districts. Conservatives have rallied to the embattled chain's defense. The eminent social architect and political scientist, Sarah Palin has tweeted a photo of herself and her husband enjoying a meal at a Chick-Fil-A outlet. Indeed, solidarity must be maintained--man the ramparts and all that.

Then it gets even sillier. CNN did a brief story about the offending chicken nugget tweet and as Sarah and husband, soon to be reality TV star, Todd were shown smiling at the camera, Pink's song "Stupid Girls" played. The right wing media went wild with anger, screeching that this proved without a doubt that CNN is nothing more than a socialist cabal.

CNN issued a statement saying it was unintentional and "not meant to be a commentary on the former vice presidential candidate." Oh bullshit. At the corporate level they may have been unaware of what was going on. In fact the boardroom honchos were probably unaware of not only the song, but the also of the very existence of Pink. However, some assistant producer knew exactly what he or she was doing.

If CNN wants to regain any credibility-- Lord think of it, we're talking about credibility in regard to a story about a fried chicken chain--the person responsible will now be applying for a job over at MSNBC where such behavior is rewarded.

A quick glance at Wikipedia will explain all of this to you impassioned civil rights activists. Chick-Fil-A was founded by S. Truett Cathy in 1946. He is such a devout Southern Baptist that he is one of the few evangelicals who actually puts his religion above the bottom line of his business. His places are closed on Sundays and always have been so that his employees can go to church. His son, chief operating officer, Dan Cathy inherited his father's faith, so what did you expect him to say?

Now if you can prove to me that Chick-Fil-A requires you to be a born again Christian and or a hetrosexual to be hired, then come to me and we can start to go to work on them.

The fact of the matter is there are plenty of instances out there where the founders of familiar brand names don't exactly agree with the liberal agenda. Enjoyed any Welch's Grape Juice lately? Founder Robert W. Welch Jr. also came up with the idea of the John Birch Society and ran it until the day he keeled over. The Coors family took great pride in not only their beer, but in destroying anyone who even breathed the word union at their brewery. That smiling pizza dude, Papa John hosted a fund raiser for our pal Mitt Romney a few months ago. Don't even get me started on Rupert Murdoch and those vicious louts at Fox News.

In the end who gives a rat's ass what Dan Cathy thinks? Finally, here is an idea, if you don't like what he believes don't eat his fucking chicken. Besides, many of us could do with a salad instead.

Now, can we please get back to the important stuff?

Over and out.


Friday, July 27, 2012

Polls, Jimmy Holmes, Robert Bacharach, Brutes, and Arrogance

NBC News is reporting that the latest NBC/Wall Street Journal poll shows Barak Obama leads Mitt Romney 49% to 43%. That six point lead is double last month's three point advantage the president held over the former head of Bain Capital. In twelve battleground states, where the election will be decided the results this month are almost exactly the same as the numbers in June. President Obama leads 49% to 41%.

Of those responding 45% thought Obama would be a better commander in chief while 35% believed Mitt Romney would. Additionally when asked who was knowledgeable and experienced enough to handle the presidency 48% favored the incumbent, only 32% chose the challenger.

Bloomberg also ran a poll that showed Obama leading 53% to 40% among likely voters. It reports that when asked who is more out of touch with the average American the response was Mr. Romney 55% to Mr. Obama's 36%. In a bit of fluff the poll also showed that 57% of those asked would chose the president as a seat mate on a long airline flight as opposed to 31% who would prefer to sit next to Mr. Romney.

It isn't all rosy for the president though. In that NBC/WSJ poll 43% thought Brother Romney had the good ideas to improve the economy as opposed to 36% for Obama. If we know one thing about the voting habits of this nation it is that if all else is equal, or maybe even not so equal, the economy is the deciding factor in presidential elections. Just why the public would turn the economy back over the the party that started the great recession in the first place isn't clear, but it is obvious that no one on the left side of things should break out the champagne yet.

Other dispatches reveal that accused Aurora, Colorado shooter, James Holmes has been asking jailers if they have seen the Batman movie. His keepers have said he is curious as to how it ends. In addition, the gossip site TMZ is reporting that Mr. Holmes engaged the services of a few prostitutes last year. One of them remembered him specifically from August of 2011 and said he seemed, "very nice."

In Washington, Senate majority leader Harry Reid is working on a procedural move to force a vote on the nomination of Robert Bacharach to a federal appeals court seat. The Oklahoman's Chris Casteel reports that Reid will need all 51 democrats, the 2 independents and 7 republicans to make the deal work. Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn has called the refusal of the senate to vote on Bacharach's nomination as stupid. What Coburn didn't say was that until The Oklahoman and OPUBCO gave him a not so subtle shove in the back he sat on the nomination himself for weeks. According to Casteel, Senator James Inhofe is on record as saying delaying votes on judicial nominees is unconstitutional. Of course Inhofe tends to believe everything is unconstitutional and that includes portions of the constitution itself. Casteel says if Reid is successful a vote could come as early as Monday.

Locally, Luis Ruiz and Jimmy Massey appeared earlier in the week via closed circuit TV before special judge Russell Hall. The judge read the charges against them and denied both of them bail in the Carina Saunders murder case. Messrs Ruiz and Massey will next appear in the dock on August 9th.

Finally, discussions are revolving around whether the U.S. Olympic team flag bearer, Mariel Zagunis will dip the flag as the delegation passes by Queen Elizabeth II in tonight's opening ceremonies. Dipping the flag slightly is an international sign of respect and goodwill that the Americans traditionally ignore, no matter who the head of state is.

And there you have it, polls, insanity, politics, brutes, and arrogance. It is just another hot and sweaty all American July day. Luckily there haven't been any new outrages against humanity, at least not yet.

We can always hope, no matter how vainly, the lull will be an extended one.


Thursday, July 26, 2012

Happiness Is A Warm Gun

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

Second Amendment to the Constitution of The United States of America

"Happiness Is A Warm Gun"

John Lennon, singer, songwriter and musician: shot and killed at close range.

It is highly doubtful the authors of the second amendment ever dreamed of the Pandora's box they were opening with that single sentence. When it was written there weren't any Glock .40 cal semi automatic hand guns, or AR-15's. There certainly weren't any 100 round drum magazines. As late as the civil war even a seasoned regular in the army was lucky to pull off four shots per minute in the heat of battle.

Of course when they were penned none of the original amendments, including the second, applied to a majority of American residents. If you were black, even a freed one, you weren't included because you weren't considered a citizen. Women were on the outside looking in. Native Americans, who the Declaration of Independence described as "Indian savages," certainly weren't invited to the party. Neither were immigrants. The truth is that unless you were a white  man who owned land the whole document wasn't meant for you.

Freedom, at the time, was reserved to a select club. After all you couldn't let the rabble run wild in the streets. God only knows what they might have demanded from the rich and famous.

Well, as with most things constitutional the details were quickly ignored and pretty soon it seemed like everyone had a gun, including those pesky "Indian savages," who were busy trying to keep from being wiped off the face of the earth.

A number of years ago some low level Clinton assistant to something or other had the gall to suggest that the wording of the amendment meant that unless you were connected to a "well regulated militia" ie the National Guard, you had no right at all to bear arms.

The Supreme Court took care of that bit of dreamy idealism around 2006 when it ruled in a case named District of Columbia v. Heller. The court said that the second amendment protects an individual's right to own a firearm even if he, or she is not connected to service in a militia. It went on to say it was perfectly constitutional for a person to use that weapon for "traditional lawful purposes, such as self defense within the home."

The fact is this nation has a long and terrible addiction to guns of all sorts. It is the traditional American answer to disputes both great and small. Millions of us don't feel complete without one, or more. Any suggestion, any vague hint, that leads people to believe that they won't be able to go out and buy a weapon whenever they want sends them into a case of the sweaty shakes so bad you'd think they were in heroin withdrawal.

Less than a week ago twelve people were senselessly murdered in a Colorado theater and another fifty-eight were wounded by one person. That demented clod bought his entire armory legally. The immediate result is so American that it reeks of the smell of fresh baked apple pie. Gun sales are spiking rather than shrinking. People all over the place are flocking to sporting goods stores, because oddly here in the states, shooting things is considered a sport. They want to make sure to get in some last minute shopping just in case some wild eyed liberals might use the massacre as an excuse to clamp down on gun ownership.

Many fear that the current president, if elected to a second term, will personally come out and confiscate their weapons. This despite that the Obama administration has done nothing at all in nearly four years to restrict gun sales. The fact that their boy, Mitt Romney, did more to cut off the sale of guns to the public when he was governor of Massachusetts than Obama has ever done seems to have whizzed just over their heads. When Romney was asked about this the other day by NBC news, specifically about him signing a bill that prohibits the sale of assault weapons in the Bay State, Mr. Romney went into a song and dance that deftly avoided any sort of answer at all. Well of course he did. Mitt is, after all, Mitt.

No, the guns aren't going to magically disappear. Tragedies such as the one in Aurora, Colorado are going to continue to happen. The murder rate in Chicago is going to keep climbing. More babies playing in parks in the Bronx are going to get caught in cross fires.

It is time to fess up to the brute reality of the situation. We're a violent and at times ruthlessly stupid society. We have to have our guns because we've always had our guns. We're going to use them because we've always used them. It is our final solution to everything, including the next time that stupid kid at McDonald's fucks up our order.

Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition. By God we're Americans. No one crosses us and gets away with it. Just ask Lennon's widow.


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Cold Harbor for Carina Saunders

After months of investigation Luis Enrique Ruiz and Jimmy Lee Massey Jr. have been charged with first degree murder in the torture, killing, and dismemberment of Carina Saunders. A front page story in The Oklahoman written by Tim Willert gives graphic details of the act and raises nearly as many questions regarding the murder as it answers.

Three new names were made public and two recently mentioned were conspicuously absent. According to the story Saunders went to a house on S. Harvey Ave. with a woman named Michelle Hanshaw. Willert's account says Hanshaw watched as Ruiz beat Saunders, tied her up, dragged her upstairs, and sawed off her left foot. As he tried to do the same thing to her right foot the blade broke. At some point, Ms. Hanshaw bailed out of out of a window to escape the nightmare in progress.

Willert writes that a woman named Stephanie Howard told police that on two occasions she and former boy friend, Ruiz had to "baby-sit" Saunders. There was no explanation of what she meant by "baby sitting," although given the gruesome nature of this business it probably wasn't a good thing. According to the story Ruiz told her that Saunders was going to be "dealt with."

Willert reports that a third woman, Tia Downour was at the house, but left soon after arriving. Ms. Downour also said she had been told there was a cell phone video of the murder and that the phone belonged to Ruiz.

Downour went on to say that while she was sharing a motel room with Ruiz she took a surreptitious peek at the video, but turned it off once Saunders began to scream..

The rest of the story involves unnamed sources and jailhouse detainees ratting Messrs Ruiz and Massey out. As always it appears they couldn't help but gab about what they'd done and as always everyone they told either wanted to do the right thing, or more realistically, wanted to cut a deal with the DA with their new found leverage.

Two names not mentioned in this latest article were Mindy Cottier, the self described dancer/escort who Bethany police believed had a copy of the odious video and Christopher Banschbach. Reports indicated that Cottier had backed out of a meeting with detectives and was tracked down at a south side motel. She was sharing a room there with Banschbach, a former felon, who was promptly popped on all manner of drug and illegal gun possession charges. The previous story did not offer a guess on the connection those two might have had with either Ruiz, or Massey.

So, as they say, the situation is fluid. Earlier leads and speculation seem to have been run to ground and debunked. The flat on Heyman Street where blood, a machete, and an abandoned Blackberry were found by authorities would appear, in this accounting of events, to not be related to the murder. There is no telling if witnesses will change their stories, or if further evidence will reveal others were involved either as participants, or horrified spectators. It also remains unclear why Ruiz believed Saunders had to be "dealt with."

One basic fact remains the same however. Something went terribly wrong in Carina Saunders' life. At some point she made a series of decisions that led her into a squalid world of drugs and people so detached from the rest of humanity they could reasonably be considered beings from another planet.

Her story is an American tragedy. In some of her photographs her eyes seemed to recognize it. In those shots the loneliness and sadness melded with what appeared to be the knowledge she was on a down hill slide that could not possibly end well.

And in the end the monsters took her. We can only hope we will now take the monsters.

I'm not sure it is justice, but it is all we can offer Carina Saunders and those who loved her. Cold harbor is, in the final analysis, better than none.


Monday, July 23, 2012

Jimmy Holmes Is In A Place None Of Us Will Ever Know

So there was the accused master fiend. The deadly, hyper intelligent, plotter who carefully crafted a murderous plan over the past few months, then carried it out with cold blooded efficiency. James Eagan Holmes, Jimmy to his childhood friends, sat next to his public defender in court, his hair dyed somewhere between red and orange. Rumors of his jailhouse behavior are swirling. Tales of him spitting at police and jailers are circulating on all the cable news outlets. However, as I watched him sitting there one word kept turning over in my mind. It will date me, because I don't think the drug is even used any more. That word is "Thorazine."

Yes, the Joker, as he reportedly referred to himself at the time of his arrest, was described by various talking heads as "unemotional" and "sullen." To this untrained eye he looked so drugged up that he was fighting to stay awake. His head would nod forward and then rock back. His eyes would close for long moments and then open wide as if just the act of remaining conscious was a supreme struggle. He did not speak, but the suspicion here is that this alleged brilliant assassin probably wouldn't have even been able tell you his name if he'd been asked it.

It is hard not to compare his stupor to the grand histrionics displayed by the Norwegian mad man, Anders Breivik. Breivik was angrily engaged with the prosecution and judges from the first moment on. He was and presumably still is, utterly unapologetic, vocal, and combative. Jimmy Holmes looked as if he didn't even know where he was, much less know what was happening.

A CNN legal expert doubted that the suspect was drugged, because it would limit his ability to understand the proceedings. Well if his somnolence was an act he pulled it off with with extreme aplomb.

All we know for sure is that Jimmy Holmes has been to and is still in a place none of the rest of us will ever know. Television wonks have wondered what set him off, as if a single trauma would answer all the questions about this nightmare. It is doubtful there was any one thing. No, Mr. Holmes' ship has been sinking for a long time. We just don't know when it went completely bottom up and he gave into his urges to trip off and perpetrate this horrifying act.

Subtle signs were there. It is reported that he applied for membership to a private gun range recently. The owner of the range turned down his application after listening to a couple of "bizarre" voice mail recordings when he tried to reach Holmes on the phone. He didn't specify exactly what those messages were, but you can be assured that if a gun range anywhere west of the Mississippi says we'd rather you not come here, they must have been out there. Another witness claims he saw Holmes in a sporting goods store trying to fit a scope onto a weapon and wondered why "a guy like that" would be buying such equipment.

Police say it could have been worse. The AR-15 assault weapon with the 100 round drum magazine apparently jammed during the attack leaving the shooter with "only" his shotgun and two .40 caliber Glocks. And of course there was the alleged confession to police that his apartment was heavily booby trapped. What if authorities had gone storming into that flat unaware of what was waiting for them. Indeed, the body count, as terrible as it is, could have been much higher.

Today millions of us looked into the eyes of insanity. What looked back at us wasn't some fire breathing dragon, some raging monster ready to create more awful havoc. What was there was a barely conscious chump who seemed to have no clue.

The makeshift memorials are growing by the moment. Candles are being lit, balloons, flowers and stuffed animals are being deposited at the site of the murders. Brave words about resilience, hope, and not bowing to such violence are being spoken. Unfortunately the dead are still dead and more may follow. At least seven of the wounded remain in critical condition.

The fact is there is something terribly wrong here. We keep producing these lunatics who have access to weapons that are the envy of guerrilla movements and drug cartels world wide. As predicted every bit of armament used in the attack was legally purchased. All the paper work was filled out, all the t's were crossed, all the i's dotted.

CNN sent a young man with a hidden camera into one of the same stores that James Eagan Holmes patronized. He was able to walk out of it with an AR-15 in less than two hours. When he questioned the salesman about how big of a magazine he could get for the weapon, he was told that the largest one the store had in stock held 30 rounds. The clerk then chuckled and said something like, "I guess you'll be shooting a bunch of those prairie dogs." It was as if none of this had ever happened.

Welcome to America. To paraphrase an Oklahoma City furniture store ad catch line, we kill folks.


Friday, July 20, 2012

Another Day Another Shooter

His picture is on NBC News.com. A young Caucasian with short hair, long sideburns, a tight lipped, nearly taste of lemon, smile and wide open, shining, eyes. His name is James Holmes and he is accused of being the latest in a long line of American mass murderers. Last night, or rather early this morning, he walked into an Aurora, Colorado theater during the midnight premier of the movie "The Dark Knight Rises." 

He was dressed completely in black and reports indicate he had on body armor and either a gas mask, or goggles. He was armed with two tear gas canisters, two Glock hand guns, a shot gun, and a Smith and Wesson AR-15 semi automatic assault weapon. The attack had obviously been in the works for some time. Police found his apartment heavily booby trapped and as of this writing haven't figured out how to disarm the explosives and incendiary devices left in waiting for them.

Witnesses say Holmes threw the tear gas canisters into the audience about twenty minutes after the start of the movie. At first some thought it was a stunt connected to the opening of the film. Then he opened fire into the crowd and chaos ensued.

One of the audience members was, Jessica Ghawi. On June second of this year she survived a mass shooting at a Toronto, Ontario mall that killed two persons and wounded seven others. That carnage was small time compared to the havoc wreaked by James Holmes. So far the count stands at  twelve dead and fifty plus wounded. Jessica Ghawi is listed among the fatalities.

The description of the accused shooter is numbingly familiar. He was known as a loner who would usually ignore the greetings of others. He studiously avoided conversations. As one neighbor put it, "no one knew him."

The cold facts are that he is from a San Diego suburb. In 2011 he graduated from U.Cal. Riverside with a degree in neuroscience. I suppose there is some irony there, but I'm so tired of these slugs that I won't try to exploit it. He enrolled at the University of Colorado Denver medical school, but officials there say he was in the process of dropping out.

Apparently his only previous run in with the law was a minor traffic ticket. His name didn't appear on any federal or state terrorist watch lists. I'm sure every weapon and every bullet he brought to the scene was purchased legally from a reputable dealer in the area. Indeed, why take risks with the black market when all this stuff is readily available to any raving lunatic who simply hasn't reached the boiling point yet.

More details will emerge. Unlike most of his predecessors Mr. Holmes was captured alive without a struggle. He will appear in court on Monday. I'm sure we will hear his well thought out and completely logical reasoning at that time. No doubt his list of grievances will be extensive and finely detailed.

It is at this point in my posts that I usually talk about what we need to do to halt stark brutality such as this. Honestly though, what is the use? The guns aren't going away. We'll keep making them and selling them as if they are Big Macs. Certainly the lunatics aren't going to go away either. The manufacture of deadly psychotics is one of the few things this country doesn't outsource. We roll them out on a basis so regular that you'd think there was an assembly line somewhere around here.

No, there is no use whining about it. We're a society that allows its private citizens to arm themselves better than a third world army. The only limitation is the credit line on a Visa or MasterCard account. Many of us are ruthless and violent and not just a few of us are as crazy as they come. Why then should anyone be surprised when this sort of thing happens?

And make no mistake about it, this will happen again, it is bound to. Then after a new round of shock and outrage subsides it will happen again and again and again. It is the All American disease and there is no cure. At least not one we're willing to take.

Just keep your head low and always make sure you have a couple of escape routes planned because this show is coming to your town soon. Trust me, it is just a matter of time.



Thursday, July 19, 2012

Bachmann, Zimmerman, Luis Ruiz and the Sweat Factor

Where do we find these fiends?

Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and a few of her pals have accused an aid to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of being part of a subversive Islamic plot to infiltrate the United States government. The gentlewoman from Minnesota claimed Huma Abedin has ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and they are intent on waging a secret and internal jihad on the pillars of American government. She says she is concerned about the Muslim Brotherhood's and other radical organizations access to top Obama administration officials. In letters to five different U.S. agencies she would have us believe that at least three of Abedin's relatives have close associations with the Brotherhood. Well actually it is two, because the third, her father, died twenty some odd years ago.

The first to respond was crusty old John McCain. On the floor of the senate he said, among other things, that the charges were "an unwarranted and unfounded attack on an honorable woman." McCain has personal knowledge of this sort of hysteria driven nonsense. When he was in the thick of the primary race against George W. Bush twelve years ago the Cheney/Rove axis of evil ran a series of push polls in South Carolina. They accused McCain of fathering a black child out of wedlock. They also made sure to tell republicans in the Palmetto State that his wife Cindy was a drug addict, that McCain himself was a homosexual and that he was either a traitor, or his stay in a North Vietnamese prisoner of war camp had unhinged him mentally.

After McCain's speech things slid further downhill for Bachmann. The arch conservative Ed Rollins, that would be the same Ed Rollins who chaired her short lived presidential campaign, wrote this on the Fox News web site: "Having worked with congressman Bachmann's campaign for president I am fully aware that she sometimes has difficulty with her facts, but this is down right vicious and reaches the late senator Joseph McCarthy's level." He also threw out terms like "extreme and dishonest," but by then I think almost everyone had caught his drift.

Bachmann, who refused to answer questions put to her by CNN, issued a statement saying her letters were being "distorted."

Elsewhere, George Zimmerman, the man accused of murdering unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin, was interviewed by the eminent journalist Sean Hannity. In his recounting of the events of that night Zimmerman said, "I feel it was all God's plan."

Mr. Zimmerman did not speculate about what other plans the Creator of heaven and earth, of all that is seen and unseen, might have for him. Perhaps running amok with a fully automatic weapon at an Omega Psi Phi convention is in the near future. After all everyone there will look suspicious.

In addition, Mr. Hannity apparently has no plans to interview the young Mr. Martin who has, since his death, remained mum about the incident.

Here in Oklahoma City prosecutors have asked for and been given a ten day delay in the matter of officially charging Luis E. Ruiz with the murder of Carina Saunders. In a story in The Oklahoman by Tim Willert, it is reported that Bethany police detective Austin Warfield asked for the extension, "due to the enormity of the case and new evidence that has arisen."

The suspicion that the thirty plus man Bethany police department might be in over their heads on this deal is starting to nag at the gut. Under normal circumstances the department's main focus is on traffic violations and the occasional possession charge. An investigation into a killing that is connected to a wide spread gang conspiracy that includes drug distribution, human trafficking, prostitution and horrifying mayhem could be reasonably construed as not their forte.

Of course there are no Professor Moriartys out there in real life. And in the end everyone talks to someone and that someone will rat them out.

It has been a sweaty week and there are more triple digit temperatures forecast. Perhaps global warming can be blamed for all this savage buffoonery. It has to be something either in the air or the drinking water. Surely we aren't this way normally.

At least I hope not.


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Zombies, Hacks, and the Beaten Take to the Campaign Trail

It is a gruesome lot campaigning for Mitt Romney now and in the near future. Everyone who was once someone is on the stump rallying the troops as the news about Mr. Romney's tenure and business practices at Bain Capital start to take their toll.

The Romney people even dragged that dreadful old zombie John Sununu out of his grave to make a conference call. The former governor of New Hampshire and white house chief of staff immediately dived in with the sort of vitriolic nonsense we can expect from every Romney surrogate between now and November. To quote, "I wish Obama would learn how to be an American." It was a cold blooded play straight to the dark hearts of the birthers and the tea party fanatics.

Later in the conversation Sununu backed off that statement a little, saying he meant that he wished Obama would learn the American formula for creating business. "If," he said, "I didn't give that detail, I apologize." What horse shit. He knew no one would hear "the apology" because everyone would be busy tweeting the original statement. It is typical right wing slash and burn politics. Make the outrageous statement, question some one's nationality, bravery, or patriotism then quietly step back from it when no one is listening.

During the next few months Mitt Romney will, for the most part anyway, take the high road. In the mean time he'll turn his button men loose to level attacks so savage, so filled with half truths and out right lies that it will even make the ghost of Josef Goebbels blush. The witch hunts of Big Joe McCarthy will look like afternoons out by the pool with ice tea and cucumber sandwiches. Ugly won't even begin to describe it.

In the next few days the beaten and disgraced will be opening Romney "victory" offices across the country. Newt Gingrich will be in Jacksonville, Florida. Presumably the Romney people won't let him venture further north than Macon, Georgia, or anywhere near a Tiffany's jewelry store. Beyond the recesses of the deep south the man is an absolute cancer.

Rick Perry is opening a similar office in Elko Nevada. That is an interesting strategy. Nevada has a large Mormon population and some of Perry's evangelical supporters are quite open in their hostility toward the church of Latter Day Saints. Of course, not to disparage the good citizens of Elko, there aren't a whole lot of people outside of Nevada who have the slightest idea where the town is located. Indeed, if it wasn't for a sordid adventure that included Justice Clarence Thomas and the late Hunter Thompson many of us would have never even heard of it.

Rick Santorum will be opening a campaign office in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, despite having once stated publicly that Romney was "the worst republican in the country to put up against Barak Obama." One can only wonder if Santorum will sleep walk through his support for Mr. Romney, all the while secretly hoping the former governor will lose so the door will be open for him in four years.

Everyone else out there is auditioning for the vice presidential nod. Senator Bob Portman of Ohio will be in Cincinnati. Governor Bobby Jindal will make an appearance in Baton Rouge and Chris Christie of New Jersey will try to shed a few pounds on a fund raising tour.

The faces are old and new and the motives are wide spread. Ambassadorships and cabinet spots must be filled, but it will only work if Mitt is the winner in November. Old grudges and misgivings must be swept under the rug for the time being. When money and power are on the line many sins are forgiven, at least temporarily.

In Oklahoma we will be spared most of the verbose promises and accusations because the results here are a foregone conclusion. No one in their right mind will spend a dime of their ill gotten gains preaching to the screeching choir, or trying to convert what amounts to the republican version of the Taliban.

No, that money will be spent in places like Ohio, Virginia, Florida, and Pennsylvania among others. Places that will decide this election.

It won't be pretty, but it will be close. Look for ballot boxes to be deposited at the bottom of rivers lakes and oceans. The dead will cast ballots and so will their dogs and cats.

Yes, even the Russians will look on in shocked awe at this one.

That is how far we have fallen and how hate filled this campaign has become. Every act, every statement, no matter how criminal, will be justifiable to someone.

And, things are just getting warmed up. That in itself is not something pleasant to dwell upon. But then, truthfully, none of this circus maximus ever is.


Friday, July 13, 2012

Pride Before the Fall in Happy Valley

A few decades ago someone asked Joe Paterno why he was still coaching at Penn State University. His response was, "I don't want to leave college football in the hands of the Jackie Sherrills and Barry Switzers." He was referring to a couple of successful coaches who were widely regarded as playing fast and loose with NCAA regulations.

Unfortunately for at least five young boys, while Paterno was unwilling to leave college football in the hands of Sherrill and Switzer, it is becoming increasingly apparent he was willing to leave them in the hands of Jerry Sandusky.

Former FBI director Louis Freeh was hired by the university's trustees to look into this sordid affair. His conclusions will not make anyone on the campus either happy or comfortable. In fact they are so damning there is now actual talk of pulling down Paterno's statue that stands in front of the 106,000 seat Beaver Stadium. That such a thing might even be considered would have been unfathomable less than a year ago. At Penn State there was God in all His permutations and then there was Joe Paterno. Joe Pa. The only man besides Jesus Christ Himself who could do no wrong.

According to Freeh, despite testimony to the otherwise by Paterno himself, the old coach did know about a 1998 criminal investigation of Sandusky's conduct with children. Later, after assistant coach Mike McQuery reported he saw Sandusky having sex with a young boy in the Penn State showers, Freeh concludes that there was, "no attempt to identify victim two or to protect the child from similar conduct except related to preventing its recurrence on university property." Basically the powers that be at Penn State told him to take it off campus. In effect, get a room, Jerry.

The most damning evidence concerning Paterno's involvement came from an email written by then athletic director Tim Curley. According to the report, Curley, university president Graham Spanier, and vice president Gary Schultz were prepared to turn Sandusky into the state Department of Public Welfare. Curley backed out of that plan writing in an email that he had changed his mind, "after giving it more thought and talking it over with Joe." Curley then proposed the university offer Sandusky, "professional help."

In one of those cold blooded responses you can always count on from bureaucrats and politicians Spanier's answer was, "the only downside for us is if the message isn't heard and acted on and we become vulnerable for not having reported it."

There you have it. There was absolutely no consideration of what might be right or wrong. No empathy for the victim. Lets take care of our own, move on, and hope the "downside" doesn't catch up to us. It is a disregard for justice that rivals that of several dioceses of the Roman Catholic Church. Or, as Freeh wrote, "Although concern to treat the child abuser humanely was expressly stated no such sentiments were ever expressed for the victims."

Paterno's family are defending his name. They are throwing about terms like "misunderstood," "underestimated," and are saying Sandusky was a "great deceiver." It is weak tea at best. The image of the infallible Joe is gone  forever.  All those Paterno sermons about integrity and honor now seem at best hollow and at worst downright hypocritical.

Heads are going to roll because of all this. Curley and Schultz have been charged in the cover up and police are investigating Spanier. If he was alive, as unbelievable as it might seem, Paterno could well be facing a criminal indictment also.

Who knows why it really happened. Freeh says the main reason was to avoid bad publicity. Maybe, or maybe it was that the Penn State football program had become such a self contained, insulated, world that it considered calling in outsiders to police one of their own as something akin to heresy.

Whichever the case, the evidence is growing clearer and clearer that no one in Happy Valley gave a rat's ass about the kids. It was all about them. It was all about the institution  and sanctity of Penn State football.

In their arrogant zeal to maintain the perfect image these guys not only destroyed that image, but also, perhaps, destroyed, themselves.

Pride before the fall.

And what a terrible fall it has been.


Thursday, July 12, 2012

Carina Saunders and the Creatures Among Us

These creatures are among us, although morphologically they do not differ from us; we must not posit a difference of essence, but a difference of behavior.

Author, Philip K. Dick

Phil Dick was absolutely correct. There are things out there that look perfectly human, that eat the same things humans do, that sleep the same way humans do. However there is something missing in them, some great black void that separates them from humanity, that makes them, despite all appearances, utterly alien to humans.

The ghastly headline in the July 11th edition of The Oklahoman couldn't have illustrated it more. To quote directly, "Video of Carina Saunders' killing may exist, police say."

Apparently Bethany police have been chasing down rumors of the existence of such a tape for months. Finally last week they felt they had come across someone who actually had a copy. However the woman, after agreeing to an interview, was a no show. The story in The Oklahoman, written by Tim Willert, with assistance by Nolan Clay and Andrew Knittle, identified her as Mindy Cottier.

Cottier is a pro and proud of it. According to The Oklahoman she posted on Facebook that, "I'm a stripper/escort and I love my job. I make more than 90% of the college grads out there." Yes, well a lot could be said about that, mainly about how long a dancer/hooker can maintain her clientele after the age of thirty as opposed to say a CPA. Not to mention that most college grads don't have to swallow the penises of complete strangers five or six nights a week to earn a buck.

Bethany police tracked her down to a south side motel where she was staying with a guy named Christopher Banschbach. Banschbach is a convicted felon. Police found a gun sitting on a bed, wads of cash in Banschach's pockets, and, of course, meth and what is always called drug paraphernalia. They also seized a lap top, two zip drives, two cameras, and four cell phones.

The warrant application mentioned Saunders' name and the possibility of a tape documenting her murder. However, it was not among the actual list of items that Bethany police said they were searching for. The warrant application and warrant itself focused on drugs, money, paraphernalia, and records of drug transactions. One can only speculate that is because, at this point, the cops have to focus on the drug angle. The video, until it is actually found, remains nothing more than a rumor. It is, at this moment, a sort of urban legend circulating in the dark nether world of gangs, drugs, and women who, for a half a decade or so, make more than 90% of college grads.

The story went on to say that Bethany police chief Phil Cole declined to answer when asked if the video was found. Police are also unclear on what, if any, connections Cottier and Banschbach might have with Saunders, Luis Ruiz who has been charged with her death, or the others who are "persons of interest."

I am assuming the video, if it does exist, is meant to motivate other women into cooperating with these monsters. As twisted and horrifying as that is, to think it was made for entertainment purposes is worse. That thought makes the stomach knot and fills the mouth with the coppery taste of old pennies.

There are no circumstances that can explain away the actions of these beasts. There is no amount of psycho babble, child hood trauma, chemical imbalance, brain damage, or drug dependency that can mitigate the torture and dismemberment of Carina Saunders.

The complete lack of humanity and conscience, the  terrible absence of empathy that infested those who perpetrated this crime and possibly filmed it has one name and one name only. That is evil. There is no other way to put it, no other explanation.

It is not us, but it walks among us.

When we do identify it let us exorcise it as quickly and completely as possible. It simply does not deserve a presence in this world.


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Another Year Another Corporate Scam

"It is deja vu all over again."
John Roe, co-founder of the Commodity Customer Coalition

Indeed, the word on the street, that would be Wall Street, is that Peregrine Financial Group, or PFGBest is done. Done as in its founder and CEO Russell Wasendorf is listed in critical condition in a hospital following a suicide attempt. Done as in the National Futures Association has frozen customer accounts. Done as in estimates are that the company is missing around $200 million that it claimed to have on account.

This sort of sordid practice is becoming all too familiar. Last October MF Global tanked when over a billion dollars went poof. Now PFGBest has done the same thing, although on a smaller scale. Still $200 million is not an insignificant amount unless you are someone like Mitt Romney.

MSNBC is reporting that regulators "have reason enough to believe the firm doesn't have enough assets to meet customer obligations." The FBI is investigating and the Commodities Futures Trading Commission is all ready filing suit. The allegations are fraud, customer funds violations and making false statements.

It is reported that employees are clearing out their desks at the Cedar Falls, Iowa company that sports the corporate motto, "The best thing about our technology is our people."

It was apparently a well run scam. Last year PFGBest was given the Iowa Character Award from the group Character Counts in Iowa. Too bad they didn't know what kind of characters were actually in charge.

It makes you wonder who is keeping an eye on all this chicanery, or I suppose, who isn't. These three card monte games are run by the same people who scream about too many government regulations and restrictions. They are the ones who want to be given free reign so they can go utterly amok, completely unfettered and obviously unindicted.

It is starting to look like it is more sensible to send your bank account number to some guy in Nigeria with the hope he'll deposit funds in it rather than deal with these greed heads.

Do you have to check your morals at the door when they award you that MBA? How many millions are enough? I guess we haven't reached that number yet.

No, it is just another two bit street con only on a much bigger scale. The only thing separating the people at PFGBest and that carny inducing you to knock over the metal milk bottles on the midway is the softball the barker's hand.

At some point, as these crimes continue to mount, everyone is going to reach the same conclusion. Capitalism simply cannot be trusted to capitalists.

When that bell tolls the guys who ran places like MF Global, PFGBest and Enron will have no one to blame but themselves. They'll try of course, but by then no one will listening.

By then it will be good riddance to them all.


Monday, July 9, 2012

That Old Time Religion

The video out of Afghanistan was brutal and simple. A woman who was crouched in front of about 150 cheering onlookers was shot multiple times in the back and back of the head. She had been accused of adultery. In the tape, obtained by Reuters, the enthusiastic onlookers continually called the shooter and his pals mujaheddin. The Taliban denied it was their doing, but no one is buying that bull shit. Especially not your average Afghan who had to put up with these beasts for too many years.

Since the bearded ones were kicked out of power Afghan women have made strides in education and employment, both of which were banned by the Taliban regime. They also have the right to vote now, which much drive those goofs into frothing fits. Although, to be quite honest, it is hard to think of any situation that doesn't drive them into frothing fits. Frothing fits seem to be a permanent emotional and mental state for them.

Beyond the murder itself the other shock is that it happened only a few kilometers outside of Kabul. The act has sent a terrible chill right into the heart of those, who after being forced to live in 6th century tribal slavery for years, are finally starting to see the light of day. It also highlights a slow downplay of women's rights as a priority of the Kabul government. Indeed, there are more than a few women in Afghanistan afraid that the regime of Hamid Karzai is willing to sell them out in order to obtain peace with the Taliban.

Else where in the laugh a minute world of Islamic fundamentalism militants in Mali have destroyed a number of 15th century shrines dedicated to Islamic saints. The group, Ansar Dine has taken over the ancient crossroads city of Timbuktu and gone about destroying mausoleums it considers idolatrous. The U.N. and World Court have condemned the destruction of what it considers priceless historical sites, even going so far as to calling the acts war crimes. Ansar Dine spokesman Oumar Ould Hamaha issued a statement saying that his group didn't recognize either the U.N. or the World Court. Ansar Dine, he said,  is only answerable to the divine court of Shariah.. Ansar Dine translates into English as, what else, defenders of the faith.

It isn't like it is the first time Muslims have gone out and destroyed or co-opted another religion's relics, or holy sites. More than a couple of the mosques in Istanbul were once orthodox Christian churches. The Dome of the Rock sits on the site of the great Jewish temple in Jerusalem. In March 2001 the Taliban blew up 6th century statues of Buddha in Afghanistan. Ask any Hindu living near the border with Pakistan how much fun these guys are.

Of course, as with anything, it is dangerous to condemn an entire culture or faith for the acts of a few. There are millions and millions of Muslims who, like the rest of us, are just trying to get through the day while treating others with the decency they expect in return.

Besides, here in the U.S. we have our own crowd of fanatics who claim religion is on their side. On August 6th, 2011 Texas governor Rick Perry held a rally called The Response Prayer Event. He was getting ready to run for president of the United States. Several of the clergy involved were apostles of one C. Peter Wagner's New Apostolic Reformation movement. Brother Wagner has repeatedly written that true believers need to burn, smash, and or flush down the toilet profane and idolatrous religious texts or symbols. These would include the Books of Mormon, statues of Roman Catholic saints, Buddha and Hindu gods. He also sees the need to rid ourselves of African tribal masks, Hopi Kachina dolls and totem polls.

I suppose all this rock 'em sock 'em fervor works for these guys, no matter what their faith. Obviously it doesn't for the vast majority of the rest of us. Murder, mayhem and crude vandalism are pretty much what they are, no matter what the excuse.

As a friend of mine said, "once people are convinced God is on their side, they are capable of anything."

It would seem he was right.

God save us from all these holy men, for they are a deadly lot. And they are certainly not worthy of a Supreme Being. At least not one that I know.


Friday, July 6, 2012

Alina Fitzpatrick: Still Out In The Cold

After a deadly fall and winter it would seem the birds have all come home to roost except in the case of Alina Fitzpatrick. Her's is the only death out of five brutal murders in a breathtakingly short span last year where no charges have been filed, or persons of interest have been identified.

Of course it doesn't help the police technically don't consider her death a murder because of the amount of meth found in her system during an autopsy. On January 20th of this year, in a story written by The Oklahoman's Matt Dinger, OKC police Sgt. Jennifer Wardlow was quoted as saying the department was keeping an open file on the case, but didn't consider it a homicide. Nine days later in a story by Bryan Dean, OKC police Capt. Dexter Nelson tried to smooth over that apparent cold blooded attitude toward Fitzpatrick's death by saying police were still investigating it as suspicious. "Homicide is just a legal term," he said. "You investigate them in the same way."

In today's Oklahoman, a front page story written by Carmen Foreman and Matt Dinger, says Bethany police have charged one Luis Ruiz with the murder of Carina Saunders. She was the first of the women to perish last fall. Her dismembered body was found in a duffel bag in a field behind a grocery store.

Luis Ruiz, who is 37 is the only person actually charged with Saunders' death, at least so far. Two other men, Francisco Gomez and Jimmy Lee Massey have been named as persons of interest. They are being held on separate charges, although it is reported, Massey has confessed to kidnapping and forcing an unnamed woman to watch Saunders' gruesome murder.

Foreman and Dinger report, Ruiz's brother, Jorge told them he guessed Luis was in a drug ring. He also was quoted as saying he "might" have seen his brother hanging out with Saunders, but couldn't be sure. The police are being mum on any hard evidence in the case.

Two people are being held in the Kelsey Bransby murder. She was found shot in a south side apartment and died a short time later. Cole Hopper and Danielle Cooley have been charged in connection with the case. Hopper is looking at murder two and Cooley is being charged as an accessory. They were friends of the victim.

Jaymie Adams' husband was charged with her death. Her body was found out by Lake Stanley Draper. She went missing after going to meet a "friend" at a Midwest City McDonald's. She had four kids and a fifth was on the way. To make ends meet she had advertised on Craig's List as a massage therapist, but in reality was pulling down tricks with the seeming approval of her spouse. He was into "the swingers lifestyle" and had a taste for wife swapping and Lord only knows what else.

Finally Emily Matheson and Fabion Brown were accused of hiring Brodric, Savage, Glover to kill Brown's estranged wife, Jessica Lynn Brown. Glover's year end close out sale price for the hit was reportedly $250.

So, it appears the police in both OKC and Bethany have their suspects in hand. No one has gone to trial yet and there is no telling what plea bargaining has and will take place. The families of  Saunders and Bransby, while never attaining the mythical status of closure, because there can never be complete closure when it comes to losing a child, can at least begin to see an end to the ongoing nightmare of not knowing who and why.

Only the third and youngest victim's death remains a dreadful mystery. Make no mistake about it, for the family of Alina Fitzpatrick, even as the summer heat settles down onto this dusty burg, their daughter is still out in the cold. And until they too find out who and why, she will, tragically, stay there.


Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Dancing Mitt: You Say Taxes, I Say Penalty

That sound of tap dancing you hear is coming from the talented, yes, magical, feet of Mr. Mitt Romney. He is trying to explain why he was all for a state wide mandate on health care in Massachusetts, but is now steadfastly opposed to one on the national level.

He is also trying to explain the difference between a "tax" and a "penalty" when it comes to such things. Unfortunately as the words come tumbling out they tend to eddy into whirlpools of confusion and double speak, but that certainly shouldn't be a surprise to anyone.

His staff started this warped ball rolling downhill when senior advisor Eric Fehinstrom called the federal health care mandate a "penalty." A campaign press release followed shortly there after expanding on that thought, calling it an "unconstitutional penalty".

The problem with all that "penalty" stuff is that in Massachusetts then governor Romney enacted a law which  required people without health insurance to pay a "penalty." You can see his problem. His campaign people are condemning his opponent in language he framed himself in order to avoid saying he "taxed" someone in the Bay State.

The Wall Street Journal, an arm of the right wing Rupert Murdoch propaganda machine, jumped his ass immediately. They drug him over the coals for not openly repenting for that liberalesque lapse in Massachusetts and for failing to say the Obama mandate was a "tax" on the middle class.

You can say many things about Mitt Romney, but one of them isn't that he doesn't know whose pocket he is in. He quickly issued a statement that said in part: "Well the Supreme Court has the final word and their final word is Obamacare is a tax. So it is a tax."

Then the mad little jig went into over drive. Romney, in an effort to explain the difference between Mittcare's "penalties" and the Affordable Care Act's "unconstitutional penalties," which are actually "taxes," said this: "Actually the Chief Justice in his opinion made it very clear that at the state level, states have the power to put in mandates. They don't require them to be called taxes in order for them to be constitutional."

I'm sure that makes sense somewhere in galaxy far, far away.

Now you know why it took so long for this guy to win the nomination and why there isn't an arch conservative alive in this land who trusts him any further than he or she can throw him.

I'm sure by the debates this fall he'll have all the kinks worked out and the dog and pony show will be performed with breathtaking precision. After all, these things take a lot of work. Rehearsals must be held, costumed fitted, and the choreography finalized.

In the mean time, proving once again he is completely in touch with the struggling working class, Mr. Romney took time out from the campaign to be photographed with his wife cruising on a jet ski. They were spending the fourth of July at Lake Winnpesaukee, New Hampshire where they own a vacation home.

All work and no play makes Mitt a dull boy. Besides, doesn't everyone have a vacation home in New Hampshire?

I suppose they do in his world.

Too bad 99% of us don't inhabit that planet.


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Declaration of Independence and Revisionism

It was a dicey time 236 years ago in Philadelphia. A group of men, most of them wealthy, many of them owners of fellow human beings, were about to commit an act of high treason against what was arguably the most powerful nation in the world.

A declaration had been drafted by Thomas Jefferson of Virginia. It had suffered through an extensive editing process by committee and other individuals within the gathering. Some of it is still quoted and revered two plus centuries later while other parts are largely ignored by the vast majority of people who populate the country which it, in effect, founded. Indeed, when was the last time you heard someone quote this complaint against George III found within the body of the declaration: "He has excited domestic insurrections among us and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers the merciless Indian savages whose known rule of warfare is the undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes, and conditions." No, that one doesn't get a lot of play now days.

As with many important, radical, documents it has been interpreted to support a vast spectrum of political views. Both it and those who signed off on it have been subjected to increasingly fanciful historical revisions, especially by those on the religious right wing fringe of American society. If you believe their version of events and the people the nation was founded by, you've bought into the tenets of every wild eyed TV evangelist currently fouling the airwaves. Yes, you see Pentecostals drove the whole revolution.


In the declaration there are three references to a deity. First is "nature's God, second is "their Creator", third is, the "Supreme Judge of the world." There is also a mention of "Divine Providence," if you want to count that. The name Jesus is not invoked, neither is there any reference to the new, or old testament. So much for those biblical and Christian values the evangelicals are claiming the nation was based upon.

In truth, Jefferson's views of Christianity were closer to agnosticism than anything else. In a letter to his nephew, Peter Carr in 1787 he wrote, "Question with boldness even the existence of God, because if there be one, he must more approve the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear." In fact, although he admired the teachings of Christ as "...a system of most sublime morality which has ever fallen from the lips of man," he flatly rejected the notion of Jesus' divinity.

John Adams was a Unitarian who also rejected the divinity of Jesus and the concept of the holy Trinity.

Benjamin Franklin was a confirmed deist, although a moderate who was tolerant of those who did profess Christian beliefs. In that regard he was unlike Thomas Paine who despised all things religious and went out of his way to satirize and ridicule those of faith.

George Washington, who missed the signing because he was commanding an army in the field, never referred to Jesus Christ in any of his writings and refused to accept communion.

Tomorrow is a time to study the document and reflect upon how it shook the existing world political order to its very core. After July 4th, 1776 nothing, especially in the western hemisphere, would ever be the same again.

It was a gutsy move by a bunch of people who had everything, including their lives, to lose. We dishonor their memory and accomplishments if we try to portray them as something they weren't simply to facilitate our own ends.

That Orwellian concept is perhaps the greatest internal threat to the republic and democracy as a whole that the nation faces today.

It is something to keep in mind as the fireworks go off and the brats sizzle on the grill.

Veritas Omnina Vincit


Monday, July 2, 2012

The Som Sabadell Flash Mob, Hope and Sentimentality

Sometimes, no many times, it is easy to lose all faith in humanity. Especially when you dwell on the news and write about what you see on a daily basis.

The brute ugliness of humans is spread across newspapers, tv screens, and the Internet to the exclusion of all else on most days.

As the man in a quite mediocre film once said, "If it bleeds, it leads."

Indeed there is this terrible fascination with all things bad and it starts from this keyboard and works its way to those who read the blog and watch cable and local news.

Murder, war, rape, buggery of all sorts, abject greed, dangerous alliances between the corporate world and political parties, and an absolute absence of common sense and decency appears to be the norm. In fact many times it easy to assume these terrible sins are all we are capable of as a species.

Sadly, much of the time that is true. Some escape into alcohol and drugs, others into fantasy world memories. Memories of times and places that never really existed, or if they did were tinged with a dark underside none of us will admit to in our recollections.

However, once in a great while something comes across the screen that reminds us we are capable of more. I'm not talking about a heroic rescue or acts of great bravery and kindness although when those occur they do inspire. I'm talking about simple things that suddenly remind us of the brilliant hope and wonder that dwell deep within most of us. The simple things that make us different from the beasts in the fields and jungles.

I will admit up front that I have an affinity for classical music. It is by no means what I listen to exclusively, but be assured that as I am composing these posts documenting all manner of depravity and expressing my thoughts regarding them I am listening to anyone from Mozart, to Beethoven, and more. Sometimes as I'm typing I think of Malcolm McDowell's character in "A Clockwork Orange," being forced to listen to Beethoven's ninth symphony as he watches endless reels of death camp footage.

I will also admit that, as with every cynic, if you scratch me you will find hidden away the bruised soul of an idealist. There is also a streak of rank sentimentality tucked away in there somewhere. I like to blame my Irish great grand parents for that bit of DNA.

That is why when I do, once in a while, stumble across something that reminds me that deep within much of the human race there is something akin to holiness I get the proverbial lump in the throat.

I would suggest that you now exit this blog and go to YouTube. Once there search out "Som Sabadell Flash Mob." Listen to the music, but pay attention to the reaction of the crowd, especially the children.

Trust me, it will be the best five minutes and forty one seconds of your day.

It will remind you, for a few moments at least, we are better than we seem.