Thursday, January 31, 2013

George Zimmerman Needs Your Money and A Burden Too High

"On the night of February 26, 2012, after enduring a prolonged physical attack from Trayvon Martin, screaming for help countless times and receiving no help and all the while in fear for my life, I shot Trayvon Martin in self defense. I did not shoot to take his life, I shot to save my own."

George Zimmerman, from the web site The Real George

With those two breathless sentences our man, George Zimmerman begins to plead his case in the court of public opinion and solicit donations for his defense fund. He also claims he is suing NBC who he says edited the tape of a phone call he made, intentionally making him appear to be a racist. In addition he accuses NBC of exploiting the shooting to create an opportunity to make a profit.

He doesn't mention how NBC could, or would profit from any of this. It might be that he believes their portrayal of him as a racist drove up the audience ratings for the corporation and therefore increased the amount of advertising they were able to sell. That would be an iffy thing to prove. Especially given that NBC probably has two floors worth of accountants who can bury any numbers they want and contort the ones they don't to the point that it might look like they actually lost money when they aired broadcasts about George Zimmerman. No, it is probably best to stick to good old fashioned libel, George. Unless, of course, you get convicted, then you're fucked in too many ways to count.

CBS is reporting that lead defense attorney, Mark O'Mara is asking for a delay in the trial that is scheduled to begin in June. O'Mara believes the prosecution has been slow in turning over evidence and wants to push the date back to November of this year so that he can properly prepare his case.

He is also soliciting donations for the defense fund. Well of course he is. He is the one getting paid, or hopes to get paid, big money to keep Brother Zimmerman out of a Florida correctional facility. He insists his client is innocent, but after all we aren't a bunch of communists here. Beyond his own services there are investigators and expert witnesses who need to be called in and every man jack one of them is entitled to make a buck.

According to O'Mara the defense fund has brought in $314,000 so far. He says of that money $95,000 has been spent on bail, $56,100 on security and $62,000 on Zimmerman's living expenses. Anticipating some rather pointed questions about that last figure he claims it is inflated because Zimmerman has been forced to hunker down in various extended stay hotels until he can find a safe place to rent. He also blames the court for the extra cost, because it has forced Zimmerman to remain in Seminole County while awaiting trial. He is quoted as hoping donations will amount to around $30,000 per month.

When the circus finally does kick off look for Trayvon Martin to be put on trial by Mr. O'Mara and his crew. It will be a vicious and unrelenting attack on the young man who won't be there to defend himself against whatever charges they might level. It is the only real defense George Zimmerman has.

In other news National Rifle Association president, David Keene has decided around 85% of American adults are wrong. That is the percentage of people that most polls show approve of universal background checks for firearm purchases. He asserts that required checks for private sales of weapons by individuals, either at home, or at gun shows, will not prevent criminals from securing weapons. The immediate question one could reasonably ask then is, why are you against it? What skin would it off your nose, Dave? His answer: "the burden would be too high for individual gun sellers." As my kids used to say, "Well, duh." The whole point here is to regulate and slow the sale and proliferation of weapons. As the polls show, the vast majority of people don't give a rat's ass if a background check burdens a seller. No burden is too great if it stops even one deadly loon, if it saves just one life.  

It is becoming increasingly apparent that the NRA loves for criminals to have guns. As long as they do their leadership can whip out the "more guns for self defense" argument. Their goal is an angry, paranoid, society filled with a population that cannot envision itself wandering outside anywhere at anytime unarmed.

In other words, fear is good.

That is their vision of freedom.

The loud whirring sound you hear is the founding fathers spinning in their graves.



Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Education and Religion in Texas and a Billion Missing Chinese

A while back the United States Supreme Court ruled that public schools can offer classes on the bible so long as no specific religious view is advocated by either the teacher, or the school district. Down in Texas a law was passed that stated such classes must be, "impartial."

There is no slope quite so slippery as the one that involves religion and education, especially when you throw a bunch of evangelicals into the mix. MSN News is reporting that the Texas Freedom Network is saying that there are now 60 districts in that state conducting bible courses. That would be all fine and good, but according to them the word "impartial" really doesn't apply in most of those cases. In fact many of the classes have strayed into the realm of fundamentalist Christianity when it comes to both history and science. Well it is Texas after all. Rick Perry is governor there for a reason.

Mark Chancey, a professor of religious studies at Southern Methodist University, says many of the classes have come to closely resemble a morning at a fundamentalist Sunday school.

Among other tidbits he found that two districts teach racial diversity in the world, you know why some people are black and some aren't, can be traced directly back to the sons of Noah. It isn't clear how that works to a lay person such as myself unless Noah had a bunch of kids of different races. In the bible the old boy had three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. According to the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia there is a table of nations that lists which racial groups emerged from the three sons and their descendants. The problem is that none of the peoples mentioned there, as near as I can tell, have anything to do with east Asians. So basically a billion fucking Chinese and off shoots from that race are simply unaccounted for, leaving a rather large hole in the anthropological record. I suppose one could take comfort in the fact that it doesn't take much reading between the lines to see the divine hand of evolution at work there in that table. Although to suggest that would, no doubt, create unimaginable shudders and heated denials among the academicians teaching this history of humankind.

Chancey claims many of the courses either suggest, or openly claim the bible is literally fact. One teaches that true Christians will be called to heaven in the "rapture." It is an event that gets them out of suffering through the chaos and pain of the tribulation, or end of times, with the rest of us poor schmoes.

The professor also found that a number of the "impartial" classes teach their students that the earth is only 6000 years old, which I'm sure will help them out immensely when they take their first college geology class. Yes, just tell that grad assistant the chunk of granite you are holding is less than 6000 years old and see what sort of grade you end up with.

The Texas Freedom Network states, a bit dryly, that statute guidelines are being ignored and no one is enforcing them. Oh, you think?

Freedom of religion is one thing. There is also freedom from religion. Finally there is cold, hard, science. If I want someone to teach my kids, or rather now, my grand kids that the bible is literal, that the earth is only 6000 years old, I'll either send them to a church sponsored school, or shove them into a time machine and set the date for 1300 A.D. It is not the state's job to be the arbiter of which religion is true, of which faith is God Almighty's preference. That is not separation of church and state. It never has been and it never will be.

If children want to pray, let them pray. Just don't tell them what to pray, or how to do it. And for the sake of the Lord and you're own intellect, don't ignore all those Chinese.

sic vita est




Friday, January 25, 2013

The Big Power Grab and The Difference Between Rats and Republicans

The Great Tribulation began for republicans last November when Barack H. Obama handed them their heads in the presidential election. It was an election that many of them thought they had in the bag. After all, in places like Pennsylvania and Florida local GOP lawmakers did everything they possibly could to prevent lower income democrats from voting. From voter ID's to a ballot just a few pages less than the novel, "War and Peace": from sudden and dramatically reduced early voting periods, to post election fol de rol, it looked as if the fix was in. To hell with what the polls were saying. We have our own polls. Our men Dick Morris and Karl Rove are on top of the situation.

Alas, it was not to be. As the numbers mounted the gnashing of teeth and rending of cloth began in earnest. It was a world gone mad. The Grand Old Party could no longer win a national election with white people alone. The barbarians had crashed down the gates and were running amok in the streets with the heady realization of The New Demographic.

"The horror, the horror", as Mr. Kurtz said in Conrad's novel. A few of their number, the nihilistic true believers, tried to blame it on the party moving too far to the left by nominating Mitt Romney. Others wildly claimed that George Soros rigged voting machines. Meanwhile the realists got down to the business of figuring out how to broaden an ever shrinking base that increasingly seems out of touch with twenty-first century America.

The first order of business, they recognized, was to kiss and make up with the Hispanic population. Obviously you can't have a gaggle of marginal candidates spend a year talking about running every Latino out of the country and then expect them to vote for your guy. Marco Rubio instantly has become a rising star.

Now comes word that even reasonable and moderate shifts in party policy may not be necessary. NBC News is reporting that republican controlled state legislatures in the swing states of Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virgina, and Michigan are attempting to change the rules of the game.

It all began when the republicans swept into power in 2010, the year every state gets redistricted. During that time frame they were able to gerrymander congressional districts in such a torturous fashion that it ensured them control of the house even in the face of disasters like the one last November. It, in fact, shoved democratic voters into virtual ghettos located in only the most populous cities. It also allowed people like the notorious crank, Todd Akin to win a seat in congress.

There was still a fly in the ointment though. It was that pesky electoral college. In every place other than Maine and Nebraska, the winner of the popular vote got all of a state's electoral votes.

The answer to that vexing problem is now crystal clear to state hacks everywhere. Instead of moderating policies and making even fleeting attempts to woo voters of color, just change the laws under the guise of "giving smaller communities a bigger say in presidential elections." With that change, the allocation of electoral votes by any given state is dependent on who wins, not the state as a whole, but its congressional districts. In most places this is known as minority rule. You know--like they once had in South Africa.

As an example, NBC points out that in the last election Barack Obama won Virginia by 150,000 votes statewide, therefore he got all of Virginia's 13 electoral votes. With the new plan Mitt Romney would have won 9 of the votes and Obama only 4.

NBC notes Alan Abramowitz of Emory University has calculated that if every state had that system in place in 2010, Mitt Romney would have won the presidency 272 electoral votes to 267, despite losing the popular vote by a hefty margin.

Ahh yes, if you can't beat 'em, cheat 'em.

Reince Priebus, the chair of the Republican National Committee assures us that the national party has nothing to do with this. It is an issue the states should address. However he did say, "I think it is something that a lot of states that have been consistently blue, but that are fully controlled by red ought to be looking at." That's right. The head of the republican national party just endorsed a power grab by a bunch of "reds."

And make no mistake about it, this is a power grab. The republicans are basically admitting that they are done as a national entity. They are openly conceding that the only places they can win are where whites remain in a majority. The brute reality is the GOP has lost three of the last four popular votes in presidential elections. Even that wax figure named Al Gore got more votes nationally than George W. Bush. Unfortunately stooping to grave felonies every four years is an iffy proposition at best. This scam saves the trouble and removes the risk.

Every now and then I begin to think the republican party can't go any lower. They never fail to disappoint though.

There are rats and there are republicans. The only way you can tell the difference is by looking for the tail. If it has one you can rest easy.


Thursday, January 24, 2013

Sheriffs Vs.The Great Big Government ; Guns for Felons and Freedom Isn't Free

It is an ugly time to be a gun owner. You feel set upon by powerful and nefarious forces. Deadly psychopaths have run amok and given The Great Big Government, led by the African-Probably Not American-Quite Possibly a Communist president, an excuse to try to restrict your purchase of semi automatic weapons and accompanying ammunition clips. You know, the single magazines that hold more rounds than were fired during the entire battle of Lexington. Yes, what happened in Aurora, Colorado, Newtown, Connecticut, Albuquerque, New Mexico and dozens of other places were tragedies, but if only one of us had been there with our AR-15 we could have stopped it. If they take away our ability to buy more guns chaos, anarchy, and mayhem will ensue. Indeed, cold sweats, panic and delirium tremens are setting in even before any sort of prohibition has been enacted.

But wait, all is not lost yet!

MSN Now is reporting that Colorado state representative, Perry Buck is ready to propose a law that ensures that convicted non-violent felons can legally purchase firearms once their sentences have been served. She believes it is "irresponsible," not to let them have access to weapons.

Sheriff Tim Mueller of Linn County, Oregon has sent a dire warning to Vice President Joe Biden. In part it reads, "Any federal regulation enacted by congress, or by executive order of the president offending the constitutional rights of my citizens shall not be enforced by me or my deputies, nor will I permit the enforcement of any unconstitutional regulations or orders by federal officers within the borders of Linn County, Oregon." Obviously Sheriff Mueller is enamored by long winded sentences even more than I am. It is also interesting to note that he sounds a tad imperial when he promises to protect the rights of my citizens.

Not to be outdone, the Utah Sheriff's Association has sent Barak, By God, Obama himself a letter concerning the rights of people to bear arms against "tyrannical subjugation." The letter ends this way, "In conclusion we, like you swore a solemn oath to protect and serve the constitution of the United States and we are prepared to trade our lives for the preservation of its traditional interpretation."

Down in Texas, republican state representative Steve Toth wants to pass legislation making it a felony for any federal officer to try to enforce gun control laws that would "ban ownership of semiautomatic weapons or reduce the size of ammunition magazines." He refers to the president as "King Obama" proving he really doesn't understand the American election process, or various forms of political systems. Toth insists that if a federal officer comes into Texas to enforce a federal executive order he or she should be subject to criminal prosecution.

It is nice to know sheriffs in Utah and Oregon are required to be scholastically astute when it comes to a history of the American government and its execution of federal statutes prior to their taking office. It is also comforting to realize that they and they alone, rather than the judicial branch, are the final arbiters of what is constitutional and what is not. After all, you can never trust a judge to do what you want and that whole separation of powers thing just gets in the way when push comes to shove.

This is all highly reminiscent of the infamous Karl Rove election night meltdown on Fox News. These grotesque assholes are driven mad, not to mention delusional by the fact a majority of Americans voted to give Barak H. Obama the go ahead with his agenda for another term. An agenda that, incidentally, didn't include any viable gun control legislation until after the Newtown massacre.

In fact the slightly queasy feeling here is that this is a fight Obama didn't really want, but loons like James Holmes and Adam Lanza forced his hand. Five hundred or so murders in Chicago during a single year can be swept under the rug because they didn't happen all at once and most of the victims were of color. However, when middle and upper income white people start getting gunned down in droves in a single night or morning and the national press gets involved you have to act.

So there we have it. The sheriffs have spoken. They will interpret the constitution, they will selectively enforce the laws of the land and without any legislative or judicial authority they will arrest federal officers. Local law makers are as busy as beavers making sure everyone can get a Bushmaster .223 and one hundred round drum clips. This, all in the name of freedom. The babies and teachers in Newtown, the movie patrons in Aurora, the family in Albuquerque, they are just the price we pay for it.

I guess that popular bumper sticker is right when it says. "Freedom isn't Free." Just ask them in Chicago, Colorado, Connecticut, and New Mexico.

Just ask any parent who has had to bury their child after he or she was shot multiple times because, well, it just happens.

media vita in morte sumus



Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Losing Your Conscience in New Mexico, Sixteen Candles in Texas, Confessions in Nevada, and The Monster Want Out in Minnesota

And then it got weirder.

Out in Albuquerque, Nehemiah Griego reportedly has told police that he had become frustrated with his mother, Sarah. He was a bit vague on why, but then sometimes it is a combination of things. Griego solved his problem by killing her with a .22 as she slept. His younger brother was asleep next to mom and awoke to the sound of gunfire.Young Mr. Griego then shot him when his brother became upset about the death of their mother. After that Nehemiah Griego told police he, "lost his conscience" which motivated him to kill two sisters in the house and finally his father when he came home. As the man in the song said, "when you're hot, you're hot."

It could have been worse. Afterward he apparently sat for hours in a Wal Mart parking lot contemplating opening fire on customers with two loaded semi automatic weapons stashed in the van he was driving. Finally he drove to his church where former Albuquerque cop, Vince Harrison is the coordinator of security. After hearing him ramble on about his family being dead, Harrison drove Griego home and then called 911. Harrison described Griego as quiet and cold during the ride. He is also quoted as saying that the fifteen year old had always been respectful and had talked about joining the military and eventually becoming a policeman.

Saturday in Grapevine, Texas, Kelly Suckla showed up at his in laws' house where his daughter, Rachel was enjoying her 16th birthday party. Suckla and his wife, Kristi had recently separated. An argument between the couple broke out. By the time it was done Kelly Suckla's birthday present to his kid was a murder/suicide. He is reported to have shot his estranged wife multiple times before turning the gun on himself. A neighbor described the couple this way, "They seemed normal--never thought anything was wrong."

In Boulder City, Nevada, Las Vegas Police Lt. Hans P. Walters  shot and killed his wife and son, then called 911 to confess to the crime. He set fire to his home and as police and fire units arrived he killed himself. Neighbors say the Walters kept to themselves. A colleague was quoted as saying he saw Walters Saturday and "He seemed totally fine."

Finally, in Minnesota earlier this month police arrested Mr. Christian Philip Oberender. An NBC News report by Matthew DeLuca states that when Oberender was popped he had in his possession 13 weapons including an AK-47, several shotguns, and a Thompson sub machine gun. Police were tipped off when Oberender posted several photos of himself on Facebook brandishing his collection and expressing sympathy for the Columbine High School shooters and Adam Lanza up in Newtown, Connecticut. Police also found a note addressed to Oberender's mother. It read, "I feel the good part of me fade away. I don't know how long I can hold it in for. The monster want out. I know what happens when he come out. He only been out one time and someone die."

Unfortunately Christopher Philip Oberender's mother was unavailable to read the note. He murdered her in 1996. By 1998 he was declared "mentally ill and a danger" and committed to an institution. After he spent some time bouncing around several "hospitals" and a half way house he was declared cured, or at least well enough to function, then was released. In May of last year he received a permit to buy weapons in the state. Minnesota bureaucrats are racing to cover their asses as I type. His bail is set at $100,000.

I'm sure human beings everywhere receive a great deal of comfort in the knowledge that we possess the largest arsenal of nuclear weapons in the world. We are, after all, such a sane and civilized society.

Maybe the Mayan thing was right after all. How else are you going to explain all this bat shit craziness? Duck and cover, children. We're nuts and we all have guns.


Monday, January 21, 2013

God, Guns and Camo in Albuquerque and the NRA Holds a Sale

Greg Griego, according to at least one friend was an ex-con and former gangbanger. However at some point in his life, according to the friend, he turned all that around "through his faith in Jesus Christ."

Griego became a pastor at Albuquerque's Calvary Church, although a year or so ago the church says he took a leave of absence. He was also a volunteer chaplain to the Albuquerque Fire Department and ministered to inmates in local lockups.

The Los Angeles Times is reporting on Saturday night, Griego, his wife Sara and children, Zephania, age 9, Jael, age 5, and Angelina, age 2 were all murdered. According to the Bernalillo County Sheriff the victims were shot "multiple times." In addition the Times quoted him as saying, "multiple weapons were used including one assault rifle."

Police have arrested Griego's son, Nehemiah, age 15 and charged him with two counts of murder and three counts of child abuse resulting in death. According to a neighbor, when pastor Griego and his family would go for a walk in the neighborhood, Nehemiah, "wore nothing but camouflage stuff."

At this time no motive has been established, or at least released to the media, although one can reasonably suspect that Griego the younger had issues with mental and emotional stability. There has been no explanation offered in regard to how a former convict could amass an arsenal of "multiple weapons." Faith in Jesus aside, one would presume New Mexico law would have prohibited such a thing from happening. There is also no word as to why Mr. Griego would want, or need a bunch of guns, one of which was an assault style rifle. Finally, there is no information available about the suspect, other than his age, relationship to the family and, as previously mentioned, his choice of wardrobe. Why do I think when we do learn more facts they will include that he was quiet and withdrawn, that he had few, if any, friends in school and that he really, really liked video games.

Meanwhile, our pals at the NRA, you know the guys and gals who say all of us should own an assault style rifle for protection and fun, are having a sale of sorts. You can now purchase discounted memberships to that organization, saving a whopping $10 to $15 depending on how long you sign up for. Also, when you join you will receive $7,500 worth of insurance, free admission to the NRA's annual guns, gear, and outfitting show, a membership card and decal. Plus you can choose one of three gifts. The list includes a rosewood knife, a black and gold duffel bag, and a digital camo duffel bag.

But wait, that's not all!

You also get a free subscription to one of their "award winning" publications. You can choose, "American Rifleman," "American Hunter," "First Freedom," or "InSights." The NRA does inform us that "InSights" is for "Juniors only."

It is unknown right now if one of "InSights" readers is Nehemiah Griego, but he certainly does sound like a candidate for their mailing list. I mean after all, how is a young lad to learn the safe and effective use of weaponry unless it is from responsible adults?

Christ, how long must we suffer the tyranny of these malignant beasts and their gruesome fetish? How many dead will it take?

Obviously we aren't there yet.

ut sementem feceris ita metes


Saturday, January 19, 2013

Saturday Dispatches: Racist Scum in Utah, A Bad Day in New York, Nuts and Guns, and Internet Love in South Bend

Terry Lee owns a business called Terry Lee Forensics. It is located in Cedar City, Utah. According to a web description his company will analyze the data on the hard drive of your computer, or the computers of your company. They will find out if someone has been checking out child porn, or emailing a secret lover somewhere. They'll also investigate cyberstalking and other unspecified internet crimes.

Terry Lee is also a raging racist sonofabitch. He posted a piece on a local newspaper web site that initially applauded some smoothie bar's policy of charging liberals more for drinks than conservatives. (It is unclear as to how the bar knows whether you're a liberal or not, unless they are going by ethnic background alone.) After cheering them on he bragged about firing two employees who had voted for the President in the last election. "We had to let two employees go to cover new Obongocare costs and increased taxes," he wrote. "Found two Obongo supporters and gave them the news yesterday. They wanted the idiot in the white house, they reap the benefits."

So much for all those tea party wretches who claim their opposition to Barak Obama has nothing to do with race. Utah, being an "at will employment" state, offers absolutely no legal recourse to the fired workers, although to be honest, in the long run they are probably better off being rid of this ruthless and despicable scum. Lee later said that his post was tongue in cheek and the employees were below average. He did not address his use of the word Obongo, which he apparently finds quite witty.

Erika Mendez used to be a homeless woman in New York City. She currently resides in some Big Apple lock up. She is the woman who pushed Sunando Sen in front of speeding subway train a couple of weeks back. In an interview with the New York Post she said she did it "because she was having a bad day." She also allowed she picked Sen out because he was a Hindu. She told the interviewer she had "been beating up Hindus and Muslims for years."

NBC News correspondent Matthew DeLuca is reporting online that mental health care professionals are worried that a recently passed New York law will prevent people from seeking the help of psychiatrists. The theory is that people who own guns might avoid seeking counseling because they are afraid the therapist will report them as having violent thoughts to the authorities. That would give police probable cause to confiscate their weapons. In other words, if I'm thinking about killing a bunch of people with my AR15 I shouldn't tell a shrink. The freshly minted New York legislation can, in some instances, hold therapists legally responsible for not reporting the dark urges of their patients. One is reminded of an exchange in the original movie version of "In Cold Blood." The Perry Smith character is asked by Truman Capote, "If you knew you were still sick, why didn't you tell the Doctors in the mental institute?" The response was, "If I had they wouldn't have let me out."


And finally, Manti Te'o was interviewed by the dreadfully serious Jeremy Schaap on ESPN radio. Te'o, the Notre Dame All American linebacker and Heisman Trophy runner up, says he was completely duped by a man named Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, another guy and a girl into believing he'd met a terribly tragic figure named Lennay Kekua on line. According to reports the woman told him she'd barely survived a car wreck and that she suffered from leukemia. Te'o says they built "an electronic romance" even though he'd never met the woman face to face. He claims that when he contacted her via Skype and video phone her picture was always blocked. Despite these odd and one would think, obvious signs that something was a bit off, he fell in love with her. Te'o claims he told his parents and the public he had met the girl in person because he was"uncomfortable" about letting everyone know it was strictly an online romance. I don't blame you, Manti, because most people who fall for this sort of scam are like twelve years old.

Internet chat rooms, certainly a reliable source of the truth, are full of people claiming Te'o is trying to hide the fact he is a homosexual from his family, friends and fans. There is absolutely no evidence of that right now, but who knows. The whole bizarre affair reeks of blunt stupidity, crass exploitation, and cruelty.

The only thing certain at this point is that, despite widespread reports the woman finally did die this past autumn of her leukemia, it has been proven she never existed at all. It is also painfully obvious that none of the so called mainstream media ever fully investigated Te'os tale of a modern day "Romeo and Juliet" star crossed love. It took Dead Spin to figure out it was all bullshit. So much for the sporting press and American journalism as a whole.

Onward to Sunday and thankfully the morning wafer and sip of wine.

Over and out.



Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Crisis Actors in Connecticut: The Truthers Are Out There and So Is The NRA

Gene Rosen is a retired psychologist and obviously, to most human beings anyway, a decent sort. He lives in Newtown, Connecticut just a few yards from Sandy Hook Elementary School. One morning last December he found six children sitting, trembling on the pavement of his driveway. When he asked them what was wrong the horror of that day dawned on him. He took the kids inside, gave them juice and cookies and kept them safe until their parents arrived to take them home. Later that day someone photographed him on the street openly weeping about the tragedy that had just visited his community and its children.

Salon is now reporting that white supremacist web sites are currently referring to him as that "emotional Jew." His address and photographs of his house have been published on line. He received one email, with a title indicating it was a message from a business, that said to him, "How are all those little students that showed up at your house after the 'shooting.' What is the going rate for getting involved in a government sponsored hoax anyway?" He says he is getting hang up phone calls and being called a liar on nearly a daily basis.

Yes, the lunatic fringe is on the loose once more. There are people out there, seemingly normal ones, who say the Newtown massacre was a government sponsored sham perpetrated by the Obama administration in order to gather public support for new gun control laws.

According to these, truthers the parents of the murdered children and Rosen himself are paid, crisis actors. In their world the murdered kids and teachers are all still alive and living happily at some secret resort location paid for by unspecified government agencies.

On December 15th, the day after the killings, this blog predicted that tea party fringe elements would quickly claim the monstrous crime in Newtown was carried out by agents of the Obama administration. So I suppose I should be grateful in one way or another that these losers think the whole thing was just faked and not some modern day Reichstag fire with an accompanying and very real body count.

Meanwhile, the NRA has released an ad that asks the question, "Are the President's kids more important than yours?" It then goes on to say, "Then why is he skeptical about putting armed security in our schools when his kids are protected by armed guards at their schools." It ends by calling Mr. Obama an "elitist hypocrite." The ad fails to mention that in the modern era every president and his immediate family members have received Secret Service protection. It is considered a routine matter of national security. And, as always, it failed to speak to how effective armed security was at Columbine High School in 1999. Despite the presence of a sheriff's deputy on campus two students killed 12 and wounded 21 others before they shot themselves.

The white house issued a statement calling the ad, "repugnant and cowardly." The wags on MSNBC are using words like reprehensible.

Earlier today the president outlined four legislative initiatives he wants to pursue. First is to require background checks prior to every gun sale including private ones. Second, ban all military style assault weapons. Third, limit all ammunition clips to no more than ten rounds. Finally, he wants to strengthen penalties for those convicted of gun trafficking.

One can only imagine the NRA's response to these ideas. Look for more ads referring to Barack Obama's personal life, his kids, his wife, his pets, and anyone who ever shook his hand. That organization's lobbyists are going to start making offers to members of congress that will range from wildly decadent vacations complete with $1,000 per hour hookers, to not so subtle warnings of limited political futures.  

You can also count on Gene Rosen getting more emails and phone calls.

You see, there is no separating them now. The NRA and the truthers are one in the same and they are all absolutely insane.

Unfortunately for the rest of us they have tons of money to bribe and extort politicians. And--they do it with unbridled gusto.

We as a nation are less free because of it.


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Seattle: Martyrs No More

Oh how the wounded righteous have fallen into sin.

Since the year of our Lord 2008 the citizens of Seattle have called my home town and the people who live here, myself included, every vile name that they can think of. It all began when OKC local Clay Bennett bought the Seattle Super Sonics NBA franchise. It was, an admittedly, cold blooded transaction perpetrated by Bennett, some local oilies and a banker or two. However, complicit in the deal was Sonics owner and coffee store magnate, Howard Schultz. By the first few years of this new century he was watching his main source of cash begin to shrink as his Starbucks stores reached a saturation point that was unsustainable. The chain was going to have to downsize. There were other factors at play. The team was playing in an aged arena and he was dealing with a populace who, despite all the howls and whining afterward, had repeatedly refused to underwrite a new venue for the basketball team. Given the circumstances Schultz bit on Bennett's offer to buy him out, made some vague noises about being shocked the team would move, but no doubt cashed the check without a second thought, or regret.

Bennett made a show of keeping the outfit in Seattle, but it was common knowledge it was all a sham. In short order he moved the franchise to Oklahoma City where he renamed it the Thunder. He switched names for one reason and one reason only. In case Seattle ever landed another franchise they could reclaim the nickname and the team colors.

The outrage in the Pacific Northwest was monumental and unceasing. Martyrdom became a suit that fit the people of Seattle well. They were the wronged, they were the victims. Last year they also finally decided to build a new arena.

Now there are reports that another city is on the verge of losing it's NBA team. That would be Sacramento, home of the Kings. FOX Sports is saying that a group of business people headed by San Francisco investor, Chris Hansen is in negotiations with the Maloof family, the current owners of the franchise. One of the issues facing the present ownership is, you guessed it, their team plays in an aging arena and the local government and population is reluctant to build a new one. Sacramento mayor and former NBA player, Kevin Johnson is pleading with NBA commissioner David Stern to give his city time to put together a plan to keep the team. If that plan fails and the Maloofs do sell out the next destination for the pride of Sacramento is Seattle, Washington.

So long Kings, welcome back the green and gold clad Super Sonics.

It would seem it is only stealing if someone else does it.

The fact is a professional sports franchise, in any league, is a mercenary operation. They can claim all day and night that they a part of the community, but if the old profit margin starts to shrink wave goodbye to your local heroes.

It may not be right, but it is the way it is. Ever wonder why Los Angeles has a team nicknamed The Lakers? Well they started out in Minneapolis where that moniker makes a bit more sense. The soon to be extinct Kings started out in Cincinnati as the Royals, then moved to Kansas City before landing out west. The Utah Jazz is the Jazz because its original home, New Orleans likes its jazz cool on humid nights. The New Orleans Hornets started out in Charlotte.

Don't even get me started on the rest of the NBA, major league baseball, and the NFL. The list of relocated teams is far too long to be posted here. The NFL Rams alone have made more stops in major American cities than many presidential candidates on the stump do.

No, it is all a for profit business and as with any for profit enterprise if the owners can improve the bottom line they are going to do it. Screw the guy who owns the sports bar down the street from the arena, we're moving.

Welcome back to the league, Seattle. I really am glad that it looks like you're going to land a team. Just keep throwing those dead fish across that market, because now you know you can't throw any more stones.

Besides, that whole hanging on the cross thing wasn't a good look for you.

sic vita est



Monday, January 14, 2013

Take Them the Head of Rizana Nafeek

The news out of Saudi Arabia, as reported by CNN, is that the government has executed a Sri Lankan woman named, Rizana Nafeek.

Ms. Nafeek had traveled to the country back in 2005. She was there to find a job to help support her family, which had been devastated by the horrific tsunami which hit the island after the earthquake in Indonesia. She was hired by a Saudi family and promptly told to bottle feed their baby. The family charged that her response to the assigned chore was to strangle the child. Ms. Nafeek claimed it accidentally choked to death on the milk she was feeding it.

Since then she's been sitting in a Saudi prison convicted of a capital offense. Last Wednesday officials used a sword to cut off her head in the small town of Dawadmi.

The Sri Lankans had been appealing her sentence. They had said that when the child died Nafeek was only 17 years old and since the Royal Kingdom had signed onto the International Convention on the Rights of a Child it was illegal for them to condemn her to death. Apparently they produced a birth certificate to prove their contention. They also pointed out she was only qualified to be a maid and house cleaner, that she wasn't trained to be an au pair, or nanny.

The Saudis claim that her passport, an official document, showed her to be 21 years of age in 2005, which gave them every right to chop off her head.

Several organizations expressed their anger at the execution. Amnesty International said the beheading proved how, "woefully out of step" the Saudi justice system is. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon issued a statement saying he was "dismayed" by the action. The Sri Lankan president, who had personally appealed to Saudi King, Abdullah twice to issue a stay, if not a pardon, called his ambassador home from Riyadh.

The Saudis got a little testy at all this anger and dismayed stuff. They issued a statement that said, "The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia rejects any interference in its affairs, or in the provisions of its judiciary under any justifications." In other words we can decapitate anyone we damn well please. They have also told Sri Lanka that officials at the "highest level" appealed to the child's family for clemency and asked them to demand a cash, "blood money payment," in exchange for Nafeek's life, but the family refused to do so, leaving their hands tied.

They've been curiously mum on charges that Nafeek was refused legal counsel before her trial began and that she'd been beaten and coerced into signing a confession. Well, that whole innocent until proven guilty thing is generally ignored by everyone anyway, even here. Quick, name five white Americans who thought O.J. didn't off Nicole before his trial started.

It is reported that last year 79 people were executed in Saudi Arabia, 27 of them were non Saudis. In my book that officially makes the Kingdom one tough place to work if you're a visitor. 

It is unknown why Rizana Nafeek's passport listed her age at 21 in 2005. The obvious, but, unsubstantiated, answer would be that she faked her age for one reason or another. Perhaps in her desperation to help her family she was attempting to circumvent child labor laws. After all the Kingdom had signed that treaty agreeing to protect the basic rights of all children including those who are part of the labor force. Unfortunately for her it gave the Saudi judicial system all the wiggle room it needed in order to carry out her execution.

I wish I could be outraged by things like this now days. I wish I could, like the Secretary General, be dismayed. However, the truth is I'm numb to the point that it takes something gruesomely spectacular to truly touch me any more. Newtown did. Aurora did. The war zone also known as Chicago does.

When I read about the beheading of a Sri Lankan woman in a medieval outpost like Saudi Arabia it simply doesn't phase me like it should. Yes, I'm less of a human being because of it. We all are.

But, in the end, honestly, that is what we've become.



Friday, January 11, 2013

Friday Dispatches: Pedophiles There and Here, Guilt in India, James Holmes on Ice, and New Years in Maryland

Jimmy Savile had a long career on both British television and radio. It now appears he had another career, one that has scandalized the BBC and all of the UK. British police are saying that in a little over fifty years Mr. Savile committed at least 214 sex crimes making him, "one of Britain's most prolific sexual offenders."

The police contend that, Savile, who was knighted by both Queen Elizabeth and the Papacy, used his celebrity status to gain access to vulnerable kids as young as eight years old. He abused them everywhere, according to the report. Everywhere includes hospitals, night clubs and even a hospice for the terminally ill. The attacks, which occurred in twenty eight different police districts, began in 1955 and didn't end until 2009.

Outrage is being expressed and accusations are flying. The main questions being how did this run amok loon get away with it for so long and why didn't all this come to light sooner? Those questions will probably get answered one of these days, one way or the other. However it won't matter to Sir Jimmy. He died in 2011 with out facing even one charge.

Over here our man, Jerry Sandusky must be in awe of such nimbleness. His attorney, Joe Amendola recently appealed the old coach's sex crimes conviction, saying the defense team didn't have the proper amount of time to prepare their case. Sandusky continues to maintain he is completely innocent of all the charges against him. I suppose you need to have something to do when you are scheduled to spend the rest of your life in the joint. Besides, what else are you going to say?

NBC is reporting that in India Mr. Manohar Lal Sharma, attorney at law, is defending three of the six men accused of the brutal gang rape and murder of a 23 year old woman. Knowing a good defense depends on an aggressive offense, Mr. Sharma claims that the victim and her male friend, who was also severely beaten, were, "totally responsible" for the attack because they were an unmarried couple on the streets at night. According to Sharma, "Until today I have not seen a single incident of rape with a respected lady. Even an underworld don would not touch a girl with respect.

Backing up this interesting theory is Indian spiritual leader Asrama Bapu, who was quoted as saying, "Guilt is not one sided." Mr. Bapu went on to say that if the woman had pleaded with her attackers in God's name, thrown herself at their feet and told them she was of "the weaker sex" they would have left her alone.

Conservative Indian politician, Mahan Bhagwat assured the press that rape only occurs in the cities because women there adopt western lifestyles. He went on to say that rapes don't happen in rural India. Reuters reports that the National Commission for Women has documented a wide spread pattern of gang rapes of lower caste women throughout the Indian countryside.

It is unclear as to whether Mr. Bhagwat will immigrate to the United States, join the tea party and run for the senate in Missouri. That is where former candidate, Todd Akin expressed his views on "legitimate rape" last fall.

Jyoti Singh Pandey, a physiotherapy student. died a couple of weeks after she and her friend were thrown naked from the moving bus where the attack took place. It is estimated that a woman is raped in India every 22 seconds.

Up in Colorado the judge delayed the arraignment of James Holmes until March 12, prompting one spectator to yell, "Rot in hell, Holmes!" The defense team is asking for more time to decide how to plead their client who faces 166 counts of murder and attempted murder. Admittedly I'm no expert, but it appears to me Mr. Holmes' legal team really doesn't have a lot of options available to them at this time. Perhaps they can get with with Mr. Manohar Lal Sharma and come up with something. After all, it was late at night and not everyone in the Aurora theater was married.

Finally, 10 year old Aaliyah Boyer died Thursday in a Pennsylvania hospital. She had gone to visit relatives in Maryland over the New Year's weekend. Right after midnight she and her family went outside to watch fireworks. She was hit in the head by a stray bullet that police believe was fired into the air by neighbors to celebrate the event. The Huffington Post is reporting that while her family was holding a vigil for her at the hospital their home was burglarized.

Aaliyah's heart and other vital organs were donated to children in need of transplants.

So much bullshit and so little hope. It almost makes you wish that the whole Mayan apocalypse thing had come true.

Onward to the weekend and a bottle of Bushmill's.

Mr. Sulu, you have the con.


Thursday, January 10, 2013

Live Free and Die: The American Way

Every now and then some conservative will tell me that liberals are out to destroy the best health care system in the world. With typical American arrogance he or she will swear to you that no other country in the world is better served by the medical and insurance industries than the United States is. It is part and parcel of their argument against the Affordable Health Care Act, derisively dubbed, Obamacare.

As with most issues, my conservative friends will never let the facts intrude upon their fantasies, no matter how outlandish they are.

NBC News ran a story yesterday on line by one Maggie Fox. She cited a study commissioned by the National Institute of Health and conducted by The National Research Council and the U.S. Institute of Medicine. It compared the health of Americans to that of  Canadians, Australians, Japanese and thirteen European countries. In other words a sackful of industrialized nations who aren't mired in all the problems associated with undeveloped countries and the third world in general.

Americans run into trouble at the moment of birth. The study finds that the infant mortality rate in the U.S. is 32.7 deaths per 100,000. Infant mortality rates in the other countries surveyed range from 15 to 25 per 100,000. At the back end of the our time here it found American men have the shortest life expectancy of all 16 nations at 75.6 years. The Swiss have the longest at 79 years. American women on average last 81 years on the planet, which is second to last. Japanese women have a life expectancy of 86.

Americans not only have a higher rate of infant mortality and shorter life expectancies, but we also have higher incidences of teen pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, drug abuse, diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, obesity and disabilities.

Then we get to the violence. As everyone should be able to guess we have higher violent injury and homicide rates than everyone else too. In fact the average American is seven times more likely to be murdered than citizens of the other 16 nations. We are twenty times more likely to be killed by a gun.

Ahh, but at what cost you ask. Well the study found the average American spends $8,600 on health care per year, a number which includes insurance premiums. That is twice the amount spent by Britons, the French, and Swedes despite a large portion of their tax dollars going to government subsidized health care systems.

The only good news in all this is that if you are an American and do make it to 75 your chances are better at lasting a bit longer than other nationalities who also reach that age. We also have a lower death rate due to cancer. And despite the higher risks of heart attacks, strokes and diabetes we do better jobs of controlling our blood pressure and cholesterol. Praise the Lord and pass the Lipitor.

Ms. Fox rolled out a number of experts to try to explain these dreadful numbers. They talked about our addiction to cars and therefore lack of exercise and our love of fast food. They also addressed the almost involuntary American reaction that most of us have when told we shouldn't do something by some authority. Nothing will get us to super size an order of fries quicker than a mayor saying super sized fries should be banned from the city limits. Just as nothing will drive gun sales higher than the threat of the government cracking down on assault style weapons.

We aren't, by God, going to be told what to do, even if it kills us.

Unfortunately, according to these statistics, it is.

In this country we have become so utterly convinced that everything we do, that everything we have is so far superior to what the rest of the world does and has, it blinds us to the cold facts. Our myopia in this regard is our greatest weakness. We will not accept any idea, any change that even feels like it comes from beyond our shores. If it isn't American it will somehow infringe upon our freedom and won't work, at least not here.

It is something to think about the next time some asshole rails on about government death panels and such. The truth is we all ready have them. They are located in the offices of insurance companies all across this great land. If you don't think so just switch your health plan from one carrier to another and then read the letter about pre-existing conditions not being covered.

Yes, we maybe great in many ways, but it is painfully obvious that when it comes to health and health care we're downright mediocre, if not cruelly incompetent and criminally lax.

To paraphrase the New Hampshire license tag motto, "Live Free and Die."

It is, after all, The American Way.


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Alina Fitzpatrick: The Deafening Silence

If you enter Alina Fitzpatrick's name on Google you'll find 17 or 18 references to her in the first couple of pages. If you search Bing you'll come across a little over 20. None of them are very recent. The news stories from various Oklahoma City media outlets are especially dated. They stopped sometime around the first couple of months of 2012.

Reports indicate that she attended Putnam City North High School through May of 2011. That autumn she began taking classes on line via the Putnam City Virtual High School. The reason she dropped out of North is still a little murky, at least publicly. It was reported she was being bullied, although a school district spokesperson was quick to say that there was no record of that.

The facts concerning her disappearance and death remain unchanged. She was dropped off at an apartment complex near NW 24th and Western on the evening of November 4th, 2011. Almost immediately after she was last seen her cell phone started routing calls directly to her voice mail. Apparently she never made it inside the apartment she was going to. On November 9th her body was found at 4506 Overbrook Rd. That is out by Anderson Road which is in far eastern Oklahoma County and not even remotely near the spot she was dropped off at. She was found nude, with trauma to the head, scrapes and bruises that appeared to be recent, and either paper or cloth in her mouth, as if she'd been gagged. The Medical Examiner decided that none of her obvious injuries were fatal, but that she had a significant amount of methamphetamine in her system, enough in fact to cause her death. With that bit of information in hand the Oklahoma City Police Department ruled that her death was not a homicide, but rather, suspicious. At that moment you could almost hear her case file being pushed to the bottom of the pile on some one's desk.

In the days before she went missing she had told family and friends that she was worried about an unnamed man who, somehow, may have glommed onto her cell phone number. It was reported she'd changed that number shortly before the tragedy that befell her.

According to her obituary she was buried on November 22nd, 2011 in a casket that was handmade and blessed by Trappist monks at an abbey in Iowa. When she was laid to rest she had spent only 17 years on the planet.

The status of the investigation into her disappearance and death remain unclear. There have been no media updates. There have been no progress reports made available to the public by the police. When it comes to Alina Fitzpatrick the silence is deafening.

The true national tragedy at play here is that we grow numb to this sort of thing in the United States. It really is far too easy for most of us to forget someone like Alina Fitzpatrick. I mean lets face it, we've got crazed lunatics gunning down movie patrons, mall shoppers, and nearly two dozen first graders all in one fell swoop. Unless it is a daughter, son, spouse, relative, or close friend the death of one individual, one 17 year old over a year ago, while certainly terrible, is just another day in the life.

It shouldn't be that way. To lose one of us is tragic, to lose our humanity is unthinkably evil. 

Hopefully someday we will regain that humanity so terribly missing right now. Hopefully we'll grow to demand that the Alina Fitzpatrick's of the country receive the justice due to them, no matter how long it takes, no matter what it takes. Hopefully someday we'll recognize that we are the less because she is gone and we are certainly the less because so few of us even remember that she is. She deserves that much at least. In the end, we all do.

sic vita est


Monday, January 7, 2013

Very Relaxed in Aurora, Colorado

NBC News and CNN are both reporting that Aurora, Colorado police officer, Jason Oviatt took the stand this morning during the opening day of James Holmes' preliminary hearing. Holmes is the bright young fellow who opened fire on an audience of movie goers on July 20th last year. By the time he was done 12 patrons were dead and another 59 were wounded.

According to reports by both organizations Oviatt heard the radio call of the shooting during a routine traffic stop and immediately rushed to the rear of the theater. His initial reaction when he saw Holmes dressed in black and wearing body armor was that he was another police officer. When he realized he was, in fact, confronting the shooter Oviatt drew his weapon and ordered Holmes to raise his hands. In his words the suspect was "very relaxed." He testified that Holmes complied readily to every command and volunteered that his apartment was booby trapped, Oviatt also used the word, "detached" to describe the suspect. He added that Holmes was "dripping with sweat" and his pupils were dilated. Finally, in a moment of grand understatement, Oviatt said that James Holmes, when arrested, "didn't display normal emotions."

No, I suppose he wouldn't since he was and still is as batty as a bed bug on acid. Legal analysts are speculating that his attorney's will enter a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity. Daniel King, the public defender representing Holmes contends his client suffers from mental illness and says he has two witnesses ready to testify to that.

Ok, we got it. We also know that while in the depths of all this terrible craziness he spent months plotting the attack, buying up weapons and ammunition legally from various sporting goods outlets and online vendors. We know he took the time to wire his apartment to explode upon entry. We know he bought a ticket to the movie, snuck out the back exit of the theater, changed into SWAT team type gear, then re-entered, armed and ready to rock an roll.

Currently he faces 166 counts of murder, attempted murder, and some weapons possession charges that no doubt the NRA will heartily contest, because, after all, that is what the NRA does. The smart money says this will never get to an actual trial. That by the time the hearing is over the defense will figure their only real hope to keep this guy from taking a hot shot in a vein is to let the state chuck him into the slammer for the rest of his unnatural life without any possibility of parole.

Meanwhile over the weekend, back in Aurora, police confirmed two men and one woman were shot to death in a home early Saturday morning. A second woman escaped the scene and reported the shooting to police. When the cops arrived the gunman was still alive and kicking. Negotiators tried to talk him out of the house over a period of several hours. A police news release described how that went in this way, "He was behaving very irrationally throughout the incident and often hung up on the negotiators."

Finally after opening fire on officers not just once, but two times the police shot and killed the still unidentified man.

So there we have it. Crazy people do bad things with guns. It appears we have two choices. Get rid of the crazy people. You know, throw weird old uncle George and every kid with Asperger Syndrome into an asylum. Or, we can restrict the availability of guns.

Now which of those two options seems more a of restriction on personal freedom? I'll admit it is just me, but I tend to think that locking up, or forcibly medicating everyone who might go nuts is a tad more totalitarian than simply getting rid of the weapons of mass murder. I don't know if that sullen young kid down the street will go off or not, but I do know what a Bushmaster .223 with a thirty round clip can do and it isn't pretty.

We have proven time and time again that this culture, that the nation as a whole, cannot control itself when it comes to guns. If we have them we are going to use them.

And we're going to use them on each other.

Say good bye to the Glock, America. Now is the moment to put a lid on all your outlandish patriotic fantasies, not to mention your emotional and psycho sexual dependence on killing machines. In other words, grow the fuck up. Your act is not only tiresome, but deadly. Quite frankly it is time for it to end and I mean end right now.



Saturday, January 5, 2013

Reflections on a Cold Bright Day

I have been told the streets were icy and it was a frigid night 63 years ago in Muskogee, Oklahoma, U.S.A. That was when I made my debut on this planet at a little over six pounds. I'm also told I possessed a head of dark hair and let loose with all the crying and mewing that is associated with newly minted human beings.

It was a long time ago in so many ways.

I spent my first nine years in that town. I distinctly remember my parents buying our first television set. It was a huge thing and the images it displayed were a somewhat fuzzy black and white. If you went outside and looked across the roofs of the houses in the neighborhood you would see a weird forest of antennas reaching up into the air, all these shiny poles with metal branches tilted this way and that. We received three channels.

Early in the morning a guy would come and leave glass bottles of fresh milk on your porch capped with thin cardboard stoppers. During the summers especially, the street was full of kids playing. My father bought me boxing gloves and got down on his knees and taught me how to crouch, jab, deliver an uppercut, and  throw a hook because, "a boy should never start a fight, but always be prepared to defend himself."

Because the town and all of Oklahoma was strictly segregated I honestly didn't even know African Americans existed for the longest time. Even after I did I rarely saw one. There were two high schools in Muskogee at that point, Muskogee Central and Muskogee Manual Training. Take a stab at which one was for the black kids.

Yes, it has been a long trip. In my six plus decades on this ball The United States has fought in Korea, Vietnam, Kuwait, Iraq, and Afghanistan. That would be a little less than one war every ten years. I didn't serve in any of them, although I did spend a considerable amount of time protesting the one in Vietnam on the campus of the University of Oklahoma. There have been other conflicts, or rather deadly skirmishes in places like Lebanon, Grenada, and Panama. There was also a week or so when the entire human race was on the verge of extinction as the U.S. and the Soviet Union squared off over missile bases in Cuba.

I've seen two presidents get shot and one killed. A third, Gerald Ford, was shot at once, but the assassin missed. Another attempt to take his life failed because the grotesque little geek forgot to chamber a round in the .45 she was holding. Also in my time here two presidential candidates have been shot. Robert Kennedy died of his wounds and George Wallace ended up in a wheel chair for the rest of his life. Martin Luther King was murdered which sparked riots in more than a few places. Although race riots, for a while anyway, didn't need anyone to be killed in order to ignite.

I grew up with plenty of kids who had fathers making a decent living building things with their hands in factories, but all that is over now. The blue collar middle class has gone the way of the Dodo. When I was young if some product had, "Made in Japan" stamped on it, you could count on it being the cheapest, most worthless piece of shit in the world. Now even the stuff from Japan seems pricey compared to what you can get from other parts of Asia.

From the age of ten to around twelve, or so my parents would drop me off at a movie theater with a buck or two and I'd spend about four hours watching films and cartoons with hundreds of other kids my age. I started smoking cigarettes during my eighth grade year because it was cool and there weren't any laws restricting tobacco sales to minors. The first time I got drunk I was fifteen. Some of us scored a pint bottle of J.T.S. Brown bourbon before a dance at the local YMCA. A little over a year later I got laid for the first time.

I heard the explosion and felt the concussion when Tim McVeigh blew up the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. I watched as the jets slammed into the World Trade  Center and the Pentagon. On August first of 1966 I was on vacation with my parents. Our family was touring the Astrodome in Houston  That was the day an ex marine named Charles Whitman opened fire on fellow summer school students from a tall building on the University of Texas campus. Before the cops got to him he'd killed 13 and wounded 32. In December of 2012 I watched the TV networks report the carnage at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown Connecticut. Tragically, it seems the more things change the more they stay the same.

I saw Neil Armstrong walk on the moon and if you'd asked me then, I would have told you that by 2013 we'd not only have a permanent presence on the moon, but an outpost on Mars. In the summer of 1969 I really thought we were on the verge of going to the stars. The Enterprise, Captain Kirk, Scotty, Uhuru, Chekov, and all the rest seemed right within our grasp.

I've watched my three children born. I've seen one brother and my mother die.

Every now and then I think I've witnessed too much, but then I realize I haven't seen enough.

We are such an ugly, brutal, yet decent and brave people. We are, I suppose, everything good and evil and all that entails. It is easy to become cynical, although in the end cynicism finally turns terribly sour. To be without at least some hope is to be dead.

And honestly-- there is no reason to rush into that final adventure is there?  At least not yet, not from my perspective anyway.

Carpe diem


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Boehner's Revenge: Screw the Northeast

And just when you think the republicans in the House of Representatives can't sink any lower they do. After holding the middle class and poor of the country hostage in a vain attempt to prevent their keepers, the super rich, from paying a higher rate of taxes you would have thought they might have, for a moment anyway, headed into the light for a breather.

On Tuesday evening there was supposed to be a vote on a $60 billion relief package for the victims of super storm Sandy. Toward the end of the night's session and before the relief bill was presented, Speaker of the House, John Boehner "just walked off the floor and sent in a representative saying that there wouldn't be any further votes." That quote was attributed to republican congressman Pete King of New York by NBC News.

In other words, New York and New Jersey, fuck you.

The outrage was swift and intense. Governors Chris Christie of New Jersey and Andrew Cuomo of New York issued a joint statement saying the house was guilty of dereliction of duty. Christie told NBC that he called Boehner four times last night and the speaker refused to, well, speak to him about the whole rotten affair. Christie also said he'd received no explanation for "the disappointing and disgusting decision." Christie is, of course, a republican, although suspect in the eyes of the rigid right because of his praise of Obama's initial handling of the disaster.

Ultimately, therein is the rub. New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, the three primary recipients of the aid, all helped re-elect Barak H. Obama. Yes, this all probably boils down to revenge in its most savage form. There is precedent for it. In 1972 Richard Nixon carried every state except Massachusetts. In 1973, shortly after his inauguration and not long before he was impeached, the Boston Navy Yard was shut down.

This really goes beyond that, however. You're not talking a few thousand jobs. You are looking at an area in which nearly a half million homes were either destroyed or damaged.

For those of you who think I might be whistling that left wing "GOP conspiracy tune" Congressman King had this to say about the whole deal. "I can't believe that type of indifference, that type of cavalier attitude being shown to any other part of the country." He went on to say, "We can't believe this cruel knife in the back has been delivered to our region." Finally he added, "They can't count on any vote from me now." The they he is speaking about would be the people in his own party. Republican congressman, Michael Grimm stated, "the delay is a personal betrayal." Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand suggested Boehner should visit Staten Island, but said she "doubts he has the dignity, or guts to do it."

Boehner seems only barely phased by all of this. His aide Michael Steel came out and said, "The Speaker is committed to getting the bill passed this month." Yada, yada, yada. Yes, well I'm sure that will be of great comfort to those home owners who have been without heat, or a roof for the last nine weeks or so.

Right now a vote on a $9 billion bandage is tentatively scheduled for Friday. There is hope, but no guarantee there will be a vote on a $51 billion package on the 15th. Unfortunately, Boehner's anger that he has been exposed as a completely inept Speaker of the House and the tea party loon's uncontrollable hatred of the president and anyone who might have voted for him could jam up the works at any moment.

The house republicans have all the compassion of a colony of sewer rats gone berserk on meth. Their party got their asses kicked in November and now they have a chance to pay back those who they feel screwed them.

That's right bitch, next time you'll know who to vote for won't you? Enjoy this winter without any windows.

It didn't take long for this year to start looking like the last one did it?


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The New Year Arrives: Just Stay Low and Keep Moving

Here on the southern plains of the United States of America the year 2013 has arrived as a cold, damp, and gray beast. It looks to be, at the moment any way, unforgiving and pitiless. We can only hope for kinder, gentler, days ahead as the future unfolds in front of us.

Yes, you see, 2013 is part of The Great Unknown. There is no telling what brilliance, madness, charity, and debauched decadence lays ahead.

As we plunge into the new year there are a few things we do know, however, that might, perhaps, inform us, or at least give us a hint as to the shape of things to come.

We know, for instance, that the odds seem to favor Hugo Chavez's demise. Chavez is currently tucked away in a Cuban hospital, which tells us a great deal about the quality of health care in his native Venezuela. He has suffered through multiple major surgeries and more telling, named a successor just in case the dark shade of Che Guevara comes to collect his soul. Once El Comandante bites the dust look for a wild political scramble in Caracas that, in the end, might involve the military.

And speaking of wild political scrambles. A few weeks ago there was no doubt in many minds that the nominee of the democratic party in 2016 would be Hillary Rodham Clinton. That was before the fainting spell, the concussion, and now a blood clot located in a vein between her brain and skull right behind her ear. Doctors are adamant that Mrs. Clinton did not have a stroke, although no one in the credible media, that I know of, ever asked that question. It is reported she is on anti-coagulants and her physicians expect a full recovery.

The fact is, if she can't go in 2016 because of health reasons, or if there are sufficient questions regarding her well being and her ability to carry out the duties of the office, the primary race for the democratic nomination will become chaotic at best. The blood letting will be gruesome and possibly fatal if the republicans can finally find someone who can at least appear to be a human being to head their ticket.

That whole human being thing remains elusive for the GOP though. Last night the senate passed a measure that would allow the government to avoid the fiscal cliff. The bill ups taxes on individuals who make more than $400,000 per year and couples who make more than $450,000 per annum. It also will stop a 27% cut in fees paid to doctors who treat medicare patients and allow the long term unemployed to continue to collect benefits. The bill as written passed, 89-8. Among those dissenting were the anti-government government employee Rand Paul and Florida's Marco Rubio. Rubio has been widely rumored to be a major player in the republican primaries four years from now. Rubio is young, good looking, and most importantly, Hispanic. One has to wonder what his popularity rating will be among AMA members, especially in his home state of Florida, when it becomes common knowledge he just tried to cut nearly a third of their fees when it comes to treating retirees.

Of course we aren't really off the cliff's edge yet. John Boehner, who has proven himself to be the most ineffective Speaker of the House in perhaps the history of the republic, has yet to give it his support. Not that it matters. Boehner can't even control his own right wing. Like, Karl Rove and Dick Morris he is so terrible at arithmetic that he had to call off a house vote on his own budget "Plan B" last week. In the end it dawned on him that he didn't have enough support within the republican majority for it to pass. Quick, name the last House Speaker who needed the minority party's help to pass legislation he authored because his own members wouldn't vote for it.

One of the things we don't know at this time is exactly how accomplished of a marksman Adam Lanza was. We do know, however, that when you are packing a Bushmaster .223 and are standing in a class room full of terrified first graders all you really have to do is point, squeeze and let 'er rip. We also know, thanks to Slate and the twitter feed @GunDeaths, that as of 8:00AM CST yesterday 321 Americans have been murdered by guns since the Newtown, Connecticut massacre on December 14th. That would be  284 more deaths than were recorded in Australia for the entire year of 2011, 282 more than in England and Wales for the same period, and 261 more than in Spain. All in just over two weeks. Who says America has gone soft? Finally we also know gun sales and the sales of high capacity ammunition clips have sky rocketed since young Mr. Lanza began his morning by blowing his mother's head off.

Look for more of the same in 2013. In the end it is the one thing we can truly count on.

Just stay low and keep moving.

sic vita est