Thursday, February 28, 2013

Oklahoma Legislative Fun: Fisher and Kern Rescue Us All

Dan Fisher, the Oklahoma republican representative from House District 60, has had enough of this socialist nonsense and he is going to, by God, do something about it. In yesterdays OKC paper reporter, Michael McNutt quotes Mr. Fisher as saying, "When states' rights have been tread upon we have a responsibility to speak up, and this is one of those moments." The legislator went on to add, "There comes a time when American citizens must say no."

Fisher is a man of action. He has authored Oklahoma House Bill 2073. If passed it would make it a felony for any federal official, or corporate employee to provide services which comply with the United States of America Affordable Care Act. In fact, according to the proposed law, your leftist ass will end up spending five years in the slammer if you do so. The bill also makes it a misdemeanor, punishable for up to two years, for a state employee, including the governor, to enforce any provisions of the federal law which is also known as Obamacare. Why Fisher decided to bestow some relative mercy on state employees, including the governor is unclear, although political affiliation probably has something to do with it. I mean after all it would be a bit unseemly to throw the governor, who is a member of your own party, into the can for half a decade.

McNutt writes, Fisher, who is in his rookie year at the state capitol, has said that the U.S. Constitution does not grant Congress or President Barak Obama the power to pass the Affordable Care Act. Unfortunately for the new lawmaker the United States Supreme Court, the final arbiter of all things constitutional, has ruled he is wrong.

This causes a wee bit of a problem. The constitution says the rulings of the Supreme Court are the law of the land. There is no higher authority, not even Dan Fisher's brain. So if a legislator votes for this bill it could well be interpreted he or she has violated their oath to uphold the very constitution the representative says he is trying to preserve.

Yes, Brother Fisher, it is a tragedy for you and people like you, but simply put the constitution can't be unconstitutional. You can't violate it in order to enforce your personal interpretation of it.

Meanwhile, House District 84 republican, Sally Kern is as busy as a beaver protecting us from the dire threat of internationalism. Her House Bill 1412 prohibits any city, town, or county from "adopting or implementing policy recommendations" established by the United Nations Agenda 21 initiative.

Agenda 21 is a global, nonbinding and totally voluntary plan, that addresses issues such as poverty, health, sustainable population growth, deforestation, the preservation of micro environments, pollution control and management of radioactive wastes. It also endorses the further empowerment of children, women, the improved relations between businesses and their employees, and advocates for the rights of indigenous peoples.

Kern, who is better known for her homophobic rants, ("The homosexual agenda is destroying this nation. It's just a fact.") isn't kidding around when it comes to the sinister plots of The New World Order. McNutt writes that her bill would prohibit the state from contracting with, or exchanging funds with any nongovernmental, or intergovernmental organization which is accredited by the U.N.

That's right baby, screw the world! Who needs 'em? U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.!

Fisher's bill was approved by its committee 8-5. Kern's passed, 9-4.

I know we'll all sleep better tonight.

sic vita est



Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Bacharach at Last: The Very Long Process For Saunders

It was a long haul for Robert Bacharach. He was originally nominated by Barak Obama for a seat on the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in January 2012. Yesterday he was finally confirmed by a 93-0 vote of the United States Senate.

The Oklahoman's Washington Bureau correspondent, Chris Casteel quoted Senator Tom Coburn  as saying of Bacharach, "You cannot find a blemish on this man in terms of his personal integrity." He added, "I have never met anybody who knows the Constitution--its limitations, its intent--better than Judge Bacharach." Coburn also said that Bacharach had "one of the greatest intellects" he'd ever met.

High praise indeed. Too bad Coburn was one of the primary reasons this whole nomination process took so long. He sat on it from January until the end of April last year. In fact there is no evidence he would have ever moved on it if the state's largest newspaper, The Oklahoman and its parent company OPUBCO hadn't stepped in. On April 30th of last year Casteel wrote a piece questioning why Coburn was still refusing to endorse Bacharach to the Senate Judiciary Committee. He pointed out the committee would not entertain a nomination without the approval of both senators from the home state of the person involved. The old reprobate, Jim Inhofe had all ready given his, however Coburn was, somewhat mysteriously, refusing to budge on it. In response to Casteel's questions a spokesperson from Coburn's office issued a statement that was such gibberish it almost didn't qualify as part of the English language.

Coburn knows who runs things in Oklahoma though. On May 1st, less than twenty-four hours after receiving that open handed bop in the back of the head by OPUBCO, he gave the go ahead. From that day forward he's been claiming Bacharach is the greatest thing since Oliver fucking Wendell Holmes.

Of course even then it wasn't easy. Senate republicans wouldn't allow an up and down vote on the nomination through a prolonged filibuster. They were enamored with the poll numbers of Karl Rove and Dick Morris and believed Mr. Mitt Romney would become the next president. They desperately wanted that seat on the court to remain open so that their man could nominate someone who might be more in tune with their way of doing things. Yes, screw the Constitution, no one has paid any attention to that old rag since 1861 any way.

Coburn and Inhofe made some faint grumbling sounds about the politics of the situation. However, when democrats moved to end the filibuster, in an act of abject political cowardice, both Oklahoma Senators voted, "present" which in effect were votes against "one of the greatest intellects" Coburn has ever met.

Even after Barak Obama swept to victory the republican filibuster continued through the end of the session, forcing the president to renominate Bacharach in January of this year. GOP senators mumbled some things about lame duck congresses and tradition, but it was all utter nonsense. They knew a republican majority wasn't going to take control of the Senate this year. You almost get the impression they were waiting for Bacharach to throw his hands up in frustration and yell, "fuck it" then walk away in disgust.

He didn't and now he awaits the swearing in ceremony and a well deserved seat on the bench in the Denver based court.

Meanwhile, in Oklahoma City, Luis E. Ruiz walked out of the Oklahoma County jail yesterday as his father gave praise to God and Jesus Christ.

The Bethany Police Department gave up their investigation into the murder of Carina Saunders on the 6th of this month. After that organization was out of the picture it took less than three weeks for the two men accused by them of the killing to be exonerated. The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation is now in charge. The Oklahoman's Tim Willert quoted OSBI spokesperson, Jessica Brown as saying, the agency is gathering evidence in the case and is in the early stages of investigation. Brown was also quoted as saying, "It's going to be a very long process." In other words, Bethany fouled this thing up so badly we don't even know where to start.

So the long wait for Robert Bacharach is over, but nearly 17 months after her body was discovered, the wait for Carina Saunders' loved ones is beginning once again.

It would appear Lady Justice is not only blind, but many times she moves with all the speed of  a glacier, if she moves at all.

One thing was finally gotten right. We can only hope that someday the other will too.


Monday, February 25, 2013

Ruiz and Massey Walk: Carina Saunders' Murder is Still Unsolved

It started to come apart on February 6th. That is when the Bethany Police Department turned over its records of the Carina Saunders murder to the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation. The Bethany P.D. had stepped into the grisly slaying ill prepared for an exhaustive and intense investigation. At first the leads were few and far between and when they did come they arrived in a tangled Gordian Knot with cords that went every which direction, then turned back onto themselves and refused to come undone. Rumors and urban myth rode side by side with the few hard facts that were actually available.

Today, The Oklahoman's Tim Willert has reported on line that murder charges in the case have been dropped by D.A. David Prater. The two men accused in the brutal slaying have, for now anyway, been exonerated. Jimmy Lee Massey will probably remain in the county lockup on charges of a separate crime, while according to defense attorney, Derek Chance, Luis Ruiz will walk out of that facility today.

The probable cause affidavits that caused both men to be arrested in the case have, at this time, proven, well, unprovable. All the rumors of a video of Ruiz torturing and dismembering Saunders are obviously just that, unsubstantiated rumors. The unnamed female witness who claims she saw him cut off Saunders' foot has either recanted, proven unreliable, or headed for the hills. The same can be said for the county jail inmates who claimed Massey told them all about the killing and how he had kidnapped another woman in order to force her to watch it. Other names in the case, Mindy Cottier, Christopher Banschbach, and Tia Downour, among them suddenly seem irrelevant and of no use to investigators at all. In short the OSBI is starting from the ground floor, only now it is has been nearly seventeen months since Saunders' body was discovered behind a grocery store in an empty field.

The only hard facts available to the media and public at this time come from the autopsy report and those deal only with the condition of Saunders' body and its state of decomposition. There is nothing there, even the unquantitative amount of Tramadol found in her liver, that would lead the OSBI toward a specific suspect.

Willert reports that Prater is not answering calls or questions regarding the case and Ruiz's attorney had no comment other than to say his client would be released today. Willert also wrote that charges could be refiled against the two men, but that certainly seems unlikely in the foreseeable future. The D.A's office has been burned once during this blind man's fire drill so it is doubtful it will move again until there is absolutely no doubt about who, when, and where.

If there is any justice at this time it is in the grim knowledge that Prater was getting ready to prosecute and perhaps convict the wrong guys, but he had to back out of it. At least that part of the system still seems to work. The rest of it appears to be a miasma of dysfunction and quackery.

So the killer, and or killers are still out there, walking among us. They are still doing whatever it is they do when they aren't hacking apart teenagers. They could be the assholes in line in front of you at the local 7-11 store. They might even be watching "Ancient Astronauts" on the History Channel right now.

Carina Saunders, however, isn't doing any of those things. She is still quite dead and for her justice remains not only elusive, but increasingly improbable.

The pooch, as they say, has been screwed and the getaway has been clean for someone.

There seems no bottom to this tragedy. And, to the disgrace of all those attempting to solve it, no end.



Friday, February 22, 2013

Chuck Hagel and the Friends of Hamas

Sometimes, actually many times, I'm not sure journalism exists any more. This is especially true when it comes to this vast medium known as the internet. I mean lets face it, anyone can set up a web site with a lot of razzle dazzle and claim to have sources and inside dope on anything ranging from politics to entertainment. And while that all looks and sounds great he might in truth be some 40 year old crank living in the basement of his mother's home who spends most of his time watching reruns of "Ghost Hunters" on TV. I mean that poor schmuck at Notre Dame fell in love with a woman who didn't even exist, for God's sake. Every now and then even I have the mad urge to run some absolutely foul and ridiculous scam. Something along the lines of posting a picture of the late NBC correspondent Frank McGee to my profile. That is right, here I am world, the same guy who reported to you on live TV that John F. Kennedy was shot dead in Dallas nearly 50 years ago. Haven't I aged well?

Yes, there are the scams and then there is the blatant political propaganda that passes for fair and balanced reporting. Everyone has an agenda and sometimes the truth has to be hedged a tad in order to justify and promote The Grand Plan. The flip side of that coin is that if something presents itself that is so tantalizing, so juicy-good that it will take down a person who has opposing views the urge is overwhelming to get it out there to an audience without confirming any of it.

Here is how that works. Barak H. Obama nominated former republican senator Chuck Hagel to be the new Secretary of Defense. On the surface it sounds pretty gosh darn bipartisan doesn't it? When he was running for president in 2008 John McCain said of Hagel, "he'd make a great Secretary of State," and that "I'd be happy to have him in any senior cabinet position." 

Well things went a little south in that whole relationship. Hagel you see figured out the war in Iraq was basically a Bush/Cheney con job. He, in fact, likened the whole affair to Vietnam, a subject he knows something about since he was an infantry squad leader there and twice awarded the purple heart. His falling out with his party and McCain, who he ultimately refused to endorse in 2008, was bitter and ugly. Hagel didn't help soothe the bad feelings back when Dubya was in office. He was quoted as saying, "I took an oath of office to the constitution, I didn't take an oath of office to my party, or my president."

To make a long story short Mr. Chuck Hagel landed squarely on the GOP hit list. McCain now claims he isn't qualified to be Secretary of Defense and republican senators have filibustered to prevent a straight up vote on his confirmation.

Early this month there were rumors circulating that Hagel was hostile toward Israel and that he'd taken speaker's fees from controversial foreign groups. Enter one Dan Friedman of the Daily News. On February 6th Friedman says he called up an unnamed republican senate aide and asked if any of Hagel's critics knew who the controversial groups he had supposedly addressed might be. Friedman, who apparently considers himself a dry wit, went all Saturday Night Live during the conversation and asked the aide if Hagel had spoken to, you know,  "The Junior League of Hezbollah in France? And what about Friends of Hamas?" Obviously neither group exists. It was Friedman trying to be funny.

Dan, you silly boy. The aide told Friedman he'd get back to him. He didn't. However someone did get back to someone else.

On February 7th the right wing news site, Breitbart News ran a story with the breathless and overextended lead, "Senate sources have told Breitbart News, exclusively, they have been informed one of the reasons that President Barak Obama's nominee for Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel has not turned over requested documents on his sources of foreign funding is that one of the names listed is purportedly a group called Friends of Hamas." In the story the author, Ben Shapiro wrote that when contacted the White House "didn't deny the claim." Well they didn't because they hung up on the goof instead of addressing something so over the top stupid that it wasn't worth their time.

Shapiro quickly tweeted a link to the story to his 40,000 followers and according to Friedman, the conservative blogs, and The immediately linked to it. Hot damn, they had gone big game hunting and bagged a colossal beast. Even the rube from Arkansas, Mike Huckabee bit. He said that if the story was true it should disqualify Hagel from landing the job. The whole thing fell apart, of course, when Friedman went public with the admission he'd made "Friends of Hamas" up as a joke.

Shapiro, however is having none of it. Friedman quoted him as saying, "The story as reported is correct. Whether the information I was given by the source is correct, I'm not sure." Well there is certainly a standard Edward R. Murrow would be proud of. The old, "Its not my fault, he told me so," theory of reporting.

The country is divided deeply, perhaps mortally so. The media, which should be interested in the truth, for good, or ill, has become part of that dividing process. When you start to pass off propaganda and rumors as investigative reporting and the truth you've entered the shadowy realm of Herr Goebbels and company. At the very least you'd get your ass a rock solid "F" in  Mrs. Ward's John Marshall High School Journalism II class.

Unfortunately many people will never unread Ben Shapiro. The image of Chuck Hagel cashing a Friends of Hamas check will be with them always. It will be just another confirmation of the leftist/socialist/Muslim threat found on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Most news sources are now saying, despite this nonsense, Hagel will likely be confirmed next week.

sic vita est


Thursday, February 21, 2013

Polls, Loose Lips Sink Ships, and Herman Cain Explains the Situation

Icy slush is thick on the streets and parking lots in Oklahoma City right now. It is a wet cold mess out there, rather like the current condition of the republican party.

A USA Today/Pew Research Center poll shows the American public, while not particularly happy with any politician, are squarely siding with Barak H. Obama on the most important issues of the day. On the federal deficit 45% agree with the president and 38% agree with republicans. In fact even most republicans have told pollsters they agree that the only way to reduce the deficit is to not only cut spending, but raise taxes. It gets worse. 45% agree with the president on gun control while 39% don't. Despite an astute and sophisticated P.R. campaign helmed by Ted Nugent and Wayne LaPierre, a Quinnipiac poll released earlier this month found 92% of Americans agree there needs to be a buyer background check run before a gun can be sold to anyone, anywhere, at anytime.

47% of those polled side with the president on climate change policies as opposed to 26% in opposition. When it comes to the automatic massive federal government cuts scheduled to hit March 1, 49% said they will blame the republican house for not reaching an agreement on the deficit, as opposed to 31% who say they will blame the president. If the cuts kick in an estimated 16,000 civilian Department of Defense employees will be furloughed in Oklahoma alone and $129.3 million in payroll dollars will be lost to the local economy. Nationwide the number of those furloughed could reach 800,000.

Then we come to the greatest republican killer of them all, immigration reform. 50% of Americans agree with the president and 33% side with a deeply divided GOP. Despite the arrival of Marco Rubio and some right wing media fantasies that involve Hispanics moving in vast numbers toward the republican party, the president's approval rating among that demographic, according to this poll, is 73%.

Can anyone with a functioning brain blame them? John McCain recently held a town hall meeting in Sun Lakes, Arizona. Among other bon mots expressed by some of his angry white conservative constituents were these: "Undocumented aliens should never be allowed to become citizens, or vote."-- "Illegals are all illiterate invaders who want free government benefits."--"If we cut off their welfare they'll go home."-- And finally, my personal favorite, "Only guns will discourage illegal immigration." Yes, if I was Hispanic I would certainly feel comfortable and at home hanging out with those xenophobic rubes. In the face of all that rage McCain said something about us being a Judeo-Christian nation. He was roundly booed. Don't for a moment think that sort of thing is confined to Arizona either. Senator Tom Coburn could face the same sort of crowd here in a suburb of Oklahoma City.

One can almost hear GOP strategists screaming at those assholes in Sun Lakes to, "Shut up, for God's sake! You're killing us.!" Indeed, as the old saying goes, loose lips sink ships.

The fact is the republican party appears to be in the throes of the most extended act of suicide ever witnessed. They couldn't win last November because their base wasn't broad enough, but they can't expand their base because their current base won't allow it. I know, it makes no sense, but it is what is happening, unless, of course, you believe Herman Cain. Cain, the pizza maker and part time sexual deviant appeared on Bill O'Reilly's FOX News show the other day and said the reason Barak Obama is popular is because 51% of us are dumb.

In an obvious and sincere appeal to the hearts and minds of those who voted for the president last November, Mr. Cain opined that, "We have a severe ignorance problem." He said he believes that the majority of voters last year were misled. Even O'Reilly seemed incredulous. "I mean how dumb are we?" he asked. Cain's response was, "Yes, Bill we are that dumb."

Well you have to blame it all on something don't you.

The poll numbers look grim on nearly every front for the GOP. They don't even have the false comfort of Rove/Morris hallucinations any more.

And worst of all they just keep opening their mouths and spewing forth the most awful bullshit imaginable.

It is simply a matter of time before the more clever among them strap on parachutes and hit the silk, because quite honestly it really does look like the plane is going down in flames.

Ol' Abe Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt are turning in their graves as I type.      


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

An American's Idol, Anders Breivik

Well, we all have our idols. Many choose singers and bands. Not just a few people pick sports stars. Others are inspired by political and cultural leaders. I have several myself, most of them are authors. According to CBS reporter, Bob Orr, the geeky little guy who shot his mom then 26 other human beings in Newtown, CT, Adam Lanza had an idol named. Anders Breivik.

Breivik is currently sitting in a Norwegian prison because he murdered 77 people a couple of years ago. According to Orr, anonymous police sources are saying that Lanza felt he was in some sort of deadly, bizzaro, competition with Breivik and desperately wanted to top his number of kills. He chose the Sandy Hook Elementary school because he felt it was a soft target and offered the maximum number of potential victims.

Connecticut state police Lt. Paul Vance was quick to deny that any sort of reason has been established for Lanza's rampage, other than the obvious one, that he was as  berserk as a wolverine whipped into a frenzy by an overload of meth. Vance maintains that authorities are, "a long way" from determining any sort of motive and claims the Breivik connection is pure speculation. He did say that young Adam had collected information on previous mass shootings, although police have found nothing that specifically outlined his plan, or said he was trying to "out do" anyone.

The FBI continues to try to recover information from the hard drive of Lanza's computer, but haven't come up with anything of use so far. It would seem his efficiency at destroying things was all encompassing.

In a NBC interview Hartford Courant reporters, Alaine Griffin and Josh Kovner said that notes found in Adam Lanza's bedroom lead them to believe that he could have been inspired by the madness in Norway. Their publication has teamed with PBS' Frontline to air a report on the life of the shooter and his family.

According to Griffin, Nancy Lanza did everything she could to help her son get an education, including trying various school and in home options. She did say that Mrs. Lanza was prodding her son to be more independent. Griffin touched on rumors that she was also convinced of a dystopian future and was hoarding supplies, weapons, and ammunition to prepare for the collapse of civilization in New England. While not flatly denying that Nancy Lanza was a suburbanite survivalist, she seemed to tacitly dismiss the notion.

What is known is that Adam Lanza was a sick puppy from very early on. In fact his mother told his older brother's scout master not to touch him even casually because physical contact was absolutely repulsive to him. This was before he reached the age of ten. Neither Griffin, or Kovner speculated about what steps she might have taken to get her son professional help, or what medications he might have been on, or off.

What is also known is that Adam Lanza shot each of his victims multiple times just because he could and that he used his mother's weapons to do it. In the end, it doesn't matter why she amassed a home arsenal. What does matter is she did while at the same time she was raising an increasingly unstable son who had taken a very real liking to violent video games and was fascinated by spree killers. Her collection of guns was ultimately her undoing just as it was the undoing of 26 other souls, 20 of them, for all practical purposes, babies.

The fact is, short of chucking her son into a mental institute, which she was obviously unwilling to do, the only way to have prevented the Newtown nightmare was to have denied him access to the guns he used. In other words, to not have them in the house at all. It was something she was also unwilling to do. Yes, her intentions were benign, she was a loving mother and she tried hard to help her child, but what finally came to pass is that Nancy Lanza provided the tools that her bat shit crazy kid used during his murderous walkabout. Anders Breivik may have been the inspiration, but dear old Mom was the enabler.

Meanwhile earlier today in Orange County, California a series of carjackings by a single gunman left three people dead and two wounded, one of them critically. When the perpetrator was finally cornered by police he reportedly shot himself, elevating the total body count to four.

According to Slate and @GunDeaths, the Orange County shootings have raised the number of people shot to death in the United States since the Newtown murders to 1,951.

And some of us still have the audacity to say we're free.



Monday, February 18, 2013

Preventive Security in Libya, John McCain's Conspiracy, Angry Iranians, and the End of Civilization According to Wayne LaPierre

Hussein Bin Hmeid and his men were on the job last week in Benghazi, Libya. He is the spokesperson for something known as the Preventive Security Apparatus. The PSA popped four foreign nationals because, "They were printing thousands of books calling for conversion to Christianity."

The Reuters report quoted Mr. Hmeid as saying, "Proselytizing is forbidden in Libya. We are a 100% Muslim country and this kind of action affects our national security." He wasn't real specific on how it affected Libyan national security, but then it is well known that when looking at the Big Picture, details are for wimps. Mr. Hmeid assured the world that the Korean, South African, Egyptian, and a Swede who was traveling with a U.S. passport would be interrogated thoroughly for a couple of days and then his outfit would hand them over to Libyan intelligence personnel. There is a huge temptation right now to steal a line from the movie, "Casablanca". You know the one when Claude Raines turns to Humphrey Bogart and says something like, "Rick, Major Strasser is one of the reasons the Third Reich enjoys the reputation it has all over the world." That would probably be considered culturally insensitive of me however, so I'll pass.

Speaking of Benghazi, John McCain went on "Meet the Press" yesterday and claimed there has been a massive cover up regarding the deaths of four Americans there last September. When host, David Gregory questioned the Senator about that, it led to this exchange.

McCain: "I'm asking you, do you care whether four Americans died? And shouldn't people be held accountable for that?"

Gregory: "Well what you said was cover up--a cover up of what?"

McCain: "Of the information concerning the deaths of four brave Americans."

Good man, Senator. When pressed go on the attack and when cornered get real non-specific, because details--well, I've all ready explained it in the second paragraph.

The Iranians are pissed off, as usual. This time it is because a Revolutionary Guards commander, Hessam Khoshnevis was killed by Syrian rebels. The rebels claim Iran is covertly sending elements of the Revolutionary Guards into the country to help keep their pal, Bashar al-Assad in power. The Iranians claim it isn't true, although they were a bit vague on why Khoshnevis was in Syria in the first place. In a logic found only in places like Tehran and 1936 Munich the, Iranians are blaming the Jews for the whole mess. They vow to take revenge sometime soon.

Over the weekend Reuters was also reporting that 26 people in Baghdad were killed by bombs in Shi'ite neighborhoods. Sunni Muslim insurgents were blamed for the carnage. Iraqi Sunnis have been in a state of growing paranoia ever since Saddam did the mid-air polka on the wrong end of a rope. They've also lost their grip on power thanks to elections that might actually be considered fair, or at least fair compared to what they are used to in Iraq. The Sunnis, after decades of running the show, now find themselves on the outside looking in as the Shi'ite majority takes on increasing control of the government.

Does blossoming paranoia sound familiar? Well it does when you consider the words of our old pal Wayne LaPierre last week. Mr. LaPierre has switched gears sort of in his never ending shill for gun manufacturers. Last week in the The Daily Caller, another arm of the republican propaganda machine, he painted a picture of looting and crime run amok in Brooklyn during the aftermath of super storm Sandy. That none of it actually happened isn't really important. What is important is that it could have happened.

It would seem that the tried and true, "we must have unlimited arms to defend ourselves against a tyrannical government" argument has grown old. Or perhaps it has dawned on more than a few people that while AR 15's are quite effective when you are gunning down first graders, theater patrons, and family members they really aren't all that useful when it comes to stopping M1A2 Abrams tanks and F-16 fighter bombers. Yes, so now, Mr. LaPierre has gone all survivalist. The government won't come and get our guns, but it also won't be able to protect us because it will be broke. We won't be able to afford police departments in the near future so we have to be able to defend ourselves when civilization collapses and it becomes every man, woman, and child for them self. The next stop on this surreal Tilt a Whirl ride is that we must be able to own the high capacity ammo clips and semi automatic weapons in order to protect ourselves from ravenous hordes of flesh eating zombies. I mean, Good Christ, you see them everywhere on the cable network AMC. It is just a matter of time before they show up in your neighborhood. Keep a clear eye and don't get caught unprepared!

So, the week has begun. It is a bright clear, windy, Monday here on the southern plains.

Just Stay low and keep moving and as long time local TV host, Danny Williams used to say, "watch out for flying chairs."

sic vita est



Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Plan Goes Awry: Perdition Thy Name is the Department of Motor Vehicles

The day started innocently enough. Bright sunshine flooded into the apartment chasing away the gloom that had gathered the day before when snow fell and the skies seemed in mourning.

I had a plan you see. First, I would spend some of my cash buying into the lottery. I know, it has all the appearances of a sucker bet, but to be honest, given the state of morality found on Wall Street and the feral nature of the hyenas who run modern brokerages and banks, it seems to me a safe investment. Besides, if I do lose the money, at least a chunk of it goes to the department of education here in Oklahoma, not toward some greedhead's yacht upgrade.

Then it would be on to the old cigar store. Yes, I needed about six of those La Flor Dominicana Cabinet Oscuros. They are large, dark, and blunt with oily wrappers and they do pack a punch when smoked, yet are smooth to the finish.

Next I would venture to the local tag agency to get my drivers license renewed and finally to a noon Ash Wednesday service where I'd take communion and receive the imposition of ashes.

When all that was done I'd swing home and get to work on the blog. I'd write something fantastic. It would be a post that found the perfect combination of wit and outrage, or at least would be less tiresome than my average self indulgent screed.

Yes, that was the plan. A wager, some smokes, the government, then God and at last the keyboard. What could be more American? It would be a perfect day.

Initial stages of the itinerary went smoothly. Then I stepped into the tag agency. At first things there seemed to be going swimmingly. Incredibly, no one was in line in front of me. I paid my money, filled out the required form both front and back, signed and dated it. I sat down in front of the very large camera that is linked to a huge computer screen and the clerk began clicking away.

That is when it all went wrong.

"I'm sorry, Mr. Howard," she said. "They are telling me I can't issue you a drivers license." I politely inquired why, because after all I am a polite bastard. "They don't ever tell us, you'll have to go to a DMV testing site so that they can approve you." She began to fidget nervously, perhaps worried that I was one of them and capable of extreme and deadly violence. I mean everyone knows it doesn't take much nowadays to trip some loon over the edge, driving him into a wildly murderous spree. She quickly refunded my money and told me that I'd need to take along my current drivers license, social security card, and either my original birth certificate, or a passport. As I started to leave she said, "Oh and you need to make sure to set aside a couple of hours to be there. Have a nice day."

I turned to see if I could detect the thin acidic smile of sarcasm, but she seemed completely sympathetic.

By now it was closing in on 11:30am. Church was a lost cause. I grabbed a fast food burger and soft drink to go, stopped by the place to pick up my passport and social security card and headed up to Edmond, Oklahoma, U.S.A.

I entered the testing facility and took a number. It was 621. The electronic board hanging near the ceiling said they were now at number 590. It was a bare and dreary place, the very definition of dingy. It was also filled to near capacity with a number of worried looking Hispanic sorts, a few Indo-Pakistani types studying their driver's manuals intently, and a whole bunch of sullen kids who looked to be in their late teens or early twenties. It was, at that moment in my life, 12:10pm, Wednesday, February 13th, 2013

At 12:30pm the board beeped loudly and switched to 591. One of the Hispanic guys got up and disappeared behind a large wall that separated the officials from the waiting public. For all I know they dragged him away in chains, because honestly I never saw him emerge from that closed off space. I will say this, if that is what is what really happened, they did it professionally and quietly. No one heard any scuffling or screams.

Around 1:15 or so a young blond princess came walking in, took a number and then a look at the board, which, at that point, was sitting at 597. You could see the anger and disbelief spread across her face. It was immediately obvious she didn't have time for this sort of nonsense and she certainly couldn't be bothered to sit in a room with an awful bunch of losers like us. She stormed back behind the wall to tell the people in charge just that. I heard a very loud male voice say, "If you have a question stand over there and I'll get to you in minute."

Children, here is the first lesson in dealing with low level bureaucrats. To begin with you must understand that they are generally a bored lot who don't like people to begin with. If you piss them off by trying to make yourself the exception to the rules, they will fuck you over so badly you won't be able to walk for days. This is a fact of life.

I have no idea what she said to the guy behind the hidden counter, but his response was, "You'll just have to wait along with everyone else. We will probably get to you before we close." Closing time at that station is 4:45pm. The horror and impossibility of the situation didn't take long to sink in. She stomped out in what we used to call a huff. I glanced across the aisle at a black guy. Our eyes met for a second and we both smiled grimly.

To make a long story even longer, the woman at the tag agency was pretty close. Thanks to a number of people in line ahead of me who gave up and left in disgusted frustration I hit the counter at 2:20pm, only slightly longer than her estimate. I handed over my social security card, my passport and my drivers license.

"You've heard of the no fly list?" the vaguely faceless man asked. I said I had. "Well now there is a no drive list and unfortunately it isn't very exact. Someone out there who has the same name as you and the same birthday, or something close to it, has some outstanding warrants and is barred from getting or renewing a license."

"Warrants for what?"

"Oh it could be anything." He ran all the numbers through the great computer, took my photo, an electronic fingerprint and at last cleared me of any and all wrong doing. He stamped a form and told me to take it back to the tag agency so that they could issue me my license.

I trudged back to the tag agency where there was now a line. I took another number, this one 478. They called for 470 right after I tore it off the dispenser.

I got home about a little after 3:30 pm and immediately fixed myself the worlds largest gin and tonic. As I sat on the sofa sipping at it I was haunted by the final words of advice given to me at the DMV. "In four years go to the tag agency to renew. If whoever this is hasn't cleared up his problems they'll send you back to us."

Now there is something to look forward to.

Just as a coda to this dreadful little odyssey, I have a message for you, Sid Howard, you vile sonofabitch. I don't know where you are, but if I ever find you, I'll get you for putting me through all that yesterday. That is right, buddy I'm going to introduce the side of your head to my Louisville Slugger. Keep that in mind the next time you step outside.

And for God's sake pay your tickets some time soon!

sic vita est


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Fat Tuesday, The State of The Union, Victims of Violence and Cat Scratch Fever

Fat Tuesday is upon us and here on the southern plains snow is falling from a battleship gray sky. In New Orleans and other locales huge amounts of alcohol are being swilled and women who should know better are baring their breasts to appreciative male crowds while yelling things like, "wooohoooo!"

The mood in Washington D.C. tonight will be a tad more somber. Whether it will be more dignified or not remains to be seen. As Barak H. Obama readies his State of the Union Address guests are pouring in from different parts of the land.

Sitting with the first lady, Michelle Obama will be 102 year old Desiline Victor. Ms. Victor, who is black, had to make two trips to her Florida polling station and wait for hours to cast her vote for the president. All that was thanks to some ruthless chicanery pulled by Florida election officials who were busy trying to fix the results of the voting. Also sitting with Mrs. Obama will be  the parents of Hadiya Pendleton. She was the teenager gunned downed in Chicago only a matter of days after marching in the President's Inaugural Parade. Mrs. Obama attended her funeral this past Saturday. Chicago police have arrested two men in the case. One has reportedly confessed and said that young, Ms. Pendleton wasn't the target. He was after rival gang members instead. In other words she died because she was standing in the wrong place at the wrong time. That being defined now days, thanks to the proliferation of guns, as just about anywhere in America.

Indeed. Two Colorado lawmakers are bringing along the parents of a teenager who made the fatal mistake of attending a movie in Aurora, Colorado late one night. Nancy Pelosi's guest is a fourth grader from Newtown, Connecticut. Twenty kids and six teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary school fucked up by simply attending class that awful day in December. Former congresswoman, Gabby Giffords will be there, still struggling to overcome the horrible wounds she endured because she was shaking hands with people in a Tucson shopping center parking lot.

To counter all this maudlin left wing fol de rol Texas congressman Steve Stockman has invited over the hill rock musician Ted Nugent to attend. Yes, those two certainly play well to the middle of the road crowd. Stockman has threatened to bring impeachment proceedings against the president if he attempts to pass, or enforce any gun control legislation. Nugent is on record as having said the Obama administration is "evil and America-hating." He compared the president to a coyote who is pissing on sofas in American living rooms and said such a beast should be shot. That one got him a nice little chat with the Secret Service. They quickly decided the guy is just another mouthy right wing asshole and no real threat to anyone except those who attend his concerts and listen to what he claims is music. Whether Mr. Nugent can keep his mouth shut during the speech is the subject of some speculation. It is highly doubtful he'll have the guts to offer his respects or sympathies to any of the gun violence victims.

Later in the evening Florida senator, Marco Rubio will deliver the republican response to the president's speech. He will make his case in both English and Spanish as the GOP desperately tries to mend fences with Latino voters all across the land. Rubio will have to walk a line so fine that is almost the width of a hair if he wants to continue to be the new poster boy for the party. He can rail about the economy, but if he seems too soft on that tea party bugaboo illegal immigration, they will stay away from his campaign in droves. The brutal rubes can't win you an election, but they can keep you from getting nominated.

And speaking of the chock ful o nuts wing of the GOP, Kentucky senator Rand Paul will be delivering the tea party response to the president's speech. Can there be any more proof the republicans are a schizo lot? They are so divided they have to have a mainstream guy give one speech and then have one of the tea party favorites to give another just to keep all the troops happy. Yes, we want to attract Hispanics, but we don't want to alienate all those crazy white folks who are our only real source of bread and butter.

Trust me, somewhere in this land, to the utter horror of people like Ted Nugent, those "Hillary 2016" bumper stickers are being cranked out by the thousands. Look for the aging white population, all those people who see their political and cultural power washing away right before their very eyes, to become more desperate, even more willing to say or do anything.

Is the Republican Party done? Probably not yet. However it is certainly on the ropes. The people who make up its base have no answer to the changing demographics of this nation. They still can't comprehend why they aren't running things any longer. After all they've been doing it for over two hundred years and compromise has never been necessary before, so why start now?

Denial is an amazing thing isn't it?

sic vita est


Monday, February 11, 2013

Benedict Resigns: Who is Next in Rome?

The news today from Rome was stunning, well at least it was for the 1.2 billion Roman Catholics in the world and their hierarchy. Pope Benedict XVI is abdicating as of February 28th, leaving the Roman church without a leader. This sort of thing doesn't happen every day. In fact it doesn't happen every century. The last pope to resign was Celestine V, 719 years ago in 1294. To put that into perspective, when he quit no one in Europe had ever heard of the black plague, much less died from it. Others have left the papacy before their deaths, but none of them really went voluntarily. Back in the not so great old days, sometimes you needed to be as good with a sword as you were at serving communion to be head of Catholic church. Politics and religion were then truly one and the same.

Celestine had spent much of his life as a monastic hermit and he really didn't want the job in the first place. He resigned after only five months because, among other things, "his desire for humility, for a purer life." He even cited the "perverseness of people" as a reason.

Benedict has spent his entire life moving up through the ranks of the Roman church. When the German army came and drafted him and his classmates at age sixteen, they were raiding a seminary. He was born John Ratzinger in 1927 and ordained in 1951. He was a professor of theology at several universities and the Archbishop of Munich and Freising. In 2002 he became the Dean of the College of Cardinals. Obviously the man is no Celestine

His announcement caught everyone so off guard that it is reported a couple of Cardinals who were there with him had a hard time understanding what was happening. Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the Archbishop of New York was quoted as saying, "I'm as startled as the rest of you and as anxious to find out exactly what is going on. Except for prayer I don't know what else to do. I'll await instructions with everyone else."

Indeed, what is going on? Speculation will run rampant now. Benedict's resignation statement contains this hint, " today's world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the barque of St. Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me."

The obvious answer is that the Pope has serious health issues that none of the rest of us are aware of at this point. There is no telling if it is one thing, or a combination of issues both physical and mental. At a few months short of 86 a list of potential ailments is nearly endless.

The really big question in all of this is who will be Benedict's successor and in which direction will he guide the barque of St. Peter? The papacy has never been held by a non-European and the reality is that more than half the Cardinals who will vote are from that continent. The cold stat though is that Europe makes up only 25% of the worlds Roman Catholics. 42% reside in Latin America.

These are delicate times at best for a church rocked by a seemingly unending parade of sexual abuse scandals and changing attitudes about not only the role of women, but of the role of the whole institution in every day modern life. Will the new Pope be a progressive or conservative and what do those terms even mean in today's Roman Catholic world? Will the Cardinals elect another European, or will they make what many would consider a breathtakingly bold move by electing a Latin American Pope, or one from Asia, or Africa?

Whatever the answers are we know that the Roman church along with all the other churches, including the church of Islam, face challenges their founders could never have dreamed of. They are challenges both external and internal in nature, both spiritual and secular.

It is the twenty-first century. Should it be ruled by a thousand year old dogma, or are there eternal truths that no matter what the date should not be compromised?

That will be up to the next guy, whoever he is.

And ultimately to each of us.


Friday, February 8, 2013

Friday Dispatches: Highly Motivated in Los Angeles, Burning Witches in the South Pacific, and Crackers at Duke

They hit the streets nowadays quicker than Chevys rolling off the assembly line. We produce them, arm them, then send them on their way to wreck mayhem and inflict the maximum amount of shock, pain, and terror. NBC News is reporting the latest model is named Christopher Jordan Dorner. He is a large African-American man, which is a bit of a change, since most of these guys are skinny little Caucasian dudes. He also used to be a cop and was a Lt. in the Navy Reserve.

There are other major differences. Mr. Dorner is no run amok in a theater sort of guy. He has a plan and has put it online for everyone to see. He has, as they say, taken names and come to kick ass. He feels, quite deeply, he has been wronged by the Los Angeles Police Department. He is now on the hunt for not only those who he says cost him his career and ruined his name, but their families as well. Not to mention any other cops who might cross his path. His first victims were Monica Quan and her fiance' Keith Lawrence. They were gunned down in an apartment complex parking lot after the Super Bowl. Ms.Quan was the daughter of retired LAPD captain Randy Quan. He had been Dorner's representative at the police review that caused him to be kicked off the force.

In Dorner's rambling manifesto he writes, "I never had the opportunity to have a family of my own. I'm terminating yours. Look your wives/husbands and surviving children directly in the face and tell them the truth as to why your children are dead."

Since then two police officers have been wounded and one killed. Law enforcement personnel in southern California are on the razor's edge. When a vehicle that simply looked like Dorner's was coming down a street with its lights off early the other morning they opened fire immediately. Two females who were delivering news papers were wounded and hospitalized.

Brother Dorner has written that he believes Asian, Hispanic, and lesbian officers are "high value targets." He feels the same way about African-American police supervisors who belittle white subordinates.

He was kicked off the force in 2008 because he accused another officer of brutality. It is an accusation that a board of review decided was false.

This is going to end violently, it almost always does. Dorner leaves this message to America, among all the others. "Self preservation is no longer important to me. I do not fear death as I died long ago on 1-2-09." Police say he has amassed a large arsenal of weapons including assault rifles. While in the navy he was awarded a ribbon for rifle marksmanship and a medal for pistol expertise.

The suspect is still at large and presumably remains just as highly motivated as he was when this latest horror story began.

In the mean time I suppose we can take some comfort in that we aren't the only cracked pots in the kitchen cabinets. In Paupa New Guinea  20 year old Kepari Leniata was accused of sorcery by the family of a six year old boy who died in a hospital on Tuesday. Apparently they take charges of witchcraft pretty seriously down there. Ms. Leniata was set upon by a crowd and as hundreds watched and took cell phone photos, she was stripped naked, bound, tortured with a hot iron rod, and finally doused with gasoline and set on fire. NBC is reporting that local police are having trouble finding witnesses who will identify the perpetrators. The authorities might want to take a look at some of those cell phones. After all, we are a high tech species and what goes online stays online.

Back here in the states once again, North Carolina State basketball player Tyler Lewis' grandmother died last week. It has been reported that he was very close to her. This week his team played at Duke. When he went to the free throw line the other night the Dukies, proving once again they should be the most loathed gang of crackers on the face of the planet, began chanting, "How's your Grandma."  Duke likes to think of itself as the Harvard of the south. Evidence is mounting that it more closely resembles the asshole of the NCAA.

And there we have it. Another week is in the books. As Zippy The Pin Head used to ask, "Are we having fun yet?"

No, I didn't think so.

Over and out.


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Bethany Police Punts: The OSBI Takes Charge of the Carina Saunders' Case

It has been sixteen months since Carina Saunders' dismembered body was found in a duffel bag behind a grocery store in the Oklahoma City suburb of Bethany. During that time all manner of evidence has been released to the media. Much of it has proven to be either wrong, or even worse simply rumors that took on a life so lurid that they quickly evolved into what amounts to urban myths.

In today's "Oklahoman," Tim Willert is reporting that the Bethany Police Department has punted the entire investigation over to the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation. He quotes an email sent by Bethany Chief, Phil Cole that says, "After meeting with District Attorney David Prater, we both feel that the investigation would be better served by allowing an agency with greater resources and a fresh set of eyes take over this complex case."

In other words, we got in over our heads and screwed the pooch. Well it shouldn't be surprising. Bethany's force has less than forty officers and under normal circumstances the most serious offense they deal with, other than traffic citations, has to do with some kid shoplifting at a local 7-11. They were out of their league from the word go on this one. 

Whether Prater fired them, or there was some sort of mutual agreement is moot. The major question now is, how badly mangled is the investigation and will the OSBI be able to salvage it and put whoever killed Saunders behind bars.

Luis Ruiz and Jimmy Massey sit in the county jail right now accused of the crime. Both men's lawyers are ecstatic at this latest turn of events. Willert quotes Ruiz's attorney, Derek Chance as saying, "From day one we have had serious questions and concerns about the poor investigation. We remain confident that Luis will be exonerated and this late investigative effort supports our contention." He then went on to sound a little O.J. Simpsonish when we told Willert, "Of equal concern is the fact the killer is still at large."

Massey's lawyer Mitch Solomon was quoted as saying, "We are confident when the investigation is done properly it will show who is actually responsible."

Gone are the stories about blood spattered south side apartments, machetes, witnesses who police claim saw the crime, and the infamous cell phone video that reportedly showed Ruiz sawing Saunders apart. Gone are nearly a half dozen names that have been connected to the case in one way or another.There is in fact, at this moment, not a thing that has been printed or said in the last year that can be trusted to be the actual truth. The brutal reality is the OSBI is going to need to start from ground zero, as if the crime happened yesterday and not over a year ago.

OSBI spokesperson Jessica Brown alluded to that much when Willert quoted her as saying, "We haven't opened the case officially. We're trying to gather all the information and reports that have been produced."

It has not been a good year for D.A. David Prater. Jaymie Adams was murdered a couple of months after Carina Saunders. Her husband was arrested and charged with the crime, but investigators have been doing to the back up two step ever since. Justin Adams is now out on bail and police are looking at a guy named Joseph Cyr. Prater's office maintains that Adams is still connected in some way with the case, but it certainly appears they are struggling with it. As of this writing Cyr has not been arrested, despite reports a Wal Mart security video shows him buying "items" found at the murder scene.

Now the whole Saunders' case appears to be falling apart and Prater's office is scrambling for answers and enough hard evidence to convict someone, anyone. For the time being there is no telling where the investigation will be headed. The only thing that seems certain at the moment is that we are a long way from getting to the end of it. We can only hope we aren't even further away than we were when her body was initially discovered in October, 2011.

We can only hope someone will finally lay this tragedy to rest.


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

A Bad Day For Jimmy Lee Dykes in Alabama and Kids With Guns

At about the same time I finished yesterday's post on this blog FBI agents entered the bunker built and occupied by Jimmy Lee Dykes in Midland City, Alabama. Things did not turn out well for Brother Dykes. He is dead now. The good news, however, is that his hostage, identified in press reports simply as "Ethan" escaped and was physically unharmed.

Authorities rushed him to a hospital in nearby Dothan where he was examined and pronounced fit, although one can only imagine the number of hours he'll spend in therapy over the next few years. It has been reported by several sources that the child suffers from Asperger's Syndrome and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Sitting in what is being described as a six foot by eight foot hole in the ground for nearly a week with a babbling lunatic probably didn't help either condition. Ethan turns six tomorrow. Before he was taken hostage he saw his school bus driver, Charles Poland shot four times and left dead as fellow students scrambled to escape.

Jimmy Lee Dykes is being described by neighbors as an angry loner who was prone to roaming his property late at night, patrolling for trespassers. A female neighbor claims a while back he beat her dog to death with a lead pipe. NBC News has reported that Dykes was a "decorated" veteran who served in the navy during the Vietnam War. Well there is decorated and then there is decorated. So far the only awards Mr. Dykes has been confirmed to received is the Vietnam Service Medal. It was awarded to everyone who served in that theater for at least 30 continuous days, or 60 days total. He also was presented with  the Good Conduct Medal. It is awarded to those individuals who don't severely fuck up during their enlistment, or at least don't get caught when they do. 

NBC is also reporting he was popped in Florida in 1995 for improper exhibition of a weapon. Given the state it is hard to figure out what he had to do to get himself arrested. The misdemeanor charges were dismissed probably because everyone in Florida has exhibited a weapon at some point and it is all quite proper down there. He was also charged with possession of marijuana in 2000.

Yes, ultimately he was just another twisted malcontent lost in a sea of like souls. Odds are every weapon he owned was bought legally. That despite the fact Dykes' dementia and paranoia had grown over the years to the point he told acquaintances he felt the government was rigging the races at a Florida dog track. He believed that if a government approved animal wasn't winning the race the leader was somehow shocked to throw it off its pace.

Apparently things began to go south with the negotiations early Monday. The FBI had, according to sources quoted by USA Today, been able to wiggle some sort of surveillance device into the bunker so they could see what was going on. Dykes became increasingly agitated yesterday afternoon and finally picked up a weapon. That was when agents decided to pull the plug on the drama and stormed into the bunker. It is unclear at this time whether they put a cap in his ass, or he killed himself.

Meanwhile NBC is reporting that the kids of the nation are tired of putting up with all this mayhem. According to an online article by M. Alex Johnson, since January first of this year there have been 48 separate incidences of students bringing loaded weapons to school with them. Johnson writes that last Thursday alone students in Atlanta, Augusta, Kansas, Raleigh, Winston-Salem, and--of course--Chicago were all detained for toting guns in their book bags, or on their persons. In Atlanta one student was wounded as was one in Taft, California on the tenth of this month. In the latest incident a Virginia second grader was arrested after he threatened a class mate on a bus taking them both to school. An unspecified firearm was found in his backpack when he climbed off the bus at the campus.

The National Rifle Association has yet to step in on the behalf of any of these kids, although given their attitude regarding gun control that is probably right around the corner. After all, children have constitutional rights too. No doubt it will be just a matter of moments before a state legislator somewhere points out that seven year olds should be able to form their own militias to fight against government tyranny. Not to mention math and science exams.

This is all so bitterly tiresome. We are possessed by a deadly fetish. It controls our thoughts, words, and deeds. Now it is infecting our children.

I fear we are lost. There is simply no other way to describe it.



Monday, February 4, 2013

A Memorial in Alabama and The End of The Devil of Ramadi

Down in Alabama on Saturday there was a memorial service for Charles Poland. Mr. Poland drove a bus for the Midland City school district. He was murdered when a guy named Jimmy Lee Dykes jumped on board his loaded vehicle brandishing a weapon. By all reports Charles Poland did what he could to protect his riders, yet another bunch of grade school kids. Dykes shot him four times and then abducted one of the children.

Brother Dykes then retreated to an underground bunker he'd dug and filled with supplies. He is still holed up there with his hostage as I write. It is now day seven of the nightmare. Jimmy, as he is known to relatives, is reportedly a Vietnam veteran and has been described by neighbors as, you guessed it, a loner. People who know him have also said he harbors both a deep distrust and loathing of the government. One would assume that means the Feds, although I suppose any level of government, right down to the local variety is a bit iffy for him by now. How killing a school bus driver and kidnapping a five year old solves any of the problems he might have with the authorities remains unclear to just about everyone, but him at this time.

Also on Saturday outside of  Stephenville, Texas, Chris Kyle and Chad Littlefield were shot to death at a local gun range. Kyle was a former Navy SEAL who did four tours in Iraq. He and Scott McEwen co-wrote his biography titled, "American Sniper." He was so efficient at his job that Iraqi insurgents reportedly nicknamed him The Devil of Ramadi. According to the book he had 160 confirmed kills.

Kyle had founded a non-profit called FITCO to aid fellow veterans. It provides them with home physical training equipment. He believed that both physical and mental wounds could be helped with workout regimens and the focused discipline and ethic they require.

The accused shooter is Eddie Ray Routh, a marine veteran who had been deployed to places like Iraq and Haiti. Sheriff Tommy Bryant said it was possible that Routh might have been suffering from a mental disorder as a result of his own service. Whatever the case, Kyle and his friend Littlefield took Routh to the Rough Creek Lodge shooting range. The prevailing theory at this point is that both men were trying to help a fellow veteran work through some mental issues. Why that would include putting a loaded weapon in the man's hand is a tad beyond comprehension, but it must have seemed like a good idea at the time to someone. Routh gunned them both down with a semi automatic hand gun, reportedly shooting The Devil of Ramadi in the back.

Slate Magazine and @GunDeaths are reporting that as of January 31, 2013, in other words, within 48 days of the Newtown, Connecticut horror, 1,508 Americans have been shot and killed. The Guardian reports that in 2012, 41 people were killed by firearms in England and Wales, 35 in France, 6 in Israel, 14 in South Korea, 55 in the Netherlands, 7 in New Zealand, 30 in Australia, 2 in Norway, and 57 in Switzerland. That would be 247 total for all of 2012 in those nine countries. Think about that. It took us only 48 days to shoot and kill over six times the number of people who were similarly murdered in all those other places added together over the period of an entire year.

But we're free, thank God Almighty, we're free.

Chris Kyle was married with two children. Chad Littlefield was described as his workout buddy. Charles Albert Poland Jr. was a grandfather several times over. The kid still stuck in that Alabama hole with the lunatic is named Ethan.

res ipsa loquitur


Friday, February 1, 2013

Super Bowl Sunday: Kitsch, Big Bucks, Chicken Wings, Diversion and Denial

There is nothing in the United States that so harkens us back to ancient Rome like American football. Oh, there are those among us who on occasion descend into wild and decadent orgies and many of the uber wealthy own slaves, although they playfully call them employees in order to avoid bad press. However, those things are reserved for the select few and simply can't match the fervor and sheer hysteria that American football brings to the masses. We routinely fill huge coliseums and plead loudly with the gods for victory and blood. Many will arrive brutishly drunk, looking for confrontations with those who cheer for the opposition. In some instances wearing one set of colors can be tantamount to challenging people clad in another combination to a duel, or at least an awkward and silly attempt at fisticuffs.

All this madness comes to its mind shattering conclusion on Sunday evening. That is when the NFL will be staging Super Bowl XLVII. (What did I tell you about Rome?) The Baltimore Ravens, named after Poe's poem, will meet the San Francisco 49er's, named after a whole bunch of people looking to strike it rich quick during the 1849 California gold rush. It is the end of a campaign that began for both teams in August when their training camps opened in earnest.

In our adolescent arrogance many of us in this country will refer to it as the greatest event in sports. We will be naively ignoring several hundreds of millions of people who consider the World Cup Final a far more meaningful moment and this as just another bizarre example of American kitsch taken to the extreme.

Indeed, pregame and half time entertainment in the stadium will be concentrated versions of Las Vegas revues performed by entertainers dressed in costumes designed by people apparently deep in the throes of an acid binge. It will be the Circus Maximus gone all glitter and high tech.

Make no mistake about it though, despite all the ultra gaudy nonsense this whole display is huge business. The Columbia Broadcasting System will be begin the pregame shows at 10am Central American Time. The opening kickoff isn't scheduled until 5:30 pm. An estimated 100 million people are set to watch it. Thirty second advertising spots during the game are selling for a breathtaking $3.7 to $4.0 million dollars. After the game the rate immediately drops to $800,000 for the same amount of time.

Yes, we may be many things, but we do know how to make a buck and throw a party. This Sunday evening in homes all across this great land millions of chicken wings, train loads of bratwursts and incalculable numbers of pizzas will be consumed. For a few moments we'll escape from the real world. We'll ignore the embassy bombing in Turkey. We'll stop thinking about that five year old kid being held hostage in an Alabama bunker by another loon with another firearm. We won't ponder the dreadful fact that since December 14, 2012, the day of the Newtown, Connecticut massacre, Slate Magazine and @gundeaths say that at least 1,475 Americans have been killed by guns.

Some times diversion is good, Some times it is just denial suited up in a football uniform. Many times no one can, or wants to see the difference.

Take the Ravens and the points. Trust me.