Friday, May 31, 2013

Letters To Bloomberg, Suicide in Louisiana, It is Bumpy in Dino Land, and a New Milestone Passed

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is a bit of a problem for our old friends over at the NRA. Number one he doesn't like that just about anyone can march into a sporting goods store then, within a few hours or days, leave with a semi automatic weapon that has no real purpose beyond running up a large body count. Number two he really doesn't like it that any paranoid schizophrenic can stroll into a traveling gun show, or go on the internet and buy a weapon of the same type without any sort of criminal, or medical background check. Number three he is a billionaire and he is willing to spend large amounts of money to fight for his beliefs.

The National Rifle Association despises Bloomberg because of reasons one and two. They fear him because of reason three. If they know anything it is that money talks. Wayne LaPierre and the boys have whipped their people up into a real frenzy over this gun control stuff. When faced with a bill that would simply require background checks at gun shows and for internet weapons sales the NRA responded by telling their membership and anyone else who'd listen that the big bad government was going to create a national registry of gun owners. They hammered home that the legislation was the first step toward gun ownership restrictions and ultimately the confiscation of their weapons.

It was all utter bullshit, but then if you're going to lie, go big. There is no such thing as overkill to the NRA. Predictably a certain percentage of the membership panicked at the notion they might not be able to pretend they are Rambo any more. 

Unfortunately someone down south decided to act on their fear.This week Bloomberg, the head of his organization, "Mayors Against Illegal Guns," Mark Glaze, and Barak Obama all received basically the same letter threatening their lives. The letter to Bloomberg and Glaze both contained the poison ricin. The letter to Obama is still being tested at this time.

The text of the message to Bloomberg, at least in part, read, "You will have to kill me and my family before you get my guns. Anyone who wants to come to my house will get shot in the face. The right to bear arms is my constitutional God given right and I will exercise that right till (sic) the day I die. What's in this letter is nothing compared to what I've got planned for you."

All three letters bore Shreveport, LA postmarks, but the postal center there handles mail from not only Louisiana, but Texas and Arkansas as well.

I'm not exactly sure where in the bible it says that God gives us the right to bear arms, but obviously one man's background check is another's "infringement." I'm also not sure I'd want to be the writer's spouse, or child. He, or she is pretty darn quick to offer them up as casualties in a fire fight. It certainly appears that the author is a tad anti-social. After all, there is the promise to shoot anyone who comes to his or her house. One can only hope the local paper boy keeps low and on the move when the morning news is delivered to that porch.

ABC News is reporting that unnamed law enforcement officials are saying that because of the low level of toxicity found in the letters they were the work of a rank amateur. However there is little doubt all of the correspondence was the effort of one person. New York Police Commissioner, Raymond Kelly was quoted as saying all three were apparently composed on the same machine, or computer.

The NRA will no doubt deny it is in any way responsible for the actions of what is clearly a demented human being. They won't, however, be able to deny that their policies and actions enabled Mark Tarto to buy a weapon. On the 29th of May The Mail Online reported that Tarto was found dead in his south Louisiana home. He died of an apparent self inflicted gun shot. Before his suicide authorities determined he had shot his 16 year old son to death. Tarto then sat there contemplating the kid's body for a few days before deciding to take his own life.

And they won't be able to deny that laws supported by them allowed Angelo Lista to obtain a conceal and carry permit down in Florida. Mr. Lista went to Disney World the other day. You know, the amusement park that the owners call the happiest place on earth. He said he wasn't aware the Disney people didn't allow guns in the park. He thought the security checkpoint outside of the entrance was there only to look for explosives in hand bags. Later in the day a woman and her grandson found Lista's loaded .380 Cobra semi automatic hand gun laying on a seat of the dinosaur ride. Authorities tracked Lista down--he was still in the park--and he explained to them he had noticed the gun was missing a few minutes after he exited the ride. He said it must have fallen out of his pocket because the dino adventure was, "extremely bumpy."

Yes, things are extremely bumpy now days in more ways than one.

The latest news releases say that a "person of interest" is now being questioned about the letters sent to Obama, Bloomberg, and Glaze.

Slate and @GunDeaths reports that as of May 30th at least 4,537 Americans have been killed by guns since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. That nightmare was only six months ago. In comparison, 4,409 American troops were killed during the entire Iraq war.

Bumpy indeed.


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Michele Bachmann Rides Off Into the Sunset

And there goes Michele Marie Amble Bachman riding off into the sunset. NBC News, in an on line article co-written by Mark Murray, Domenico Montanaro, and Brook Brower, is reporting that the Congresswoman from Minnesota has decided not to run for re-election.

They quote her as saying, "After a great deal of thought and deliberation I have decided next year I will not seek a fifth Congressional term."

Of course thought and  deliberation would both be uncharted waters for the Congresswoman who once said that Hurricane Irene, which killed 56 people and caused billions of dollars of damage, was a direct warning from God that the United States needed to have a smaller government.

Well what do you expect from someone who received her law degree from a place called the O.W. Coburn School of Law? At the time Bachmann attended it the school was affiliated with Oral Roberts University in Tulsa and was named after Orin Wesley Coburn, the founder of Coburn Optical Industries. Coburn was also the father of current Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn. And just to prove it is a small world after all the first little league baseball team I played on in Muskogee, Oklahoma was the, "Coburn Rockets." You bet, the same guy. A number of years after I stood in left field wearing that uniform, Mrs. Bachmann was at  OWC Law, helping one of her professors, John Eidsmore do research for his book, "Christianity and the Constitution." Mr. Eidsmore's scholarly message was that the United States was founded as a Christian theocracy and should become one again.

The reasons why Mrs. Bachmann chose not to run are a bit muddled. The NBC story says that she had all ready begun airing a campaign ad on Minnesota TV stations. That would be nearly 17 months before the next election cycle. When she gave up the ghost she was quoted as saying, "Be assured my decision was not in any way influenced by concerns about my re-election."

Despite that bravado one has to wonder what results recent polling, by either her people, or an unknown independent organization  might be available to her. Sometimes withdrawing is more face saving than getting your ass thoroughly kicked. Especially in a suburban district gerrymandered to guarantee a republican seat in the congress. In the 2012 election Mitt Romney carried her district by 15%. Michele Bachmann beat her democratic opponent by a mere 4,300 votes and he has all ready declared he is running again. In fact, Mrs. Bachman has consistently carried her district by far fewer votes than republican presidential candidates.

She shrugged off the suggestion that she decided not to run because of an investigation into her spectacularly unsuccessful presidential campaign. According to the story she said, "Be assured my decision was not in any way influenced by concerns of the recent inquiries into the activities of my former presidential campaign, or my former presidential staff."

The Office of Congressional Ethics is taking a look at what might be some illegal transfers of funds. It is a non partisan panel that was established to screen what might be acts of misconduct by members of the house. There is no current evidence of wrong doing. On the other hand no one can deny that Bachmann marched into Waterloo, Iowa during the 2012 primary season so completely misinformed that she bragged she and John Wayne were both born there. She was, but unfortunately she hadn't read the fine print. John Wayne, the arch conservative movie idol was born in Winterset, Iowa. It was John Wayne Gacey, the infamous and vile serial killer, who also came from Waterloo. This type of nationally embarrassing gaffe tends to grate on voters in your district. It stands to reason that no one wants to be known as the idiot who voted for--well--an idiot.

Later, in a fit of medical insight, Mrs. Bachmann claimed that the Human Papillomavirus vaccine, which is administered to 11 and 12 year old girls to prevent a variety of cervical cancers after they become sexually active, causes mental retardation. Not even Texas governor Rick Perry would buy into that bullshit. Then while on the stump in New Hampshire, at a point when she still had the gall to think she was presidential material, she congratulated the state for being the place where the first shots of the American revolution were fired. For those of you not familiar with the conflict, it is commonly known the first shots and casualties suffered during the revolution occurred at Lexington, Massachusetts and later that day, at Concord, Massachusetts. It appears that geography, not to mention town names can really be confusing, especially when you're a graduate of the O.W. Coburn school of Law. Apparently the mix up happened because the capital of New Hampshire is also named Concord. Indeed, like there is a Paris, Texas and a Prague, Oklahoma sometimes names tend to overlap, or repeat. Tragically, at times, a lack of research and knowledge of 2nd grade U.S. history will fuck the finest of intentions.

Well, she will be out of our hair now. None too soon either. However, in a weird twist of fate, as NBC reports, her district could be tougher for the democrats to win with her gone. The right wing bastards might actually find someone with a functional brain to run. Think about it. It is a district so firmly in republican grasp that the voters put up with Michele Bachmann for eight years. If anyone in the GOP shows up and knows the difference between Concord, New Hampshire and Concord, Massachusetts he or she will seem like a mind boggling genius.

Actually, in a strange way, I'll miss her. After all Michele Bachmann is the perfect example of everything that is wrong with the evangelical and social right wing of the republican party. Now she is leaving. The paradigm is gone.

Luckily there are and will be others to replace her. The republicans have never let me down in that regard.

So, goodbye, Mrs. Bachmann, I'm sure we'll be seeing you soon as an "analyst" on Fox News making sure everything is fair and balanced. We all look forward to your insight. Hey, if Dick Morris can make it on that network so can you.

sic vita est.


Monday, May 27, 2013

Dead, Wounded, Missing, and Other: Memorial Day 2013

There is a sad truth to be pondered this Memorial Day. It is that if we've learned anything as a nation, it is how to go to war. We always believe the war is just, at least when it starts, and we always say we're doing it to preserve freedom, or prevent the spread of something or other. Usually we aren't all that horrified by it. In fact in some cases we barely notice it.  A lot of the time, if the conflict is small enough, we completely forget about it. Let's face it, how many of us have heard of the Modoc War of 1872-1873? It was a campaign waged against the Modoc Indians in northern California and southern Oregon. While there is no accounting of Native American casualties, Wikipedia lists 56 U. S. service people as killed in action and another 88 wounded. Then there is the American Expeditionary Force in Siberia from 1918 to 1920. The U.S. military suffered 160 dead from combat and 168 dead from what Wikipedia refers to as, other.

Other would be primarily disease, but also includes things like freezing to death and starvation. Other was a real killer right up through the first part of the twentieth century. In the War of 1812 America lost 2,260 troops in action against the British and 12,740 to other. In the Civil War, our most costly experiment in combat, both sides combined lost right at 215,000 troops in battle, other killed over 400,000. As late at WWI American forces lost nearly 10,000 more people to other than it did to bullets. bayonets, and bombs.

The statistics are pretty appalling for a country that says it is dedicated to peace. We are just a month short of being 237 years old and Wikipedia lists 74 different wars, conflicts, or military actions during which Americans were killed, wounded, or went missing. That would be one violent engagement every 3.2 years during our history. It would seem that despite our stated love of peace we get bored with it pretty damn quickly.

Sometimes war is unavoidable and a terrible necessity. However, 74 times in 237 years seems a bit excessive. I mean we occupied Nicaragua three different times early in the last century for God's sake. There were a variety of excuses, but the main one had something to do with us building a canal. By the time the third trip was over we'd lost 90 soldiers, marines, and sailors to combat and another 69 to our old nemesis other. One of the Nicaraguans who disputed our time there was a revolutionary named Augusto C. Sandino. Later, Nicaraguan leftists would call themselves Sandinistas in his honor. We finally departed the premises in 1933. The reason? The Great Depression had made it too expensive to keep troops there.      

The brute reality is that since our inception, 2,717,991 American troops have been killed or wounded during wars. If you throw in the 38,159 who are listed as missing the grand total comes to 2,756,150 and counting.

So today, here in the states, we honor our war dead. Little American flags will dot cemeteries from coast to coast. The mournful call of Taps will echo, heads will be bowed, and salutes offered. We will stand in silence as we contemplate those who died in the service of their country, no matter whether their country was right, or off it's collective nut once again. We'll pray that someday no more Americans will have to fight and die, but deep down we'll know that we either haven't the brains, or worse, the desire, to make it happen. After it is all said and done we'll go about our lives and unless we've been directly impacted by war we'll forget about the grisly business until the next holiday that commemorates our military.

That would be in November when we celebrate Veteran's Day. It is meant to honor all those who served in the American armed forces. It used to be called Armistice Day, but obviously we aren't too big on armistices so we changed it.

Sleep well tonight, America. Legions of dead have served you well--even when they shouldn't have had to. Tragically we know more will follow.

mors vincit omnia




Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Best Defense is a Good Offense: Trayvon Martin Goes on Trial

There is nothing quite like big time criminal defense attorneys. They are the people who you normally hate with all your heart and soul. They are routinely portrayed on TV police dramas as manipulating, unscrupulous, benders of the truth. Yes, it is a sly and mangy lot who are easy to loathe. Well, that is until you end up needing one. Then you want a counselor who is as mean, crafty, and ruthless as a wolverine.

It would appear that George Zimmerman of Sanford, Florida has just that sort of man. Zimmerman is accused of second degree murder in the shooting death of teenager, Trayvon Martin. Martin was walking back to a condo he was staying at a little over a year ago when Zimmerman spotted him and decided he was suspicious. Although he has never been entirely clear on why he came to that conclusion, Zimmerman, a ranking member of the local neighborhood watch group, called 911 and began to follow Martin that evening. What happened next depends on who you believe, or don't believe and it is the reason Mr. Zimmerman is going to trial in a scant few weeks.

Yesterday NBC News, in a story written by James Novogrod and Tom Winter, reported that George Zimmerman's defense team, led by Mark O'Mara, has released texts and photos from Trayvon Martin's cell phone.

The defense says the records show that Martin was arguing with a friend the day of the shooting and that the anger displayed in the texts, "is relevant to Mr. Martin's overall demeanor and relevant to his emotional state." The article also quotes them as saying, "(this) may also assist the jury in understanding why Trayvon Martin chose to hide and then confront George Zimmerman rather than simply going home."

Knowing the best defense is a good offense, Zimmerman's team went further by releasing a couple of photos taken from the phone that showed a hand gun and older text messages referencing "organized" fights and marijuana use. They contend the texts show that Martin was an expert fighter and in passing noted that "marijuana can affect one's judgement and demeanor and is known to cause paranoia and aggression in some." They apparently felt the photos of the weapon spoke for themselves.

Right. What's happening is they are putting Trayvon Martin on trial, knowing that he can't be in the courtroom to defend himself against any accusation, or rumor they come up with. Novogrod and Winter write that Benjamin Crump, the Martin family attorney, described the release of the information as "a desperate and pathetic attempt to sway the jury pool."

It would seem Mr. Crump has a point. Why else would O'Mara and Co. release a couple of photos of a gun that is known not to have been at the scene of the shooting.?

In fact the report cites unnamed "legal experts" as saying none of what O'Mara made public is likely to be admitted as evidence. If that is the case then there really is little doubt that he is playing the race card at the moment. He is trying to get people to accept Martin as just another young African American male who is either a gangster, or gangster wannabe. He is playing to the fears and prejudices of a white audience and all he needs is for one of them to be on the jury and buy into it in order to keep his client out of jail.

O'Mara actually seemed to confirm this supposition. The authors write that he said he doesn't presume all of the evidence will be admitted during the trial. Yes, but now every bit of it has been admitted to the court of public opinion and every potential juror out there. Indeed--ladies and gentlemen, please disregard the defense's last statement, or in this case, their last press release.

Of course O'Mara isn't the only one playing this game because in the end all lawyers will be lawyers. Previously the prosecution released an FBI report that includes information that Zimmerman's ex-fiance filed an injunction order against him. Plus they made public a 2005 My Space page on which Zimmerman seems to bad mouth Mexicans.

Judge Debra S. Nelson is supposed to hear arguments about what should and shouldn't be admissible next week, but now the cat is out of the bag and there is no getting the beast back into it.

It looks to be about even money whether Zimmerman will do time on the murder charge. On the one hand O'Mara could well be the abler attorney. As a friend of mine once said, "All the good ones go into private practice. The rest work for the DA's office." On the other, Winter and Novogrod report that the defense is attempting to prevent voice analysts, hired by the prosecution, from testifying about what they've concluded from their studies of the 911 tape. That would be the tape where Zimmerman claims it is him screaming for help and Trayvon Martin's mother contends it is her son. Ultimately it may come down to not what Lady Justice sees, but what she hears. That old woman might be blind, but she certainly isn't deaf.

The trial is scheduled to begin on June 10th.

Be prepared for a massive overdose of Nancy Grace.


Saturday, May 25, 2013

Salutegate, Republican Math, and Sixty-Five Guns

Sometimes after a huge tragedy like the tornado in Moore, Oklahoma there is a sudden vacuum of news, a large blank space, or at least a pregnant pause before the next horror. Yes, even the big stories don't linger for long in America any more. There is always the urge to run something new out there, even if it is so trivial that on normal days no one would even blink at its mention.

Yesterday the President of the United States of America was boarding Marine One, the helicopter that takes him out to Andrews AFB from the White House. The Marine on duty at the bottom of the steps to the chopper saluted and Barak Obama failed to return the salute, something he is not required to do. In fact, if memory serves, the tradition of the Commander in Chief returning military salutes didn't begin until Ronald Reagan took office so it isn't like it has been something presidents have been doing since George, by God Washington, was in office. Be that as it may, Obama realized his "protocol mistake" at the top of the steps, turned, came back down, shook the Marine's hand, and spoke with him for a moment before entering the helicopter.

Oh yes, the horror, the horror. A quick check of the net reveals that media outlets everywhere are all over this outrage. In fact here is a partial list of news organizations who have reported on the incident: MSN, Bing, ABC, Huffington Post, CNN, CBS,, Yahoo,, Epoch Times, Social News Daily, Weekly Standard, Free, AOL, and of course there is video of the dastardly act all ready on You Tube.

Notice anyone missing? How about Fox News? Interestingly, not even the people who loathe Obama the most thought salutegate was worth a mention. Obviously they have bigger fish to fry with the president. Well either that or they are waiting until tomorrow to rail about it on the Sunday news talk shows.

I suppose this nonsense is what you can expect after the Department of Justice has poked into the phone calls of employees of the Associated Press. After all, vengeance is a soup best served, somehow, some way, rather than not at all. It is unclear whether Obama has yet to mutter, "et tu, Anderson Cooper?" I'm betting the odds are the president has other things on his mind. Look for future attempts to catch him in awkward situations, like yawning at an inopportune time. 

CBS reported that in congress republican representative, Steve King of Iowa spoke on the floor and did some math for the members of his party. This was during the debate on immigration reform. The numbers were a bit hard to follow because there were a lot of estimates, what ifs, even ifs and one "some of them may have either died or returned to their home country" qualifiers. However, the gist of the message was that Ronald Reagan gave one million immigrants (the congressman was very careful not to use the word Hispanic) amnesty and the right to vote in 1986. Those one million multiplied like gerbils and then fucked the GOP in  the last presidential election by voting overwhelmingly for Barak Obama. In other words, it doesn't matter if immigration reform is right or wrong. Republicans should oppose it solely because Hispanics aren't going to vote for them anyway. That is right, screw 'em--build a wall, or another one, or more of them...whatever. If people aren't going to vote for the GOP, out on their arses they go.

The notion that 70% plus of Hispanics voted for Obama because the republican party is chock full of people like, well, Steve King, seems to have eluded the congressman and others on the right. They still cling to that quaint belief they can win elections with white people only. Of course the only way that will happen is if they succeed in making sure no one a shade darker than Ted Nugent can actually cast a ballot. It is a project they currently have in the works and an issue for another day.

Finally NBC reports that this past week the Transportation Security Administration, or TSA, confiscated a record 65 firearms from people attempting to enter secure areas in places like airports. Of the 65, 54 were loaded and 19 of those had rounds in the chamber ready for action.  One man, in Salt Lake City, even had loaded weapon strapped to his prosthetic leg.

Hey this is America and we love our guns more than we do our children. To hell with the TSA. We have rights--it is in the constitution.

Think not? I have proof. As of today Slate and @GunDeaths reports that at least 4,365 Americans have been shot to death since December 14th, 2012.

Now there is a number we can all be proud of.

Mr. Sulu, you have the con.


Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Ghosts of Sessions Past

Sometimes the ghosts of sessions past come back to haunt you.

In 2011, Oklahoma Senators Tom Coburn and James Inhofe voted against a $7 billion dollar bill to help finance the Federal Emergency Management Agency's disaster relief fund.

In 2012 they both voted against a bill to pay for relief efforts after Hurricane Sandy ravaged the east coast. Coburn wanted what is called, "offsets." In other words if we spend $18 billion to repair the damage done by Sandy, then we have to cut $18 billion from someplace else in the budget. Knowing Coburn the cuts would probably be in the area of medicare, medicaid, or school lunches for low income children. Inhofe, displaying the statesmanship that has earned him the reputation he so richly deserves, just dismissed the Sandy relief package as nothing more than a slush fund.

Coburn still stands by his insistence of "offsets" in the event any new relief funding will be required for the victims of the May 20th tornado that ripped the guts out of Moore, Oklahoma. Inhofe, never the one for details, simply says any aid bill designed for Oklahoma would be different than the one that went toward the victims of Sandy.

Well sure it would be, Jim. This money would go to people in your home state rather than a bunch of liberals who helped re-elect Barak Obama.

Luckily for Oklahoma FEMA currently has about $11.6 billion set back for relief aid despite the best efforts of the two Oklahoma senators. Initial estimates of the damage in Moore hover around the $2 billion mark. This lets Inhofe and Coburn off a rather large and embarrassing hook. Odds are there won't be a need for a vote on additional relief funding. Therefore they won't have to either oppose additional aid to their home state on principle, or vote for it in a blatant and quite public moment of hypocrisy. It is a word, New York republican congressman Peter King is all ready using to describe Inhofe's actions.

Actually Coburn is claiming the drain on federal monies shouldn't be that much since, according to him, "most of the property damage was insured." He didn't hazard a guess as to how long it will take for the carriers to dump their coverage of Moore homeowners once they've paid this latest tab.  He also assured reporters there was no need for the government to take steps to mandate tornado shelters in the area because, "If you're living in that area of Moore, OK the likelihood of being hit by another tornado is zero in terms of odds."

Moore city officials aren't buying into that bullshit for even a moment. They've watched three different tornadoes--two of them EF5's--take deadly tours of their town in the last 14 years. There is all ready a city ordinance being composed that will require any new home constructed within the city limits to have an underground shelter.

Much could be said, I suppose, about how we are all one nation. About when disaster strikes, no matter where the locale, or what the local politics elected officials should join together in an effort to bring aid and comfort to those who have lost practically everything.

With Inhofe and Coburn though that sort of idealism just doesn't work. Coburn is like a rogue ambulance driver who wants to collect a large cash deposit before he will transport you to an emergency room no matter how severe your wounds. Inhofe, on the other hand, appears to enjoy inflicting pain and suffering just because he can.

Pick your poison. In Oklahoma we certainly have. Given these two ghouls I'm surprised any of us are still around.

sic vita est


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Hard Part in Moore, Oklahoma

The news out of Moore, Oklahoma remains grim. The initial adrenaline rush is gone now, along with the shock. What is left is the numbing scope of the damage and that terrible roll call of names--the identities and ages of those who perished during what has now been classified as an EF5 tornado.

Insurance officials estimate that 13,000 homes have been either destroyed, or damaged. The first guess at the cost of the destruction is $2 billion.

The Oklahoman is reporting that 237 people were injured and that six are still unaccounted for. The state medical examiner's office released the names of 17 of the dead, the rest will not be made public until authorities can notify their families. Of the 17, ten are children. The youngest, Case Futrell was listed as four months old. He was killed along with his mother, Megan. According to NBC News she had picked him up at his baby sitters but when she saw the storm headed her way she took shelter in a 7-11 convenience store. The tornado collapsed the building on them and two others.

Kyle Davis--8 years old, Ja'Nae Hornsby--age 9, Sydnee Angle--9, Emily Conatzer--9, Nicolas McCabe--9, Christopher Legg--9 and Antonio Candelaria--9 were apparently all students at the Plaza Towers elementary school that was destroyed. According to the ME five of them died by "mechanical asphyxiation." In other words they suffocated under the weight of the debris. The rumor that the children drowned in a cellar was just that, a rumor.

Also listed as dead were, Sydnee Vargyas who was 7 months old and Karrina Vargyas who was reported to be 4 years old. NBC and The Oklahoman have not speculated on how they were related.

The other adults are, Hermant Bhonde--age 65, Terri Long--49, Shannon Quick--40, and Jenny Neely--38. Two other people were listed as having unknown ages. They are, Cindy Plumley and Deanna Ward.

This being America, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt was quick to warn homeowners and the public about charity and repair cons that are sure to infest the internet, phone lines, and the devestated neighborhoods themselves. Pruitt stated he has all ready put 30 investigators into the field to keep an eye out for price gouging by local merchants and quick fix scams by the dozens of out of town contractors that are bound to swarm the area in the next weeks and months.

Finger pointing has also begun. Terse questions are being asked about the lack of "safe rooms" in both homes and schools. The problem with that line of inquiry is that most experts agree that short of a bank vault (which was used by employees and customers at a local credit union to survive) safe rooms wouldn't have worked in a storm of this magnitude. No, when an EF5 comes roaring down the street you have two options. Get below ground is one and the second is jump into a car and drive like NASCAR's Jeff Gordon to get away from it.

Governor Mary Fallin and the rest of the republican elite toured the site yesterday. Barak Obama is reported to be coming into town Sunday. It will be an awkward moment for a couple of reasons. First is Fallin's resistance to jump on board with the Affordable Care Act. She is under intense pressure from the extreme right, which is just about everyone in Oklahoma, to not take the federal money available to the state in the program.  But mainly, like most Oklahoma republicans she has spent the last four plus years running against anything Barak Obama has ever said, or done. The local democratic party is a dead duck, so much so many GOP public officials here run unopposed. All of them, including Fallin, direct their campaign anger and bile directly at the current President of the United States.

Obviously her stated politics about small government, less federal intrusion in local affairs, and spending came to an abrupt, if momentary, halt Monday afternoon. She was quick to plead for those big FEMA bucks and has been even quicker to accept them. It would seem that when the shit hits the fan everyone becomes an avid liberal, at least until the checks are cashed.

So now comes the hard part. By this weekend, or at the latest, the middle of next week, Moore, Oklahoma will have faded from the national and global news. Wolf Blitzer and Matt Lauer will have gone home and new outrages and disasters will fill the airwaves. The CNN video of Blitzer talking to the lady who told him she is an atheist and the CBS interview with the old woman who discovers her missing dog during the middle of it will be forgotten. Moore, however will still be there and so will the survivors who have no place to call home. The wreckage will still have to be hauled off and houses, businesses, and schools will still have to be rebuilt.

The influx of cash donations will dry up and travelers offering everything from cheap siding and roofing to complete rebuilds will descend on the area like a plague of locusts. And finally, Senators Inhofe and Coburn will return to Washington and concentrate on whatever it is the NRA tells them to concentrate on. Yes, we are a fast food nation with the attention span of a five year old who has eaten two thirds of the way through his trick or treat bag. Unfortunately things don't get fixed that quickly and lives, sometimes, can never recover.

The world will move on, but for the remainder of this year and maybe longer Moore will continue to struggle with what happened on Monday.

There will be brave talk about resilience, fortitude, and faith. A lot of it will be true. What will also be true is that every one who lost a loved one, or a home, or just happened to survive the tornado will never be the same again. That observation won't make the speeches and the sermons, but it is, nonetheless, the reality.

The first obituary of a victim appeared in the local paper yesterday. It was about the life of eight year old Kyle Davis. Like the clean up, the rituals have just begun.

sic vita est


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Monday, May 20th, 2013

Most lifelong Oklahomans have an almost eerie extrasensory perception when it comes to storms. The truth is that it started to feel wrong on Saturday. The wind went still while the sun and humidity closed in. Moving around outside, doing anything, caused you to sweat and labor in the heavy air.That evening I texted a friend and told him the skies were starting to look snakey.

By Sunday afternoon the meteorologists were on the local channels constantly, their radars flaring with brilliant shades of red, orange, and yellow. It had been a quiet spring up until that moment when it came to the big storms, the killers. At that point, however two "super cells" had bloomed and were moving from the southwest to the northeast which is never a good sign. One was north in the Edmond area. It dangled in the air menacingly as the sirens wailed, but the damage ended up being minimal until it reached the small Lincoln County community of Carney, which is nearly a third of the way to Tulsa. It shredded the town mercilessly and then disappeared back into the sky.

The second, on the southeast end of the metro began ripping through rural areas until it reached the outskirts of Shawnee, 30 or so miles east of Oklahoma City. One of the many local derogatory terms for a mobile home park is, "tornado magnate." True to the cliche a neighborhood just west of Shawnee called Steelman Estates took a direct hit. The local newspaper described the area as "a mix of mobile homes and brick dwellings." By the time it was over two were dead and Steelman Estates, for all practical purposes, had ceased to exist.

As the line of storms moved off to the east the TV anchors warned ominously that the weather would still be ripe for violence on Monday. Yesterday, the local daily, The Oklahoman, ran a head line that said, "It took it all." Below it was a photo of two ancient women hugging in front of a demolished house in Carney.

Monday morning began as cloudy and seemingly a tad cooler, however the humidity was still there. By mid-morning the clouds were breaking up and the temperature began to spike. Around 1:30pm or so the weathermen and their radars were back on TV. It was all too familiar. Huge storm cells were southwest of Oklahoma City and appeared to be marching straight up Interstate 44. As time wore on the warnings became shriller. There were radar indications of massive and destructive hail and powerful lightning strikes.

Then finally there were the tell tale "hook echos" of two tornadoes. One, further north was moving toward the airport in southwest Oklahoma City and its predicted track would lead it straight into the heart of the north side of town. The second was hovering further south and to the east a bit, near the small town of Newcastle.

As things intensified the northern storm began to dissipate because, as one meteorologist said, "the storm cell to the south is stealing all the energy from it." He went so far as to say, "This is good news." Little did he know.

For what seemed like the longest time it just sat down there, as if it was stoking itself up into a rage before charging into Moore, which abuts the south side of Oklahoma City. Finally it began to move and as it did it widened to unfathomable size and ferocity. Words like monster and beast don't even begin to describe it. Storm sirens began to howl throughout the metro area.

Incredibly we'd seen it all before. Back in 1999 on May 3rd a similar storm rampaged through Moore and beyond, leaving a swath of incomprehensible destruction. It was the stuff of legend. The technology of the day recorded it's winds at 318 miles per hour. It is, for the time being any way, the highest wind speed ever recorded on the planet earth. This one was just as horrific. So much so that the NBC affiliate's meteorologist told people in its path that if they couldn't get below ground they needed to load up in their cars and run from it. I have lived in this state for all but five of my 63 years and I've never heard that particular piece of advice before.

Within minutes huge chunks of the town of Moore, Oklahoma, population 56,000, became either airborne or splintered and twisted, beyond recognition. The swirl of debris surrounding the tornado was nearly two miles in diameter. The storm moved east, north east and not very far beyond the city limits, TV cameras showed it weaken and disappear. It didn't dramatically raise back into the clouds. This great and terrible force of nature simply fizzled out and fell apart in matter of moments. It was if it quietly said, "I'm done now. Pardon my mess."

The photos of Moore show a blasted landscape. In some neighborhoods all that is left are streets, driveways, and the concrete slabs where houses once stood. Mud is everywhere because the grass itself was sucked up into the vortex.

Confusion, rumors, and conflicting reports have run rampant. By yesterday evening 51 were supposed to be dead. Then it jumped to 91. By this morning it was back down to 24. At least seven of those are elementary students caught in their school which was leveled. Unconfirmed word is that they had made it to a cellar in time but they became trapped and drowned there.

Today it is much cooler with what is called more "stable air." Be that it as it may, the talking heads and their radars are back on the television. A line of severe thunderstorms looms west of the Oklahoma City metro. According to their projected time line it should reach here in about thirty minutes.

The headline in today's edition of The Oklahoman reads, "Worse Than May 3rd."

Well, if it wasn't it will do until another one comes along that is. And one will. This is, after all, Oklahoma. You know, the place where, as the song says, the wind comes sweeping down the plains.


Saturday, May 18, 2013

Viability in Arkansas, Catch-22 in North Dakota, and The Rats Are On the Move Once Again

Back in March, Arkansas conservatives passed a bill that was called, The Arkansas Heartbeat Protection Act. The new law made it a crime for any doctor in that state to provide a woman with an abortion, even in emergency situations, after 12 weeks of pregnancy.

Governor Mike Bebee, a democrat, vetoed the bill because he felt his state couldn't afford to foot the legal expenses of defending what he called, "a blatantly unconstitutional law." The good ol' boys in the legislature, however weren't in the mood to put up with some whiny logic so they overrode the veto and the law was set to go into effect in August of this year.

Well that was until yesterday, NBC News reported that U.S. District Judge Susan Webber Wright issued a temporary injunction blocking the law from being implemented, saying it was, "more than likely unconstitutional." M. Alex Johnson reported that Wright felt the 12 week standard criminalizes abortions before the accepted medical standard of fetus viability which is 24 weeks. Johnson quotes the judge as saying, "This act defines viability as something viability is not." She added, "The United States Supreme Court has consistently used viability as a standard with respect to any law that regulates abortion."

Johnson then quotes Josh Mesker, a spokesman for the Arkansas Family Council as saying the news was, "disappointing, but not unexpected." Mr. Mesker, who is biologically exempt from becoming pregnant by any means known to humankind, said the ultimate goal of his group is to get the Arkansas law presented to the Supreme Court where, "we expect to prevail." Mesker believes that it is not out of the realm of possibility that this version of the court would "readdress Roe v.Wade in a way that leads toward our position." Of course this extended and extremely expensive legal brawl would be paid for by the taxpayers of Arkansas, not the Arkansas Family Council. It would seem Governor Bebee had a point after all.

Johnson writes that, Talcott Camp, the Deputy Director of the ACLU's Reproductive Freedom Project, one of the two groups who sought the injunction, said, "These laws are designed with one purpose--to eliminate all access to abortion care."

That is hardly telling us something new. Conservatives, fueled by a variety of Christian sects, denominations, and TV hucksters have been trying to chip away at Roe v. Wade almost from the day it was initially ruled on in 1973.

Actually the Arkansas statute seems outright liberal compared to a law the North Dakota legislature passed at about the same time. It bans all abortions after only 6 weeks. That is during a time frame so soon after conception that I'm informed by someone who should know--my wife--that most women don't even realize they are pregnant. Pretty clever of those crafty North Dakotans. You have to get an abortion before you know you're knocked up, because after you find out for sure it is too late. This would be a quaint variation on Joseph Heller's Catch-22

It is all part of the grand attempt to drag the nation and culture right back into the mythical 1950s. You know, that decade where gays were homos and black people couldn't eat, drink, or swim with everyone else--at least not where I was growing up at.

We should be able to shrug nonsense like this off, but this sort of recidivism is gaining traction in red states where legislatures are increasingly controlled by tea party hacks and cultural Inquisitors.

If democrats and progressives want to keep this country moving forward they are going to have to get back into local politics in a huge way. Every cancer starts small, but if ignored it will eventually kill you. Too many state offices are held by people who actually believe Barak Obama is a socialist Muslim born in Kenya. Too many legislatures are run by people who want to deny women their basic right to health, well being, and ultimately choice.

It is easy to think the republican party on a national level is a dead duck. However, if left unchecked in state houses across the land it can rebuild, grow, and eventually destroy decades of social and scientific progress.

In the grand scheme of things we aren't that far removed from the dark ages. And unfortunately for us all, it would seem the flea infested rats are once again on the move. Just look to places like Arkansas and North Dakota.

Next up, a good old fashioned witch burning or two.

Mr. Sulu, you have the con, I want a beer.


Thursday, May 16, 2013

The 37th Time is the Charm, Boehner Fiddles, and the End is at Hand

A CBS News report by Stephanie Condon notes that around 5pm Eastern Time this afternoon the House of Representatives republican caucus will reach a milestone of sorts. Yes, proving once again that if you can't waste every one's time you shouldn't be in congress, the GOP will vote for the 37th time to repeal the Affordable Care Act, or as the republicans and the media nicknamed it, Obamacare.

Speaker of the House, John Boehner R-OH says they are doing it, according to Condon, "Because its going to raise the price of health care, raise the cost of insurance, reduce access to the American people and it continues to get in the way of employers hiring new workers." He added, "In addition to that I think the American people deserve the truth and fairness from their government."

That and Boehner wants to let the GOP rookies who were elected in November get on the record as opposing it. That way they can use it in their campaign ads in a year and a half.

For the 37th time the bill will pass the house and and move onto the senate. For the 37th time it's chances of getting beyond there is zero. That would be as in nil, nada, zip, or, if you prefer, a big fat goose egg.

Well you have to kill time and collect a pay check one way or the other. Condon quotes Senate majority leader, Harry Reid D-NV as saying, "Albert Einstein defined insanity as follows: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. If his definition is true--and I won't argue with Einstein--then house republicans have truly lost their minds."

Please, Senator tell us something we don't know.

Ms. Condon reports that these goofs requested a new cost estimate for repealing the legislation. In a fit on frustration and sanity the non partisan Congressional Budget Office told Representative Paul Ryan R-WI that they just didn't have the time to keep doing shit like this. Director Doug Elmendorf replied to a letter Ryan wrote saying it would take weeks to work up a new estimate.

Condon notes that the CBO did perform a study last July for the GOP, in honor of the 36th attempt, and at that time they concluded that repealing the Affordable Care Act would raise the federal budget deficit by $109 billion over a ten year period.

That would be the same deficit the GOP claims it wants to reduce.

Back on April 26th Ms. Condon reported that with "Obamacare" some Americans will experience a rise in health insurance premiums, but many of those will see the costs offset with government provided subsidies. In addition millions of Americans will have access to health care that wasn't available to them previously and most Americans will never see any direct tax increases because of the plan.

So where does Boehner get the "reduced access" bit of his little speech? Apparently straight from his ass, because the main intent and result of Obamacare is to provide access for people who don't have it now.

This is all self serving nonsense and it just proves that the GOP in the house has no intention of tackling real legislation and real issues. They are playing an extended delaying game, doing whatever they can to run out the string on the next eighteen months until the mid term elections when they hope their party can regain control of the Senate.

Indeed, screw any sort of jobs program, any sort of budget compromise, and really screw immigration reform. No, they don't want to deal with important stuff. They'd much rather perform some kind of bizarre political waltz that is all glitz and means nothing. Never has idealism been so nihilistic on such a scale. You almost wonder if Boehner goes out onto a balcony at night wearing a toga and fiddles away as the nation grinds to a halt.

I have spent six decades plus on this blue ball and I have been watching politics since I was ten years old. I have never witnessed an opposition party so unwilling to work with a president. The brute hatred and disrespect by elected officials is absolutely stunning. The preening, the God awful posing, the monstrous bombast is beyond any definition of reason. These demented clods, safe in their own gerrymandered districts, actually equate compromise with defeat.They have no idea how the government functions and may truly not want to know.

Obama has not helped himself lately. However, the reality is these fools didn't need the IRS, the AP, or Benghazi to hate him. They were all ready there. No one will admit it, but the truth is we are seeing this outpouring of bile and intractability because the end of white rule in the United States is at hand. And true to the words of Dylan Thomas the new minority, Anglo-Europeans, will not go gentle into that good night.

In their world they are the only real Americans. Why do you think they want all those guns? It is because any government not controlled by them is, in their eyes, tyrannical.

Laugh on Crazy Horse, laugh on.

sic vita est


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Obama's Guys Screw The Pooch

Outrage is everywhere. It is rolling through the streets of Washington D.C, the halls of news agencies, and the back offices of tea party hacks like some monster tsunami let loose by a cataclysmic seismic event.

Suddenly everyone is looking to take heads and the Obama administration is reeling under the weight of three different scandals that could derail the president's entire second term agenda.

First is the Benghazi issue. It is the least of Obama's worries and currently the most pressing one for Hillary Rodham Clinton. The tragedy that befell the American consulate in Lybia didn't gain the traction the Romney wanks hoped it would during the last days of the presidential campaign, especially after their man mis-stepped so badly in the debates. In fact the whole terrible affair was seemingly fading from view until it became obvious to everyone on the right that Mrs. Clinton was off and running for the white house in 2016. Suddenly it flared back up like a hot spot in a smouldering house as all manner of republicans sought to link her to it, blame her for it, and practically claim she planned the entire attack herself. Make no mistake about it, the republicans are using the deaths of four Americans as a pre-emptive strike on Mrs. Clinton's aspirations for the white house. This is the wrench they are going to use to try to jam up her election bid.

Then comes the Internal Revenue Service. It is the one agency everyone in the country hates. It initially appeared the targeting of right wing non profit groups began with some low level bureaucrats in Ohio. However later evidence has come to light that the investigations were known of and approved by supervisory people. In other words, management.

This is the sort of bull shit you would expect from Dick Nixon, or maybe even Lyndon Johnson. You know the pooch has been screwed when the media liberals on MSNBC can't do anything, but sputter about past crimes committed by the IRS against civil rights organizations. Such protests are the last line of defense when actions are indefensible. It is the, "they did it first," argument which you should really stop using once you've grown too old for afternoon recess at Thomas E. Dewey Elementary School.

Ruth Marcus of the Washington Post Writers Group pointed out today that there are inherent problems with political non profits and have been since the supreme court's Citizens United ruling. That was the one which let loose upon the land a plague of action committees who could hide the names of donors, the amounts individuals or corporations contributed and could spend money like drunken sailors on leave in support of which ever candidate they choose. The IRS has been letting these groups slide just so long as, in theory, less than 50% of the money they took in was spent on partisan activities. The majority of bucks had to be spent on, "promoting in some way the common good and general welfare of the community."

Right--in the last presidential campaign the largest non-profit was Karl Rove's "Crossroads GPS." There can be no doubt his idea of "promoting the common good and general welfare of the community" is a tad different than most of us. However, until something changes, like the IRS relentlessly looking into non-profit political groups both left and right, or those groups are outlawed completely, which is the real answer, it will be easy and in this case, correct, to charge bias.

Then, just to make sure everyone is alienated, the Department of Justice secretly took a look at the phone records of just about anyone employed by the Associated Press in the spring of 2012. It was all, according to the DOJ, in an effort to crack down on leaks to the press which have been the bane of this administration from what seems like day one. Apparently the murky goings on included looking at incoming and outgoing calls and their duration. The investigation wasn't limited to just work phones. It included personal ones as well and even the AP phones located in the House of Representatives gallery.

Interestingly, while every journalist in America is, "shocked, shocked," many in the GOP seem a bit muted. There is a reason for it. Salon quotes Texas republican senator, John Cornyn as saying, "I don't want to jump to judgement here because many of us did call on the administration to investigate leaks." In the same article John McCain is reported to have said, "I want to see the details--what was their rationale, why did they do it--before offering an opinion." Yes, it is tough to scream foul when you were the ones asking for the foul to be committed.

Don't worry though, eventually the GOP will find a way. They've never let me down on things like this in the past.

If you throw out the Benghazi furor there are two fundamentals here. One, it was wrong. I don't like Karl Rove, or any of those racist tea party bobble heads, but that doesn't mean you can target them specifically for IRS investigations. People like Nixon have enemies lists and act on them. Democrats need to be better than that. We should be a party of laws, rather than one of crass vindictiveness and institutionalized chicanery. In short, many of us prefer being the good guys.

Secondly, as my old high school football coach once told me, "You don't commit clipping just because it is against the rules. You don't clip because it hands the other team fifteen yards and puts our offense in a hole." Indeed, morals aside, the IRS nonsense especially has just given every ultra conservative loon in America a legitimate reason to storm through the streets with torches afire and pitchforks gleaming in the flickering light. They can now scream to the high heavens about the threat of an over reaching government and, for the moment anyway, they'll be right.

There is no telling how high up this goes, but ultimately the buck stops with the president. Under his watch these past few weeks the unthinkable has come to pass. People actually feel sorry for the tea party twits and suddenly they don't seem as crazy as they have sounded, or are. And finally, because the press feels they have been wronged none of this shit is going away anytime soon.

Good luck, Mr. President. Getting any sort of progressive legislation passed in the next three and a half years was going to be a titanic struggle to begin with. Now, thanks to your guys, it might have just become impossible.


Monday, May 13, 2013

Baby Doctors and Guns

Maggie Fox of NBC News is reporting today that earlier this month the American Academy of Pediatrics sent 100 doctors to Washington to lobby congress. No, not for, or against Obamacare, tobacco companies, or even car seat manufacturers. The pediatricians went there to tell congress that gun control isn't a political argument, but rather a public health issue.

Fox quotes, Emory University's Dr. Barbara Stoll as asking, "Can we re-frame the conversation so that it is about data, not about political beliefs?"

Good luck trying to sell that line to Wayne LaPierre, Ted Nugent, and the rest of the gun totin' crowd, Doc. You might as well be telling werewolves that eating human flesh is bad for their cholesterol levels.

Actually this could rank right up there with the charge of the light brigade. The AAP is facing a bunch of clods in the senate who wouldn't even pass a minor expansion of background checks a few weeks ago and they want a lot more than that. According to Ms. Fox, the 60,000 strong pediatrician organization is there with a wish list that makes Barak Obama look like a center right republican. Among other things, the good doctors want an outright ban on assault style weapons and mandatory background checks and waiting periods before the sale of all firearms. It doesn't stop there, they also want the government to ban high capacity ammunition magazines and enforce various hand gun restrictions, plus they are insisting on requirements for safe firearm storage.

The group isn't happy either. Fox quotes Dr. Daniel Webster of John Hopkins as saying, "They (congress) have been doing a very good job of weakening the laws to make it easier for gun dealers to have the least amount of responsibility. They have made it harder to sue dealers and made it harder to access data on which dealers are pumping out guns to criminals."

Think not? Fox points out that Obama issued an executive order directing the Center for Disease Control and Prevention to conduct a study of  gun related injuries. The NRA controlled congress promptly cut the CDC's budget by the exact amount it had spent on gun violence research. Presumably that message was simply less time consuming than putting a horse's severed head in the CDC director's bed while he, or she slept.

Ms. Fox also cites work done by Dr. Matthew Miller of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center. Miller divided the population in two. He put one half of us into high gun ownership states and the other half into low gun ownership states. What he found was that between the years of 1988 and 1997, 21,148 Americans were killed by guns in the high ownership states as opposed to 7,266 people killed in low ownership states. In addition, according to his work, he found that 369 children under the age of fourteen were killed in high ownership states while 97 died in the low ownership half.

To drive all this home further, the article quotes research done by Dr. Arthur Kellerman of the Rand Corporation think tank. His work shows that the U. S. gun death rate is 20 times that of other wealthy nations with a population of over one million people. In addition he found that your odds of being murdered by a gun goes up 2.7 times if you have a gun in your home.

So much for that relentless NRA mantra that drones on about how we'd be safer if only all of us had guns.

Unfortunately for the American Academy of Pediatrics and scientists everywhere the NRA and other gun addicted groups don't play by any sort of normal rules and have no real use for data. In the face of all this damning information, the response of the pro gun group, Second Amendment Foundation was to put together their own group of doctors. They enlisted 1,400 physicians and called it, Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership, or DRGO for short. DRGO's answer to all these mind boggling numbers? They say they are bullshit. Yes, it is just faulty scholarship driven by, "...the AAP and AMA's deep seated prejudice against gun owners."

You bet and there is no evidence smoking cigarettes causes heart disease and cancer. That is what the tobacco industry's hand picked doctors and scientists maintained for decades before the awful truth became too gruesomely obvious to refute with either a straight face, or license to practice.

The NRA takes this threat seriously. After all, doctors don't have to run for re-election, so they aren't nearly as malleable as your average politician. The organization is so concerned that, Ms. Fox writes, they have sponsored legislation in Alabama, North Carolina, West Virginia, Minnesota, and Oklahoma that prevents a pediatrician from asking parents if they have a gun in the home. The very same physician is allowed to ask mom and dad if they make their child ride in a car seat, where household medicines and poisons are stored, and if he or she wears a helmet while riding a bicycle.

Fox reports that the laws puzzle pediatricians who don't understand why the NRA is insistent on getting them passed.

Well, welcome to the convoluted real world of the NRA doctors. You are not dealing with rational human beings. These beasts don't care about your data. All they are interested in is preventing you from having any influence with your patients, the public, and lawmakers everywhere.

Yes, this isn't a cancer, or a congenital heart defect you're attempting to heal now. There is no drug, no therapy, no amount of research that can cure this contagion. You're up against a thinking, well financed, politically powerful, and amoral disease that infects us like a mutant version of The Black Plague. One that infests us without a trace of soul. You are, in fact, fighting against institutionalized death itself.

Slate and @GunDeaths reports that as of yesterday at least 3,970 Americans have been murdered by guns since December 14, 2012.

It is a number that doesn't even make the bastards blink.


Friday, May 10, 2013

It's Never Too Early, Dennis is None To Happy, and Zombie Industries Takes a Hit

We are, at this moment, just a few days closer than three and one half years before the next presidential election.Yet, this past week or so has seemed like a pre election October.

White hot anger, unrepentant hatred, and abject fear have all mingled into one great maelstrom that is now pouring out across every media outlet in the land. The collective conservative nightmare has a name and it is Hillary Rodham Clinton. The tragedy in Benghazi is the excuse, but make no mistake. The hearings, the faux outrage, every bit of it, is nothing more than a pre-emptive strike on her 2016 run at the white house. NBC News reports that GOP groups such as America Rising, Citizens United, The Drudge Report, and master poll analyst Karl Rove's American Crossroads are all hot to trot with sharp questions, harrowing accusations, and outright bullshit. You don't get hit with this sort of political vindictive from werewolves such as these when you are simply a retired secretary of state. No, if they considered her out of the mix they'd be all over Barak Obama and Joe Biden instead. This is the sort of stuff they reserve for current threats, not past enemies.

Think of it. Conservatives had to put up with Wild Bill for eight years, then after having to steal an election from Al Gore they had their brutal way with us for the next eight. They screwed the pooch so badly during that time, so mis-managed everything from wars to the economy that after Bush was gone they got their heads handed to them not once, but twice by a first term senator from Illinois. That would be sixteen revolutions around the sun out of the last twenty-four that they've been on the outside. Now here comes Hillary and at this moment the only guy they have who appears to be able to compete with her on a national level is Chris Christie and he is utterly unacceptable to the maniac grass roots hoi polloi. So they are now doing what they do best. Attack, attack, and attack again. Screw reason and to hell with the timing. They are going to drag the Benghazi thing out and milk it for as long as they can because eight more years of the Clinton family living on Pennsylvania Avenue is absolutely unacceptable.

Yes, it doesn't take much to see a sweat soaked Bill O'Reilly wasting away on a dirty mattress whispering, "The horror, the horror."

Meanwhile, our chief diplomatic envoy to North Korea, Dennis Rodman tweeted, his pal Kim Jong-un on May 7th. The text of the tweet was, "I'm calling on the supreme leader of North Korea, or as I call him, Kim, to do me a solid and cut Kenneth Bae loose." Bae is the Korean-American who just got hit with 15 years of hard labor. He was accused and convicted of trying to single handily overthrow the government of the Democratic People's Republic. It is unclear if Kim will know what a "solid" is, or if he will understand what the real definition of "cutting Kenneth Bae loose" means. What ever the case, our man in Pyongyang is none to happy with the American president. In a recent interview he told a reporter, "Obama can't do shit. I don't know why he won't go talk to him."

Actually Rodman's naivety, on the surface anyway, is a bit refreshing. In his own weird way he is simply saying that if everyone would just talk to each other we can solve all of our problems. You bet, as the song says, "all we are saying is give peace a chance." However, as a man with three ex-wives who has faced charges of domestic abuse, brother Rodman should realize that just talking doesn't work much of the time.

Finally, MSN is reporting that those happy go lucky wits at Zombie Industries caught some serious heat from individual women, at least one organized women's group, and practically everyone else with a brain over their exploding, fake blood engorged target, known as "Ex Girl Friend." According to the report, CEO of ZI, Roger Davis was "disappointed that feelings were hurt." He was also quoted by the Huffington Post as saying he was sorry if anyone was offended. He told the media that the rubbery dummy target would stay on sale until Monday, then it would be pulled off the market. He added that it would be quickly replaced by a look alike female target which would have green skin, instead of pink, highlighting her zombiness. In his words, "What we made was not intended to be a real woman." No, old sport, just the fantasy of every misogynistic, erectile dysfunctional, fool with a gun who is trying to work himself up into doing the real thing.

Be of cheer though gun aficionados. Zombie Industries is still marketing their "Rocky" model target which bears a distinct resemblance to Barack Obama. So for all you tea party quacks out there, you can still blow the head off a likeness of the president of the United States of America for only $89.95, plus shipping and handling.

Yes, it has been a long week and I didn't even touch on the beast in Cleveland who kidnapped, tortured and raped three women for nearly a decade. Sometimes the overload is just too much, even for me.

Luckily the weekend is here and the refrigerator is full of beer and red meat.

It is time for a break and a cigar.

Be well and prosper.

Mr. Scott you have the helm..


Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Cruz Dilemma, That Pesky Constitution, and Paranoia in Oklahoma

There is about to be a huge dilemma for a large number of conservative wankers out there. It is one so delicious with irony that it simply smacks of the old "Twilight Zone" television series. The title of the episode will be, "Birthers Thy Crusade Has Come Home to Bite You in the Ass."

Here is the scenario. A first term senator has his eye on the white house, however he has a large problem. He was born on foreign soil and his father, at the time of his birth, was not a citizen of this fine nation. Only now there is no need for anyone to run around in circles like Chicken Little screaming about forged birth certificates. His place of birth and his old man's status are well documented public knowledge.

The senator's name? Why it would be none other than Rafael Edward Cruz. His pals call him Ted. He is the new and brightly minted hero of the far right. He spoke to the NRA the other day and said, "The constitution matters. All of the constitution. It is not pick and choose. It's not take parts you like and get rid of parts you don't like."

Cruz's father, Rafael was born in Cuba and took to a boat shortly after Fidel began running the place. He married an American named Eleanor. After they had been together for a bit they moved to Alberta, Canada to work in the oil business. That is where their son, Ted made his first appearance on the planet. He was four years old by the time the family moved back to Texas. It was only after their return that Rafael became a naturalized American citizen.

Yes, it appears we have an insidious foreigner in our midst with designs on the highest office in the land. No wonder the screeching little ferret doesn't sound like one of us. It turns out he isn't.

Here is what Article II, Section 1 of that pesky U.S. constitution says, "No person except a natural born citizen or citizen of the United States at the time of the adoption of this constitution shall be eligible for the office of the president."

I know, it is a little fuzzy, but it was clear enough back in the day that Alexander Hamilton was ruled ineligible for the office. Hamilton who could be considered a founding father, reached the rank of major general during the revolution, and served as the first secretary of the treasury. He was also born in Charlestown on the island of Nevis and didn't move to the North American British colonies until he was 17. That put the kibosh on any aspirations he might have had for the presidency after the U.S. won its independence.

Now you know why mobs of right wing hacks are so desperate to prove Obama wasn't born here. You also know why Ted Cruz won't qualify for an office he so obviously has a hard on for if his buddies like Don Trump and Sheriff Joe Arpaio are correct.

Cruz dismisses the entire train of thought by saying, "My mom was a citizen, so I'm a citizen by birth." But wait, if that is the case why does anyone give a shit about where Obama was born, because his mother was a citizen too. Well that answer is a bit painful, because it involves race and no one wants to admit they are a racist. At least not publicly

For those of you with enough sense to not to pay any attention to the likes of Trump and other fellow travelers, this whole "Obama isn't a citizen" thing is still dragging on. The New American reports there is going to be a trial down in Alabama soon. Arpaio and his crack team of investigators are going to testify before the state supreme court and according to that online publication they'll claim they have irrefutable evidence the president was not born in the United States. The article, written by Joe Wolverton, goes on to say it doesn't matter where Obama was born. In his interpretation of the constitution both parents have to be American citizens for you to be eligible for the presidency. In other words Ted Cruz could have been born in Des Moines fucking Iowa and he'd still be disqualified because his father wasn't a citizen.

Wolverton quotes some arcane sources for that translation of the constitution, but hey, everyone gets to have an opinion--even people who write for The New American, which is brought to us by none other than the John Birch Society.

Obviously this is all utter nonsense. There isn't a sane person, or genuine constitutional scholar out there who believes that either Cruz, or Obama is ineligible for the presidency. However, the truth remains that you can't have it both ways. If Barack Obama can't be the commander in chief, then neither can Ted Cruz. Just watching what will be a two step, side step, head ducking, wildly clucking dance by the extreme right in 2016 over this issue is going to be worth the price of admission, especially if Cruz wins the nomination.

Meanwhile, here in Oklahoma a twinge of paranoia set in. A few weeks ago I signed an online petition in favor of requiring back ground checks at gun shows and before the online sale of a weapon could be completed. The petition was then forwarded to the entire ultra conservative Oklahoma congressional delegation. Later I shot off a bitter email to Senator Tom Coburn complaining about his vote against the expanded checks.

Yesterday, the republican controlled Oklahoma State Election Board sent me a terse note demanding that I verify my place of residence within sixty days. I was informed if I didn't comply I would forfeit my right to vote. They also warned darkly that if I misled them in any way I could do something like five years in jail and get hit with a $10,000 fine. My wife, who didn't sign the petition, or email anyone didn't get a similar note.

There is nothing like a startling little coincidence to make you look over your shoulder.

Perhaps I should call Joe Arpaio. He understands how to get to the bottom of a conspiracy like this.

Or not.

Looking at his politics, he'd probably end up proving that I am a closet Canadian.  You know, that one born right down the street from Ted Cruz.

Ah, the webs we weave.

sic vita est


Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The NRA Group Hug, The Revolution Yes, and Fun and Entertaining Targets For Young Americans

The aim of Zombie Industries is to design entertaining and fun targets that allow young Americans to get outside and learn about gun safety with their families.
Zombie Industries CEO, Roger Davis

You bet. It was just that annual group hug between patriotic good ol' boys who love to hunt. Indeed, peace and love were in the air among all those grass roots constitutional scholars who have nothing more controversial in mind than to support the second amendment.

Well, now that the NRA convention has wound down in Houston it is time, perhaps, to reflect on what we've learned the last few days.

First, Wayne LaPierre's pal, Sarah Palin and a couple of other people claimed that pro gun control forces ruthlessly exploited the Newtown, CT shooting and the parents of the children killed there for political purposes. It didn't take long for LaPierre to pick up on that idea by wondering aloud during a speech how many people in Boston wished they'd had a gun a couple of weeks ago. Then he babbled out his catchphrase, "The only thing that will stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun."

MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell quickly pointed out that every position the NRA has taken only made it easier for the brothers Tsarnaev to secure firearms. Those would be the ones used during the Watertown shoot out and the one used to murder Sean Collier. Collier was a trained and armed MIT police officer and the only person in the entire tragic affair who was shot to death by the accused pair. O'Donnell also noted that LaPierre's idea of good guys with guns are people like himself and the rest of the NRA membership and they had nothing to do with the killing of one suspect and the capture of a second. It was, in fact, an effort by a number of different police agencies, the very same people the NRA ultimately believes they will have to protect themselves from.

That leads us to a recent Fairleigh-Dickinson University/PublicMind poll. It found that 44% of registered republicans believe the nation is headed toward an armed revolt in order to protect "liberties." The poll doesn't define what those liberties are. However, odds are that most of those who think there is some sort of conflagration on the way have become convinced it is the only way they can regain control of the nation. Yes, screw the legally elected government. Who needs to organize and wage a responsible political campaign that most of the American public can support? We have guns, we're white and we're going to do whatever the fuck we want.

Proving this sort of bullshit is rooted solidly in delusional paranoia the same poll shows that 32% of republicans think important facts about the mass murders in Newtown have been covered up by the government. What those facts may be aren't explained. It could be they feel the number of kids killed was exaggerated, or that Lanza was another victim of the nefarious MK Ultra program. Or, in the end, some might think it was all just a merry mix up.

The organization elected a new president. He is a former Alabama lawyer named Jim Porter. He remained relatively mum, letting LaPierre do the saber rattling. In the past however he has spoken at length about the American civil war, which he calls, "the war of northern aggression." He has also referred to Barak Obama as a "fake president" and stated that the entire Obama administration is "anti freedom."

Finally we get to the happy go lucky guys at Zombie Industries. CEO, Roger Davis' idea of fun and entertaining targets for young Americans are in effect dummies made of a biodegradable substance that bleeds and bursts apart when shot. Yes, I suppose that is one way to teach young people about gun safety. "Hey little guy, here is what it looks like when you blow the head off of a fellow human being." The targets come in several varieties. There is one of a clown. There is also a heart warming "ex-girlfriend" target. And, of course, to pander to all those would be freedom fighters there is a Nazi figure and an Osama bin Laden one. Right next to those two evil visages there was one named, "Rocky." Rocky has a grotesque, but definite resemblance to the President of the United States of America.

Davis insists that the target wasn't designed to resemble Obama, but was meant to represent an African-American. I guess when you're a NRA type all African-Americans look alike. One employee of the company snickered, "Lets just say I gave my republican father one for Christmas."

Lets sum up then. A huge number of these Rambo wannabes think an armed revolt is inevitable and the country is run by a "fake president." So now, instead of letting their kids play the insidious video games that LaPierre blames the Newtown shootings on, they're going to teach their children how to assassinate the commander in chief of the armed forces of the United States--fake blood, guts, and gore thrown in at no extra charge.

Oh yes, good clean fun and far more innocent and inspiring than games such as Resident Evil 5 and Grand Theft Auto.

The Obama look alike mysteriously disappeared from the Zombie Industries booth at the convention over the weekend. There is confusion over why. Initially it was thought that in a rare fit of public relations common sense the NRA asked ZI to take it down. Later a spokesperson for the company claimed they had simply sold out of them. Whichever the case the squishy guy remains available for purchase.

What any of this horrific nonsense has to do with hunting is beyond me. Adolphus Busch IV, of Budweiser beer fame must have similar questions because he resigned his life time membership with the organization a number of weeks ago. A disgusted, George H.W. Bush did the same thing not long after the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995.

I don't know exactly what the NRA started out as, but I have to think its founders would not recognize this crude and violent outfit now. Back then people had brains and some sort of sense of civilization and decency. That certainly isn't the case now and hasn't been for decades.

Slate and @GunDeaths report that as of yesterday at least 3,852 Americans have been shot to death since December 14, 2012.

That isn't political exploitation. It is a simple fact.

There is some liberty for you.


Monday, May 6, 2013

Worker Friendly Republicans

Ever hear of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938? That is the law that requires employers to compensate covered employees with time and an half pay for every hour they work over 40 in a given week. You know, if Hertz pays you $8 an hour they have to give you $12 for each hour you're on the clock beyond the magic 40 mark.

Enter representative Martha Roby, R-AL. She is sponsoring a bill that would give employers and employees the choice of offering and taking the time and a half, or giving, or receiving compensation through taking days off with pay. MSN writer, Sam Hananel says that it is all part of the GOP effort to become more worker friendly. According to the congresswoman, "For some people time is more valuable than the cash accrued in overtime." Hananel also quotes her as saying, "Why should public sector employees be given a benefit and the private sector be left out?"

Hananel writes that the federal government and many state governments began offering the plan in 1985.

Well there are a couple of reasons most democrats and labor unions don't go along with this "friendly" idea. First off, Judith Lichtman, who is identified as a senior advisor to the National Partnership for Women and Families, points out that this benefit wasn't created to give public sector employees more flexibility. It was created to save the government money. You betcha, it saves the employer money, a concept that warms the cockles of every republican heart. Look at it this way, instead of having to kick you that $12 an hour, the good ol' boys at Hertz give you a few hours off, costing them only $8 per hour.

Now which of those two options do you think the bean counters are going to want you to pick? In theory you can choose, but trust me, there is going to be some serious heat put on people to sign up for the time off option. For the most part public sector employees have unions to back them up. Only 6.6% of the private sector work force have that luxury.

Why is that necessary, other than the obvious ones? Hananel's article notes that there is no guarantee in Roby's bill that employees can take this comp time whenever they want. In fact it would be completely up to the discretion of the employer to decide when they grant it. That would be opposed to them having to pay you the overtime on your next check. In other words, just because they owe you the time you can't count on them granting it because your Dad broke his collar bone and needs help around his home for a couple of weeks. Yes, everyone out there who has worked for assholes like Hertz should be able to see this line coming from some Human Resources slime, "We know you have eighty hours accrued, but we're really, really busy this year, so come back to us in January and we'll see if we're able to let you take it then. Just remember we can't guarantee it at that time either. And oh, by the way, thanks for the no interest loan you just gave us."

Actually I'm just kidding. The HR chump won't thank you for the no interest loan. The company will simply take your money and run with it and laugh all the way to the bank.

In Hananel's opinion some travesty like this will never get passed in the Senate. That would be the same august body that just ignored nearly ninety percent of the American public on expanded background checks of drooling loons who want to buy a gun. Excuse me, but right now I trust them to do the right thing about as much as I trust Rick Santorum to say, "You know, in certain cases abortion should be allowed."

This is just another grotesque scam perpetrated by a party that despises working people and loathes those who represent them.

These are the same clowns who drove us into the great depression and brought us to the brink of another one a little over four years ago. Now they want us to trust them with a plan that will allow corporations to screw with a working person's overtime pay.

Yes, it sounds awfully friendly to me, but not to the poor stiff punching the clock.

Sometimes I don't think republicans can go any lower than they all ready have. They never fail to disappoint though.

I suppose in the end, I'm just a naive guy who doesn't understand that dark chicanery never takes a day off.

That is what happens when you elect it.

sic vita est



Friday, May 3, 2013

Adam Holland Drew a Picture

There is no source on earth more informative than the internet. Unfortunately the dark side of that is there is also no place more vile, more abusive, and more unrelentingly ugly than the very same spot.

Think of it. Everything I write here can be accessed and commented on by any human being on the planet so long as he, or she has a computer. Not only that, but every photo that someone posts on the net will last forever, or at least until the electrical grid crashes, or the great comet comes slamming into our blue ball. Yes, all you beered up spring break hotties should realize that every one of those "Girls Gone Wild" moments will be available for viewing to all the children, grandchildren and great grandchildren you'll ever have.That is right, as long as this incredibly surreal world exists, you're going to be seen taking off your clothes in exchange for some two bit tee shirt that proclaims you did it.

Hey, I'm not saying I'm without sin, that I'm some sort of modern day monastic, or a twisted up puritan. You aren't my daughters so you bet I look every now and then. I will also confess that, in my humble judgement, the girls with the greatest looking breasts seem to come from the Southeastern Conference, although they also appear to be the most hammered, not to mention linguistically incomprehensible. Well, if you're stuck in Baton Rouge for nearly a half a decade what else are you going to do? 

But I digress.

Here is what really matters. NBC News is reporting that about ten years ago a young man named Adam Holland drew a picture, held it up and had his picture taken. Adam Holland has Down syndrome. He is also a huge Tennessee Titans fan and his artwork was urging his team onward. His gaping grin is a wonder of innocence and exhilaration. He was supporting his team.

About a year ago the finely tuned wits at a radio station in Tampa, WHTP-FM, found the photo on the web and began using it on their site to introduce what they called, "The Retarded News." According to the program manager, that section of their site had nothing to do with people with disabilities, but rather to highlight odd and unusual news stories. Right. Explain that fine point to a certain Titans fan and his parents. Not long after the photo went viral the article's author, Helen A.S. Popkin pointed out other people began to use Adam's photo for their own entertainment.

In short order, what Popkin describes as a "user generated" meme website offered the photo of Adam in it's subtly named, "Retarded, Handicapped Generator." Countless reprints of Adam's photo began to appear on the web with all sorts of superimposed messages on his art work.

The Hollands have finally had enough. They are suing. The defendants are Cox Media, who owns, WHTP-FM, the meme site, and some asshole Flickr user in Minnesota, whose derogatory depiction of Adam took 31,000 hits. They are asking for $18 million from all the parties.

There are other cases such as these. A meme of a Down syndrome girl in the U.K. went viral. The text said, "I can't count to Potato."  In 2006 the photos of a girl in California who died in a car crash was leaked one way or another to the web by the California Highway Patrol. A fake tribute page was set up on MySpace which included graphic crash scene photos. The family immediately began receiving emails of the worst sort regarding her death. The photos are still floating around. These cases were documented by Popkin.

I personally believe in evolution. I have this fantasy that it is all part of God's Great Plan. However, every now and then I begin to doubt that belief. In fact sometimes I seriously wonder if we're the most civilized, or even the most intelligent species on the planet. Oh sure we came up with the internet, but all that did was enable us become the crass, hateful, and anonymous animals we really are deep inside--that werewolf that doesn't maim and kill to eat, but does so just for the joy of maiming and killing. The truth is de Sade would drool with excitement and have a constant erection if he had access to this medium.

Well what should I expect in a world where a guy like Rush Limbaugh is a radio star because he says things about African Americans like, "They're 12% of the population. Who the hell cares?"

We don't have a civilization. Civilized people don't treat each other this way.

We have, as Hunter Thompson once said, sunk to the level of dumb beasts. Privacy and decency have, sadly, gone the way of the Dodo.

Sleep well. Just pray someone hasn't posted a photo of you out there, because there is no telling what someone else will turn it into. Obviously, cruelty knows no bounds.

The truth is everyone is watching, but very few have a soul. Just ask the family of Adam Holland.

sic vita est


Thursday, May 2, 2013

A Rare Thing From a Republican and Racism is Alive

In the end it didn't pass because we're so politicized. There were some on my side who did not want to be seen helping the president do something he wanted to get done, just because the president wanted to do it.
Senator Pat Toomey, R-PA, co sponsor of a failed bill to require expanded background checks on those purchasing firearms that nearly 90% of Americans supported.

Ahh, the truth. A rare thing from a republican. It ranks right up there with Mitch McConnell's, "The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one term president." He said that a little over four years ago, before Obama had proposed even one piece of legislation.

Yes, the vicious wanks on the right don't care about the condition of the country, the will of the majority, or even the state of our security. All they want is for that Black sonofabitch to fail.

It has become horribly obvious that the republican party has caved into every racist asshole in the nation. Their base can't stand the idea that a black man is running the show and they are going to make damn sure he can't accomplish anything, up to and including trying to prevent the increasing number of massacres of innocent citizens.

You don't think so?

Wayne LaPierre, you know, the guy from the NRA who says a free America can't cave into expanded background checks? Years ago he testified before congress that the NRA thought expanded background checks were reasonable and that his organization supported them. That was before Barak Obama was president. That is also before the NRA ran an ad that showed the president's two daughters, saying that they were more privileged than yours or mine because they had secret service protection.

The right wing media, all pervasive on radio and television, has portrayed Obama in ways it would have never even dreamed of when the despised Bill Clinton was in office.

Glenn Beck: "Obama has a deep seated hatred for white people, for white culture. I believe this guy is a racist."

Rush Limbaugh: "Obama and Oprah are only successful because they are black."

Then Limbaugh adds this bon mot, "The NAACP should have riot rehearsals. They should buy a liquor store and practice robberies."

Oh I can go on. Limbaugh also gives us this moment of Zen: (To a black caller) "Take that bone out of your nose and call me back."

The fact is that republicans did find a way to work with Billy Jeff Clinton, who Maya Angelou once said was our "first black president." Little did she know what was coming when the real first black president arrived on the scene.

The brutal truth is that the Obama presidency has ripped the lid off of the right wing lie that they aren't racists.

All the birther bullshit, all the "he's not one of us" is based on race. One old high school pal said to me, "He's just not for us." Another told me in all seriousness that, "he hates America." They have no evidence of any of that, other than he is a black guy who happened to be not only eloquent, but ended up being the leader of the country. They simply cannot accept an African American as a leader.

In truth Barak Obama has tried to move to the center time and time again and time and time again conservatives have refused to budge while claiming he is, "the most radical president we've ever had." They can't compromise with Obama because they can't be perceived to be making a deal with a black man. Even if they wanted to they are terrified their suburban white base would revolt and unfortunately, in many instances, they are right.

I used to love this country because I felt it was a decent place that believed in what was called The American Dream. Unfortunately, too many white people in this nation believe that dream is reserved for them and them alone. Too many white people think that a hand up is a hand out. Too many want to spend billions on bombs and not a penny on their fellow Americans who are in need.

Well guys you can yell and howl and scream all you want, but look at the numbers last November. You're doomed. You don't run this joint anymore and you can't win a national election with your vote alone. Sure, you can couch your racism in other terms by calling people socialists, foreigners, Muslims, and leeches--you can go all martyr by complaining that others are racist toward you, but the fact is, beyond your own little congressional district, you're fucked.

Just keep sliding to the right and see where it gets you in four years. Then when you get your heads handed to you again, you'll have no one to blame but yourselves and your own vile prejudices. The truth is, brothers and sisters, you must be born again, or go the way of the stegosaurus.

The shade of Crazy Horse is laughing his ass off right now.

And, honestly, I need a Tylenol.

Over and out.