Saturday, June 29, 2013

Cole Hopper Goes Away For Nine Years: Danielle Cooley is Next

The final curtain is on the way down in the tragedy of Kelsey Bransby. Yesterday, Judge Tracy Schumacher sentenced 21 year old Cole Hopper to nine years in prison. According to the judge he must serve at least 85% of his time before he is eligible for parole. The state had asked that he receive a 19 year term.

Arianna Pickard reported in today's Norman Transcript that Hopper addressed both the court and Bransby's family before being read the sentence. He asked for forgiveness from the family and told the court, "I loved Kelsey very much and I never intended what happened to her."

Pickard writes that Bransby's grandmother, Hopper's grandfather, and a Cleveland County Detention Center case worker also testified.

In the story Pickard wrote Judge Schumacher told the defendant, he was irresponsible with guns and was, "so devoid of a moral compass" he left Kelsey Bransby to die.

All that is left now is to see what happens to Danielle Cooley. Cooley was with Hopper in the apartment that fatal day and took off with him after the shooting. She initially stuck to the cover story the two of them cooked up, but finally caved in. Last November she pleaded guilty and was given a 25 year suspended sentence. It was revoked on June 21st and she will appear in Schumacher's court on August 7th for sentencing. If hit with the maximum she could go away for a quarter of a century.

It was a deadly autumn in 2011. There has been no word about Alina Fitzpatrick's death at all. Both the police and media seem to have forgotten her altogether. Carina Saunders' murder investigation was so botched by the Bethany police they had to hand it off to the OSBI. The state agency has been mum about their progress on the case since they took it.

Jaymie Adams' husband has been charged with two counts of manslaughter and Joseph Cyr has been accused of her murder. Police claim Cyr's DNA was matched with DNA found on Adams' body. The D.A. maintains Justin Adams is guilty of manslaughter because he was aiding and abetting her in a criminal enterprise that put her and her unborn child in harm's way.

Once Danielle Cooley is sentenced the murder case of Kelsey Bransby will come to a close as far as the police, court system and media are concerned. It won't really be over though. Her family will still mourn her. Cole Hopper's family will watch their son go into some godforsaken prison and Danielle Cooley will disappear into the bowels of the same department of corrections. Both of them will become, fresh meat.

No, for many this nightmare will never be truly over.

The memories of it will always be vivid. The pain will always be lurking somewhere within.

Such things--both to our detriment and glory--are simply a part of being human.

sic vita est


Friday, June 28, 2013

Watching Egypt and Waiting for the World's Largest Gang Fight

Over in Egypt things are taking a decidedly ugly turn. In fact authorities and the population there are bracing for mass demonstrations scheduled for Sunday that could well turn into the largest gang fight in the history of the world.

It has gotten serious enough that the Al Azhar Institute, a Sunni clerical group, issued a statement saying, "Vigilance is required to ensure we don't slide into civil war." The Egyptian army is currently deploying armor and troops in order to protect government buildings, the central bank, and even the Suez Canal.

So, how did it come to all of this? Current Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi was elected a year ago on Sunday and immediately things began to go downhill. Opposition groups quickly claimed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood were putting in the fix so that they could keep their hands on power permanently. In addition, they claimed the Brotherhood and its more radical allies were moving to establish Egypt as a strict Islamic state.

They might well have an valid argument in both those cases. There are reports of more than just a few Morsi supporters claiming that the opposition is in fact, "waging a war on Islam." We've heard that line a few times before across the region and usually the people who say it can't be classified as entirely tolerant. In the last couple of days Morsi has begun investigations into a number of judges who he says were involved in election rigging before he came to power. He has also slapped a travel ban on satellite TV channel owner, Mohammed Amin claiming he is guilty of tax evasion. Amin's channel has been critical of the Morsi administration ever since it took power. NBC News quoted Morsi as saying, "He (Amin)is a tax evader--let him pay. He unleashes his channel against us."

The New York Times is saying that Morsi also kicked three representatives of satellite channels off a board known as the Free Media Zone. It helps regulate what goes on the air in the country. Another station owner, Ahmed Bahgat was accused of owing a bank $400,000.

Morsi supporters say his investigation into the judicial branch and the purging of TV station owners is overdue because all those guys were in the pocket of former president, Hosni Murbark. He was run out of office during the "Arab Spring" uprising of 2011.

It does appear Morsi and the brotherhood are continuing to cultivate relationships with radical Islamist groups. NBC quoted Eric Trager of the Washington Institute Think Tank as saying, what you have is "an enraged opposition and an utterly incapable, confrontational ruling party that now counts some of Egypt's most violent political elements as it's core supporters."

Reports are the demonstrations are being engineered by an opposition umbrella group known as Tamarod which translates into "rebel." They claim to have secured over 15 million signatures on a petition demanding early presidential elections. Their cause has been aided by rising food prices, extended waits for fuel, and mass electrical outages that have been occurring multiple times a day, every day. Yes, once you start screwing with the daily life of the average working person you have just guaranteed yourself chronic and severe problems that will not go away.

The deciding factor in this chaos will be the Egyptian Army. While reinforcing security at government institutions in advance of Sunday, it has remained carefully above the fray so far. However, they are indisputably the pharaoh makers in Egypt. Indeed, no matter what any constitution says, the military will decide the issue either by action, or inaction. Presidents come and go, as do demonstrators, but tanks and automatic weapons remain the ultimate authority.

It is estimated that as many as 50 million Egyptians could take to the streets Sunday. None of them will be happy and many of them will not like what the people on the other side are saying. There is no wrath quite like that expressed between people who share the same nationality.  

You see one person's freedom is another's oppression. Unfortunately, despite all our supposed intelligence, never shall the twain meet. It is a uniquely human conundrum.

In the end, I suppose, it is just another thing that separates us from the beasts in the fields.

Sometimes though, it is easy to wonder who came out on the best end of that whole evolution deal.


Thursday, June 27, 2013

Rachel Jeantel on the Stand and Justin Adams in the Dock

If anything at all has been established so far in the trial of George Zimmerman, it is that Rachel Jeantel isn't the world's greatest witness.

That and defense attorney Don West knows how to get under your skin and make you sound like an angry idiot.

Ms. Jeantel is the woman who was talking with Trayvon Martin the night he was killed in a gated Sanford, Florida community. Her testimony seemingly contained only a few solid pieces of information. First, Martin, the unarmed teenager George Zimmerman is accused of murdering, told her over the phone he was being followed that night by a creepy ass cracker. At one point Martin told her he thought he'd lost the man, but then realized he hadn't. It was at that moment he turned toward the alleged creepy ass cracker and said, "What are you following me for?" Finally, Rachel Jeantel told the court that Martin's last words were, "Get off, get off." Then his phone went dead.

Beyond that she became bogged down by West over what she'd heard Zimmerman say in response to Martin and then what she herself said, didn't say; did and didn't do during the days after the shooting. West raised questions about what she claimed to have heard Zimmerman tell Martin. In one version it was, "What are you doing around here?" In another it was, "What are you talking about?"  She admitted she'd initially lied about her age to the Martin family, claiming to be only 16 because she didn't want to become involved. Then she was compelled to admit that she lied about the reason she didn't attend Martin's wake. She had originally said she was in the hospital, but then said she didn't go because she couldn't stand to see his body. Finally she told the jury she didn't call the police immediately after the shooting because she thought they'd get in touch with her.

It doesn't get any better either. According to MSN her Facebook page claims she had attended the University of Miami Ohio and studied criminal justice. MSN contacted the registrar's office at the university and was told by the school it had no record of a Rachel Jeantel being enrolled there in the last few years. There are also reports she just recently deleted her twitter account of posts that bragged about drinking, smoking, and partying. Although, in all honestly, that shouldn't have a thing to do with the price of rice in China, the problem is you don't know what anyone on that jury thinks when it comes to the conspicuous and proud vices of a 19 year old black woman if they find out about them.

The fact is, what she said about Martin's conversation with her rings true. Having listened to some of the tapes previously it is clear that Zimmerman was convinced Martin was up to no good and would, "get away." And there is no question about Zimmerman also following Martin, at least initially, because on the tape the incredulous 911 operator asks Zimmerman, "Sir, are you following him?" Zimmerman said he was and the response was, "We don't need you to do that."

However the truth becomes a casualty at times like these. If the jury ends up convinced you're a serial prevaricator at some point you can bet they are going to dismiss everything you say, even if what you tell them is exactly what happened.

Indeed, reasonable doubt is all George Zimmerman needs at this stage of his life. It doesn't help the prosecution if the state's star witness provides a large dose of it.

Locally, The Oklahoman reports that Justin Adams went before Special Judge D. Fred Doak yesterday. Adams' wife, Jaymie was murdered in December of 2011 while meeting a "client." The D.A.'s office claims that because he aided and abetted his wife in her prostitution business Mr. Adams is guilty of manslaughter.

That seems a bit of a stretch, although Adams can certainly be found guilty of being one weird dude. Reporter, Tim Willert wrote that a computer expert testified Adams posted a number of not so subtle ads online trying to attract customers. According to the story, in one he offered to drive the family van around town while his wife performed various sex acts in the back of it with paying customers.

Defense attorney Irven Box maintained his client didn't cause Jaymie Adams death and he should be released. Judge Doak wasn't buying it. Willert quotes him as saying Adams was an "active participant" in what amounts to the family business and that he put Jaymie Adams, "in harms way."

Box says he will ask the trial judge to dismiss the charges.

Adams was initially accused of the murder because, yes, he lied to the police at the beginning of the investigation about what his wife did for a living. At about the same time he fessed up to that lie the OKC police misread, or misinterpreted cell phone reports and decided he was also lying about his actual location on the night Jaymie Adams was killed. Apparently the local authorities were so befuddled the FBI had to step in to correctly analyze the cell tower data.

Based on DNA comparisons gathered by the police, Joseph Cyr was charged with the murder in April of this year. There has been no word if the forensic people doing the DNA tests were local, or federal.

There we have it. The American parade grinds on.

We're just not too so sure about the justice for all part of it.

At least not yet.


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Return of Jim Crow, Esq.

If you can't beat 'em, cheat 'em.

That old adage has been around for decades. Right now, thanks to the Supreme Court of the United States, the same outfit that gave us the Citizens United ruling, it has never meant more to so many.

Yes, the right end of the Supremes held sway in a 5-4 vote that gutted the Voting Rights Act of 1965. For those of you not around in 1965. the act was passed to ensure minorities, especially those in the south, would be able to exercise their right to actually cast a ballot which counted.

Even back then racists and conservatives--at the time mostly democrats--knew they'd get their collective asses handed to them if they allowed large numbers of black people to vote. So the answer was quite simple. Don't let African Americans vote at all, or at least enforce a bunch of draconian restrictions that would severely limit the number of people of color at the polls. Those restrictions and other pieces of legislation pertaining to the institution of segregation were called Jim Crow laws.

Jim Crow was originally a minstrel show character played by a white guy who would paint his face black and then sing, dance, and yuk it up while dressed in rags in order to entertain other white people. You know, folks like Paula Deen.

Someone adopted the name and applied it to things like, poll taxes and literacy tests that black voters had to pay and pass before they could vote. Wikipedia notes that one popular literacy test was to require potential African American voters to recite the entire Constitution of the United States of America, plus the Declaration of Independence from memory. White voters didn't have these problems because--well they were white--but also, in theory, they weren't new voters and so were grandfathered in after the laws were passed.

This bullshit lasted in one form or another until the mid 1960's. Lyndon Johnson, a southern democrat from Texas, and a guy who knew how to drive congress like a herd of terrified dumb beasts, pushed it through. Two things immediately happened. First, the Jim Crow voting nonsense was outlawed and certain jurisdictions, mostly in the south, had to get federal approval in advance before they attempted to put the fix in once more. Second, the old confederate states and conservative democrats began their mass and inexorable migration to the republican party, initially encouraged by that foul beast, Richard Nixon and his advisors.

Federal approval for the local changes part of the law was section five. Section four had to do with which states were covered and was based on historical patterns of discrimination against black voters.

The court, in a logic all its own, left section five alone, but gutted section four, which, of course makes section five completely unenforceable. The argument used during the ruling was that section four relied on information and data that is 40 years old and in the past four plus decades we've changed, become, as they say, born again. The majority ruling left it to congress to draw up new formulas based on current demographics and history that will be used to enforce section five.

One white house official was quoted by NBC as saying, "As a practical matter that may be difficult to do given current political dynamics."

You think?

President Obama was said to be, "deeply disappointed." He issued a statement saying, "I'm calling on congress to pass legislation to ensure every American has equal access to polls."

Unfortunately for the president, the house of representatives is controlled by a bunch of thugs who have spent the last few years making sure nothing he says or wants gets beyond them. In fact, to agree with anything this president is in favor of is considered an act of high treason. Just ask NJ governor Chris Christie. All he did was thank Obama after the Sandy disaster. He ended up being called every name in the book and has been accused of having nothing short of Marxist tendencies by the tea party mob because he did.

The truth is, leading up to the last election the state level cohorts of these Washington beasts did everything they could think of to suppress minority access to polls and that wasn't just in the south. It was everywhere.

National Urban League Chairman, Marc Morial addressed the issue by saying, "We witnessed in the last election cycle an orchestrated effort, 40 states in fact, where legislation was introduced to suppress the vote."

NBC chief White House correspondent, Chuck Todd simply said "congress isn't mature enough" when it comes to acting on something like this.

Todd is either being far too kind, or far too naive. We are talking about a bunch of clowns in the lower chamber who have voted 37 times to repeal Obama care when they know such a repeal is doomed to failure. Now you're going to ask them to ensure the rights of minority voters? Right, that will work--especially when everyone with half a brain knows democrats must have large turnouts of minority voters in order to win in national elections.

Christ, that impossible literacy test has a better chance of getting through the house than something like this does.

Some GOP moderates, that would be the ones who can read exit polls, expressed a desire to reach out to minorities and women after last November's stunning defeat. The Chock Full o Nuts wing didn't want any part of that strategy then and doesn't need to now.

Why expand your base by compromising what you pass off as principles when you can win by simply making it impossible for those who oppose you to vote?

Indeed. There is no fuss and muss with that option.

Welcome back to America, Mr. James Crow. I'm happy to say most of us didn't miss you. Unfortunately, one too many of us did.

Would you like scones with your tea at this grotesque party? Or, would you just prefer a somewhat selective poll tax?


Monday, June 24, 2013

Sex, Lies, and Audio Tapes

These assholes always get away.
George Zimmerman to a 911 operator.

Well not quite always. Trayvon Martin certainly didn't. That is why Mr. Zimmerman is currently in a Sanford, Florida courtroom. Opening statements were made in his trial this morning.

The prosecution contends that Zimmerman is the worst sort of cop wannabe who, thanks to the state of Florida, was able to legally arm himself and prowl his gated neighborhood as a "watch captain." That he saw Martin and immediately suspected the worst--in other words profiled him as a thug and potential thief because he was young, black, and wearing a hoodie. NBC quoted prosecutor John Guy as saying, "George Zimmerman did not shoot Trayvon Martin because he had to. He shot him for the worst of all reasons--because he wanted to."

On the other hand the defense claims that while yes, Zimmerman saw, Martin and called 911 to report someone suspicious roaming the community that it was Martin who initiated the trouble by assaulting their client. Their argument is that Zimmerman, believing he was going to be killed by the teenager, pulled the trigger in self defense. Attorney Don West put it this way, "George Zimmerman is not guilty of murder. He shot Trayvon Martin after being viciously attacked."

It is being called the George Zimmerman trial by the media. In truth it could just as easily be called the Trayvon Martin trial, because that is exactly what the defense is going to do. They are going to put Trayvon Martin on trial. In fact they started that process months ago when they released photos of young Mr. Martin flipping off the camera and a picture of a couple of guns

Of course I can personally offer up into evidence a photo of several young men who, in the fall of 1969, also thought it was cool to make obscene gestures at a camera. I'm one of them, a future Oklahoma District Judge is another, as is an eventual insurance company executive, while the fourth was a kid who turned out to be a successful and fabulously well to do real estate developer.

I don't have any photos of guns, but then no one, not even the defense, is maintaining Trayvon Martin was carrying anything more deadly than a bag of Skittles and a can of ice tea that night.

Although the judge has ruled the photos inadmissible, they are out there and there is no telling if any of the six jurors, or four alternates saw them or not.

On the other hand the judge ruled that the state cannot use the testimony of voice analysts because she felt their science was too inexact. However the 911 tapes will be played for the jury who will have to decide on their own whether the person on them screaming for help is Trayvon Martin, or George Zimmerman. Zimmerman claims it was him. The prosecution says it was Martin. Therein lies the rub and probably more than any other single factor this one will determine if Brother Zimmerman walks away, or is sent away.

Locally, The Oklahoman reports that a preliminary hearing will be held Thursday during which a judge will decide whether the state has enough evidence to bring Justin Adams to trial. Adams is accused of two counts of manslaughter in connection with the death of his wife, Jaymie Adams and her unborn child. Jaymie Adams went missing in December of 2011 after going to meet a "client" in Midwest City who she'd connected with through Craigslist. Her body was found in January of 2012 near Lake Stanley Draper in south east Oklahoma City. She'd been stabbed 29 times and her jaw was broken in three places.

Mr. Adams was originally charged with two counts of murder, but police and the D.A. couldn't make it stick. In fact they couldn't even come close. After months the charges were downgraded because, according to authorities, Justin Adams "aided and abetted Jaymie Adams in engaging in acts of prostitution that resulted in her death." A number of weeks ago police charged a man named Joseph Cyr with Mrs. Adams' death.

Meanwhile over in Italy a court convicted former premier Silvio Berlusconi of being a very dirty old man. Actually it found him guilty of having sex with an underage Moroccan prostitute and then using the power of his office to cover it up and get local police to release her after she was arrested. He was sentenced to seven years and banned from ever holding public office again.

The 76 year old Berlusconi was accused of doing the deed with Karima El Mahroug, aka, Ruby the Heart Stealer when she was at the tender age of 17. Both Berlusconi and Ruby deny they ever had sex. The defense claimed the premier got the cops to spring Ms. Stealer only because he believed she was the niece of then Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak and he was trying to avoid an international incident.

All this debauchery supposedly happened during one or more of the premier's wildly decadent bunga bunga parties. Those galas featured strippers who started out their routines dressed as nuns. During the proceedings a witnesses testified that one of the "dancers" was current Lombardy Councillor Nicole Minetti. Ms Minette owes her budding political career to Mr. Berlusconi who, at the time, was in complete control of his People of Freedom Party.

Wikipedia is a bit fuzzy on the term bunga bunga, but it appears it is not related to Kowabunga, or even Big Kahuna, both of which might have been appropriate during conversations if American diplomats had been attending the suarets.

NBC reports that even though Mr. Berlusconi was found guilty there are two more steps of appeals and it might take years for him to actually walk the yard in some prison.

So there we have it. A murder trial that will push every racial hot button in America,  a sordid tale in the heart of the bible belt, and Italian politicos run completely amok.

Yes--and just think--it is only Monday.

sic vita est


Friday, June 21, 2013

Friday Dispatches: Falling on Your Sword in Illinois, Time Tests at Goodwill, Exodus Oops, and a Jury for George

Sometimes keeping an eye on the republican party is rather like watching a bus full of sociopathic monsters careen off a cliff. The sensations you feel are a wild mix of horror and awe spiced with a dash of justice and tinged at the edges with glee.

In Illinois, former Miss America, Erika Harold has announced she is running for a congressional seat held by republican, Rodney Davis. Harold is also a republican and says she believes she can help the GOP expand it's base and reach out to people who don't normally vote for republicans. You know, people like minorities and women.

Good news right? Especially when you consider Davis won that seat by only 1,000 votes over a four time loser last November. Ms. Harold is young, articulate, and attractive. She graduated from the University of Illinois as a Phi Beta Kappa and earned her law degree from Harvard. She is also bi racial, or rather, multi cultural. On her mother's side alone her ancestry includes African American, Native American, and Russian roots. She is, in short, everything the republicans need to begin to change their image from a clan of misogynist old white guys into an actual 21st century political party that reflects the national demographic.

Enter the republican chair of Montgomery County, Illinois, Jim Allen. He supported Davis last fall and still does. MSN News reports he sent an email to republican blogger, Doug Ibendahl. In it he referred to Erika Harold as a "street walker," "the love child of democrats," and suggested if she lost the primary she could fill a "minority quota" at a law firm.

As we say in Oklahoma, you can take 'em out of the trailer park, but you can't take the trailer park out of them.

Reaction was swift. Ibendahl posted the email on his site and then belabored the obvious by saying, "I hope some of these bullies learn a lesson from this. Our party has a huge branding problem nationwide, especially in Illinois. This guy's attitude sets us back. It's confirmation to why women and minorities don't take the republican party seriously."

Republican national chair Reince Priebus tweeted, "Chairman Allen's astonishingly offensive remarks have no place in politics. He should apologize and resign immediately."

Davis reportedly called the email, "wrong, appalling and incredibly demeaning." He also demanded that his old pal Jim Allen quit. He then openly worried it might have an impact on his 2014 campaign.

Allen fell on his sword and resigned yesterday after issuing an apology through the Champaign, IL newspaper.

Meanwhile NBC News is reporting that Goodwill Industries is paying some of the disabled workers it employs at it's stores as little as 22 cents an hour. They can do this because section 14 (c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 allows employers to pay disabled workers "according to their abilities," with no bottom limit. It seems Goodwill management uses stop watches to determine exactly how much their employees can get done in allotted time frames and then applies some arcane formula to calculate their rate of pay.

The story, written by Anna Schecter, notes that the CEO of the Southern California Goodwill earned $1.1 million in salary and deferred payments in 2011. His Oregon counterpart earned $500,000 and the CEO of Goodwill International was paid $729,000. It remains unclear if the charity uses the same methodology when calculating their pay.

NBC is also reporting that the president of Exodus International, Alan Chambers has written an apology on the group web site and shut his ministry down. Exodus was founded in 1976 and used what is called, "reparative therapy" to cure men and women of homosexuality. The apology in part said, "I'm sorry some of you spent years working through the shame and guilt you felt when your attractions didn't change."

Yep, it was all just a merry mix up. Watch for lawyers to begin forming a line soon.

Finally, down in Florida six women were picked to be on the jury in the George Zimmerman trial. Four alternates were also selected. Two of them were women and two were men.

An NBC News analyst was reported to have said he didn't think the gender of the jury would be a major factor, but it might be a slight advantage to the prosecution. Defense attorney Mark O'Mara was quoted as saying, "I don't think it really matters."

The report states five of the women are white and one is "either Hispanic, or black." The reason for the confusion went unexplained. Perhaps NBC should hire Jim Allen. He's up in Illinois looking for a new gig and apparently is quite the expert on minority and mixed race affairs.

And there you have it. Just another Friday in the big town. As always, stay low and keep moving. You don't want them to get us all with just one burst.

Mr. Scott, you have the con.


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Conservatives in Heat

There is nothing quite like conservatives in heat. Yes, when a group of them get to that agitated, writhing, and gasping, state they will do anything stupid and useless just because they can. They are, at heart, crude exhibitionists who love to masturbate in public. All the hormones run amok, you see, and then the brain synapses begin to misfire, rather like an engine with one of it's spark plugs gone dead.

Actually at times you have to admire them because they race head long into a chat room fantasy world where every futile gesture means something. It is a place where everyone is white and we all live in a "Leave it to Beaver" nation. They babble about vast majorities, as if the Anglo Saxon-European population of this country still runs the place completely unchallenged by all those, others. Their idealism is unfettered by any sort of fix on what some cyber fiends call real time. The truth is they go to that place authors Larry Niven and Jerry Pournell once called Crazy Eddie.

Yesterday the House of Representatives passed a bill that says a woman cannot get an abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy unless her life is in danger, or she has reported to the police she was raped, or was the victim of incest. This was the watered down, liberal, version of the bill. The original draft, proposed by Trent Franks, R-AZ didn't include those last stipulations. He named the bill, The Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.

The 20 week time limit came about because republicans cited some studies that claim fetuses can feel pain after 20 weeks. Hence the name of the legislation. The AMA, on the other hand--you know--the actual doctors, have published a report that says, "Evidence regarding the capacity for fetal pain is limited, but indicates that fetal perception of pain is unlikely before the third trimester."

Well, what do those guys know? Besides, they're just doctors and don't have to answer to people like, Rick Santorum, Pat Robertson, and Bennie Hinn.

Unfortunately for Congressman Franks he put his foot into it last week, probably because he is an old white conservative who really believes his own bullshit. During an interview he told a reporter that exceptions for rape and incest weren't needed in the bill because, "the incidence of rape resulting in pregnancy was very low." Yes, it was the ghost of Todd Aikin all over again. Aikin may have cost the GOP a senate seat in Missouri last November because during his campaign he said that women have a way of "shutting down" their bodies after a rape to prevent themselves from becoming pregnant.

Even John Boehner knew Franks had screwed the pooch. The republican leadership immediately exiled Franks from his own bill, changed it to include the exceptions for "reported" rape and incest and put, Tennessee republican Marsha Blackman's name on it. Yesterday it passed 228 to 196.

When questioned about the bill, Boehner referred to the Kermit Gosnell case in Philadelphia. Gosnell is a grotesque medical quack who, besides performing late term abortions, had been accused of handing out painkillers as if they were M&M's. According to Boehner, "After this Kermit Gosnell trial and some of the horrific acts that were going on, the vast (there is that word again) majority of American people believe in the substance of this bill."

Well, beside the fact, the bill wouldn't stop a beast like Gosnell, who was busily breaking every law currently on the books, the vast majority of Americans, Boehner talked about simply doesn't exit.

The Washington Times wrote that a Gallup poll showed only 7% of American adults were closely following the Gosnell case and 18% said they were somewhat closely watching it. That would equal 25%. The poll noted that 20% said they were not following it closely and, yes, 54% claimed they weren't following it at all. In other words most Americans considered it not a national political issue, but a criminal one that should be taken care of by home town authorities just as any local felony should.

The Times also reported that the Gallup people said that 52% of all Americans were in favor of abortion under certain circumstances, 26% were in favor of it at any time, for any reason, and only 20% thought it should be illegal under any circumstances.

These are some of the reasons that The Huffington Post's, Martha Burk called Boehner, "delusional."

Tell us something we don't know, Martha.

The House of Representatives has once again proved it is completely out of touch with reality. The legislation they just passed has absolutely no chance of getting through the Senate and even if it did it would be vetoed by the president. They know that, but they continue to waste our time and money on just another fanciful charge at windmills they know they cannot defeat. Indeed, the budget, jobs programs, and immigration reform simply can't compare to a maniacal chest beating that only Tarzan would envy.

In truth they don't want to govern. All they want is to show up on the local news in their home districts and be sure that no matter what, they won't be accused of collaborating with Barak Obama.

The next stop is the 38th time these idiots try to repeal Obamacare.

Good Christ, I'd spit on them, but, honestly, they aren't worth it.

Now, I need a drink.


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Cole Hopper is Guilty

It didn't take long. The jury was out for only a little over three and a half hours.

Arianna Pickard of the Norman Transcript is now reporting that Cole Hopper was found guilty of first degree manslaughter in the death of Kelsey Bransby. She writes that the state is seeking a 19 year sentence.

According to Pickard, Christy Miller, the prosecutor told jurors in her final argument that Hopper was "reckless" with his gun, that witnesses had testified that he'd, "playfully pointed his weapons at friends and that one person had said he'd accidentally fired off a round into the floor of his apartment while cleaning it. Pickard quotes Miller as saying, "This time his recklessness went too far. He must be held accountable."

Pickard wrote that Miller also told the jury, whether it was an accident or not he must be "disciplined" for being careless with his firearm and not seeking medical help for Kelsey Bransby after she was shot.

Pickard's story says that defense attorney David Smith, in his final address to the jury, contended that Ms. Bransby could have shot herself and that no one looked for gun residue on her hands.

He also told the jury that no one could prevent the sorrow of Kelsey Bransby's family for her loss, but at the same time they could prevent the sorrow Cole Hopper's family will feel if he is sentenced to two decades in jail for a crime he might not have committed.

Obviously twelve men and women good and true weren't having any of that.

The defining moments probably came when Danielle Cooley's testimony put Hopper in the apartment and then when the jury was shown videos of him telling the police he wasn't there at all. Yes, once you've been caught in a lie that blatant, no one believes anything else you say, no matter if it is true or not. You are, in that awful moment, screwed, glued, and tattooed. Especially when people know you ran out on one of your best friends and left her bleeding, with a hole in her head, to die alone.

So this tragedy comes to an end. It was, in the final analysis, about drugs, guns, and stupidity. Unfortunately, the city, state, and nation are awash in all three.

Kelsey Bransby is dead. Danielle Cooley was hit with a 25 year suspended sentence that she is on the verge of having revoked. Cole Hopper is going away for a long, long time.

Someone will say justice has been served.

However, justice won't bring back Kelsey Bransby, or even Danielle Cooley and Cole Hopper. The three of them are, forever, lost.

We should mourn them all.


The End of the Trail for Kelsey Bransby, Danielle Cooley, and Cole Hopper

The decision may already be in the hands of the jury as I type. According to the Norman Transcript's Arianna Pickard, defense testimony was scheduled to wrap up in the trial of Cole Dean Hopper this morning.

Pickard writes that forensic pathologist, Chai Choi testified yesterday the bullet that killed Kelsey Bransby entered her head just below her left eyebrow at about a 10 degree angle upward. It then tracked 45 degrees to the right, bounced off the inside of her skull near her right ear and ended up in the center of the back of her head. Choi said the slug knocked Ms. Bransby unconscious, but she was able to continue breathing because it missed the center of the brain.

The wound was so devastating that an Emergency Room physician who treated her told the court Bransby would have died, even if she had received immediate medical attention. I suppose that could somehow help Cole Hopper's defense, although I'm not sure why. His attorney can at least look at the jury and say, "See, there was nothing my client could do." Well except for the decent thing, which would have been to call for help immediately rather than leaving a person, who has been described as one of his best friends, laying on the floor bleeding with a bullet in her head.

Pickard reports that Choi also testified that gun powder stippling on Bransby's skin indicated that while the gun was not directly touching her, the fatal shot came from close range.

What probably didn't help Hopper's case was a video of a November 2011 interview he gave detective Tyler Larson which was played for the court. Pickard writes that in it Hopper says the shooter was probably one of the many people Bransby had stolen drugs from. Larson went so far as to read off each contact from Kelsey Bransby's phone while Hopper identified those he said she'd ripped off. Pickard writes that the total was close to 20. I will admit I'm not familiar with the number of people selling meth and the like in this burg, however this isn't LA, or Chicago. One would think that burning 20 different people in the Oklahoma City drug trade would pretty well make you persona non grata when it comes to receiving merchandise up front, something Danielle Cooley previously testified, Ms. Bransby had just done.

Larson said that over several months he checked out each of the people named by Hopper, but by the time it was over all the evidence was pointing toward the defendant.

According to Pickard a second video was played that showed an interview with the suspect the following May. In it Larson was closing in, telling Hopper he didn't consider him, "a cold blooded killer," and that things would go better for him if he'd just tell the detective what happened. Hopper initially stuck to his story that he wasn't there when the shooting occurred. When it became obvious to him that Larson wasn't buying it any longer, Cole Hopper lawyered up and the interview ended. Shortly after that he was arrested and initially charged with second degree murder.

There was probably more than just a single thing that sent Kelsey Bransby, Danielle Cooley, and Cole Hopper down the trail that ended in that south side OKC apartment nearly two years ago. We could speculate about some sort of trauma, some sort of pain that the drugs were supposed to mask, or that it could have started out simply as the ultimate thrill ride--one that at some point went terribly out of control. No, the causes really don't matter now. All we are left with are the results. And no matter what the jury decides today, tonight, or tomorrow they aren't pretty.

As the man says, "Sometimes you eat the bear and sometimes the bear eats you."



Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Cautionary Tale of Kelsey Bransby Continues

--here I opened wide the door;
Darkness there and nothing more.
Edgar Allan Poe

Down in Norman, Oklahoma testimony continued in the manslaughter trial of Cole Hopper. Hopper is in the dock accused of being complicit in the shooting of 19 year old Kelsey Bransby in late October of 2011.

The Norman Transcript's Arianna Pickard wrote on Friday that a tape played for the jury was that of a phone call, Danielle Cooley made to a jailer who she had begun confiding in. In November Cooley pleaded guilty to second degree murder in Bransby's death and received a 25 year suspended sentence. Pickard quoted Cooley as saying on the tape that, "His mom (Hopper's) and family keep trying to make me feel bad. I can't help that he did it. So I'm not going to help him get out of it--I'm not going to help him lie in court."

On the stand, Cooley then repeated what she'd said previously by telling the court she didn't actually see Hopper shoot Ms. Bransby. However on Thursday she did say that Hopper never told her that Kelsey Bransby shot herself.

According to Pickard three other witnesses testified they'd seen Hopper with guns before the shooting. One testified that Hopper had accidentally fired a weapon while cleaning it about a month and a half before Ms. Bransby was shot. However, the most damaging testimony might have come from a neighbor named, Kenneth Wall. Wall reportedly said that Hopper would often point a hand gun at both Cooley and Bransby and say, "boom." Wall claimed, "It was his sense of humor."

On Friday, Pickard reports that OKCPD officer Randy Kirby testified that he was one of two cops responding to Bransby's apartment the night she was shot. Pickard quotes him as saying he found her on the floor in the living room and her, "body was kind of shaking and she was inhaling rapidly."

EMT, Greg Ford told the jury that Ms. Bransby was alive when he arrived, but unresponsive and her left eye was swollen and protruding out from her head. A live bullet was found on the floor near a closet where Hopper reportedly kept his things.

A witness identified by Pickard only as, "Wesner" testified that he and his girlfriend arrived at Bransby's apartment around 8pm that evening and found her leaning over the couch, breathing strangely. At first he didn't realize she was wounded, but when he went to shake her in order to wake her up he saw the injury. Pickard wrote that Wesner told his girlfriend to call 911 and then, while they waited for help to arrive, they searched the apartment hoping to get rid of any drugs before the police showed up.

They didn't do a very good job. A crime scene investigator testified he found four syringes and two small bags of "white rocks."

Apparently Hopper's name was connected to the shooting from the very moment the investigation began. Officer Kirby said that Wesner told him Hopper had left the apartment earlier in the day while Bransby was getting ready to meet a Mexican male. Why Kirby would have asked that question, or Wesner would have volunteered, or even known such information is unclear.

In November of 2011 police detective Tyler Larson interviewed Hopper. During the questioning, Larson said Hopper told him that Kelsey Bransby owed money to a guy named Manny and that this Manny was part of a Mexican drug cartel. Hopper also told him he thought members of the cartel could be responsible for the shooting.

Larson then testified he tracked down, Manny and questioned him. The detective maintains the individual didn't appear to have anything at all to do with Kelsey Bransby's death.

One would assume it was at that point, Cole Dean Hopper and Danielle Cooley became the primary focus of the investigation, if they weren't already.

No matter what the case, this tragic and cautionary tale is scheduled to resume Monday morning.

As with all such stories, there will not be a happy ending.

sic vita est


Thursday, June 13, 2013

Danielle Cooley Draws an Ugly Picture in Norman and Juror K-95 was Mildly Irritated in Florida

Danielle Cooley knows how to draw an ugly picture. She went on the stand yesterday in the manslaughter trial of Cole Hopper and described her version of what happened the day Kelsey Bransby was shot.

Arianna Pickard of the Norman Transcript recounted Cooley's testimony in an article found online this morning. According to Pickard, Cooley testified that on the dizzying day in question, Ms. Bransby shot up some meth, an injection to the neck, while she took a solid toot of the drug, Opan. Cole Hopper then came over with a DVD which they were all going to watch. That is when things went terribly wrong.

Cooley said her friend Kelsey Bransby would get, "rambunctious" while under the influence and enjoyed posing for pictures with guns. She went on to say she heard a shot fired, turned and saw Bransby on the floor. She told the court that she didn't see Cole Hopper shoot the gun and in fact claimed she didn't even see it in his hand, or anywhere else.

Pickard reports that Cooley and Hopper assumed Ms. Bransby was dead and fled the scene. Cooley said that the first time she saw the weapon was during the drive away from the south side OKC apartment. According to her it was sitting in Hopper's lap. She also testified that later her boy friend told her he had sold the piece.

She said the two of them cooked up a cover story that included telling police that Bransby might have been shot by a meth dealer because she had failed to pay him. Cooley then testified that Hopper went so far as to text and call Bransby's phone after the shooting to establish they hadn't been there and didn't know what had happened to her.

She maintained they made up the lie because they didn't think the police would believe them if they told officers the truth.

Well she might have been onto something there. After avoiding investigators several times, she finally faced questioning and the cops apparently didn't believe anything she said, including what she swore to yesterday.

Pickard writes that Ms. Cooley testified she was chucked into the Cleveland County Detention Center for six months and was released only after she pleaded guilty to second degree murder after the fact.

The reality of the release is she was handed a 25 year suspended sentence. A check of court records today shows she is teetering on the edge of having the suspension revoked. In fact a bench warrant, which has since been recalled, was issued for her on June 3rd. The state contends that she failed to report as directed to a probation officer and she has also failed to abstain from the possession, or consumption of controlled dangerous substances. She is due for a hearing on June 21st.

Meanwhile down in Florida lawyers are wading through a morass of potential jurors in the trial of George Zimmerman. The Huffington Post is providing a live feed of the events through David Lohr.

There is no telling how long the process could take. Both the defense and the prosecution are dealing with a case that has left precious few people without an opinion of what happened the night Trayvon Martin was killed, or what should happen now.

According to Lohr, Juror N-18 was asked if he read the newspaper and the response was, "No, I read the bible." The same juror said he felt Zimmerman was guilty because the law-- that would be the 10 commandments-- says we aren't supposed to kill anybody. On the converse side, Juror E-81 claimed she didn't want to be sequestered, had considered contributing to Zimmerman's defense fund, and felt we'd all be better off if more people were armed. Juror K-80 found the protests surrounding the case, "very disturbing" and said she would be concerned for the safety of her family if Zimmerman was found not guilty. Finally, juror K-95 said she remembered being mildly irritated because she was inconvenienced by traffic during a Trayvon Martin protest.

Yes, from the biblical to the banal and all points in between the search slogs on. The only firm information at this moment is that Judge Debra Nelson has ruled the jury will be sequestered throughout the trial. Reports say that Florida law requires 6 jurors and 4 alternates.

There we have it. A glimpse into a dark lifestyle no one should ever lose themselves to and the opening act of a circus that might end up making the O.J. Simpson trial seem absolutely dignified.

Sometimes it is easy to understand why the Good Lord invented martinis and, ultimately, why we enjoy drinking them.

sic vita est


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Kelsey Bransby's Pals, Part II

Kelsey Bransby was killed a little less than two years ago, but somehow it feels like it has been decades, perhaps even centuries. She was found in her south Oklahoma City apartment on October 27th, 2011. She had been shot in the face.

Her death came on the heels of the grisly murder of Carina Saunders and before the nude body of Alina Fitzpatrick was discovered in far eastern OKC. It was a deadly fall for young women. First Saunders, then Bransby and Fitzpatrick, and finally Jaymie Adams went missing in December, only to be found also murdered in January of 2012.

Two arrests were made in the Saunders' case, but the suspects were released. The suburban Bethany, OK police department was simply in over its head and finally had to hand the case off to the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation. By the time they did the entire affair was so badly botched a resolution may never be reached. Fitzpatrick's death remains an utter mystery. In fact it almost feels as if the OKCPD has simply written it off as just another drug OD--tragic, but nothing to expend manpower on. Adams' husband, Justin was initially arrested and charged with her murder, but police and the DA, just as in the Saunders' case, could never build a solid base of evidence. They reduced the charges against Justin Adams and arrested a man named Joseph Cyr, who they maintain met and had sex with Ms. Adams shortly before she was murdered.

For reasons known only to the local media Kelsey Bransby's death received the least amount of attention of the four that fall. Perhaps it was because it wasn't as gruesomely lurid as the others. Saunders had been dismembered, Fitzpatrick was found naked with some sort of gag stuffed in her mouth, and Adams was pregnant, but pulling down tricks she found through Craigslist. The print and on air news outlets seemed to regard the killing of Kelsey Bransby as just part of the price we pay for living in a big town.

However, while the other cases seem suspended in mid air, the curtain has risen on the final act of Kelsey Bransby's tragedy. Last spring Danielle Marie Cooley and Cole Dean Hopper were arrested and charged with second degree murder. They both were friends of the victim.

The Norman Transcript has reported, Cooley pleaded guilty to second degree murder after the fact last November and was sentenced to 25 years in prison. Jury selection was completed yesterday in Cleveland County court and today testimony will begin in the trial of Cole Dean Hopper.

Cooley had previously said she and Hopper were just hanging out at Ms. Bransby's apartment the night she was shot. She told police she was watching TV while Hopper and Bransby were, "playing around." She said she heard a single gunshot and then Hopper yell Kelsey's name. Cooley has since admitted she was high at the time and claimed Hopper told her he had previous run ins with the police. According to her they both panicked and took off without calling 911. She contends that she doesn't know what happened to the gun.

Apparently Hopper has secured much better legal counsel than Cooley did. Even though he is the one thought to have been holding the weapon when it went off, the charges against him have been downgraded to manslaughter. Cooley got 25 years for watching TV and running, but Hopper, if convicted, might be sentenced to as few as 4 years, although he could also go away for life, or anywhere in between.

True to their initial indifference, none of the OKC media outlets have said a word online about either Cooley's guilty plea, or the start of Hopper's trial. The only news source covering the case has been the Norman Transcript. The trial is being held in Norman because Bransby's apartment, while within the Oklahoma City limits, sat on the south side of the line that separates Cleveland and Oklahoma counties.

The Transcript reports that Hopper's defense attorney, David Smith questioned potential jurors about their knowledge of a particular type of hand gun and if they knew of any problems with the weapon. He then alluded to accidents happening with firearms. He also asked if any of them was familiar with the drug, Opana. lists Opana (Oxymorphone) as an opiod pain killer used to treat moderate to severe pain. Then it notes, "Opana may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide." It doesn't take Perry Mason to realize where Smith is going with this. The question is will the jury buy it?

So, at long last, the final chapter has begun in the sad story of Kelsey Bransby. Even after all these months it is doubtful that anyone who loved her and grieved for her will find genuine closure now that Cole Hopper's trial has started. In the end, justice might be done in the eyes of the law, but she will still be gone. And there is no cure for that; there never will be.

The proceedings are expected to take a week or so.


Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Avoiding the Point in Santa Monica and the Unknown Ambassador in the Unknown Country Who Might Have Done Something Bad

Conservatives never let me down. When it comes to tragedies and madness they always know how to avoid the real issue by punching some racist hot button in order to get the Vulgas roiled up into a frothing rage.

Last Friday a 23 year old man named John Zawahri went off the deep end and shot up parts of Santa Monica, California, including Santa Monica College, killing five in the process.

As soon as his identity was made public legions of right wing xenophobes went ape shit. Twitter was all aflutter about his, "Muslim sounding name." Yes, instead of  pondering questions like, how did this demented twit get all the guns and ammunition and why do we keep letting stores sell this stuff, crowds began howling about terrorism and the violence inherent in Islam. No one seemed to wonder about what motive a jihadist would have to kill his father and older brother before running amok on the streets, but hey, such details do nothing but muddy, The Big Picture. We must, after all, keep our our eye on the ball here.

Even when it turned out Zawahri wasn't Muslim, but in fact a Christian the shrill hysteria didn't abate. Debbie Schlussel, who is a radio talk show host (what a surprise), sometime columnist and blogger claimed it didn't matter. She labeled the entire Arab culture as brutishly violent and uncivilized when compared to its American counterpart. She didn't stop there. She also accused the Greek and Syrian Orthodox Churches of being in league with Hezbollah and a whole lot of other nefarious organizations and claimed there was no difference between Lebanese Muslims and Christians when it came to Arab terrorism.

Indeed, the problem isn't that this deadly goof, or someone else, was able to legally buy enough weapons and ammunition to arm the entire Poteau, Oklahoma police department. No, the problem is there are too many Arabs in the country and they are all a bunch of blood thirsty terrorists.

Just to prove how peaceful and civilized America is, Slate and @GunDeaths reports that as of today, at least 4,886 U.S citizens have been shot to death since the Newtown, CT murderous rampage. It was committed by Adam Lanza, who at last glance, was not of Middle Eastern descent. Neither was James Holmes, Seung-Hui Cho, Dylan Klebold, or Eric Harris. Well, perhaps people like Schlussel will get to the bottom of that particular mystery and prove they were all thinking about becoming Arabs when they opened fire.

Meanwhile, NBC's Matthew DeLuca reports that an unidentified U.S. ambassador to an unidentified country, is defending himself against allegations that he sought sexual favors from prostitutes and children.  DeLuca's report quotes a former State Department investigator who claims that "top State Department officials" issued orders to "cease the investigation." She also claims the final report that was issued in March was, "watered down."

Republican Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Ed Royce of California was also quoted. He said, "I am appalled not only at the reported misconduct itself, but at the reported interference in the investigation of the misconduct." Of course his staff is looking into it all as I type.

The unnamed ambassador has vehemently denied all the charges. In fact, at this point, he has not been formally accused of anything and he certainly hasn't been convicted of any crimes.

So what is this whole fuss really about?

You guessed it, these alleged acts of grotesque perversion happened while Hillary Rodham Clinton was Secretary of State.

You may now consider the 2016 presidential election to be in full swing.

God help us all.


Sunday, June 9, 2013

Another in a Long, Unending Line and Shouting Against the Wind

It is like an endless looping video tape. While the names and faces change everything else seems to stay the same.

Yesterday Santa Monica Police Chief, Jacqueline Seabrooks went in front of the cameras to explain the details of a mass shooting in her town. She is just the latest in a long and obviously unending line of authorities to stand in front of a bank of microphones relating how her department finally brought down some heavily armed and quite demented fool. He was carrying an assault style weapon--some reports say it was our old friend, the AR-15--and he was in possession of an amount of ammunition that officials estimate could be as high as 1,300 rounds. He was dressed in black and was wearing a vest that would deflect, or at least slow down bullets. It would seem everyone prepares thoroughly these days before tripping off into the deep end of the pool. Well, there is no doubt that the thinking lunatic should always be detailed oriented.

The police have yet to officially release the shooter's name, but the LA Times is reporting that he is John Zawahri and he would have turned 24 years old yesterday.

Before Mr. Zawahri opened fire on the general public he shot and killed his father and brother, then set the house they were in on fire. He then carjacked a vehicle with a woman driver, who at first took him to be either a secret service agent, or a member of a local police SWAT team.That is because the President of the United States was in town. To her horror as she drove him toward Santa Monica College he began shooting at passengers on buses and anyone else he took a disliking to.

In one of those odd and unfathomable quirks that some homicidal maniacs display he promised her if she didn't do anything "stupid" he'd let her go and luckily for her he kept his word.

He then killed two people in the school parking lot. USA Today is reporting they were a father and daughter. Finally, as he entered the school library, he shot and killed a female bystander. Students in the library saw him coming and barricaded themselves in a room. Before police shot him to death Zawahri fired a number of rounds through the walls of the room, trying to kill those inside.

Various sources say Zawahri was once enrolled at the school, that he was upset his parents were getting a divorce, and, of course, there was a history of mental issues when he was younger. Why sure there was. These evil twists don't go around the bend at the drop of a hat. It takes some time to work the ol' psyche up to a murderous state, not to mention collect more guns than the national police of Belize have on hand. Indeed, the circumstances have to be just right. The people around you have to either live in a fantasy world of denial, or just simply ignore all the symptoms because--well--that's the easiest thing to do.

There is no word on where, or how he secured his armament, but odds are he bought everything legally. It is either that or he stole it all from a family member, or some other patriot who was going to save the republic from the evils of socialism and gun control. The only thing certain at this time is he began his deadly tour nearly as well outfitted as, Ted, by God, Nugent.

So now I'm supposed to rail against the NRA, gun manufacturers, idiots with erectile dysfunction who buy assault rifles, and politicians who don't have the guts to expand background checks even a fraction. Unfortunately, in this country, doing that is rather like shouting at the wind. No matter how angry I get the gale still blows.

Yes, there are too many cowards among us who believe they can't safely leave their homes without carrying a firearm. There are too many politicians who don't give a shit about public safety, or health to do anything about what is a curable disease. In America the addiction to guns is far more pervasive and deadly than any addiction to meth, heroin, and crack.

Let's face it, we're a nation of killers, or at least a nation who fancies the idea of killing. We certainly love all the tools of killing.

As the late cartoonist, Walt Kelly once said, "We have met the enemy and he is us."

And there I go again--shouting at the wind.

Hey, you do what you do.


Friday, June 7, 2013

Another Week Down the Drain: India's National Pastime, Solitary Confinement in Kansas, Drunk in Massachusetts, and Al Gerhart Revisited

Women should observe stringent security precautions including avoiding use of public transport after dark without the company of known and trustworthy companions.
Travelers advisory issued by the United States Embassy in India.

That is one way to put it. Another is, if you're a female stay the fuck away from India.

Authorities in the state of Himachal Pradesh have reported that an American tourist out on a hike was given a lift by three men in a truck. Instead of taking her to her destination they drove her to a secluded spot and took turns raping her. This comes on the heels of a Swiss tourist who was gang raped, which in turn came on the heels of an Indian woman who was also gang raped and so brutalized she died. In addition Indian police are, at this time, investigating the possible rape of an Irish aid worker.

Apparently rape is the national pastime on the sub continent. The number of reported rapes in 2011 was 24,200, or just less than one every 20 minutes. Large numbers of conservative male politicians in the country blame the victims for the attacks because they were dressed inappropriately and trying to adopt western ways. That would be the old, "the bitch was asking for it" argument. I suppose if you look back with misty eyed nostalgia to the year, oh, 450 A.D. or so, that sort of attitude is to be expected. However, every now and then someone in New Delhi might want to take a peek at a calender just to check in on reality.

Meanwhile in Kansas, Scott Roeder got hit with what amounts to 45 days of solitary confinement for some remarks he made in an interview to an anti-choice writer. Roeder is doing time for gunning down Dr. George Tiller while Tiller was attending church services in Wichita. Tiller's clinic, which provided abortion services, has re-opened with the name, South Wind Women's Center and is now owned and operated by a non-profit group called,Trust Women Foundation. Roeder's thoughts on the subject were fairly clear. He said, "To walk in there and re-open a clinic, a murder mill, where a man was stopped is almost like putting a target on your back, saying well lets see if you can shoot me." Roeder claims he committed the murder because he is pro life. At last glance shooting someone to death, even in Kansas, is not considered a pro life act. That would be why brother Roeder is sitting in a prison.

General Mills, the maker of Cheerios cereal had to shut down the comments portion of its Youtube version of a commercial it is running. The ad depicts a mixed race child, a white mother, and black father. Reports are the ad drew such vile racist responses that the company deleted and blocked all comments because of its commitment to family values. Yes, who needs a white hood and a burning cross when you have the internet? If the last few years have taught us anything it is that the whole fairy tale about racism being a thing of the past in America is just that, a fairy tale.

In Massachusetts, Governor Deval Patrick admitted that the day after police ran accused Boston marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to ground he traveled to the western part of the state and tied one on at a restaurant. He is being congratulated for his candor by some, while large numbers of the public are shrugging their shoulders and wondering why this sort of announcement should have made the news in the first place. After all, thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of Bay Staters did exactly the same thing in venues far more public than some quaint Berkshire County bistro.

Finally, here in Oklahoma, Special Judge Susan Johnson has set a September 6th date for the preliminary hearing in the charges filed against Al Gerhart. Gerhart, who claims to be the co-founder of the Sooner Tea Party, is charged with blackmail and computer crimes. He is a low rent Joe McCarthy wannabe who sent republican senator, Cliff Branan an edgy and threatening email back on March 26th. Branan's committee was sitting on a bill that Gerhart wanted passed. In the email he told Branan, among other things, "Get that bill heard, or I will make sure you regret not doing it. I will make you the laughing stock of the senate if I don't hear this bill will be heard and passed."

Within a couple of days Gerhart was holding a press conference during which he claimed the scuttlebutt was that Branan had been involved in a sexual affair with an aide. He admitted he had no proof of this scuttlebutt and to this day has not offered any. The immediate response to Gerhart's crude bullying and rumor mongering, besides the criminal charges, was that the bill's senate sponsor pulled it from consideration, saying he was appalled by big Al's tactics. At about the same time Branan called it "a fringe conspiracy issue that is quite frankly just bad public policy."

It is unclear whether beer and hot dogs will be sold in the gallery during the hearing, although it is certain that the crowd will be in favor of it.

So there we have it. Another week down the drain.

The best thing that can be said about it is that its over.

Now for that cigar and a moment of Zen.


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Jimmy Holmes Says He is Insane

It wasn't what his lawyers wanted, but it was better than nothing. Up in Colorado Judge, Carlos Samour accepted an insanity plea by James Holmes. Holmes, of course, is accused of multiple counts of murder, attempted murder, and just about anything else prosecutors could come up with in connection with the mass shooting at a theater in Aurora, Colorado last summer.

Earlier his defense team had offered to enter a guilty plea in attempt to get the death penalty off the table, but the state was having none of it. Now they've had to settle for a defense they claim is so restrictive that the Colorado law defining it is unconstitutional. According to an AP report written by, Dan Elliott the judge rejected the argument last week.

The insanity plea means that Holmes now has to undergo a lengthy mental evaluation by state doctors. The same law says if Holmes doesn't cooperate with the doctors during the evaluation and he is convicted, he can lose his right to call expert witnesses who would testify about his sanity, or lack thereof, during the penalty phase of the trial. The defense has pointed out, to no avail, the law doesn't define what cooperation is. It appears when your client is spectacularly guilty of a crime so gruesome that the prosecutor won't even accept a guilty plea, you're arguments really are reduced to the minutiae of the language.

The judge also ruled the defense has to turn over the infamous notebook, or journal which was sent to, Dr. Lynne Fenton, the University of Colorado, Denver psychiatrist who had been treating Holmes.

Fenton claims she contacted campus police in June of last year and told them, Holmes had homicidal thoughts and was a danger to the public. She also said she told them, Holmes had threatened her and intimidated her.

Campus police claim they never talked to Holmes, even though Officer Lynn Whitten confirms she spoke with Fenton about him. Whitten went so far as to say Fenton had told her Holmes had texted her threatening messages after she had stopped seeing him.

Holmes sent Fenton a package post marked July 12 of last year, which was eight days before he opened fire. It was found sitting in a University of Colorado mail room four days after the attack. Media reports say the package contained what appeared to be a journal, some burnt twenty dollar bills, and a "post it" type piece of paper with the infinity sign drawn on it.

Earlier reports have hinted that Holmes was able to fall through the cracks because by the time Fenton reported him to campus authorities he had dropped out of school. Since he was no longer a student he was no longer the problem of U of C cops. No one thought to tell Aurora police, or anyone else about the guy, so he was able to continue buying ammunition, weapons, and materials that would allow him to amass a deadly arsenal and construct explosive devices completely unobstructed.        

After the shooting and all the bombs, booby traps, and trip wires were dismantled in Holmes' apartment police found, among other things, 50 cans and bottles of beer and meds used to treat anxiety and depression.

If the jury finds Holmes not guilty by reason of insanity, Elliott writes he would be chucked away into a state mental facility for an indefinite period of time. However, as unlikely as it might seem, he could at some point down the road be judged cured, or returned to sanity and released.


Well, stranger things have happened. John Hinckley, the guy who shot Ron Reagan, gets to roam around Virginia every now and then for days at time. In fact there are brigades of doctors who claim he is no longer a threat to anyone.

However, one has to think there isn't a jury in the world out there right now who will find Jimmy Holmes innocent because he is a little funny in the head. Especially when they realize there is a sliver of a chance he could stroll out of the front gates of an institution in a few decades as a free man.

So now the waiting begins for the wounded and the relatives of those who were killed in that theater in Aurora. I've never been a big on the term "closure." There is no closure when someone you love goes to see a movie and gets shot multiple times by a lunatic just because he can.This tragedy is an open wound and it will continue to fester for lifetimes.

The world moves on, but many will be stuck in time until James Holmes either goes away for the rest of his life, or takes the needle. Unfortunately that is simply the way it is. In the end it is part of what makes us human.

sic vita est.


Monday, June 3, 2013

It Could Have Been Worse: Super Star Meteorologists, and Sitting Ducks

It could have been worse, but that is only if you weren't related to, or knew the 16 people who were killed Friday in the greater Oklahoma City area. The tornadic winds that came blasting out of the west weren't as fierce as on May 20th, but that was a minor consolation. It was a rogue beast that blew through El Reno on Friday--what they call a multiple vortex tornado--a Medusa's head of smaller twisters slithering around the core of the big one.

And it did everything that tornadoes normally don't do.

If you live on the southern plains for any length of time you tend to learn about the tendencies of these storms because someday you too might find yourself in the wrong place at the wrong time. Just about every native of central Oklahoma can and will tell you that tornadoes almost always track from southwest to northeast. They will also tell you that the very last place you want to be when one comes roaring down the road is in a car. Well, at least that is what they used to say.

Yes, the old rule was let the storm chasers run around out there. Everyone else needs to hunker down either in a shelter, or an inside room with as many walls between you and the elements as possible.

That changed on May 20th, 2013. On that date, for the first time, I heard a meteorologist advise people that if they couldn't get below ground they needed to jump in their cars and drive away from the storm.

The thing about this town is we are so conscious of the weather that local meteorologists have become elevated to near rock star status. The local affiliates of NBC, CBS, ABC, and Fox run endless ads featuring not only their super talented forecasters, but all the gadgets, radars, storm teams and helicopter pilots that are available to them. It isn't rare to see spots being run after a big one rolls through that has a survivor telling the audience that so and so saved their life because of his early and incredibly accurate warning of impending disaster.

In short the people in Oklahoma City tend to believe everything these guys say.

On May 31st, it all went wrong because the tornado, instead of heading off to the northeast, took a right turn and veered south. It was such a stunning development that even veteran storm chasers were caught flat footed in the path of it. Three, Tim Samaras, his son Paul, and Carl Young were killed. A Weather Channel team was also taken by surprise. Their car was picked up, thrown two hundred yards and demolished, but incredibly they suffered only minor injuries.

At the height of the confusion Mike Morgan of the NBC affiliate KFOR went to the well once too often. Video of the coverage shows him saying, "If you live in south Oklahoma City please go below ground, or drive out of the way and go south."

For eleven days the people of Oklahoma City had been living with the apocalyptic scenes from Moore and the tornado of the twentieth. The destruction was beyond belief and the tales of those who died, especially the school children were seared into everyones brains. A number of people, far more than would have under normal circumstances, went ape shit. They followed Morgan's and perhaps other's instructions and took it on the lam. When they hit the interstates they ran smack into Friday rush hour traffic. The entire freeway system went into gridlock. Thousands of people had just become sitting ducks.

Yes, it certainly could have been worse. The storm hopped, skipped, and jumped and finally dissipated sparing untold numbers of people stuck in traffic. However what followed was a flood of nearly biblical proportions. Parts of the metro received eight inches of rain in just a few hours. Low lying streets and highway underpasses became ponds. Water poured into the basements of downtown buildings and parking garages.

At least six people who decided their homes weren't safe enough took shelter in covered drains, or under bridges. Rescue personnel are still searching for them as I type.

One would think the answer to much of this would be a series of neighborhood community shelters where people could flee to during a weather emergency. Midwest City, east of downtown OKC, used to have one at a place called the Reed Center which has a hotel attached to it. On May 20th a number of people found themselves turned away because the city had decided to close the facility as a public shelter. A story written by The Oklahoman's Bryan Dean said that one enterprising couple was allowed into the facility when they agreed to pay for a room at the hotel.

Dean quoted former sportscaster turned OKC mayor, Mick Cornett as saying, "I think there is a consensus community shelters and the chaos that would surround them the last few minutes before an approaching storm would probably create a bigger safety hazard than it would alleviate." What Cornett is talking about is when a shelter only holds 300 people and there are 600 clamoring to get in things could get ugly in a hurry.

Yes and then there is that old conservative philosophy of, "why should I worry about you?" Dean also quotes the Moore Emergency Management Director, Gayland Kitch as saying, "Ultimately you are responsible for your own safety."

In other words, if you're stupid enough to live in central Oklahoma get out there in the backyard and dig a fucking hole to jump into when things get weird. If you don't have a backyard buy one.

It has been a long couple of weeks. The tornado season usually winds down in mid June, however as we've just seen things don't always go the way they usually do.

Normally the city emergency people blow the warning sirens at noon on Saturdays. Two days ago they passed on running the test. Obviously we've found out they work and honestly, everyone around here has heard them too many times lately.

Trust me on that one.

sic vita est