Thursday, August 29, 2013

The British Balk on Syria and the GOP No Shows in Washington

Things just got a little lonelier at the top for Barak Obama. The British are starting to waver on intervening militarily in Syria. David Carmeron's parliament has told him to wait until the U.N. inspectors have filed their reports before endorsing, or assisting in any use of force. If the British are starting to get cold feet, you can bet the French will follow suit shortly.

It looks like the scam in Iraq has caught up to the leaders of the western world. It doesn't matter that none of them were in power when G.W. and Dick Cheney fed us that grand line of bullshit. What does is we know we were conned into a fight which was completely unnecessary then and we're not having any of it now. It could well be that Bashar al-Assad's troops have used chemical weapons, but scads and scads of people aren't going to believe it simply because we've been lied to before about the exact same thing. As the old saying goes, fool me once shame on you--fool me twice shame on me.

Everyone from Obama to Cameron and all points in between can assure us any response will be limited and there won't be a single American, or Brit on the ground, but we all remember the sign on that aircraft carrier so many years ago which read, "Mission Accomplished." George W. made a speech in front of it on May 1, 2003. The last American combat troops left Iraq in December of 2011 and we haven't seen the end in Afghanistan yet.

So now, having painted himself into a corner, does Barak Obama and the United States of America go it alone? Do we toss in a couple of cruise missiles and say our duty to humanity is done? Probably--in diplomacy and politics it is all about saving face. Utterly futile gestures beat doing nothing. Especially when not making one gives every political enemy you have an excuse to say your leadership is so weak you had to back down from a clod like Assad.

What seemed certain just 24 hours ago doesn't feel like such a done deal now. And it is simply because it has finally dawned on the guys in charge most of us have had enough, at least for a while.

The angst over Syria aside, all sorts of people stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and spoke in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr's famous, "I have a dream speech." The list was a long one unless you were only counting republicans. That's because the number of GOP heavyweights in attendance was zero.

Yes, in their never ending quest to completely alienate African American voters the GOP scored a huge coup yesterday. Reports indicate many were asked, but none chose to be there. John Boehner, Speaker of the House, opted to address a congressional ceremony instead, probably because talking to a bunch of white guys is more his style. Eric Cantor, the house majority leader was off touring energy sites in Ohio and North Dakota. John McCain passed because he was attending public events in Arizona, the last state to recognize a Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. George H. W. Bush declined due to illness. George W. Bush did the same either because of recent heart surgery, or because he was attending to his ailing father. Jeb Bush, who was asked when his old man and brother took rain checks, also didn't make the trip. The one guy from the GOP who might have shown up was Tim Scott, R-SC who is currently the only African American senator, but organizers failed to invite him.

It has been a hot, sweaty week here on the southern plains. Football season is only 48 hours away, but the mood is pensive and grim.

It would appear the masses have finally tired of beating their chests and chanting USA--USA--USA when it comes to American troops marching into the gaping black maw of yet another conflict.

The optimist in me thinks that might be a good thing.

Maybe, as the man said, we're free at last. Well--for a little bit anyway.


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

How Deep and How Long in Syria

It is just a matter of time now. Every saber has been rattled, every threat made. All that is left is for the bombs to begin to fall somewhere in Syria.

The British P.M, David Cameron has called parliament back from a recess to discuss the situation, or rather tell them what the plan is and seek their approval. NBC reports that generals from the U.S, Europe, and the Middle East are meeting in Jordan. The U.S. Secretary of State is using terms like "undeniable" when he describes the use of chemical weapons by Bashar al-Assad's forces. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel has assured the world the United States military is prepared to strike just as soon as the order is given.

In fact the only person, outside of Russia, China, Iran, and Syria who seems peeved at all this build up to war is American Speaker of the House John Boehner. He is whining that President Obama is not consulting with congress. A spokesman for the speaker claims that while the final decision is the Commander in Chief's, congress, ie the House of Representatives, should help with any decision making. Why Obama would consult, or ever trust a bunch of goofs who have voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act 40 times is a bit beyond someone like me, but then I'll admit to being one who can hold a grudge at times.

The Russians have claimed the rebels may have been the ones who set off the deadly gas. They are also saying, with some justification, that without a U.N. mandate any attack on Syria would be a violation of international law. The Chinese have said basically the same thing, and thrown in words such as "irresponsible and dangerous, for good measure. The Iranians have stated an attack would have, "perilous consequences for the region."

Of course we've never let something as idealistic as international law stop us before. Especially when it is a sure bet any U.N. Security Council resolution which approves of an attack would be vetoed by both Russia and China. As for the Iranians--well no one gives a rat's ass what they think anyway.

The toughest and most important sell for the administration right now is the American people. Every poll taken this summer shows overwhelming numbers of Americans don't want any part of this fight. The nation has been a constant state of war since 2001 and everyone is pretty well fed up with flag draped coffins and the constant turmoil in the Middle East. The prevailing sentiment is Syria isn't worth one American life and why spend even a dime there when the winning side, no matter who it is, is going to hate our guts anyway.

Indeed, there are an increasing number of reports that rebel ranks are being reinforced with Islamic extremists who want to turn Syria into another bastion of Sharia law and religious fascism. These guys don't like democracy any more than Bashar al-Assad and they are just as crazy, so why get involved at all?

Make no mistake, when Secretary of State John Kerry issued a statement that said, "The indiscriminate slaughter of civilians, the killing of women and children and innocent bystanders by chemical weapons is a moral obscenity. By any standard it is inexcusable," he wasn't trying to win over the Russians and Chinese. He was talking to you and me.

It is also why White House spokesperson Jay Carney said, "The options we are considering are not about regime change." Cameron is doing the same thing in Britain. In one breath he said, "Our forces are making contingency plans." In the next he told his public, "We'll make a proportional response to this utterly abhorrent attack."

In other words, trust us. We aren't going to put boots on the ground--we're just going to drop a few bombs and lob in a few cruise missiles to punish the asshole. Yes, and as the tobacco industry used to say, there is no proof smoking cigarettes causes heart disease or cancer. Indeed, we've heard this sort of blatant nonsense before. The only question is whether we're still gullible enough to believe it in the year of our Lord 2013.

The U.N. inspectors are in Syria as I type. Odds are no one will do anything until they leave. Their flight out is scheduled this weekend. As soon as they clear Syrian air space watch for the shit to hit the fan.

The deal is done.

We're in. It is just a matter of how deep and how long.

pax vobiscum


Monday, August 26, 2013

The Road to Damascus

It didn't take us long to find someplace else to fight did it? Indeed, it is becoming increasingly apparent the American military is headed directly into the heart of Syria and a civil war which has already killed 100,000 people and forced somewhere around 1.7 million others to become refugees.

As Yogi Berra once said, "It is deja vu all over again." Last week, reports that government forces had used chemical weapons in its struggle against rebel held areas of suburban Damascus poured in from every media format. Although this isn't the first time its been rumored that Bashar al-Assad's forces have used them, the proof now seems irrefutable and the "red line" President Obama had previously spoken about seems irrevocably crossed.

All the harbingers of a new American led conflict are there. Both republicans and democrats in the congress are saying they not only support action against Assad, but think it is doable without us becoming bogged down in a new Afghanistan, or Iraq. The Brits and French are urging international intervention, as are the Turks. Why none of them have done so themselves speaks worlds about the state of their military and resolve. We are, in the final analysis, their pit bull. As if to confirm that notion an administration spokesperson called Syrian President Bashar al-Assad "one of the worst tyrants of this era." In other words we growled dangerously.

Of course if you're an average sort in America, every time Washington and what is known as, The International Community starts talking this way you know what is coming isn't going to be pretty. Some of our kids are going to die.

Yes, alarm bells should be going off everywhere when Tennessee republican Bob Corker goes on The Today Show and says, "I think we can get it right without us getting mired in a conflict. I think it should be surgical. It should be proportional. It should be in response to what's happened with the chemicals, but the fact is I don't want us to get involved in such a way that we change the dynamic on the ground." 

Oh please, Senator--if history has taught us anything it is we don't do anything militarily without getting mired in a conflict. We can damn well start a brawl, we just can't seem to figure out how to end one.

In the mean time Assad himself is screeching  his military hasn't, under any circumstances, used chemical weapons and any U.S. intervention would fail. Who can blame him for talking so hyper and boldly? He knows there is a scaffold out there right now with his name on it. The Russians, who seem to like Assad for some reason, are pointing out we made the same charges about Saddam Hussein right before we invaded Iraq. Of course that war was about oil and penis length, but they do have a point.

All that is certain is we haven't the slightest clue who or what would replace the current regime if it falls. That and our last successful attempt at creating a democracy which actually works was 60 plus years ago in South Korea. Unfortunately we still have to keep around 30,000 troops there to maintain it.

The truth is we learned the hard way isolationism isn't the answer, but what we haven't figured out yet is that war doesn't need to be it's only alternative.

How long, oh Lord, how long?

Next stop Damascus. Don't forget to bring the sun block.

sic vita est


Friday, August 23, 2013

Angry in Australia and Aiding and Abetting in America

I am angry because it is corrupting the world, this gun culture of the United States.
Tim Fischer, former Deputy Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Australia

That was one of the kinder things Mr. Fischer had to say in his response to the murder of his countryman, Christopher Lane in Duncan, Oklahoma. NBC also quoted him as saying, "The U.S. has chosen the path of illogical policy with regard to guns." He went on to claim most of the illegal guns used during crimes in both Australia and Mexico were obtained here in the states. Then, probably anticipating the livid responses he'd get from incensed American gun fetishists, he said, "They cannot expect not to have any criticism of it (U.S. gun policy) world wide."

Well actually some of our less diplomatic citizens can, but then a lot of Americans find any foreign criticism of the nation tantamount to war. A quick sampling of the comments on the NBC news story carrying Fischer's remarks provides us with these bon mots:

"Good. Stay away. Don't need your opinion, or want it."

"Well let them stay home. I could care less what others think of this country."

"They don't like us. I'm crushed. Does that mean they don't want us protecting their sorry arses any more?"

"They didn't have a problem with our culture when we were saving their asses from the Japanese."

Finally, my personal favorite, "We need guns to protect us from those who think killing white people will cure boredom. This ain't Australia dude, so please go back to your home and leave us alone. We can't protect ourselves using stone age weapons."

Every time I hear people like these I flash back to a line in the movie, "Casablanca." Captain Renault is introducing the Nazi, Major Heinrich Strasser to Rick and he says something like, "Rick, Major Strasser is one of the reasons the Third Reich enjoys the reputation it has in the world today."

Meanwhile, Army Staff Sergeant Robert Bales apologized for his actions during his fourth tour of Afghanistan. The Sergeant went off his nut one night and killed 16 unarmed Afghan civilians in their homes. Most of them were women and children. Because he copped a plea the military jury will now decide whether he gets life without parole, or life with the possibility of parole in 20 years.

In addition, NBC has just reported that Major Nidal Hasan has been found guilty of 13 counts of murder and 32 counts of attempted murder. Hasan, born in Virginia, claims he went on a murderous rampage at Ft Hood, TX, because he had switched sides in "the U.S. war against Islam." Because Hasan was a medical officer, a psychiatrist in fact, he wasn't well versed in the use of firearms. Prosecutors introduced evidence he had sought out and received advice from the friendly and experienced sales staff at the Guns Galore store, located near the base before choosing which high tech pistol to buy. He also spent time practicing with it at a local gun range while employing a laser sight, because, after all, if you're going to do something you should do it well.

Yes, there is nothing quite like an American and his guns, both here and abroad.

Let's face it, Mr. Tim Fischer has a point and not liking it, or him doesn't make what he is saying invalid. In reality he was understating the situation. Our gun policy isn't illogical. It is down right psychotic.

The terrible truth is we're fucking nuts. We will sell, give, or other wise make sure anyone who lives here can lay their hands on a machine that has no other purpose but to kill human beings. And after the body is carted off we'll insist that what amounts to aiding and abetting a homicide is a constitutional right.

I guess, in the end, Kris Kristofferson nailed it. Freedom's just another word for nothin' left to lose.

I'll have that beer now, bar keep.

Mr. Sulu, you have the con.


(note: shortly after this post was entered, Staff Sergeant Robert Bales was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole)

sic vita est

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Bored In Duncan, Oklahoma

Usually there isn't a lot going on in Duncan, Oklahoma. It is down in the southern part of the state. It's main claim to fame, until the last few days, was that both the Halliburton Corporation and movie director Ron Howard were born there. Neither stuck around, although Halliburton still has a shrinking presence in the town. The local airfield and high school football stadium--home of the Duncan Demons--are both named after the company.

It is safe to say that hardly anyone in Australia had ever heard of Duncan until this weekend. In fact, it is probably just as safe to say hardly anyone in the United States outside of Oklahoma and maybe parts of northern Texas had heard of it either.

Now Duncan has become the epicenter of the great American gun debate and a crime scene infamous on two continents.

Yes, murder most foul was committed on a Duncan street and the reason for it, if proven true, is not only brutally stupid, but perfectly American.

Three teenagers, James Francis Edwards Jr, Chauncey Allen Luna, and Michael Dewayne Jones found themselves bored as their summer vacations wound down, so, according to police, they decided to kill someone to liven up their day. This being the United States of America, they had access to a fire arm, because--well--everyone here does.

In an instant there you have it--motive and means, all served up just as quick and neat as a McDonald's Happy Meal.

Christopher Lane, an Australian from Melbourne was in town visiting his girl friend and biding time until classes started 90 miles away at East Central State University. Lane was the starting catcher on the school's baseball team and majoring in business. He went out jogging on a public street during the day and probably never gave a thought to personal safety. The three bored dudes spotted him, cruised up from behind in a car and opened fire. This is known here abouts as picking a target of opportunity.

At a hearing in Duncan yesterday prosecutors accused Luna, 16 of pulling the trigger as he sat in the back seat of the vehicle. Edwards, 15 was riding what we call shotgun in the front seat and Jones, 17 was the wheel man.

As always when these things happen shock, grief, and outrage all swirled together and came pouring out. Former Deputy Prime Minister of Australia Tim Fischer was quoted in the Melbourne paper as saying, "Tourists thinking of going to the U.S.A should think twice. I am deeply angry because of the callous attitude of the three teenagers, but it is a sign of the proliferation of guns on the ground in the U.S.A. There is a gun for almost every American." In another statement Mr. Fischer called on Australians to boycott America entirely.

Although it is highly doubtful an Australian boycott would even register a blip on the tourism industry in the U.S, Fischer is close on the guns per people statement. It is currently estimated there are between 262 and 310 million firearms laying around in this country. At last report there are 316 million people living here.

It is at this point I normally go off on an anti gun--anti NRA rant. But really, what is the use? If we wouldn't do anything about guns after a theater was shot up in Colorado and a bunch of babies were murdered at a Connecticut school, we sure aren't going to do anything after some poor Aussie gets shot in the back in Duncan, Oklahoma.

In fact the pro gun quacks are already out in force. Comments at the bottom of NBC bulletins concerning the murder are rife with people blaming everything except America's sexual affair with the hand gun. More than a few of them are quoting bullshit statistics that indicate there has been a massive violent crime increase in Australia since restrictive gun legislation was enacted there in the 1990's. It is a lie of course, but if that is all you have, then that is what you use.

In a statement to the press, Jason Hicks, the Stephens County District Attorney assured Australia and the world, "This is not Duncan, Oklahoma. This is not Stephens County, Oklahoma. This is not something we see happen here."

That is a lie too. Stephens County Sheriff, Wayne McKinney told reporters in an interview his jail already holds one teenager accused of killing his 16 year old girlfriend and a 19 year old who allegedly murdered a store clerk.

Yes, violent death, murder by hand gun, is every bit, Duncan, Oklahoma and every bit America.

You can spout the second amendment all you want, but you can't deny the verifiable numbers. We are a dangerous and well armed society. We have little respect for life and for many of us the prospect of taking one doesn't even quicken the pulse.

 And, as the world has just seen, we get bored easily.

Just ask them in Duncan, the home town of the Demons.


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Ted Cruz: The Canadian Question, College Days, and the Budget Banzai Charge

Things are getting a bit bumpy for our pal, Rafael Edward Cruz. The senator from Texas is learning a quick lesson about what happens when you're a newbie with eyes on the presidency. 

Indeed, no rock is left unturned and no former college roommate is left unspoken to. People with axes to grind come out of the woodwork and they say all manner of things you'd rather not have anyone hear.

Of course, the initial order of business is the whole place of birth issue. Senator Cruz has, from the beginning, been up front about being born in Calgary, Alberta. Now, first off, for those who are geographically challenged, Alberta is not and has never been a state. It is a province in the country of Canada, which at last look is a different nation. You know, as in not the United States of America.

This is important because the U.S. Constitution says you have to be a natural born citizen of these United States to be eligible for the office of the president. It is why every right wing loon in America has been screaming Barack Obama forged his Hawaiian birth certificate. They have been on a six plus year crusade to prove Mr. Obama isn't one of us.

Up until now Cruz has brushed all this aside as if it were stray pieces of lint on his sleeve. However, The Dallas Morning News did a little research and found a couple of Canadians who are experts on all things Canadian and they say, Mr. Cruz, because of his place of birth, is one of them. But wait, the good news is that because Ted's mother was born in Delaware and was a U.S. citizen at the time of his birth, he also gets to be an American. So, in effect, he swings both ways. Then what is the big deal, you might ask? Well, birth place aside, you can't hold dual citizenship and be president of this country, which is a job it is becoming increasingly obvious Senator Cruz wants.

Now that a gaggle of candidates are starting to get serious about taking a shot at the white house, Mr. Cruz has decided to put the not eligible argument to rest once and for all. While insisting he is still unsure if he can register to vote in Calgary, he announced yesterday he will officially renounce any sort of Canadian citizenship and thereby clear away a potential constitutional roadblock waiting for him in some state or federal court room.

Luckily for him, the same people who have been howling Barak Obama isn't a citizen have decided to give him a pass. Donald Trump and Joe Arpaio, the sheriff of Maricopa County, AZ, both prominent birthers haven't whispered a word about Mr. Cruz's birthplace, or the fact his father was not a citizen when he was born on foreign soil. Faced with such information a cynic might conclude all their caterwauling these past few years had more to do with politics and race than where little Barry Obama hit the ground running, but hey, that is just me.

Beyond the Canadian conundrum, information has come to light regarding Mr. Cruz's college career at Princeton. He arrived there as a freshman in 1988 and according to his roommate, Craig Mazin he had in his possession a Spanish language book titled, "Was Karl Marx a Satanist." In Mazin's words, "I thought, who is this person?"

The story which ran in the Daily Beast, details some oddities and conflicting views of Cruz and his stay in New Jersey. He was a star on the debate team and apparently everyone involved with it thought he was a great guy. He even won kudos for being a stud among the women "on the debate circuit."

At the same time he managed to go $1,800 in the hole during weekly poker games and ended up having to borrow money from an aunt to cover his debts. In addition other students didn't think so kindly of him. The Daily Beast story quotes unnamed and named classmates who used terms like abrasive, intense, strident, a crank, and arrogant to describe the future senator. According to fellow student, Erik Leitch, "The only point of Ted talking to you was to convince you of the rightness of his views." The word "creepy" even came up a few times, because of young Mr. Cruz's habit of strolling into the women's end of the dorm wearing nothing but a paisley bathrobe. Mazin was quoted as saying, "I would end up fielding complaints (from female students). Things like, "Could you please keep your roommate out of our hallways."

According to the observations found in the story, Cruz arrived at Princeton with the exact same political world view and philosophy he has today. In other words, after four years of undergraduate work, Harvard Law School and his career, his notion of politics and life haven't evolved a whit. The guy we see today is the same Teddy Cruz he was when he was eighteen. Mazin had this opinion, "We should be afraid that someone like that has power. I would rather have anybody else be president of the United States. I would rather pick somebody from the phone book."

Meanwhile, Senator Cruz's budget banzai charge has hit a wall. The idea of shutting down the entire federal government unless the Affordable Care Act goes unfunded has started to make an array of GOP lawmakers edgy. Not only is the leadership against it, but even wild eyed libertarian types like Rand Paul aren't on board. In the words of Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell, "The problem is the bill that would shut down the government wouldn't shut down Obamacare."

Yes, some of the old hands in congress have jumped off the fiscal cliff before and it didn't turn out so well. They know exactly who the public is going to blame when it comes to a budget apocalypse and it isn't the guy living on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Well, it is easy to forget the Cruz man is still a rookie. We should probably cut him and his broken glass and razor blade idealism some slack. After all, he still sees the world through the eyes of a teenager who owns a book titled, "Was Karl Marx a Satanist."

I'm sure he'll grow out of it between now and 2016. Three years is a long time and politics will age you in a hurry.

And look at it this way, if he doesn't, we always have that phone book to fall back on.

sic vita est


Sunday, August 18, 2013

Just Another Sunday Afternoon: More Death on the Nile, Teens in Georgia, Bob Filner is Back on the Job, and The Latest Score

The situation in Egypt continues to deteriorate. Most media accounts claim at least 800 people have died in the past week or so, including up to 79 police officers.

Yesterday, authorities stormed into the Al-Fath mosque and cleared out not only pro Mohammed Morsi demonstrators, but a number of injured who had been sheltered in a makeshift hospital.

The interim government and the military leadership are sending out mixed signals on what might be the official future of the Muslim Brotherhood. Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi, among others, reportedly suggested that the Brotherhood would be dissolved and made illegal. General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, on the other hand, made a speech to military officers and police and was quoted by NBC as saying, "There is room for everyone in Egypt."

In the United States, both democrats and republicans are running around in dizzying circles speaking complete gibberish. Politicians and diplomats alike are trying to explain why we should, or shouldn't support the coup that wasn't a coup and an increasingly ruthless army crackdown on people we've never really trusted, or liked in the first place. It is a conundrum of titanic proportions that befuddles everyone in Washington and leaves us with a non-policy that pleases absolutely no one living on the banks of the Nile.

The majority of average Egyptians seem to be standing by the military and interim government, at least so far. Reuters quoted a man named Hussein Ismail as saying, "I tried to sympathize with the brotherhood, but could not. They defended the army when they attacked and killed Christian protesters in 2011. They slammed liberals, women, and Copts when they asked for more freedom, rights. Do you think these people really cared about democracy?"

Well, probably not, but at this point it is a tad difficult to identify anyone in Cairo who does.

Meanwhile, here in the United States 18 year old De'Marquise Elkins is scheduled for trial next week. He is charged with the murder of a thirteen month old baby during a failed robbery attempt.

Young Mr. Elkins, who was 17 at the time of the shooting, is represented by a public defender who apparently has all the subtlety of Mark O'Mara run amok on steroids. Although a gag order is in place, according to NBC, attorney Kevin Gough has filed pre trial motions that indicate the defense plans to assert the real killers of Antonio Santiago are his parents. The motive, besides the fact the mother is being pictured as unstable, is an insurance policy that was taken out on the baby. Mr. Gough has indicated there is evidence that shows the child's father had one particle of gun shot residue on his hand and the mother, Sherry West had five on hers. Prosecutors maintain the residue is the result of transference, because Ms. West tried to revive her child after the shooting and Mr. Santiago touched one of her wounds.

Gough's main problem, though, is that the prosecution's chief witness is 15 year old Dominique Lang. He was with the defendant at the time of the shooting and is prepared to testify his pal pulled the trigger. According to Lang, Elkins pointed a .22 caliber hand gun at Ms. West as she was walking her child down the street and repeatedly demanded money. When she continued to plead she didn't have any cash, he shot Antonio between the eyes as he sat strapped in his stroller, then wounded the mother in the leg and ear. In addition police claim Elkins' mother and sister led them to the pond where he chucked the gun after the shooting.

All this happened five months ago in Brunswick, Georgia. The trial was moved to Marietta, Georgia because of press coverage and what is being called, "public outrage."

And speaking of outrage, but of a different sort--there is now a concerted effort to recall San Diego Mayor, Bob Filner.

Filner has been accused by a dozen ,or so women of making inappropriate sexual statements, and or advances toward them over the course of a number of years. One woman, identified as his former communications director, claims Filner, on more than a few occasions, suggested she'd perform her duties more efficiently if she did them sans under ware.

Filner, a democrat, is due back in the office tomorrow after a stay at some rehab joint where he sought out behavioral therapy for the past couple of weeks. NBC reports that recall supporters have raised as much as $100,000 and over 800 people have volunteered to work the streets with the petition. They have a little over a month to gather the 101,597 signatures required to initiate the recall proceedings.

Both Democractic National Chair, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and House Minority Leader, Nancy Pelosi have called for Filner to quit.

Finally, for those keeping score, Slate and @GunDeaths say that as of today, media reports indicate at least 7,290 Americans have been shot to death since the Newtown, CT murders last December. However, when they factor in yearly CDC estimates for gun deaths which include things like suicide, the actual toll is probably much closer to 21,582.

So there we have it--just another Sunday afternoon in Oklahoma and across this spinning blue orb.

Keep those home fires burning and watch out for flying chairs.

sic vita est


Friday, August 16, 2013

Kelsey Bransby's Pal is a No Show

The long and dark trail has been a sordid one. It really is the only way to describe it.

Kelsey Bransby was found shot in the face and dying in a south side Oklahoma City apartment on  October 27, 2011. She was pronounced dead shortly after being transported to a hospital.

Two of her friends, Danielle Cooley and Cole Hopper were arrested and charged with causing her death. In November of 2012 Ms. Cooley copped a plea and received a 25 year suspended sentence. In return she testified against Hopper in June of this year. He was convicted of manslaughter and Judge Tracy Schumacher sent him away for nine years.

Unfortunately the story is not over with. They never truly are when you're talking about the death of a young person. However, this one just took another grotesque and unexpected twist.

As hard as it is to believe, for Danielle Cooley things have gotten worse. Her record on display at the Oklahoma State Courts Network site reveals a descent into a hole so deep she might not see the light of day again--well, at least not until she is old enough to be a grandmother.

On November 2, 2012 the court issued a document saying Ms. Cooley would get credit for time served and had to submit to four years of supervised probation. In addition, she was required to, "comply with the terms of the cooperation agreement and testify at all required proceedings."

On May 16th of this year her Parole Officer hit her with three violations. One was a failure to report to him. Second, was a failure to abstain from possessing, or consuming controlled dangerous substances. The third was a failure to perform required community service.

On June 3rd, Cleveland County DA, Greg Mashburn filed to revoke her suspended sentence. A bench warrant was issued, but recalled on June 10th when she showed up in court with her lawyer, Kevin Finlay. The whole matter was delayed until the 21st of the month, probably because around the same time she was busy testifying against Hopper.

On the 21st she signed a document of confession, basically saying she would not fight the violation charges and would accept whatever punishment the court decided. Sentencing was set for August 7th at 130pm.

Then things went blank, until today. A little after lunch, Cleveland County Court document 1022601647 showed up on Cooley's OSCN record. The document is not available for viewing at this time, however there is a heavily abbreviated message above it which reads:

8-7-2013 CTFREE

Yes, it looks like panic set in and Danielle Marie Cooley flew the coop, not only trying to escape from doing time, but the responsibility she shared in the death of her friend.

Of course she may have been busted by now. There is no way of knowing for sure since there was a nine day delay from her appearance date and today. I mean lets face it she isn't the brightest bulb in the chandelier, so it is doubtful she had a fake passport and large stash of cash laying around in case of an emergency like this. She may well be back in the Cleveland County Detention Center as I type and we wait on the public record to be updated.

If she is out there on the loose, she'll eventually be caught, or her body will be found. If it isn't here, then it will be someplace else. She is too hungry for that next hit and the fantastic rush it provides to avoid some future run in with law enforcement, either dead, or alive. At this point in her life she may think she is holding the needle when she shoots up, but in truth, the needle is holding her. And there is no escaping that.

So the trail continues deep into the woods. There is the victim, the incarcerated, and now the fugitive. The rest of us are just waiting for the inevitable dead end, Danielle Cooley is racing head long into.

Sex, drugs, and rock and roll, baby. It probably sounded like fun at first.

It isn't any more.

Just ask everyone involved in this ugliness.


Thursday, August 15, 2013

Too Good to be True in Afghanistan and Watching Egypt Circle the Drain

We consider our brothers and give him welcome whoever openly expresses regret about his support for occupation.
Mullah Mohammed Omar, founder and spiritual leader of the Taliban

Mr. Omar said that on August 6th. It was his way of reassuring the world his chosen guys wouldn't run amok, executing Afghans who had supported the foreign coalition which had forced the Taliban out of power. At the same time he said he and his followers were perfectly happy to share power and they were all for modern education. He even went so far as to say they wouldn't oppose girls and women getting an education--well, sort of. There were some pretty specific limits with that one, but hey, it still beat the hell out of what the Taliban had previously thought about the subject.

Of course, as any American can tell you, campaign promises are never to be trusted. In fact, in most cases, they should be considered nothing more than sheer flights of fantasy and the rest of the time out right propaganda.

More often than not reality rears its ugly head shortly after perfumed statements are issued and pledges are made to policies that sound too good to be true.

NBC reported yesterday that Taliban fighters kidnapped Fariba Ahmadi Kakar and her three children. Ms. Kakar is a member of the current Afghan parliament. Today CBS is reporting her kids and driver were released, but she is still being held. Her captors say she'll be let go only after the government frees four unnamed Taliban commanders currently held in stir.

Despite the calming words from Mr. Omar, the highway between Kabul and Kandahar is becoming increasingly dangerous for any one who is considered on the wrong side by his troops. Last week eight Afghans were dragged off a bus. Their bodies were later found by security forces. Each of them had been shot in the head.

In addition another female lawmaker and her convoy were ambushed last week. She was seriously wounded along with her husband, son, and daughter. A second daughter was killed in the attack.

Obviously Mullah Mohammed Omar's idea of a peaceful resolution in Afghanistan is a tad different from that of many people. At this point one can only imagine what his concept of modern education, women's education, and power sharing is. The picture that immediately comes to mind isn't a pretty one.

Meanwhile, it appears law and civil order in Egypt is circling the drain.

Security forces moved in with bulldozers, tear gas, and small arms to clear two sit in camps occupied by supporters of ousted president Mohammed Morsi. The fighting quickly spiraled and the body count cited by a number of media sources sits at 525. There are also reports that nearly 3,600 have been wounded or injured. The blood shed was so appalling, Mohamed ElBaradei, a former winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, quit his post in the interim government.

Brotherhood spokesman, Gehad El-Haddad issued a statement saying, "We will not bow down, we will not cower."

Apparently not--in Cairo's Giza district Muslim Brotherhood members and supporters attacked a government building with gun fire and Molotov cocktails and Christian churches were assaulted by mobs in three Nile Valley towns. In the city of Suez 84 suspects were turned over to military prosecutors on charges of murder and burning other churches.

Another Nobel Peace Prize winner, Barak H. Obama was quoted as saying, "While we want to sustain our relationship with Egypt, our traditional cooperation cannot continue as usual when civilians are being killed in the streets and rights are being rolled back." He also canceled a joint military exercise which was scheduled for September. While the symbolism of such an act might hold some significance, in reality it has all the punch of weak tea. I mean let's face it, odds are the Egyptian army is going to have more on its mind than conducting some maneuvers with Americans in the Sinai next month. Full blown civil wars have a tendency to make such endeavors trivial at best.

In their continuing effort to straddle this barbed wire fence, both Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry still refuse to call Morsi's ouster a coup. In fact the president referred to the overthrow of the freely elected Mr. Morsi as, "a chance for reconciliation." He also said any change in the interim government was, "a task for the Egyptian people."

That would be a pretty stiff task at this point. So long as the Egyptian army and air force don't fracture along religious lines the Muslim Brotherhood and other Morsi supporters can cause some havoc, but this is a fight they cannot win. However, if some units and their commanders balk at the mass violence and there are even isolated instances of mutiny, all bets are off.

The truth is, at this point, there is no going back for the Egyptian military high command, or the interim government who depends on them. To let the Muslim Brotherhood, either through Morsi, or some one else, back in power now, is to stick your head in a noose and wait for the trap door to drop. Luckily for them, at the moment anyway, they have the support of tens of millions of their fellow countrymen and women who consider the Brotherhood more of a threat to democracy than they are.

Yes, perception is everything. As long as you cultivate it, nurture it, and don't do anything to alter it in the hearts and minds of the people you will be fine. Betray it, even once, and you'll quickly find yourself as dead as a duck can get.

After all, as our old pal Billy Shakespeare said, "For there is nothing either good, or bad, but thinking makes it so."


sic vita est


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Hillary Rodham Clinton and Quality Control

Evil is afoot and Hillary Clinton knows it.

She addressed the American Bar Association yesterday and the subject had to do with republican efforts to stop large numbers of Americans from voting. It isn't a new phenomenon. In fact, republican controlled legislatures have been working as busy as beavers wrapped up in meth induced frenzies for several years now trying to prevent urban, minority, and younger citizens from casting ballots.

The devious efforts are a product of the chilling knowledge that the right wing can't win national elections with white voters alone any more. The demographic of the nation has changed irrevocably. However, rather than address the concerns of African Americans, Hispanics, Asians, and just about everyone else cast adrift in Mitt Romney's 47%, the GOP plan is to make it so difficult to vote that many in those groups will just give up on the idea of democracy altogether.

Mrs. Clinton pointed out in her speech there have been 80 different bills introduced in 31 states that have no other purpose than to shrink the size of the electorate. In her words it is a, "sweeping effort across the country to construct new obstacles to voting." The laws are in response to what she called, "a phantom epidemic of voter fraud."

She specifically cited new restrictions in North Carolina and she has a point. The new law there makes you ineligible unless you have a state issued photo ID card--in effect forcing everyone to leave work, or take a vacation day, then secure transportation to some state facility to re-register. Doing so is easier said than done when you're flipping burgers at a McDonalds or stocking shelves at a Wal-Mart. All this is because some republicans have convinced themselves the only reason they could ever lose an election is because it was stolen from them.

The cold hard stat was that in November 2012, out of nearly seven million votes cast in the Tar Heel State there were only 121 alleged cases of voter fraud. That would be 0.00174% of the vote. In fact, David Schultz, a professor of public policy at Hamline University School of Business, has been quoted as saying, "There is absolutely no evidence that voter impersonation fraud has affected the outcome of any election in the United States, at least in any recent election."

And that is what it comes down to. Voter ID cards sound all fine and wonderful, but they don't stop any sort of fraud except voter impersonation. The widely documented main sources of election chicanery are corrupt officials who rig the results, and forged absentee ballots which are mailed into election facilities. Voter ID's have no impact whatsoever on either criminal enterprise.

So, are all these clods spread out across state legislatures simply delusional conspiracy theory loons, or cynical beasts out to make sure only white suburbanites can cast a ballot?

Probably a little of both. Back in the bowels of the cigar store, the good ol' boys with the bull frog necks were shocked, shocked last November, because hell, they didn't know anyone who had voted for Obama. I guess I didn't count, but hey, who am I to argue such minor details? The point is, when so perfectly insulated and convinced their ideas and philosophies are in the absolute majority, some people think abject defeat can only be the result of vast armies of the dead casting fraudulent votes.

On the other side of the coin are the grimy realists who know the situation is dire. They understand their souls are owned by a shrinking, but highly vocal and intractable conservative white population. They realize all too well that any sort of move to the center is counted as capitulation rather than mere accommodation. Even talking about immigration reform, or other minority related issues is tantamount to committing political suicide in the districts they so carefully gerrymandered back in 2010. To compound the nightmare, they are staring straight into the face of Hillary Rodham Clinton and at this moment they don't have anyone who can beat her--especially if everyone who is eligible to vote right now shows up at the polls in November of 2016.

The answer to them is starkly clear--stoke the fires of conspiracy and screw every voter who doesn't have the income to afford a week long trip to someplace like Disney World. If you can't count on their support, keep them the hell out of the voting booths by any means possible.

Yes, all this democracy stuff is peachy keen in theory, but you can't let just anyone decide who is going to run the place. After all, they aren't like we are.

Indeed, our normally impeccable high standards have been sullied recently, not just once, but twice. That means Quality Control must be given a free hand to do what ever is necessary to restore them. There can be no higher priority.

No wonder vast numbers of people living on this blue ball think we're dangerously

I mean look at us for God's sake. We are currently in the process of making it harder for an American to vote than it is for him or her to go online and buy a fucking AR-15 with a loaded 30 round ammunition clip.

Land of the free my ass.

Bartender, a martini. And make it dry--very, very dry.


Sunday, August 11, 2013

Inside the Magic Eight Ball with Donald Trump

And they're off.

There are three plus years before the 2016 presidential election, but republicans are already rushing en masse into Iowa, belching loudly, I Am The Most Conservative One. They are doing it in front of the populace in general, but more specifically, before a group called, "The Family Leadership Summit."

The latest of three republicans to kow tow to the gathering of conservative Christians was Donald Trump, real estate mogul and perhaps the single least prepared and informed candidate in the history of the republic.

NBC reports that Trump addressed the crowd and then spoke with the working press in Ames, Iowa yesterday. The major accomplishment of the appearance was a stunningly dead on imitation of Mattel's Magic Eight Ball. That would be the toy that randomly provides some 20 vague answers to questions posed to it about current, or future events, but only after you've shaken it vigorously and turned it upside down.

Proving he can at least read polls, Trump was quoted as saying republicans will have, "a really rough time," if Hillary Rodham Clinton runs for president in 2016.

Beyond that observation, the Don seemed a bit lost when pressed for details on other matters of politics and policy. NBC says he also told the crowd that immigration reform, "could be a death wish," for the party, but in the next breath urged the republicans to,"do the right thing." The problem is he doesn't know what the right thing is. When asked what parts of the senate immigration bill should be approved by the house his response was, "I actually think it is too early to say."

Then, in a brief moment of clarity he felt the Chris Christie/Rand Paul feud was," probably bad overall for the republican party."

Unfortunately, for all concerned, he steered straight back into the fog bank when asked who he thought President Obama should name to be the new head of the Federal Reserve in September. His answer was, "I think they want to have the lowest interest rate economy because if interest rates go up, ah, it would be very interesting to see what would happen."

When it came to 2014, he opined that the GOP, "has a pretty good chance," of regaining control of the senate, but wouldn't, or couldn't say which senate races were key to that goal. When pressed he said, "Well, I think you have six or seven states--I won't mention the states 'cause I don't want to put pressure on anybody, but I think you have six or seven states where you could really have in a couple of cases upsets, really, and you could have some good victories for the republicans." Although Mr. Trump confounded many linguists with that statement and didn't name any republican candidates who he felt could change the balance of power in the senate--he did, at one point, express concern about embattled Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell's campaign.

"It would be a shame if he didn't win because he has such power, it is so good for his state."

After listening to all this it would appear we have three possible options when comes to Donald Trump. He is either some weird, air brushed, Messiah who speaks in strange parables, a complete idiot when it comes to public affairs, or is on drugs so powerful and dangerous the DEA won't even admit to their existence.

Tragically, the media failed to ask Trump the one question which could have set off either a spectacular brawl, or a song and dance that would have made the late Gene Kelly seem like a rank amateur. The missing query, which should have been put to the pseudo candidate, was, "Do you believe Senator Ted Cruz is eligible for the office of President of the United States?"

Cruz, who was born in Canada to an American mother and Cuban father had addressed the pure of faith earlier in the conference. Trump, who up until a scant few months ago, was still questioning the birth place and eligibility of Barak Obama to be president has let the Senator from Texas skate on this new birther issue so far.

Perhaps Mr. Trump thinks that sort of argument would also be, "probably bad over all for the republican party." Indeed, sometimes a principle must be sacrificed for the greater good. Besides, loose lips sink ships, especially with the USS Clinton loading torpedo tubes as I type. Of course, in the end, a true cynic might think his entire act in Iowa could well be nothing more than some sly Trumpian ruse whose only aim is to keep his name alive in the media. You never know what sort of new and bizarre reality show could be waiting in the wings and there is no such thing as bad press when it comes to such enterprises.

It is an eternity until 2016, but the early lineup of GOP presidential hopefuls is a dreadful rogue's gallery of ideologues, bullies, and religious fanatics. The only person who seems acceptable to general election voters in places like Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and possibly even Florida is Chris Christie. And the terrible truth is the tea party wing, the deep south, the wacko birds, as John McCain describes them, find him utterly unacceptable. His odds of surviving the republican primary season seem minimal at best.

As all these hacks, clods, and unrepentant muggers ramble across the Iowa countryside speaking to halls full of true believers they need to hang firmly onto that water wagon known as reality. Let's face it, despite all the conservative hullabaloo in Ames this week the guy who collected Iowa's six electoral votes last November was named, Barak H. Obama.

In other words don't let all those standing O's go to your head, guys.

After all, glory is at best fleeting and sometimes it is simply an illusion. Avoid asking Don Trump about it, he hasn't a clue, but you might want to check with Mitt Romney and Karl Rove.

They've been there.

sic vita est


Friday, August 9, 2013

Friday Dispatches: Chronic Gays, A Violation of Face Book Terms, Savage on the Cheap Part II, and a Whole Lot of Dead People

It has been a weird and deadly week. In fact just looking at the head lines one could reasonably think the ghost of Salvador Dali had a hand in crafting them.

In California, Matthew Moore went in for a physical. When shown the results a couple of days later he found that not only did he have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and a vitamin deficiency, but also a chronic condition known as, homosexual behavior. Moore, who is openly gay, asked his physician why his sexual orientation was listed as a medical condition. He was informed that homosexuality was, "still being thought of as a disease" and the cure for it is, "still up to debate." After complaining to his physician network he received a letter of apology and his $30 co-pay was refunded.

On Thursday, Derek Medina decided enough was enough. According to NBC, the Florida resident and author of several books, including, "How I Saved Someone's Life and Marriage and Family Problems Thru Communication," shot his wife multiple times. He then posted a photo of her body on Face Book. Court records showed that Medina and Jennifer Alfonso had previously divorced, but remarried in 2012.

Along with the photo of Alfonso's body he posted, "I'm going to prison or death sentence for killing my wife love you guys miss you guys take care Face Book people. You will see me in the news." He also wrote, "My wife punching me and I not going to stand any more with the abuse, so I did what I did I hope u understand me." Yes, well William Styron he isn't, but everyone got the message. That would include the Face Book wonks who deleted the content and disabled Medina's profile. A spokesperson for Face Book was quoted as saying, "We take action on all content that violates our terms, which are clearly laid out on our site."

Indeed. If you can't follow the rules buddy, you're gone.

NBC says that Medina told police he and Alfonso were arguing because she wanted to leave him. He claimed she came at him with a knife, but he disarmed her. When she began pummeling him, he snapped and opened fire. There was no tale of the tape on Jennifer Alfonso, but it was reported Medina is 6'2" and weighs in at 200 pounds. He has been charged with first degree murder, although now that George Zimmerman's legal team has some free time, a self defense plea could well be imminent.

Locally, The Oklahoman's Tim Willert reports that Brodric "Savage" Glover copped a plea in order to dodge the death penalty for murdering Jessica Lynn Brown. Glover was allegedly hired to kill Ms. Brown last year by her estranged husband, Fabion Brown. Mr. Brown and LaQuan Ashley are awaiting trial in the case. Ashley is accused of being the getaway driver. Brown and Glover were implicated by Brown's girlfriend at the time, Emily Matheson. In exchange for her testimony, Willert writes that prosecutors agreed to suspend all but the first 15 years of her life sentence. She said Brown wanted his wife offed because of a child custody dispute. In her words, "He was upset about it, how things were going."

Jessica Lynn Brown was pregnant when shot and her two infant children were reportedly in the room with her when she was killed.  The Savage, one time only, discount price for the hit was $250.

In case you are keeping count, Slate and @GunDeaths report at least 6,998 Americans have been shot to death since the Newtown, CT killings. However, those numbers are gleaned from a survey of news reports spread across the country. In June, Slate noted that 60% of gun deaths in the United States are suicides and most of them go unreported in media outlets. In fact, the publication says that by using the most recent CDC estimates of yearly gun deaths, a current body count of 20,683 is probably a far more accurate figure.

See there, who says America has gone soft?

As always, spread out, stay low, and keep moving. Everybody out there is armed and dangerous. Just look at the stats for God's sake.

The first beer is on me, but bring your own cigar.


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Legend of Omar and a New and Improved Taliban

Mullah Mohammed Omar is the stuff of legend and he knows it. In fact it could be argued he actively cultivates it. I mean lets face it, becoming a Messiah isn't an easy gig. To get there you really have to play hard and long to the guys who tell the stories around the campfires.

He is an ethnic Pashtun from a poor family who made his bones fighting the Soviets during their occupation of Afghanistan. According to the tales swirling around him he was a deadly accurate marksman and accomplished at taking out enemy tanks. During one engagement--the exact battle and year is a bit of a mystery--he lost an eye to shrapnel.

In the utter chaos that followed the Soviet withdrawal and the collapse of the Afghan government they'd backed, he and 30 some odd students, or Taliban, from his madrassah began taking on local war lords. The word on the street was he had been inspired by a dream during which a woman begged him to end the deadly anarchy gripping the nation. She assured him he would have the help of Allah. He and his fighters rolled through the countryside supported by much of the population who was tired to being pushed around and exploited first by the government and then the thugs who replaced them.

In April of 1996, in keeping with his nearly mythical stature, he entered the Mosque of the Cloak of the Prophet Mohammed in the city of Kandahar. There he removed the cloak, which supposedly belonged to the Prophet himself and put it on. According to folklore, anyone who retrieved the garment would become a great leader of Muslims. As a result he was given the title of Commander of the Faithful of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan by his followers. Yes, at that point, the guy was approaching Kim Jong-il territory.

In September of that year his forces took Kabul and the nation became almost completely controlled by the Taliban. Omar was named, Head of the Supreme Council and became the de facto head of state, or in this case some would say, the Godfather.

Knowing a hit can come from anywhere and at any time, he made sure there weren't any official photographs taken of him. To this day a variety of portraits are scattered across the media and no one is completely sure if any of them are really Mullah Mohammed Omar. He remains such a mystery that even physical descriptions of him vary wildly, the only constant being the lack of the one eye.

In 2001 he was forced to take to the hills when the United States, Great Britain and other allied forces came swooping in looking for Osama bin Laden. In the initial days of the bombing his ten year old son was killed.

He has been on the move ever since. He was reported to have been killed at least twice, but in keeping with immortality neither rumor was true.

So what does all this have to do with the price of poppies?

NBC is reporting the Mullah is preparing for a comeback. He apparently issued a statement on Tuesday, informing everyone the Taliban is far more tolerant now days and not nearly as crazy as everyone has been led to believe.

According to Mr. Omar the Taliban supports "modern" education because, "(it is) a fundamental need of every society in the present time." He also said he is all for girls getting an education so long as they are sequestered in separate schools from boys and taught, "according to Islam's Shariah." NBC quotes an unidentified Taliban spokesman as saying, "We learnt a lot from the past mistakes and would not repeat those if (we) came into power." The unnamed spokesman even went so far as to say the Taliban has formed a commission on education so no one would be able to say they weren't in favor of it.

In addition Omar said he wanted good relations with the world and the Taliban would respect other ethnic and religious communities within Afghanistan.

In a fit of kindness he was quoted as saying, "We consider our brothers and give him welcome whoever openly expresses regret about his support for occupation." In other words, we aren't going to cut off your fucking heads if you publicly apologize for helping the allies.

One has to think there will be prominent exceptions to that pledge, starting with current Afghan President, Hamid Karzai. Obviously, there are sinners and then there are sinners.

Omar also appealed to all those opposed to the current government to follow the Taliban code of conduct by refusing to mis-use jihad for personal reasons or profit. He failed to mention if the code of conduct would continue to include attempts to blow the heads off of 15 year old girls like Milala Yousafzai, but he probably leaves such details for others. Big picture people usually don't bother themselves with day to day minutiae

Finally he said the Taliban were willing to share power, but were completely opposed to a division of Afghanistan, ala the Korean Peninsula. He also flatly stated his group would not participate in elections scheduled for next year because he feels Washington has already put the fix in.

A spokesperson for President Karzai said there wouldn't be an official response to all this warm and fuzzy reconciliation stuff.

Well there shouldn't be any surprise there. Karzai can scream all he wants for American and other troops to vacate the country, but he has to realize his government, or any other fairly elected one sits on a precipice once they are gone. He is going to have to make a deal with Omar, but he can't seem too eager, or desperate.

On the other hand Karzai must also know Mullah Mohammed Omar isn't putting this information out there because he thinks the Taliban might return to power. He is saying it because he is convinced they are going to and he is simply trying to make the process go a little easier. It is his way of saying, "Resistance is futile, but don't worry we won't be so bad this time around." Think of our old pal Adolf emerging from some Alpine hideaway in 1950 or so and telling Germany and the world, "Trust me."

We went to Afghanistan in 2001 armed with a righteous anger and the goal of getting Osama bin Laden. It quickly morphed into a war to purge the nation of the Taliban.

It turned out bin Laden wasn't even there. Unfortunately the Taliban still are. According to Wikipedia as of last Friday 3,274 coalition troops have died fighting them.

The terrible gut feeling is that as soon as we leave they'll be back exactly where they were twelve years ago. If and when that happens, cold reality will render each and every one of those coalition deaths moot.

We also have to face the more than even odds Mullah Mohammed Omar and his boys aren't going to be a bit different next year from what they were a little over a decade ago. He and some unidentified mouthpiece can say whatever they want this week, but spin is spin and we all know it.

The truth is legends don't bend. In the end it is an all or nothing business and one you have to be good at. After all, you don't become a Commander of the Faithful if you aren't.

sic vita est


Monday, August 5, 2013

Hillary Bios, Republican Bans, and Tea Party Challenges: Just Another Monday

Things continue to get weird and we're still three plus years from the next presidential election.

MSN is reporting that CNN is planning a full length feature film about Hillary Rodham Clinton to be aired in 2014. In addition NBC has a mini series about Mrs. Clinton starring, Diane Lane in the works. The production, tentatively titled, "Hillary" is scheduled to be shown, "before the 2016 presidential election."

Republican national chair, Reince Priebus isn't taking the news sitting down. He issued a statement saying, "It is appalling to know executives at major networks like NBC and CNN who have donated to democrats and Hillary Clinton have taken it upon themselves to be Hillary Clinton operatives."

He has threatened to ban both networks from covering the republican presidential primary debates in 2016 if their productions go forward.

There are hints floating around there may be more to it than simply the threat of pro Hillary programing though. "Time" magazine has reported that GOP strategists have already decided that the party is allowing too many debates to be held in early primary states. The feeling is that frequent internal blood letting is detrimental to the republican brand.

Well, not only that, but someone has to have figured out that in the 2012 republican debates more than a few of the candidates proved themselves to be utter nitwits. Indeed, why put what should be your chosen few, your best and brightest, in front of the entire nation and let them be exposed as complete idiots.

As David Plouffe, a former Obama campaign strategist tweeted, "Better RNC debate plan. Held in hermetically sealed FOX studio. Avoid exposing swing voters to Crazy S*#t my nominee says."

On the other hand Karl Rove tweeted, "Which would you rather see? Glowing Hillary miniseries, or #2016 debates. @Reince calls on NBC and CNN to choose."

Rove knows the value of money spent in politics. Exposure is everything.  His American Crossroads super pac spent huge scads of money in 2012, but sometimes as slick as the ads are, they can't disguise an asshole who is completely out of touch with the average American. Yes, you can take them out of the country club and prep school, but you can't take the elitist bullshit out of them. Every time Mitt Romney took off his Bill Blass sports jacket and rolled up his sleeves tens of thousands of eyes rolled. When last seen, Rove was still claiming his man had Ohio in the bag and Romney was rehearsing an acceptance speech that was never heard.

Now the online "Conservative Headquarters" reports that Mr. Rove's American Crossroads super pac, plus two other associated fund raising entities have managed to pull in only $3.37 million in donations so far this year. The stated goal of these endeavors is to ensure the republicans nominate and run, "electable candidates."

That would be opposed to yokels like the Delaware senate candidate who felt it was necessary to deny she was a witch in her first campaign ad and the clown in Missouri who said a woman's body had a way of shutting down and preventing pregnancy after she'd been raped.

Rove has a point. The brutal truth is the republicans lost 5 winnable seats in the senate in 2010 and 2012. In four of those races, tea party candidates defeated more establishment oriented republicans in the primaries. Then, in the general elections, all four were beaten like gongs by democrats.

Unfortunately for brother Karl and other republicans the tea party hacks don't give a rat's ass about brutal truths, or even reality. They are busy as beavers trying to take complete control of the party and then leading some sort of Quixotic, Charge of the Light Brigade. "Conservative Headquarters" is also reporting that the super pacs, Tea Party Patriots Citizen Fund and Tea Party Express.Org have raised $4.1 million between them. Left unsaid is that those pacs actually like women who have to deny they are witches and guys who think women's bodies can shut down unwanted pregnancies.

Even Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell, the man who said the main job of republicans was to prevent Barak Obama from winning a second term, is facing a tea party opponent in his senate primary. It could be said, such is the fate of those who fail. However, in reality it is an omen the party of Lincoln is shattering in slow motion, rather like a glass dropped onto a hard tile floor during some surreal music video.

The tea party loves noise, crudeness, disrespect, and caters to the basest fears of an aging white population who sees control of the country slipping from their hands for the first time in history. Their political philosophy at this time can only be described as complete atavism.

Ultimately they have that terrible genetic trait found in most criminals. It is an irresistible urge for instant gratification without the slightest regard for the consequences of their actions. In other words--I see the watch in the window--I like it-- I want it--now I'll steal it just because I can--Fuck everything else.

And so there we have it, just another Monday.

Someone tell Rience, I do consulting work on the cheap and when money is involved I'm a complete mercenary.

After all, we aren't a bunch of communists here.

At least not yet.

Trust me.

sic vita est


Sunday, August 4, 2013

Another Week in the Books: Consensual Sex in Cleveland, Big Money at Penn State, and More Terrorist Threats

Most of the sex that went on in that house, probably all of it, was consensual.
Ariel Castro

Well you have to say something don't you? Especially when you are trying to justify kidnapping three young girls, chaining them up in a house for a decade or so and repeatedly raping them. NBC quoted Lewis Katz, a professor of criminal justice at Case Western Reserve University, as saying of Ariel Castro, "He really doesn't understand the gravity and horror of the offenses he committed."

Oh, you think? 

Before hearing the judge sentence him on Thursday, Mr. Castro claimed, among other things, he was not a monster, but sick and addicted to masturbating and pornography. He also said, "I am not a violent person. I simply kept them there without being able to leave."

As the guy in the telephone company ad says, "Well, when you put it that way, it makes perfect sense."

While it is doubtful Castro will have access to pornography in the joint, he will have plenty of time to masturbate. He was hit with life with out the possibility of parole plus 1,000 years. Of course there is always the chance his stay will be far shorter than anyone anticipates.

Alana Van Gundy, who teaches criminal behavior at Miami of Ohio University says Castro will have to be isolated from the rest of the prison population because sex offenders don't fare too well in Ohio lockups. In fact their vital organs are the preferred depositories of home made shivs and other foreign and deadly objects. She believes the odds are he'll be stuck in isolation 23 hours a day and allowed outside in an enclosed space by himself for the 24th. If he is lucky he might get a TV to watch.

Meanwhile NBC is reporting that Penn State University has run up $47.7 million in costs related to the grotesque sex scandal involving former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky. Sandusky, who was retired, but had access to university facilities, was arrested in November of 2011 and charged with molesting young boys, including some on Penn State property.

The cover up of his behavior by university officials cost the Athletic Director, the Senior Vice President for Finance and Business, the President of the University, and finally legendary Head Football Coach, Joe Paterno their careers.

According to the NBC report, the $47 plus million is to cover, "legal fees, consulting work, and other associated costs." The report also says the money being spent would not come from tuition, state appropriations, or donations. In fact there was no speculation on where, or how the university would get the funds to pay the tab. However once you eliminate those three sources one has to think of either surcharges added onto football and other athletic tickets, or wads of cash buried out back in old mayonnaise jars.

Sandusky, who was convicted and sentenced to 30 to 60 years, still maintains it was all a merry mix up and he is completely innocent.

Finally, on the heels of three military style raids that aided large scale breakouts from prisons spread across the middle east, the United States and Interpol have issued travel warnings to Americans and westerners who are touring abroad.

The American warning was so dire it prompted the temporary closing of 20 embassies and consulates.This month is the 15th anniversary of the embassy bombings in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar es Salaam in Tanzania.

Ominously, U.S. intelligence reports that suspected terrorist chatter is very reminiscent of what was heard prior to September 11, 2001.

Unfortunately there are scant few details of the threats available to the public, perhaps because neither Ed Snowden or Brad Manning currently have access to computers. However CBS is reporting that at least one plot is so far advanced that specific team members have been chosen to carry it out.

So there we have it. Another week is in the books and the water that flowed under the bridge was deeply polluted and turbulent.

Hopefully we'll do better starting tomorrow, although in truth that prospect seems like a delicate strand of gossamer fancy floating on the wind.

As always stay low and keep moving. Sometimes it really isn't just paranoia.

credo quia absurdum est


Saturday, August 3, 2013

Congress Takes a Break, We Don't Need No Stinkin' Food Stamps, and Rand Paul Takes on The King of Bacon

On Friday the congress of the United States of America went into recess for five weeks. At this time it is unclear whether the house and senate will be any less effective while absent than it was when its members were actually roaming the halls of the big domed building on the hill.

Perhaps that view is too cynical. After all in the waning moments before they took off to their home districts the House of Representatives did vote for the 40th time to repeal the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obama Care. For the 40th time this shrewd and carefully crafted piece of legislation went no further--dying even before it reached the Senate floor, much less the president's desk and his certain veto.

Well, what are you going to do? Especially when your concept of governing is slightly less mature than a three year old child who screams mindlessly at the top of his or her lungs when told no.

Of course, despite my criticism, there are some ideas out there. Representative Frank Lucas, R-OK co sponsored a bill to reduce government food assistance by $20 billion over a ten year period. Hey, you have to save a buck somewhere, so why not eliminate two million people from the food stamp program? After all they are nothing but a bunch of kids, elderly and disabled people who probably aren't going to vote for the party anyway.

Others, like Senators Mike Lee, R-UT and the mad Canadian, Ted Cruz, R-TX have proposed shutting down the entire government if the next budget includes funding for the Affordable Care Act. Years ago this sort of behavior was known as, "cutting off your nose to spite your face." At least that is what my grandmother used to tell me when I went off into a senseless snit.

Unfortunately for all this well thought out republican statesmanship, signs of stress fractures are beginning to become evident among the ranks. In fact, at times, it appears they despise each other only slightly less than they loathe Barak H. Obama and the American people.

A sampling of quotes highlights a degree of in fighting that probably has ol' Dutch Reagan spinning in his grave.

John McCain, R-AZ said of the proposed shut down, "It is a fact. When there is a risk of a shutdown of the government, the congress is blamed by the American people." The aforementioned Mr. Cruz was outraged at this lack of right wing balls. He said of McCain and others, "They're scared of being beaten up politically."

McCain responded by calling, Cruz, Rand Paul, R-KY, and others who think shutting down the government is a valid political strategy a, "bunch of wacko birds."

That moved Representative Justin Amash, R-MI to ask McCain if he came up with the term, "at dinner with Barak?" Paul responded to it at a meeting with fellow arch conservatives by saying, "The republicans of old have grown stale and moss covered."

The republicans of old group Paul was referring to no doubt includes Senator Richard Burr, R-NC. His opinion of a government wide shutdown is that, "It is the dumbest idea I've ever heard of."

Not to be out done and in what looks to be a preview of the 2016 GOP dog fight for the presidential nomination, Rand Paul and NJ governor Chris Christie exchanged words. Paul opened with an accusation that Christie is a liberal republican who goes to the feds saying "gimme, gimme, gimme" when his state runs into minor trouble such as super storm Sandy.

Christie responded this way, "I find it interesting Senator Paul is accusing us of having a gimme, gimme, gimme attitude toward federal spending when in fact New Jersey is a donor state and we get 61 cents back on every $1 we send to Washington. Interestingly Kentucky gets $1.51 back for every $1 they send to Washington."

Paul, being the silver tongued devil he is, called Christie, "The king of bacon."

Yes, it would appear these are troubling times for the republican kingdom. The old guard, the ones who actually think the government should function, are pitted against a bunch of young guns who believe the government should be destroyed, or at least utterly paralyzed until they get their way.

The truth is McCain, Burr, Christie and others are looking at a national picture, one that includes the white house. Paul, Cruz, Lee and the rest haven't a clue when it comes to such things. They're delusional enough to think their home states and their constituencies reflect the nation as a whole. In their lack of vision and leadership they've become locked into a philosophy and political strategy that is crudely and dangerously nihilistic.

But hey, as Iggy Pop once said, "Nihilism is best done by professionals."

Indeed. Unluckily for the rest of us, we have to live with these cretins and their nonsense.

Next up on the GOP agenda, Gotterdammerung.

See you then. Just remember to spend your 15 minutes wisely.

Mr. Sulu you have the con.