Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Glitches, Bugs, and The Guys Behind the Curtain

Is this any way to run a railroad?

Mr. Daffy Duck, Esq.

Yes, who needs an off his nut republican like Mike Lee when you have battalions of tekkies who don't know their asses from holes in the ground?

This morning Kathleen Sebelius went before congress and tried to explain it all. While she apologized and claimed she was as frustrated as everyone else, she didn't get into the tangled details of what is going wrong with the site that is the home of the Affordable Care Act. It is probably best she didn't, because at this point it is becoming increasingly clear no one knows what is going on with it.

In fact, the confusion is so grand one federal health care official was quoted as saying 700,000 people have submitted applications either through the site, or over the phone, but Sebelius admitted the administration has "no reliable data" on how many people have successfully enrolled in the program.

I'm no expert, but here is an idea, Kathleen, run hard copies of the enrollments and count them.

Actually, back in the day I was involved in the roll out of a new computer program. I will admit it was far more simple than and and in truth was nothing more than a hotel rooms reservation and revenue reporting system. I signed on to lead teams into the field to train the back office personnel how to use it. When I arrived in Boston in the summer 1986 I was told the roll out was right around the corner. However, a month before the system introduction, testing began and glitches and bugs started to swarm like vast hordes of tsetse flies rising out of the swamps. We held our first training seminar in the spring of 1988, a full year and a half behind schedule.

The only reason I tell that story is because apparently the people in charge of putting the ACA site in place didn't begin testing it until two weeks before the start up. I know technology has changed, but, if true, that tells me it either took far longer than anticipated to build the site, or the rubes who designed it considered themselves so brilliant they assumed their end product would be flawless. In either case the guys behind the curtain at the Wizard's palace in Oz have proven themselves to be far more effective than Ted Cruz has ever been in gumming up the works.

The truth is probably closer to this. The Obama administration has, from day one, been confronted with a bunch of brutes who are in Washington for only one reason--to sabotage his presidency. They really don't care about governing, all they want to do is dump every thing the black guy in the oval office has proposed, or managed to get passed into the trash dumpster and if they're lucky impeach his Muslim/socialist ass. As we saw this month they are so determined to destroy this presidency they were willing to shut down the government and bring us to the point of defaulting on every treasury bond out there.

Faced with that sort of nihilistic ferocity the administration felt compelled to start up the site on time. They did so not only because they knew if they got the ACA out there people would buy into it, silencing the critics, but also because--and this is paramount--a bunch of over confident computer geeks told them, " Dudes, no problemo."

What we saw today with Sebelius ranks right up there with the most bizarre episodes of the old, "Twilight Zone" television program. Republican congressmen and women, the very same people who wanted the web site destroyed less than two weeks ago, were condemning her because people couldn't access it.

This is the very last thing Obama needs right now. The flawed site casts doubts about the entire plan and gives the GOP a platform to stand on. They can and will claim tech support incompetence is somehow directly related to the details of the ACA itself. It won't be true of course, but hey, the truth has never stopped them in the past, so why should it now?

If I had a couple of gin and tonics in me I'd blame this whole thing on republican paid tech moles who are dedicated to ruining the entire Affordable Care Act.

Oh, if it were only so.

Indeed, the current situation would be simpler and far more explainable if both were true .

sic vita est


Monday, October 28, 2013

Wendy Davis, Ted Cruz, and Rhett Butler

I've always had a weakness for lost causes once they're really lost.

From Gone With the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell

Maybe that is why I have a soft spot for Wendy Davis. She is the gritty Texas state senator who took to the floor about four months ago and delivered a 13 hour filibuster which opposed a draconian anti-abortion bill being voted on in that chamber.

She was, in fact, the inspiration for Ted Cruz's marathon in the United States Senate a couple of weeks ago. Of course he'll never say that, at least not out loud. In addition there are a couple of stark differences between what she and he accomplished. The Cruz speech wasn't a true filibuster. It was simply his ego on display for nearly a day. U.S. Senate rules had stipulated a strict limit on the length of debate in advance and after time had expired the vote on the proposed gutting of the Affordable Care Act was going to take place no matter what. His reading of "Green Eggs and Ham," something Davis couldn't do because she actually had to talk about the issue on the floor and nothing else, didn't accomplish a single thing. The vote took place at the scheduled hour and Cruz and his pals got their arses kicked just like everyone knew they would.

Davis, on the other hand, besides talking on point for hours on end, actually ran the clock out on a special legislative session that had been called by Governor Rick Perry in order to get the measure passed. Her filibuster gummed up the works, which is what a filibuster is supposed to do. Well, at least for a little while. Because of her the Texas legislature was forced to adjourn, much to Perry's chagrin, and he had to call a second special session to get the bill rammed through so he could sign it.

The proposal passed during the next attempt, but today a federal judged ruled it unconstitutional, which was about as surprising as the sun setting in the west. NBC reports that U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel decided the law would, "impede efforts of abortion providers to do what they judge is best for their patients and would unreasonably limit a woman's access to state abortion clinics."

The law was specifically designed to restrict a woman's personal health care options so severely that in reality she wouldn't have any at all. It required doctors who perform abortion procedures to have admitting privileges at a hospital within a 30 mile radius of their place of practice. Planned Parenthood estimated a third of all clinics in Texas would have to close because of that provision. It didn't stop there though, the law also required for all procedures to occur at an ambulatory surgical center, which would have disqualified 37 of the 42 women's clinics operating in Texas.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott released a statement saying he would file an emergency appeal with the 5th Circuit Court. He claims the law was passed to "protect women and fetuses." Mr. Abbott is currently running for governor of Texas.

Which brings us back to Wendy Davis. After she honorably emulated Davy Crockett at the gates of the Alamo, Ms. Davis also decided to run for the head job in Austin.

Well, why not? Someone has to don't they? You can't leave it to them without any sort of argument.

While I wish her well, the brutal truth is the odds are decidedly against her. There hasn't been a democrat serve as governor of Texas since 1994 and there hasn't hasn't been one hold a statewide office since 1998.

To show you what she is up against, a 2009 poll revealed a full 31% of the rubes living south of the Red River believe Texas has the right to secede from the union. 18% of them think the state should do just that.

At some point, as the Hispanic population grows, Texas might be in play for democrats, but we haven't gotten there yet. In 2008 Tarrant County elected Wendy Davis, but in 2012 the state of Texas elected Ted Cruz.

In the end there is nothing quite like some healthy fantasies to warm the heart. Hey, Wendy if I could, I'd vote for you in a minute and before things are over with, hopefully, I can even slip your campaign a few bucks. Lets call it the Rhett Butler in me.

Just don't tell Scarlett. She is far more a realist than I am. And--there is that whole saving for the escape to Belize thing we have to keep in mind.

sic vita est


Friday, October 25, 2013

Deadly Tricks and No Treats: Welcome to Our Nightmare

Your hand, your tongue: look like the innocent flower,
But be the serpent under't.

Big Bill Shakespeare: Macbeth, Act I, Scene V

It would seem a few of our children have come to believe life should imitate some of the more rambunctious video games out there. Unluckily for us, a number of their parents have provided them with the means and psyches to make that breath taking leap from dark fantasy to bloody reality.

It has been a wretched week indeed.

Monday, Jose Reyes, a Sparks, Nevada Middle School student brought a Ruger to school with him. Before it was over two classmates were wounded, a math teacher, Michael Landsberry, was dead and so was he. Police say he got the gun from his parent's home. They are still trying to determine which button was pushed to set him off in such a deadly fashion.

Little did we know that was just the beginning.

On Tuesday, Melissa Ann Ringhardt, 19, was baby sitting 5 year old John Read and a 6 month old infant. She dragged out a hand gun because, reportedly, she was scared of being in the house alone. As we all know by now, she wasn't alone. The two children were there with her. She left the gun, she'd apparently gotten out of a gun safe in the home, on the coffee table when she went to take a nap. Before she woke up John Read found it and accidentally killed himself with it. Ringhardt has been charged with "abandoning and or endangering a child." Bail was set at $250,000.

Tuesday evening up in Danvers, MA, two people were reported missing. One was Philip Chism, 14 year old scoring leader on the Danvers High School JV soccer team. The other was math teacher, Colleen Ritzer. Chism, originally from Tennessee, was a first year student at Danvers. Ms. Ritzer, 24, was a second year math teacher.

According to various reports, what happened that day was right out of the most twisted parts of Clive Barker's brain. Ritzer had Chism stay after school to study for a test which was coming up on the next day. She had apparently caught him aimlessly doodling rather than taking notes earlier in her class. An hour or so later, she went to use the girls restroom on the 2nd floor because the faculty restroom was locked. Security cameras showed young Chism donning a pair of white gloves and going in after her. Sources say he struck Ms. Ritzer at least twice then slashed her throat with a box cutter. He stuffed her body into a large portable recycling bucket, trundled it out to the woods near the school, dumped her body, and covered it with leaves. Afterward he changed out of his bloody clothes, using spare garments he had in his backpack. 

After he was done, Philip Chism walked a couple of miles to a movie theater, where he watched the Woody Allen film, "Blue Jasmine." After the end credits rolled, he smashed both his and Ritzer's cell phones in the parking lot. Finally, he strolled over to a local Wendy's to grab a bite to eat. He used the teacher's credit card to pay for the meal.

Police later found him wandering down a road and a little past midnight discovered Colleen Ritzer's body in the woods.

Predictably, everyone at the school was shocked. No one could believe either Ritzer, a magna cum laude graduate of Assumption College and unabashedly enthusiastic teacher was dead, or that Chism, the somewhat shy new comer, had done it. Chism has been charged as an adult. His next court appearance will be in late November.

On Wednesday, an unnamed 11 year old boy was arrested in Vancouver, WA and charged with attempted murder. Police popped him as he carried what was described as, several knives, a gun, and 400 rounds of ammunition into his school. There is no official word as to why he attempted such an act, but actually we all know exactly what it was that motivated him. He did it because he was mad at someone, or something and thanks to a parent, or guardian, he could.

The Oklahoman reported today that police arrested 16 year old Brajuan Napolean yesterday. He is alleged to have gotten into an "altercation" with a 17 year old early Sunday morning in the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore, OK. Police say Napolean did what so many teens are doing now days when involved in a confrontation. He pulled out a gun then shot and killed the kid he was arguing with. He was charged with first degree murder.

And last, but not least, in Santa Rosa, CA, the latest reports are that 13 year old Andy Lopez Cruz was shot seven times on Tuesday by a Sonoma County deputy sheriff. Cruz was carrying a plastic replica of an assault style weapon which two patrolling deputies mistook for the real thing. According to several media sources Cruz was walking away from the deputies when they called out twice for him to drop the "weapon." He began to turn toward them without doing so and one of them immediately opened fire.

The founder of something called the Police Accountability Clinic and Sonoma Helpline, Elbert Howard was outraged. He was quoted as saying, "He's a child and he had a toy. I see that as an overreaction to shoot him down."

Well, Brother Howard, unfortunately the problem is they aren't always toys. Just ask them in Sparks, Vancouver, and at old Columbine High.

As horrifically tragic as it is, it appears Andy Lopez Cruz ended up paying for the sins of a bunch teens and tweens he never met and wasn't the least bit like, but who have been all too real, far too many times.

To paraphrase Alice Cooper, welcome to our nightmare.

mors vincit omnia


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Life in the NRA's World

On Monday we had to deal with yet another school assault. Michael Landsberry, a teacher was shot to death as he tried to talk a Ruger semi automatic pistol out of the shooter's hand. Two Sparks, Nevada Middle School students ended up wounded and the twelve year old perpetrator died of a self inflicted gun shot. It turns out the still unnamed youth got the firearm used during the deadly affair from his parents. Police have been quoted as saying the mother and father are fully cooperating with the investigation. When asked if they could be charged with a crime if it was found they were negligent in keeping the gun out of their child's hands, police said it was a possibility.

Almost lost in the news on the next day was word out of south east Texas that a five year old boy, John Allen Read, accidentally shot himself in the head with a .40 cal. hand gun. His live in baby sitter, Melissa Ann Ringhardt, 19, told police she was carrying around the weapon because she was scared to be in the home alone.

In fact she was so terribly frightened she decided to take a nap in the bedroom, while leaving the loaded weapon on a coffee table in the living room. Unfortunately, she really wasn't in the home alone. Young John Read was there with her, as was a six month old infant. At some point, while she snoozed away, the child found the gun and discharged it. Ringhardt discovered his body after she woke up. Because there wasn't a working phone in the home, she carried the mortally wounded Johnnie Read, along with the uninjured infant, down the street to a grandparent's house to make the call to 911. She has been charged with "abandoning, or endangering a child," and bond has been set at $250,000.

Sheriff's Department Chief Deputy, Clint Hodgkinson was quoted as saying, "People have the right to bear arms and with that comes great responsibility. If someone somehow puts a firearm in a place where a child is able to get that weapon, you've committed an offense."

Yeah, well there is a lot of that going around lately.

CNN reports:

Last week in Fayetteville, NC a two year old girl got her hands on her father's hand gun and shot herself to death. Dear old dad is currently facing manslaughter charges.

Two months ago in Dundee, MI a three year old found a .40 cal handgun belonging to a friend of the family on the floor of a closet in his parent's home. He was also killed by an accidental shot to the head. Proving that Michigan is a tad more lenient when it comes to this sort of thing, the owner of the weapon was charged with "careless discharge of a weapon" which is a misdemeanor.

In June a New Orleans five year old girl found a .38 cal. weapon at home while her mom was out shopping. After the accidental shooting the mother was charged with cruelty to children. However, later, after her child died at a hospital, prosecutors upped the ante to 2nd degree murder, which a judge promptly threw out. The D.A.'s office says it plans to appeal the ruling.

Of course there are other ways a kid can end up dead from guns. Yesterday in Santa Rosa, CA, Sonoma County deputies spotted a 13 year old boy walking down the street with what appeared to be an assault style weapon. A department spokesperson told members of the media the deputies repeatedly ordered him to drop the rifle, but for reasons we'll never know he didn't. They opened fire, killing the child. The "weapon" was a toy replica. As the deputies unsuccessfully administered first aid they found a plastic gun in his waist band.

Welcome to the American paradigm. It is designed and carved in stone by an all powerful lobby called the National Rifle Association. It makes everyone feel like they must have a weapon. There are no tests to see if you're as stupid as a lump of clay, or as crazy as a bed bug on acid before you buy one, because the NRA doesn't want there to be one. And despite what they say over and over in their perverse and unceasing propaganda campaign, the NRA doesn't give a rat's ass if you're responsible with a weapon or not. The epidemic of gun violence has become so wide spread the police aren't taking the slightest chance with anyone, even 13 year olds. Despite having a three year old crawling around the home, people don't lock away their hand guns because they're convinced they'll need them in a hurry if some stranger begins banging on the door. Yes, now it is shoot first and ask questions later. Paranoia and freedom have become one and the same. A few dead toddlers and 8th graders are simply the price we pay for both.

The NRA might not cause people to go crazy, or be stupid, but they certainly are enabling them to buy weapons without any questions asked--which allows the nuts and dolts to shoot up a school, or leave a .40 caliber pistol laying around the house so babies can blow their heads off.

The National Rifle Association has managed to shape this society into their own image and, like them, we've become crude, deadly, and utterly dystopian.

The truth is we should all be ashamed. We aren't though. We're too busy cleaning our guns to worry about things like that.

sic vita est


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Chaos in Sparks: The Body Count Continues to Rise

Details have started to emerge from the smoke and chaos in Sparks, Nevada. Yes, yesterday was just another lovely autumn morning during which someone tried to kill a bunch of people because--well, we don't know exactly why yet--although the obvious reasons were he was pissed off, crazy, and had access to a loaded semi automatic pistol.

For those of you unfamiliar with them, semi automatic pistols are designed to do one thing and one thing only. That is kill human beings as quickly and efficiently as possible. They serve absolutely no other purpose. Americans buy them at what we call, sporting goods stores.

Math teacher, Michael Landsberry, a former marine and a member of the Nevada National Guard was shot and killed when he tried to stop a student at Sparks Middle School from firing at classmates outside the school building before the morning bell rang. He was married and a step father of two girls. He had survived two tours of duty in Afghanistan, which is a war zone.

The shooter, who has yet to be identified, reportedly killed himself before police arrived. He was 12 years old. He wounded two fellow students who are in stable condition and expected to survive. Physically that is, there is no telling how many psychiatrists will be deeply involved in their lives for quite some time. That is what happens when you have to recover from gun shot wounds received while waiting on home room to begin and you're not located anywhere near a war zone.

One witness interviewed by NBC News said, Landsberry intervened after the shooting began, told the kid to stop, and held out his hand for the pistol. The shooter yelled, "No," then gunned him down. Other witnesses say that during the deadly spree the shooter yelled, "Why you people making fun of me? Why you laughing at me?"

There is no word regarding where the shooter got the weapon. Presumably Nevada state law doesn't allow a 12 year old to walk into a gun shop and buy one, but given the current power of the NRA, that fact will have to remain unconfirmed at this moment. In all probability he snatched the weapon from a parent, relative, or neighbor who had bought it for self defense. At least that is the usual excuse following acts of madness like this. When Adam Lanza ran amok barely 10 months ago in Connecticut every weapon he used at Sandy Hook Elementary was legally bought and paid for by his mother.

Not long after the gun fire began in Sparks, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder addressed the International Association of Police Chiefs in Philadelphia. He told the gathering the number of active shooter incidents in this country has tripled since 2009. He defined an active shooter as an individual who engages in killing people in a confined and or populated area. You know, like a school yard, or a movie theater, or a naval headquarters. In his speech he said so far in 2013 there have been 12 active shooter episodes in the United States, although it was unclear if that total included Sparks, or not. In any event, the number of people shot and killed during this sort of craziness has risen 150%.

In the next couple of days look for some dreadful NRA wanker to make a statement along the lines of, if we would just allow more people to carry guns, acts like these would cease. It is bull shit so far fetched it makes the Obama was born in Kenya theory look utterly plausible.

Everyone already has a gun for God's sake and the bodies are piling up faster than ever. Why don't we just tell all the drunks who are driving themselves home tonight to have another shot of tequila before hitting the road? Indeed, "Go ahead pal, knock one back--it will steady the nerves and clear the ol' noggin' right up."

For those of you keeping count, Slate and @GunDeaths now say there have been 9,693 media reported gun deaths since December 14th of last year. The last time I checked the statistic the number was 9,199. So in 11 days an additional 494 people have been killed by guns in the United States. The study claims if you throw in unreported gun deaths, things like accidents and suicides among others, CDC statistics indicate the actual number of gun related deaths in the nation is a little over 28,000.

You can say many things about Americans, but you'll never be able to accuse us of being bad shots.

How long, oh Lord? How long? This insanity has to stop.

sic vita est


Saturday, October 19, 2013

Purging the RINOS

So in that alternate universe known as the tea party, the pure of heart are rising up to challenge the treasonous Republicans In Name Only who finally acknowledged reality this past week during the budget/debt ceiling crisis. It is a motley bunch who seems to be completely out of touch with not only the polls, which show the nation quickly souring on the tea party act, but sanity itself.

Matt Bevin, who is running against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, pounced on his opponent with all the subtlety of a starving jaguar. He released a video in which he said, "Now it seems Mitch McConnell has cut and run from another fight. Making deals with democrats like Harry Reid to raise the debt ceiling limit without consideration for defunding or even delaying Obamacare."

McConnell is no stranger to tough campaigns. He currently has a spot on the web which accuses Bevin of past tax problems and falsely claiming on a resume' he had attended MIT.

According to Bevin's wikipedia biography, which he probably composed himself--because it reads exactly like a campaign advertisement--the candidate graduated from Washington and Lee University, opposes bailouts, amnesty for illegal aliens, and pay increases for congress. He is president of Bevin's Manufacturing Company. They make bells.

In South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham is opposed by Lee Bright. Bright accused Graham and other republicans of "surrendering." He issued a statement saying, We'll stand with Ted Cruz, we'll stand with Rand Paul, we'll stand with Mike Lee. You'll have a fourth up there fighting the battle. I'm ready to go to war."

As my youngest daughter used to say, "whatever."

Obviously it takes a special type of person to refer to himself in the imperial "we." Bright is a state senator. His signature piece of legislation to date was a bill that would have exempted all fire arms manufactured in South Carolina from any sort of federal regulation. Unfortunately the measure failed, but he has promised to reintroduce it.

In Mississippi, Thad Cochran is facing a guy named, Chris McDaniel. McDaniel was quoted as saying not only did the GOP surrender, but, "Cochran failed to stand his ground for the American people." McDaniel is a lawyer, state senator, and former right wing radio talk show host. The Jackson Free Press notes there were 62 separate updates to his wikipedia profile in the month of April alone. That would be about the same time he decided to run against Cochran.

Finally in Kansas there is the sad case of Pat Roberts. Roberts didn't even vote for ending the shutdown, but sometimes even crass stupidity isn't enough. Dr. Milton Wolf, who is running against him, notes, "Roberts has voted to raise the debt ceiling 11 times in his more than three decades in congress."

Wolf is a part time diagnostic radiologist. In his blog, he refers to himself strictly in the third person, as if some neutral journalist is writing about him.  He says he is a columnist for the Washington Times, has appeared on Fox and Friends, on the Hannity show, the Rush Limbaugh radio show, shared stages with Laura Ingraham and Michelle Malkin and is a "leading conservative voice in America." He also says he is Barack H. Obama's cousin and is probably the only tea party member the president knows.

Obviously the Doctor has never heard of Ted Cruz, because the president certainly knows him.

And there is the situation. The true Aryans have had it with these Trotskyite traitors. Heads will be taken and the horror of Obamacare will be defeated once and for all, even if  the economy and the nation must be burned to the ground in order to achieve the ultimate victory.

At some point this gruesome nonsense is going to end. The death twitches of white rule will ebb and we'll regain our common sense. It took a while to get through McCarthyism, and the House on Un-American Activities witch hunts, but we did. The trick is surviving until these brutes commit acts so barbaric even the most conservative of us turn away from them in shame.

Uhura, pass the beer.

Mr. Sulu, you have the con.


Thursday, October 17, 2013

What We've Learned in the Last Sixteen Days

This is the end
Beautiful Friend
This is the end
my only friend, the end
of our elaborate plans, the end...

by Tony Jackson, Ben Roberts, and Aaron D'Arcy; The Doors rendition of the lyrics are currently playing over and over in the brains of United States Senators, Mike Lee and Ted Cruz.

Well, at least until January 15, 2014. That is when this "deal" between the suddenly steely nerved democrats and the shattered fragments of the republican party ends.

We've learned several things in the last sixteen days, many of them are not the least bit hopeful.

Number one is that Standard and Poors' economists estimate the government shutdown, engineered by the tea party wing of the republican party, cost the economy an estimated $24 billion and took a 0.6% chunk out of the 4th quarter GDP growth. This from a gang of werewolves who claim they want to cut back on government spending in order to improve the economy.

Number two, it proved without a doubt there is no longer one republican party. The entire GOP has splintered into at least three groups. The tea party is one, the traditionalists are another, and then there is the religious right. It has become increasingly clear they hate each other almost as much as they despise Barack Obama. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's primary opponent, who is straight from the dark heart of the tea party, has already issued a press release stating, McConnell, "sold out conservatives," because he brokered the deal to save the economy with Harry Reid. In other words, he conspired with the enemy. On the other end of the spectrum, even before the entire sordid affair began, John McCain called linking passage of a budget to the defunding of Obamacare a, "fool's errand."  North Carolina Senator Richard Burr said it was the "stupidest idea I've ever heard off." 

Number three, while the republicans took the biggest hit in the polls, Obama said it best this morning when he looked at television cameras and stated, "there are no winners here." The GOP approval rating is at an all time low, but the same is true for the entire congress. One poll showed 60% of Americans want to fire everyone who now holds a seat in either the House or Senate. If you're an incumbent, no matter what the party, you might want to start thinking about new career opportunities.

Number four, the republicans utterly failed in what amounted to an act of political extortion. It was indeed, "a fool's errand." Their popularity sank like a stone, they managed to put hundreds of thousands of people out of work for 16 days, the economy took a huge hit, and in the end, they got one minor concession from democrats. In the meantime, the ACA actually grew in popularity despite a tangled and maddening web of technical failures during its start up and the president's approval ratings held steady or went up by a couple of points depending on which poll you were reading.

Number five, the president finally found the backbone to stand up to that savage pack of baying hounds. While the GOP's traditionalists could see disaster looming, the freshly minted tea party hacks blundered ahead assuming the president would cave into their demands if they just acted rabid enough. As a whole, they displayed a complete lack of understanding of, not only how things really work, but what happens when you threaten a man who has nothing more to lose. Did they not know the president can't run again? Not only did he have the best hand at the table to begin with, but he had absolutely no fear of going all in, because for him the whole poker game ends in January of 2017, no matter what happens right now. Ultimately the result was, for the second time in 12 months, the republicans got their asses kicked by Barack H. Obama.

Number six, we found out, Ted Cruz is certifiably insane. From the very beginning this hasn't been about jobs, the economy, the government, or even Obamacare--it has been all about him. He had to have known the numbers from the very outset. For God's sake even Princeton grads can count. Given that knowledge, one has to assume he either thought an armed public would rise up and support him in vast numbers--a sort of Cruzian coup de'etat--or democrats in the Senate and Barack Obama himself would yield to his superior intellect and say something like, oops we were wrong. We're sorry--here, run the place while we're in a time out.

The sham filibuster was the most lewd and garish display of egotism ever seen by the American body politic. By the time he bought the tennis shoes he stood in to deliver it, he knew the votes would never be there. He also knew Senate rules had limited the debate. But there he was, yammering away for no other reason than the entire shutdown debacle was his moment in the spotlight and by God he was going exploit it to the maximum. When asked about his party's falling poll numbers a few days ago, he simply refused to believe them. Even yesterday the delusions persisted when he claimed if Senate republicans had stood by the members of the House, rather than fighting among themselves, the outcome would have been, "very, very different."

How could it have been? Does the man think the laws of basic math will change just because he wants them to? Is the word veto beyond his comprehension? Frighteningly, the answer to both questions is probably yes.

The final vote in the Senate to stop the madness, at least temporarily, was 81-18. The House vote was 285-144. That means 18 United States Senators and 144 Representatives voted in favor of defaulting on every outstanding government loan and putting not only the national economy, but the finances of almost the entire world into a tail spin, simply because they loathe Barack Obama.

Now there is statesmanship.

So what happens in January? You would think the tea party just learned a hard lesson and wouldn't waste every one's time and money with another hopeless banzai charge. After all, the democratic majority in the Senate won't magically disappear between now and then and Barack Obama will still be sitting in the oval office. Unfortunately, by now it should be painfully obvious to everyone, these thugs don't think like the rest of us. Before the budget nightmare even began they'd voted to repeal Obamacare 40 plus times while knowing each and every one of those attempts would go no where. No, you can't count on logic, common sense, or even sanity when it comes to some of these dreadful clowns.

That would be the seventh thing we've learned in the last few weeks.

We'd all do well to remember it in November of 2014.

Next stop--immigration reform.

sic vita est


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

At the Brink

Well you have to hand it to John Boehner and his crew in the House of Representatives. When they want to fuck things up they go all the way.

While Senate leaders were growing close to a compromise on the budget and debt ceiling, Boehner jumped in, yelling the equivalent of, "me, me, me," with his own new plan. It was legislation so half assed the candid assessment of one congressman was, "My best estimate is that there aren't the votes to pass it." He wasn't talking about it passing in the Senate. He was talking about it passing in the House, where in theory, Boehner runs things. A white house spokesperson described the measure as, "designed to appease tea party republicans who forced the shut down in the first place." The tea party cranks, utterly outraged by that sentiment, believed it conceded too much ground to the president, because--well--everything short of impeachment concedes too much to the president.

Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid said he was, "blindsided" by the bill and that it, "could not and would not pass in the Senate." And now, in these precious few crucial hours before we go belly up, no progress in resolving this debacle has been made.

To say some people just don't get it is an understatement of epic proportions at this moment. Obviously there are illicit drugs being used in massive quantities by members of the GOP who hold office in Washington. To show how bad it has become, last week, Senator Ted Cruz was confronted with the results of an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll that showed 70% of Americans think he and other members of his party are bat shit crazy for starting all this. He simply shrugged and said he didn't believe the numbers.

Today, Oklahoma Congressmen Jim Lankford and Tom Cole were both quoted in the Oklahoma City paper as saying they knew the strategy of tying the budget to a wholesale gutting of the Affordable Care Act wouldn't work even before this lunacy began. Of course that knowledge didn't stop either one of them from voting repeatedly for resolutions which would have done exactly that. Their reasons are painfully clear. If they hadn't, two, as yet unknown clowns, breathing tea party fire and brimstone would challenge them in 2014 and they'd have big bucks from the Heritage Foundation backing them. Indeed, when it comes to either saving your seat or screwing the nation there is no real choice. Think short term, baby, then try to blame the whole mess on the black guy in the oval office.

Meanwhile the Chinese are now publicly campaigning for a world economy that ceases to be dependent on the United States. Although you can't blame them, they should have come up with that little nugget before they bought an estimated $1.28 trillion in U.S. treasury notes. Old Mao and the dudes who made the long march with him are spinning in their graves as I type.

I mean think of it. Back in my younger days I dumped a debt of a little over four grand into the lap of Diner's Club. My phone rang off the wall for years and my credit was worth about as much as an old bubble gum wrapper for decades. Somehow I think skipping out on a $1.28 trillion tab will cause a few more problems than having some collection agency calling your home phone every hour or so. Christ, if you were to display this sort of behavior in Vegas, you'd find yourself at the bottom of Lake Mead in about the same amount of time it takes concrete to dry.

A couple of European bankers have said they don't believe we're stupid enough to go into default. That just goes to show how out of touch with reality they are.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised. There is a lot of that going around lately.

To quote a line from a movie, "I suggest you start drinking heavily."

sic vita est

Friday, October 11, 2013

Ted Cruz Goes Delusional, The Latest Polls, and The Body Count Rises

So, as we careen merrily toward a government default on billions and billions of dollars worth of loans, Ted Cruz decided to speak to an outfit called, The Values Voters Summit. While this group's values aren't actually spelled out in their title we can pretty well guess what they represent given the cast of speakers they've lined up. Besides Cruz people like Michelle Bachmann, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, and Mike Lee will show up at the microphone and in increasingly shrill voices tell the crowd, "all is well, there is nothing to fear except Barack Obama."

Cruz spoke earlier today and assured the faithful that, "We have a couple of years to turn this country around, or else we will go off the cliff to oblivion." In other words, we can't wait until you elect me in 2016. We have to stop the president right now by any means possible.

Unfortunately, the pride of Calgary may have stuck his nose in the coke bag too often and is a shade delusional at the moment. He also told those gathered that, "democrats are feeling the heat," because of the current shutdown and impending default.

The latest NBC/Wall Street Journal Poll shows republicans now have the lowest favorable rating in the party's history. In addition democrats have an 8 point lead when members of the general public were asked the question, "would you prefer a republican or democratic controlled congress?" That lead is the largest since 2009.

When it comes to Cruz himself 52% of tea party republicans view him favorably, while only 4% don't. Then things get a little dicey for the Senator from Alberta. His positive rating among non tea party republicans is only 13% while 23% view him unfavorably. 28% of the general public view him negatively and 14% see him as a positive. Barack H. Obama, on the other hand, has an 82% favorable rating among democrats and his overall favorable rating has risen from 45% to 47%.

Then there is the big conservative bugaboo, Obamacare. The poll shows the Affordable Care Act is gaining in popularity. It went from 31% approval in early September to 38% this month. In addition fully 50% of everyone opposes getting rid of the ACA by tying it to the budget and even 13% of those who want it defunded think shutting down the government over the issue is an unwise strategy.

Finally, despite Tom Coburn's sunny optimism, when it comes to the debt ceiling, 63% of everyone polled said not raising it would cause real and serious problems. Who can blame them?

In 2002 Argentina went belly up on $93 billion in external debts. Wikepedia notes that as soon as they did the inflow of foreign capital stopped and the Argies suffered through a sudden and devastating 40% inflation rate. To this day Argentina has to pay borrowing premiums of 10% which is considerably higher than similar nations and their economy, which was ranked first in South America before the default, currently languishes at fifth on the continent.

Yes, when all this is added together, it appears ol' Ted is suffering from an acute case of Karl Rove Syndrome. He either doesn't believe the numbers, or doesn't care about them. He simply continues to bay at the moon, utterly convinced he is the smartest human on the planet and if we just let him talk long enough we'll finally come to accept this obvious fact of life.

Meanwhile, on another subject, a quick check of Slate and @Gundeaths provides us with this figure, 9,199. That is the number of gun deaths in the United States the study has been able to track through media reports since the Newtown, CT shooting last December.

In February and March of 1945 U.S. marines, with naval support, fought Imperial Japanese forces on the island of Iwo Jima. It is considered one of the deadliest battles of the war in the Pacific. 6,821 American personnel were killed. That would be 2,378 fewer people than have been shot to death on our streets and in our schools during the last ten months--this despite a shocking lack of credible evidence there are elements of the Japanese army dug in on the south side of Chicago, or any place else within our borders.

Indeed. Keep a clear eye and watch out for flying chairs. The Bats are rabid and they're everywhere.

You have the con, Mr. Sulu. As always, I'll be in the bar.


Thursday, October 10, 2013

OneWeek Away: 1.4 Billion Chinese Are Sweating Bullets and a Lot of Us Are Too

Jacob Lew is the Secretary of the United States Treasury. He is sitting in front of a senate committee today and explaining to them what will happen if congress doesn't approve raising the debt ceiling.

One of the things he will say is if guys like John Boehner, Ted Cruz, and the rest of the tea party hacks stall on the debt ceiling like they have on the government operating budget the treasury cannot guarantee payments to any group the United States owes money to after October 17th. That is why about 1.4 billion Chinese are sweating bullets right now. Mr. Lew is talking about people who own government bonds and they've got a bunch of them in Beijing.

While the idea of putting the screws to the Chinese economy might sound like fun to more than a few people, there are other, more familiar, groups the feds owe money to and they are home grown. To begin with we're talking about everyone who receives medicare, medicaid, social security, and veteran's benefits. According to CNN, in 2012, 36 million retirees were receiving social security checks and another 20 million people received benefits either because they are widowed, disabled, or dependents of disabled Americans. Right now veteran benefits are collected by 5.1 million people. That number includes 433,000 fully disabled vets and 360,000 spouses and kids of combat vets.

Of course there are a few republicans in congress who think going belly up would be a good thing. John Fleming of Louisiana was quoted as saying, "(of economist who predict a fiscal disaster) many times they're wrong, so I don't think we should run the government based on economic predictions."  Florida republican Ted Yoho said, "I think personally it would bring stability to world markets." Yoho has, in the past, compared his fight against the Affordable Care Act to the 1960s civil rights movement. Finally our old pal Tom Coburn from right here in Oklahoma goes both Fleming and Yoho one better. He simply says, "there is no debt ceiling." Despite that denial, when it comes to America defaulting on loans he claims he would, "rather have a managed catastrophe now." Before Representative Yoho became an elected official he was a large animal veterinarian. Both Fleming and Coburn were M.D.s. In other words, the three of them were trained to stick their fingers up the asses of a various species of mammals, but not in economics, or even history.

The brothers Koch up in Wichita, KS, however, have a little knowledge in those areas. After spending untold millions trying unsuccessfully to unseat Barack Obama and then whip up the troops into the current anti Affordable Care Act frenzy, it has suddenly dawned on them the financial future of the United States of America is quickly starting to circle the drain. They sent a letter to the members of congress, claiming they had nothing to do with linking the passage of the new budget to defunding the Affordable Care Act. This is rather like Al Capone telling Eliot Ness, hell I was in Miami on St. Valentine's Day. Beyond that despicable denial, the rest of the letter basically said, we don't care about the ACA any more, just don't let the government default. Yes, they aren't buying Tommy Coburn's sunny prediction that even though the market will fall, it will rise again once everything straightens out. That sort of thinking didn't work when Herbert Hoover decided to ignore the Great Depression as if it wasn't happening. It won't work now either and the Kochs are fully aware of it.

In 2011 we came close to this same precipice. U.S. credit was downgraded and it cost taxpayers an additional $19 billion, because the downgrade increased borrowing costs. In addition it is estimated close to a million jobs were lost. Think of the money and jobs that will go poof if we actually do go down the black hole next week.

At this moment John Boehner claims he is willing to temporarily raise the debt ceiling for anywhere from six to eight weeks. The Obama people are calling the action "encouraging," but are waiting to see if any partisan strings are attached. They still insist there will be no negotiating on either the debt ceiling or the budget unless both are clean of republican demands about health care. The extension Boehner is proposing doesn't have anything to do with the passage of a new budget, which the speaker claims is still linked to either a delay of, or major alterations to the Affordable Care Act.

We're a week away. Odds are there will be a short term raising of the debt ceiling, while budget wrangling continues.  Boehner knows it is one thing to piss off 800,000 federal workers and fuck the families of a few dead soldiers, but when you potentially cut off pensions and medical benefits to tens of millions of senior citizens and military veterans, you are poking an uncaged tiger in the side with a sharp stick--and you can be assured that particular snarling beast will turn and eat you alive.

The situation is, as they say, fluid. The GOP is fragmenting as I type. Loose cannons are rolling around the decks like bumper cars run amok. Ralph Reed, Paul Ryan, the Heritage Action people, they all have different axes to grind.

Stay tuned. It isn't every day you see an industrialized nation fall apart at the seams.

And just remember, it all came about because the GOP hates Obama so much they're willing to burn down the entire republic rather than accept his signature piece of legislation.

The words petty and irresponsible don't seem quite epic enough to describe their actions.

We're not done with the brute nonsense yet, therefore I urge you, with all my heart, to, carpe vinum.


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

No Death Tipping Allowed, Polls, and The Rank Coward

It has gotten exceedingly ugly.

Last week congress passed a bill which ensures that members of the active military will continue to receive their pay during the government shutdown. So everything is all hunky dory. peachy keen, sunshine and lollipops right? Not quite. Tragically, at the same time, four United States soldiers and one marine were killed in Afghanistan during action against the enemy. NBC reports that under normal circumstances within 36 hours of their deaths, the immediate families of those killed would get  $100,000--it is a payment known charmingly as, the death gratuity. The money is meant to cover travel and funeral expenses because the military immediately stops the pay of a service person who has been killed and it might take well over a week before regular death benefits kick in.

A Department of Defense spokesperson has stated that after studying the bill passed last week, the brass has concluded the money is not there to continue the death gratuity payments at this time. Therefore, if the families of  Lance Cpl. Jeremiah Collins Jr. 19, 1st Lt. Jennifer Moreno, 25, Sgt. Patrick Hawkins, 24, Pfc Corey Patterson, 24, and Sgt. Joseph Peters, 24 want to fly to Dover AFB to meet the coffins of their loved ones, they'll have to pay for the expenses out of their own pockets. In addition, unless their funerals are delayed until the full benefits kick in, they'll have to pick up those tabs too.

According to the report, Peters' was going to leave the military after his current tour was up so he could spend more time with his wife and 20 month old child. His step grandfather is outraged, called the situation "devastating," and put the blame for this cold blooded business squarely on the shoulders of the republican party in general and the tea party in particular.

He isn't the only one.

According to the latest ABC/Washington Post poll taken during the week of Oct. 2-Oct.6, 70% of Americans agreed with him. That was the number of people who disapproved of the GOP handling of budget negotiations since the shut down. That figure is up 7 points from the previous week. Those who strongly disapprove of republican tactics and behavior went from 42% to 51% during the same time frame.

The president and democrats in general aren't coming out exactly smelling like roses either. When asked the same question, 51% disapproved of the job Barack Obama was doing negotiating some sort of settlement and 61% disapproved of the way democrats were handling the shut down talks.

To illustrate how divided the nation has become, the poll found 52% of registered republicans approved of the way their party was handling the shut down negotiations while 89% disapproved of the president's actions. Meanwhile an identical number of democrats disapproved of the republican negotiating techniques and goals.

However, there is a split in the GOP ranks. Those who described themselves as "very conservative," approved of Mr. Boehner, Cruz and the rest, 68% to 32%. That approval rating dropped dramatically among people who described themselves as "somewhat conservative." More moderate republicans gave the thumbs up to their party leaders only 51% of the time, while 45% disapproved. In short, when you throw out the drooling ultra right wing loons, nearly half of the GOP base doesn't like what the speaker and congressional republicans are doing.

Mr. Obama and Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid aren't facing such a disparity. 77% of registered democrats side solidly with the president. That number includes 84% of liberals and a full 75% of democrats who consider themselves moderate to conservative.

So how does Boehner respond to the gruesome act of cutting off funds to military families during their most tragic and trying times--not to mention public approval numbers which are in a breathtaking free fall? Well first he insists there isn't enough support in the house for a "clean" budget"--one that doesn't screw with the Affordable Care Act--to succeed. He refuses to bring such a measure to a vote. This, despite hints, not only from Obama, but NBC and other media sources who have done some congressional polling, that the votes are, in fact, there for it to pass.

Why? Well the man is a rank coward. It has become painfully obvious his only real goal in all of this is to hang onto the speaker's chair. If he pisses off the tea party hacks by allowing a vote they can't win, they're are almost certain to revolt and call for his head.

While howling about Obama and Reid not negotiating, the latest GOP leadership offer is to pass a clean budget only if the Affordable Care Act is delayed a year. Not only is this the same proposal they've had on the table for weeks now, but it is also a ruse so transparently bull shit, you'd expect it to come from someplace like North Korea, or Iran, rather than the house of representatives.

The truth is the democrats did negotiate. The total budget figure up for consideration is pure republican. Obama's left wing wanted far more money in it than is there right now.

Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul can strategize and claim, "we can win this thing" all they want, but there is strong evidence to the contrary. You don't even have to look at the polls. Just ask the family of Sgt. Joseph Peters.

If you're too ashamed to face them, check with the millions of people looking to sign up for the ACA as I type. Web sites may have crashed, but they're still there, logging in, trying to find the coverage that was previously denied to them by health care carriers because of things like, pre existing conditions.

Next stop is the debt ceiling. And if you think this is bad, watch what happens when the government can't make payments to the people it has borrowed money from.

Infinitus est numerus stultorum


Friday, October 4, 2013

Incest in Pennsylvania, Photo Ops in Washington, Responsible Republicans, and Getting Something Out of It

Well they just keep jabbering away don't they? It makes you wonder how these cruel dolts got elected, or even out of high school.

Up in Pennsylvania republican governor, Tom Corbett was asked if he agreed with someone who compared two people of the same sex wanting to get married to a couple of 12 year olds seeking to tie the knot.

Governor Corbett had this to say, "It was an inappropriate analogy you know. I think a much better analogy would have been brother and sister, don't you?"

Ted Martin, who is with an outfit called Equality Pennsylvania, immediately started screeching like a banshee and within hours, Corbett issued a written apology which read, "My words were not intended to offend anyone. If they did I apologize." He later said he was just trying to explain current Pennsylvania law by giving an example of marriages that are banned by the state. That excuse is, of course, prima facie bullshit. There isn't a soul out there with more than two working brain cells who doesn't realize he was comparing same sex marriages to incest. Give it a few days and the born again Christian crowd will pick up on the governor's train of thought and begin using an argument that goes something like this: if we make it legal for two men to marry now, it will just be a matter of time before huge numbers of brothers and sisters will demand the same right. Trust me, I have to put up with these loons on a daily basis, it is coming--just wait for it.

In Washington D.C. republican congressman Randy Neugebauer showed up looking for a photo op at the WWII memorial. He certainly got one. Cameras were rolling as he berated a Park Service ranger for not allowing people to tour the area because of the government shutdown, which he helped start. With a mini American flag planted firmly in his breast pocket he told the woman, "The Park Service should be ashamed." She replied she wasn't and he snapped, "You should be."

A man standing nearby said to the congressman, "She is just doing her job." When Neugebauer turned to confront him, the guy told him he was a 30 year government employee who had been furloughed because of the shutdown. Predictably Neugebauer blamed Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid for the current debacle. When the guy disagreed, the congressman, obviously not accustomed to speaking with a member of the public who isn't a tea party wanker, turned his back on him and quickly fled the scene while the dude was still talking.

Today, John Boehner, who is reportedly the Speaker of the House, called President Obama, "irresponsible." The Speaker, who can best be described as Ted Cruz's valet, is upset the president won't "negotiate," with house republicans about the Affordable Care Act. Obamacare, as it has been called, is a three year old law, which the Supreme Court has found constitutional and is just now beginning to be implemented. Boehner and the rest of the republicans have failed to repeal it 40 plus times because they don't have the votes. So, being the responsible ones in this political wrestling match, they have shut down the entire government of the United States of America and are telling us all they'll keep the lights out until they get their way.

Finally, in a rare fit of honesty, Indiana republican congressman Marlin Stutzman bitterly complained about the gridlock, saying, "We are not going to be disrespected. We have to get something out of this. And I don't know what that even is."

Ahh, now were down to it. The republicans started this entire mess, which in many quarters would be described as an act of extortion, and if they don't get some sort of reward it will be a sign of disrespect toward them. Isn't that rather like the playground bully telling you if you don't hand over your lunch money he'll know you don't admire him? The only apparent difference is at least the bully knows what he wants. Stutzman and God only knows how many more of these quacks are so brain dead they can't even figure out what is an acceptable ransom.

Thankfully it is Friday and there is beer in the refrigerator and cigars in the humidor. A human being can only take so much of this brutal nonsense you know.

As always, watch out for flying chairs.

And, Mr. Scott, you have the con. If you need me I'll be in the bar.




Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Carina Saunders, Kelsey Bransby, and Alina Fitzpatrick: The Bell Has Tolled For Two Years

It has been two years now and in some ways it seems like it was just yesterday, while in others it feels as though it has been a century, or more.

Carina Saunders was reported missing on September 28th, 2011. Her body was found 15 days later in a field behind a grocery store in Bethany, Oklahoma. Bethany sits on the west side of Oklahoma City, almost lost on most metro area maps. It has a population of a little over 20,000 and a police force of 30 some odd officers. Saunders' body was dismembered and the assorted parts were stuffed into a duffel bag. It was discovered by animal control personnel who were trying to track down and capture feral cats in the area.

Instead of immediately turning the case over to the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, which has far more manpower and resources, the Bethany Police Department began the investigation into the gruesome crime. This, despite the overwhelming probability the site where Ms. Saunders' was actually killed would not be within the Bethany city limits.

Wild rumors circulated and a number of different people, who can best be described as living on the frayed edges of society, were interviewed. Bethany detectives quickly proved they were in over their heads as they desperately tried to pin the killing on someone. Eventually the investigation centered on two men. One, Jimmy Lee Massey was already in the Oklahoma County jail on unrelated charges. He was being ratted out by fellow inmates. The other was Luis Ruiz, a former school teacher, who had been bouncing all over the south side of town and might, or might not have been dealing in drugs and hookers. A woman named Mindy Cottier, a stripper, who also worked for an escort service, claimed she had sneaked a peek at a cell phone Ruiz owned. She said it contained a video of him killing Saunders.

Ruiz was arrested and he and Massey were charged with committing the crime by the Oklahoma County DA. By February of this year the whole case was falling apart and the charges were dropped because of, "unsubstantiated paper work," filed by the Bethany police.

In early March the OSBI took over the case and in April the agency offered a $10,000 reward for any information that would lead to the arrest and conviction of whoever killed Carina Saunders. They haven't publicly said a word about their investigation since spokesperson, Jessica Brown told the media it would be a long time before any progress would be made in the search for who did it.

Massey was subsequently convicted on several drug trafficking charges and is currently serving ten years. Ruiz was picked up in Oklahoma City this spring driving a car that was reported stolen in Knoxville, TN. He was released on $2,000 bail. He was popped again last week at a south side apartment complex and charged with possession of a controlled dangerous substance, which the press identified as meth. The reported video of the murder was never found and in fact, authorities don't know for sure if it ever even existed. The suspected murder scene shifted from a south side housing project known as Will Rogers Courts to an anonymous address just south of downtown, but the site has never been confirmed.

Later in October of 2011 Kelsey Bransby was found shot in the face in her south side apartment. By May of 2012 two friends were charged with shooting her, then leaving her to die so they could ditch the weapon and concoct alibis. Danielle Marie Cooley pleaded out in November of last year and in exchange for her testimony against Cole Dean Hopper she was given 25 years probation.

This summer Hopper went to trial and was sentenced to 9 years for manslaughter. Cooley couldn't keep the needle out of her arm and failed a drug test causing her probation to be revoked. In early August she skipped out on a court appearance prompting her lawyer to withdraw from the case and a warrant to be issued for her arrest. By early September she was back in custody. Bail was set at $50,000 and at last look she was sitting in the Cleveland County Detention Center. According to court records her next appearance before a judge is scheduled for November 13th, a little over a month from now.

Finally, on November 4th of 2011 Alina Fitzpatrick went missing. She was last seen near NW 23rd and Western Ave, about a mile, or so from the state capital building. Her nude body was discovered in a field in far eastern Oklahoma City on November 9th of that year. The medical examiner found enough drugs in her body to speculate her cause of death was  due to an overdose. However, there has never been any explanation of how she got to that empty lot located in the middle of nowhere, naked, her body bruised in places and raw with abrasions in others. She also had a wad of paper like material stuffed in her mouth when her remains were recovered.

Obviously someone dumped her out there and something terrible had been happening to her. The person, or persons involved with her OD and the physical abuse she suffered remain a mystery. In an email, a member of the local media close to the case wrote, "The police haven't expressed much confidence in finding out who it was."

And there we have it--two autumns ago, in the span of a month, there were three deaths and right now only one of them has been resolved. It increasingly appears the perpetrators in both the Saunders murder and the Fitzpatrick death have made clean getaways.

In Saunder's case the OSBI continues to be its notorious tight lipped self. Even if they have something they aren't going to go public until they can make it stick. No one wants a repeat of the Ruiz-Massey debacle. Odds are though the Bethany PD screwed the pooch so badly, at this point it would take an outright confession to bring the investigation to any sort of successful conclusion.

The same is probably true with Alina Fitzpatrick. Someone is going to have take a big hit on a bong and then spill the beans to someone else in a moment of euphoric stupidity, because it is obvious the OKCPD hasn't a clue as to what happened. In fact it is debatable they even care. From day one her death was ruled as "suspicious" and not a homicide.

Donne wrote, Therefore send not to know for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee.

Two years ago the words of the poet were never truer. They will continue to be that way as long as our kids keep dying like Carina Saunders, Kelsey Bransby, and Alina Fitzpatrick did.

sic vita est


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Republicans and The Great Terror

I'm sure it seemed like a cracker jack idea at the time. You know, re-drawing the house districts back in 2010 to make certain huge numbers of them twisted this way and that to ensure rock solid republican majorities. Yes, it was a crafty plan and worked to a tee. In fact it was so fabulously successful last year the republicans retained a majority in the house even though nationwide, democratic candidates running for house seats received more votes than they did.

The good news was all the gerrymandering made sure the old guard was safe from democratic challengers. It appeared being re-elected was a mere formality and those tax payer financed fact finding missions to Fiji with the wife and grandkids would last for decades.

Now the bad news. The party, almost instantly, became infiltrated by a bunch of dangerous loons. Yes, all those skewed boundaries helped keep the good ol' boys around, but it also allowed any straight out of the carton, certifiable fool who thinks Barack Obama was born in Kenya win a seat in congress. Suddenly the hallowed halls began filling up with cruel yahoos who thought Robert's Rules of Order, was something found on a drive through menu in someplace like Tishomingo. Their only idea of what to do, when it came to governing, was vote against whatever the President of the United States wanted, because--well--he's a socialist Muslim and black. As one person told me several years ago, "He's (Obama) just not for us and hates America." She could not provide any evidence of Mr. Obama's hostility toward the nation when I asked her why she thought that way, but hey, details are for the little people.

However, back to the really bad news. GOP policy has, over the last number of years, become not just influenced, but dictated by a bunch of right wing radio and TV wonks. They don't have any idea how congress actually works either and since they haven't the guts, or brains to run for public office, they don't care. All they know is the more insane they sound the better their ratings are. They are the new Joe McCarthys. If you are a republican and don't do what they want, you are forever fucked.

And it gets even worse. They think compromise is some code word for failure. If you compromise you become part of the problem. You are a RINO, a republican in name only, and your wrinkled white ass should be replaced by a true believer.

The entire budget of the United States of America is currently being held in limbo by less than half of the lower house of the legislative branch. It isn't quite the way Jefferson, John Adams, and Tommy Paine had envisioned things working, but it is what it is at the moment. John Boehner, the speaker of house has absolutely no control over the far right wing of his party and he and the rest of the mainstream republicans live in abject fear of them.

That's right pal. No democrat can touch you, but thanks to Rush, Sean, Glenn, and a gaggle of bat shit crazy billionaires there will always be someone willing to run all over your district saying you sold out to a guy whose middle name is Hussein. He will have a brain the size of a ferret's, but he'll be well financed and ruthless. It is either vote with the nuts, or start shopping for a nice assisted living center. At some point someone is going to start calling the tea party strangle hold on things, The Great Terror and he or she won't be far from wrong.

On a fundamental level tea party members hate the government of the United States. They aren't there to manage it, or run it, they are there, quite simply, to destroy it. They are, in every sense of the word, terrorists. When they say defund the Affordable Care Act or  we'll make sure the government fails, they are in effect saying, free our brothers from Guantanamo or we'll kill the hostages. Don't let anyone tell you it isn't the same principle, because it is.

Settle in for the long haul. The tea party members of the GOP aren't going to give an inch no matter who the public blames for this disaster. And be assured the rest of the republicans don't have the balls to tell them to screw off and do the right thing.

I'd spit, but none of the bastards are worth even that part of me.

Majority rule, my ass.

sic vita est