Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Slithers Out the Door

So as 2013 slithers out the door, rather like an escaped, reticulated python, perhaps we should give thanks we're finally done with the beast. After all, it wasn't a particularly good year for huge numbers of people world wide and for too many it was downright fatal in the truest since of the word.

According to a study by Slate, an estimated 33,000 plus Americans have died this year in gun related incidents--that would be only a couple of hundred less than all the Americans killed 6 decades ago during three years of open and savage warfare on the Korean peninsula. However the National Rifle Association continues to insist the only way we can lessen the carnage is to make sure every man, woman, and child is allowed to hump around as many Bushmaster .223s as he or she can carry.

To prove how well that theory is working out, on December 23 a Colorado Springs man shot and killed a person who he believed was attempting to rob his home. Unfortunately, Daniel Meade, who is currently serving with the 4th army division and has been awarded the Bronze Star for bravery above and beyond the call of duty, didn't whack some deadly home invader. He shot to death 14 year old Kiana O'Neil who is his step daughter. The AP reports Meade has yet to be arrested and prosecutors are reviewing the case.

Meanwhile in places like The Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea and Egypt justice has proven to be swift, sure, and absolutely humorless. North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, who Dennis Rodman has described as an, "awesome guy," had his uncle by marriage Jang Song-thaek arrested. Jang went into the dock on a Wednesday morning, was convicted that afternoon, and took a bullet to the back of the head the next day.

In Egypt if you are a member of the Muslim Brotherhood you are probably on the lam at this moment. Egyptian authorities have declared the brotherhood, which was running the country a scant few months ago, a terrorist organization. It's most famous member, Mohammed Morsi, who was, for about 12 months, the first and so far only freely elected Egyptian head of state in 5,000 years, currently resides in a prison somewhere in the greater Cairo area. He is accused of being a terrorist and conspiring with foreign governments against Egypt. Both charges potentially carry the death penalty.

Here in the U.S. Barack Obama in particular and the government in general screwed the pooch so often and completely it isn't, at this moment, unreasonable to speculate that the entire republic is some sort of terrible mistake. First the president tried to cajole us into getting knee deep in the Syrian civil war.The public was having none of it and luckily, thanks to the efforts of the well known humanitarian Vladimir Putin, we were able to side step that deadly tar pit. Later, it was proven, Obama, for lack of a subtler word, lied about certain aspects of his signature legislation, the Affordable Care Act. In addition the federal web site established to enable people to sign up for the plan turned out to be such a programming disaster, hackers ignored it because--well--how can you fuck up something which is already so fucked up? To top it off, democrats and Obama just abandoned 1.3 million unemployed citizens by failing to insist the latest budget include an extension of their benefits.

Of course the republicans didn't exactly endear themselves to the general public either. Hell, they actually liked it when those 1.3 million people were thrown under the bus. Earlier in the year, Ted Cruz mounted a campaign to link the annual budget with a defunding of the ACA. Senior GOP Senators tried to tell him it wouldn't work, did everything they could to let him know the public would blame republicans for a shut down of the government, but he plowed on with ruthless abandon. When Obama and democrats wouldn't budge hundreds of thousands of federal employees found themselves temporarily off the job and jabber as he might, Cruz couldn't convince anyone it wasn't the GOP's fault.

Toward the end, in a moment of unadulterated egotism rarely witnessed since Benito Mussolini was in his prime, the little Canadian took to the Senate floor for nearly a full day. It was as if he was attempting some demented imitation of Jimmy Stewart playing Jefferson Smith. It was all grotesque political theater. The outcome of the argument was predetermined and the time he spent speaking had already been allotted for debate. The only thing the entire squalid affair proved is Cruz has delusions of grandeur so dangerously outrageous he could well be certifiably insane.

The shutdown ended only when the government came within a breath of defaulting on loans it had taken out through things like T-bills and bonds. Large parts of the world, especially the Chinese, were sweating blood and screaming that the bull shit had to stop immediately. John Boehner, perhaps the worst Speaker of the House in history, had to enlist the help of democrats so he could override his own right wing, who actually wanted the nation to go belly up.

Yesterday MSN Money reported in 2012 the richest 10% of Americans earned a larger share of the total national income than at any time since 1917. The report went on to state that to make it into the top 10% you have to earn a minimum of $146,000 annually which is nearly 12 times the income of the lowest 10%. Things have gotten so bad a survey showed 64% of Americans say the United States no longer offers everyone an equal chance to get ahead. Nearly 75% of everybody in the country who makes less than $50,000 feels the economy--you know, capitalism--is inherently unfair.

Harvard professor, Lawerence Katz put it this way, "The middle (class) has really collapsed."

Finally, for all you Duck Dynasty fans, another video of Phil Robertson has surfaced. Robertson was suspended, then unsuspended by the cable TV network A&E because he told GQ magazine what he thought of homosexuals and their future in the afterlife. The gay advocacy group GLAAD raised some hell, causing the initial suspension. Then the right wing began to howl about freedom of speech and religion. Hundreds of thousands threatened to boycott the network if Robertson wasn't immediately reinstated on the top rated show about he and his family. The latest video was shot in 2009 while Brother Phil was addressing something called, Sportsman's Ministry of Georgia. His words of wisdom were these, "You've got to marry these girls when they are about 15 or 16, they'll pick your ducks. Look, you wait until they get to be 20 years old, the only picking that's going to take place is your pocket."

Robertson married at age 20, his wife was 16 at the time. He added these thoughts, "Make sure she can cook a meal, you need to eat some meals she cooks, check that out. Make sure she carries her bible. That'll save you a lot of trouble down the road. And if she picks your ducks, now that's a woman."

I understand freedom of religion and speech. I also know pedophilia and statutory rape when I see it. Let's just say, as the father of two daughters, I'm glad my kids grew up not knowing Phil Robertson and any of his crew.

Yes, it is time to close the door on this foul year. It began a scant two weeks after the Newtown, CT murders and is ending another two weeks or so after Karl Pierson walked into Arapahoe High School in Colorado and murdered Claire Davis, 17 with a shotgun. He did it because he was mad at the debate team coach. Ms Davis had nothing to do with the debate team. She was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Indeed. There is a lot of that going around these days.

See you on the other side. As always, hope springs eternal.

sic vita est


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