Thursday, February 27, 2014

Thursday is in the Books: a Lunatic, a Former President on the Run, the Captain Returns, and Just Another Night With Richie

According to NBC News, the trial of Jimmy Holmes, which was originally scheduled for this month, has now been pushed back to the middle of October. The cause is many fold as the maneuvering by both defense attorneys and the prosecution has begun to resemble the sort of double dog dare insults which precede a playground fight between two third graders. Holmes, as we know, is the bright young bulb who walked into an Aurora, Colorado theater in July of 2012 and opened fire on the audience. By the time he was done 12 were dead and 70 were wounded. The National Rifle Association maintains the weapons he used should be available to every citizen so we can defend ourselves against a dangerous, over reaching, federal government. The movie playing that night was  titled, "The Dark Knight Rises." Brother Holmes dressed himself in all black before beginning the assault.

Right now everyone is waiting on a second psych evaluation which the prosecution requested. Apparently the first, which hasn't been made public, showed Holmes was and is a little too crazy and it could prove detrimental to the state's death penalty case. It is the only conclusion one can make after the D.A. argued the first exam was full of, "numerous deficiencies." The results are expected in July.

Predictably, the defense is still fighting the second set of tests, even though Judge Charles Samour allowed them. At this point Holmes' attorneys are threatening to take their objections to the Colorado Supreme Court which might delay things even further. In addition there will be an April hearing where the defense will make a gaggle of challenges to current Colorado death penalty statutes.

All this is maddening to the survivors and families of the victims who are clamoring for the proceedings to begin sooner than later. NBC quoted Samour as saying, "I understand those wishes, but there's nothing I can do about it. I'm not going to allow things to be rushed." In real world language that reads--I'm not going to give the defense any excuses to have the trial overturned on appeal because I fucked up.

The NBC report noted the judge expects to issue around 6,000 juror summonses before the gruesome circus begins. It is probably for the best. They'll no doubt have to sift through at least that many people before finding 12 souls who can lie well enough to convince both sides they haven't already made up their minds about what to do with Mr. Holmes.

Meanwhile, the location of Viktor Yanukovych, the deposed president of Ukraine, remains a mystery. CNN reports he was last seen in the eastern provincial city of Kharkiv, although the mayor of that burg claims he hasn't seen him in days. It seems the rumor which had him hiding out in a Hitler style bunker located in a monastery was just that--a rumor. An Orthodox church spokesperson is saying it was all tabloid/social media nonsense. A warrant for his arrest on charges of, "mass murder" has been issued.

At the same time the Russians are starting to loom large on the horizon. Vladimir Putin has ordered  military exercises near the border with Ukraine involving 150,000 or so troops and the Foreign Ministry in Moscow is issuing ominous statements. One said, the new government is acting, "rashly" and accused it of "discriminating against ethnic Russians by excluding them from the reform process." Another complained, "A course has been set for suppressing those who disagree in different regions of Ukraine with methods of dictatorship and terror." There you go. Two great reasons for an invasion--discrimination against ethnic Russians and defense of different regions which disagree with the new government and are being, "suppressed." Nurse, the scalpel please. The prospect of an Eastern Ukraine, or Nuevo Ukraine, or some such place is looking more and more likely each day.

Indeed, it looks like we are nearing the tipping point when some beset upon party, no matter how small, or fictional invites Russian troops to storm across the frontier, because--you know--they never go where they aren't invited. Then we can look for them to end the dispute with all the subtle nuance we've come to know and expect from them. Hey, why not? We sent an army into Iraq on the pretense Saddam had weapons of mass destruction--and that foul fabrication didn't even attempt explain how he'd deliver any of them to American shores. In comparison, the Ukrainian chaos is happening on Russia's south western flank, where the headquarters of their Black Sea fleet is located.

Then, in Italy, Captain Francesco Schettino showed up on the island of Giglio. It isn't his first visit. Two years ago he ran the cruise ship, Costa Concordia, onto the island's reef for reasons never fully explained, nearly capsizing it. 32 of the passengers died while he abandoned his post on the bridge for a safer view of the disaster.

Yesterday he told the media, "I am here to tell all of you what you were told was a lie. I am here to restore the truth." Schettino was charged with manslaughter as a result of the maritime debacle. The NBC report did not say how he planned on restoring the truth, or if he made any attempt to do so other than showing up.

Finally, American pro football player, Richie Incognito continued his rampaging ways. A neighbor in Scottsdale, Arizona called police to report Incognito's $300,000 Ferrari had been vandalized. When the cops showed up, Incognito told them not to worry about it, he had done the job on his own vehicle with a baseball bat. There was no explanation of why, other than perhaps he is Richie Incognito and nearly as nuts, although not as well armed--at least not yet--as Jimmy Holmes.

Incognito is currently unemployed, but can sign with any NFL club who needs an offensive lineman in desperate need of psychiatric help on March 11th. In his younger days he was kicked off two different college football programs because of his behavior. Most recently he was implicated in the brutal hazing of former teammate Johnathan Martin and various members of the Miami Dolphins staff. In 2009 NFL players voted him the dirtiest player in the league. His last contract earned him a seven figure salary each and every year.

So, there we have it. Just another Thursday in the books.

Where would we be without them?

The bar, as always, is open.


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Arizona Legislators, Jack Burkman, and Yoweri Museveni Save Us From the Gay Menace

Well, if we've learned anything in the past week or so, it's when it comes to passing anti gay laws, the Russians are pussies.

Indeed, in the grand scheme of things, after listening to Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni, the Arizona legislature, and some slick Washington lobbyist named, Jack Burkman it would be reasonable to consider the Russian law forbidding,"gay propaganda," no big deal at all.

The republican rubes in Arizona passed SB1062 last week, which says any business owner in the state can, based on his or her faith, deny services to anyone they want. In other words you don't have to sell a pizza to a gay person if you believe homosexuality is a sin. The reaction to the law was swift and didn't just come from the LGBT community. Both of Arizona's U.S. senators urged Governor Jan Brewer to veto the bill. In addition various Arizona Chambers of Commerce have come out against it, as have corporate giants, American Airlines, Marriott, and Apple. Even the 2015 Super Bowl host committee has urged Brewer to reject the measure.

The governor has been in Washington, giving the president the finger and hasn't done anything yet, but sources close to her say she will, "probably veto it." It is amazing how tolerant big business conservatives get when profit margins and a tourism industry are on the line.

In the District of Columbia, Jack Burkman--apparently outraged the openly gay Michael Sam will be drafted by some pro team--hit upon a bright idea. FOX Sports is reporting Burkman is composing a bill he hopes some social conservative will champion which would ban gay players from the NFL. According to FOX, Burkman told an interviewer from that, "We are losing our decency as a nation."

He added, "Imagine your son being forced to shower with a gay man. That's a horrifying prospect for every mom in the country. What in the world is this country coming to?"

Burkman claims he has political backing for the bill, but won't name names--sort of a don't ask, don't tell deal at the moment. He also says, "If the NFL has no morals and no values then congress must find values for it."  The lobbyist's bio describes him as a former political analyst for FOX News and notes he was "particularly well known for  his work with FOX analyzing the impeachment of Bill Clinton."

An article in Slate is claiming Big Jack is now saying his, "bill" is just a publicity stunt, but might be useful for some candidate to latch onto in order to prove how conservative he or she is. Slate doesn't mention the anti gay rant, which is available on his site, where he urges parents not to let their sons join the boy scouts because they now accept gay members.

Of course all of this pales in comparison to the gruesome news out of Uganda. Yesterday, President Museveni signed off on legislation which criminalizes homosexuality to the extent you could get life in the slammer if you're a, "serial offender." This was the toned down version of the law. In its original form the maximum sentence was death.

After signing the bill into law, Museveni told the press, "Homosexuals are disgusting. What sort of people are they?" He assured everyone homosexuality was "learned" and therefore could be, "unlearned." He has also claimed there weren't any homosexuals in Uganda until westerners taught some of the locals how to become that way.

So where did this evil crank come up with all his crazed nonsense?

Here is one hint. A pro LGBT Ugandan group is suing Scott Lively in U.S. federal court. They allege the Massachusetts based evangelical lawyer and head of  the organization, Defense of the Family International, consulted with Ugandan lawmakers on the legislation and contributed to its passage. Lively and cohort, Peter LaBarbera, head of Americans For Truth About Homosexuality, lectured extensively about the "gay threat" in Russia prior to the crack down there. They have also made tours of Africa roiling up the masses and local governments. Although they certainly can't take credit for it all, at this point, homosexuality is illegal in 38 nations on the continent.

Yes, apparently, Lively and LaBarbera are of the mind, if you can't beat them at home, then kill them abroad.

It would seem, every now and then, Fred Phelps and the rest of the drooling yahoos at Westboro Baptist Church do win.

The word shameful doesn't even begin to describe this awful bullshit.

sic vita est



Monday, February 24, 2014

When You're Hot, You're Hot and When You're Not, You're Not : Viktor Yanukovych Takes it on the Lam

...what a world, what a world...

The Wicked Witch of the West--from the movie "The Wizard of Oz."

Those words are probably playing on an maddening loop in the brain of former Ukrainian president, Viktor Yanukovych right about now. On Wednesday he was running the country. On Thursday he had enough juice his security forces went so far as to kill at least 77 people who were violently opposed to his presence, not only in the presidential palace, but on the planet itself. On Friday he was cajoled into signing a peace deal with the opposition which was stubbornly holding their lines in the center of Kiev. Finally, on Saturday he was on the lam and his fortunes had slipped to the point the people still stupid enough to be sticking with him couldn't even bribe some outback border officials to let him flee the suddenly shrinking coop. Yes, as Jerry Reed once sang, "When you're hot, you're hot and when you're not, you're not."

Now unsubstantiated claims have him hunkered down in a heavily armed bunker located at a monastery in Donestk in the south eastern corner of Ukraine. Supposedly it is a part of the nation which remains pro Russian, although it is the same place where Yanukovych couldn't buy his way to safety.

Of course pro Russian doesn't necessarily mean pro Yanukovych at the moment. In fact NBC is reporting the new Ukrainian Interior Minister, Arsen Avakov said a warrant has been issued, charging the former president with "mass murder." No wonder he wanted the illicit flight out of the country. The man is caught in a rip tide so vicious the odds are he'll never see the surface of the water again.

NBC also reports wild rumors of Russian troops and armor moving closer to the border, although it notes there is absolutely no evidence of such dangerous activity and Ukrainian officials--the new ones--deny it.

Actually the Russians seem not just angry, but a bit befuddled at the entire series of events. Prime Minister, Dmitri Medvedev was quoted as saying, "We do not understand what is going on there." Indeed, one minute their man seemed firmly in charge and the next he is hiding in some concrete hole in the ground. Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov accused the opposition of failing to follow the accord it signed with the former government and seizing power. Medvedev added, darkly, "There is a real threat to our interests and to the lives of our citizens." He also used the term, armed mutiny, which is never good. In addition the Russian government has already recalled its ambassador--another ominous sign.

Let's face it, any time one of the big boys start to use words like, "threats to our interests and to the lives of our citizens," you need to tread carefully. Just ask the ghost of Saddam Hussein--that foul twit was half a globe away from the people who took him out. In comparison, the Ukrainians are permanently parked in the Russian backyard.

Recognizing the potential of the situation, the Obama people have issued a statement saying any sort of Russian military action would be, "a grave mistake." The problem is, everyone in the world, with the possible exception of John McCain, knows the U.S. won't commit troops to save Ukraine. However, Russian intervention would precipitate what amounts to a new cold war. If such a scenario were to take place the impact on the global economy could be extreme.

Interim Ukrainian president, Oleksander Turchinov has promised a new presidential election campaign will start this week. While that might be a wonderful idea, the hard truth is the Ukrainian economy is down the drain. NBC is saying the nation is $73 billion in debt and needs to pay a minimum of $12 billion this year to keep from going bad on it. One Ukrainian official claims his country will need at least $35 billion in foreign aid over the next two years alone.

That money is going to have to come from the west now, because there is no way Vlad Putin will bankroll a new government which not only ran his pal out on a rail, but appears ready to play kissy face with the European Union.

The situation is, as they say, fluid. All we know for sure is in moments such as these, subtlety has never been a Russian strong suit. And--now that the Winter Olympics are over--Putin is once again free to be Putin.

Stay tuned.


Friday, February 21, 2014

Friday Dispatches: More Fun With Ted, No Presbyterians Allowed, and Herr Osterloh Makes a Promise

Here is what Ted Nugent told Gun Magazine in January:

"I have obviously failed to galvanize and prod, if not shame, enough Americans to be ever vigilant, not to let a Chicago, communist raised, communist educated, communist nurtured sub human mongrel like the ACORN community organizer gangster Barack Hussein Obama weasel his way into the top office of authority in the United States of America."

The whole foul rant stayed below the national radar because, let's face it, not a lot of main stream types are interested in anything appearing on Gun Magazine.

Then Ted began to actively campaign for one Greg Abbott, the current Texas Attorney General who is running for governor. Suddenly the shit hit the fan as Nugent's remarks became known to a wider audience, one which included scads of people who aren't NRA toadies.

Abbott and his people became flustered and began to babble. Media members tracked down prominent republicans and grilled them about what they thought of Brother Nugent's language. Current governor, Rick Perry tried to sidestep the issue by saying something along the lines of, "Well that's just, Ted. Nobody should be surprised by anything he says."

That's rather like some German in 1935 saying, don't worry about what Heinrich Himmler says, because, hey, that's just Heinrich. When the questioning continued Perry finally caved in and condemned Nugent's vitriol.

So did Ted Cruz, but only after he attempted the old--"I'm sure Hollywood democrats have said similar things about republicans,"--dodge. Then he immediately began to ramble about the second amendment and Nugent's defense of it. As always, Cruz's smarmy smile stayed fixed and eerily similar to those found on wax figures in Madame Tussaud's gallery.

The only high profile republican who didn't have to be cornered in a tree like a fugitive raccoon before publicly rejecting the vicious insult was, Rand Paul. Paul, who placed 5th in a six man race in the last major poll continues a slide to the center as we all watch the Chris Christie campaign take hit after hit. It says something about the current republican party when all you have to do to portray yourself as a moderate is act like you're a civilized human being.

Nugent's somewhat dumbfounded response to all this was to go on the radio and say, "I do apologize, not necessarily to the president, but on behalf of much better men than myself."

That's right--Ted Nugent initially apologized for all the republicans who didn't call Obama what he did. He went on to explain, "I apologize for using the street fighter terminology of sub human mongrel instead of using just more understandable language, such as violator of his oath to the constitution."

That certainly cleared things up. Apparently, Nugent didn't think we understood him when he called the first African American president a sub human mongrel--because you know--language like that is so vague it's hard for anyone to interpret.

It was only after the show began receiving a flood of tweets pointing out the Nooge hadn't apologized for squat, that the host asked him point blank if he was apologizing directly to Barack Obama. Nugent's eloquent and no doubt reluctant reply was, "Yes." He also promised to raise the level of his vernacular in the future.

Meanwhile out in Arizona the state senate passed bill number 1062. This allows a business to kick your ass out the door and not provide you with services based on the owners religious beliefs. In other words, if you're a Westboro Baptist Church sort of guy you can tell every gay in the world to go screw themselves and refuse to allow them in your place of business because of who they are.

The vote went along strict party lines. According to one supporter, "This bill is about preventing discrimination against people who are clearly living out their faith." The new law didn't specify which religious beliefs it was attempting to protect, so in theory a Wiccan restaurant owner can refuse to serve Presbyterians and the like--thats not to mention the Muslim falafel shop guy locking the door so Southern Baptists can't get in. No doubt the good lawmakers out in Phoenix thought of all this before voting for the measure.

Finally, Herr Bernd Osterloh, the head of the Volkswagen Works Council has news for all those republicans down south who fought long and hard to keep the UAW out of the new VW plant in Chattanooga. It is this: "If company co-determination isn't guaranteed in the first place, we workers will hardly be able to vote in favor of building another plant in the right to work south."

Yes, things are different when you use the German model of co-determination. It calls for a direct link between labor and management through works councils and the only VW plant in the world which doesn't have one is now located in Chattanooga. That is because of a concerted conservative effort to influence the outcome of the union election there.

Senator Bob Corker, R-TN promised everyone if the plant didn't go union the company would expand it's operations in the south. Now, because he had no idea how German industry works and ignored VW itself, who was in favor of unionizing the plant, Tennessee and most likely the rest of the south won't get another factory with high paying jobs owned by the German auto manufacturer.

It couldn't have happened to a nicer guy.

As always, if there are any questions I'll be in the bar.


Thursday, February 20, 2014

Wendy Davis, Ted Nugent and the Values of a Blood Brother

Greg Abbott is the Attorney General of Texas. He is also a republican candidate for that state's governors office. Proving politicians will take help from just about anyone with name recognition, he has accepted the "proud support," of one Theodore Anthony Nugent.

Mr. Nugent recently referred to Greg Abbott as, "my blood brother." Mr. Abbott responded that Nugent was, "...a fighter for freedom in this country."

Ted, the Nooge, Nugent is known for many things. He is a ragged, over the hill rock and roller, member of the National Rifle Association board of directors, howling right wing provocateur, and borderline pedophile. Last month he called the first African American president of the United States, "a sub human mongrel."

Democratic State Senator Wendy Davis, who is also running for governor in the Lone Star state, reacted immediately to Nugent's support of her possible opponent. She released an on line ad which read, "Texas women don't deserve this disrespect. Greg Abbott has fully embraced an admitted predator who has preyed on under aged girls. This is unacceptable."

The ad went on to say, "Nugent admitted to affairs with several under aged girls." Then quoted the Nooge as saying, "I was addicted to girls, it was hopeless."

Ms. Davis issued a statement along with the ad which said, "Greg Abbott's embrace of Ted Nugent is an insult to every Texan. If this is his idea of values it is repulsive."

The responses from the Abbott camp were quick, but sort of muted. One spokesperson said, "We appreciate the support (of Nugent)." However another added, "Ted Nugent is supporting us, we aren't supporting Ted Nugent." Abbott later said, "I don't know what he may have said or done in his background. What I do know is that Ted Nugent stands for the constitution."

The candidate probably would have been better served if he'd done a little research into what Ted Nugent, may have said or done. For one thing, in 1978, the then 30 year old musician became sexually involved with a 17 year old Hawaiian girl  named, Pele Massa. To make sure he stayed on the right side of the law--kind of--he talked her parents into allowing him to become her "legal guardian." Spin Magazine recognized the act as number 63 on it's top 100 list of sleaziest moments in rock and roll.

In addition the NRA board member has been busted twice while hunting. Once for baiting an under aged male deer into the open and illegally killing it. Then for illegally killing a bear. In both instances he was fined and, for periods of time, banned from hunting in California and Alaska. In addition, he owns a fenced in ranch in Michigan where he conducts what is known as canned hunting. That would be the practice of killing wild game animals who can't flee because they are trapped in an enclosed area.

Ah yes, very sporting.

Nugent hasn't responded to the Davis ad yet, but he has certainly gone after CNN's Wolf Blitzer. Blitzer opined the "subhuman mongrel" crack was highly reminiscent of the terminology used by Nazis when they were gearing up to exterminate Jews, Gypsies, Gays, Slavs, Blacks and mixed race blacks--you know--people like Barack Obama. One tweet accused Blitzer of not being a journalist. Another said, "CNN Joseph Goebbells (sic) Saul Alinsky propaganda minister mongrels." A third read, "So much media has lost it's soul. Lying Saul Alinsky Joseph Geobbells (sic) freaks."

Besides noting Nugent can't spell Joseph Goebbels' name to save his life, some might find the reference to Saul Alinsky a bit cryptic. After all the guy dropped dead of a heart attack back in 1972.

Obviously the Nooge is referencing Barack Obama who, like Alinsky, started out as a community organizer in Chicago. Alinsky also wrote a book called "Rules for Radicals" which, according to at least one analyst heavily influenced the 2008 Obama campaign.

Because Alinsky was a raging leftist, Nugent appears to be trying to link the president to some sort of wild eyed communist--another name he has called Obama.

Unfortunately Alinsky wasn't a communist. The truth is, he never joined a political party or organization, feeling membership in any of them would corner him intellectually. In fact, according to Wikipedia, the arch conservative group, Freedom Works gives copies of "Rules for Radicals," to its leadership cadre so they can follow his guide lines when they organize grass roots tea party movements in various locales.

Well, where would we be without a little irony?

It won't be a pretty campaign south of the Red River. The very presence of Ted Nugent and some clown who thinks it is a good idea to get him involved guarantees it. Other republicans are already calling Davis, "The Abortion Barbie," so you can only imagine what Nugent and Abbott will say about her.

You have to love Wendy Davis for standing up to gruesome clods such as these. You also have to think she has about as much of a chance this autumn as one of those hemmed in beasts at Nugent's ranch.

Hey, as we say down here, in another context, such things may be cruel, but they sure aren't unusual.

If there are any questions, I'll be in the bar.

sic vita est


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Things Get Ugly in Ukraine

It is getting ugly in Ukraine. In fact the scenes coming out of Kiev look like the trouble in Tahrir Square a while back, only on steroids. Vast numbers of combatants are silhouetted against raging flames as explosions rock the streets. Molotov cocktails arc through the air and blossom into new fires. Wave after wave of black clad police in riot gear surge forward, then ebb as they break against walls of fierce resistance.

Yes, at the moment, Kiev is not a place for the faint of heart. The U.S. State Department has issued warnings to Americans in the capital to either leave or prepare to stay indoors for an extended period of time. The police are attempting to seal off the city in order to prevent reinforcements from swelling the ranks of the protesters. Even as they do the violence has spread to the city of Lviv where a crowd took over a regional  administrative building and forced police to surrender. There are also reports of violence in the city of Ivan-Frankisvsk and at a border crossing into Poland.

It all started back in November when Ukrainian President, Viktor Yanukovych backed out of a deal with the European Union and accepted a $15 billion payoff from our old pal, Vladimir Putin meant to bail out the economy. The problem is a vast number of Ukrainians don't want anything to do with Russia and, frankly, never have. At first the protests were peaceful, but over the next three months became edgier and more dangerous. Now, at least in Kiev's Independence Square, they've reached the point of virtual civil war.

An indication of how out of control things have become came today from the Ukrainian Prime Minister, Serhiy Arbuzov. He told government officials, in front of members of the western media, "This is not a demonstration of democracy. It is the manipulation of people's minds and an attempt to seize power by force." That statement, in front of those witnesses, wasn't an accident. Both Yanukovych and Putin have also described the protests as an attempted coup. Obviously the view, Yanukovych is trying to sell to the world is this is a revolution attempting to overthrow a legally elected government. The hot button word "terrorism" is also being bandied about by various Ukrainian officials. NBC's latest bulletins note Ukrainian anti terrorist forces have been put on full alert.

Well why not? In this day and age one man's freedom fighter is anothers terrorist. When power is threatened, power responds with--you guessed it--power. Besides, Yanukovych knows that after everyone takes a look at the photos coming across the internet, the word riot seems totally inadequate.

At last look media sources are saying at least 26 have been killed. The number includes 10 police and 1 journalist. In addition it is reported 263 protesters have been wounded as well as 342 police. The government is claiming almost all the police have been wounded by gunfire. Whether that allegation is accurate, or just a propaganda ploy to strengthen the argument this is truly an armed insurrection is still up in the air. It is known the number of casualties have apparently overwhelmed the local hospitals and NBC is saying a temporary one has been set up at St. Michael's Cathedral.

The United States and the European Union are threatening economic sanctions unless the Ukrainian government backs off. It is, at best, a shallow show of support to the protesters since any sanctions will have little or no real effect. They will, however, fuel Russian charges the west is behind all the unrest and violence to begin with.

The hard truth is the men and women facing the riot police are on their own and now it seems like it's' only a matter of time before things worsen and the tanks roll in. If the violence continues to escalate across the countryside there is even a possibility of Yanukovych asking Putin for military assistance. Let's face it, this is Vlad's backyard and his country is heavily dependent on Ukrainian pipelines to carry Russian gas out of the motherland. Indeed, he could call it a matter of immediate national security and send in the army to stabilize the region. After all, we've sent American troops further distances for reasons which were far murkier.

The reality is the U.S. and European powers are utterly impotent when it comes to what is going down in Ukraine right now. Economic sanctions aren't going to work and no one in their right mind will suggest a NATO intervention.

It seems impossible, Yanukovych will cave into, or even compromise because the violence has gone too far and it's his head all those pissed off people want. And--in all honesty--there is no accurate way to know the real depth of support the demonstrators have from the majority of  Ukrainians. In the final analysis, it is easy to count those in the streets, but extremely hard to gauge the thoughts of all the ones sitting at home.

The only thing we know for sure is this will end badly. These things always do. That, we can count on.

sic vita est


Sunday, February 16, 2014

Michael Dunn's Goose Gets Cooked

To say Michael Dunn screwed the pooch would be understating things a tad.

Dunn is the 47 year old white software engineer who got into an angry exchange with four black teenagers in a gas station parking lot. The whole thing began because he thought the music being played in their vehicle was turned up too loud. Her referred to it, under oath, the other day as, "rap crap."

While some might agree with his opinion of the genre very few responsible people would go along with how Mr. Dunn handled himself and brought the argument to an end. Let's face it, firing ten rounds from a handgun, nine of which hit the teenagers' car, does seem a bit extreme.

Dunn had the weapon because--well--it is Florida and apparently every white person in Florida, no matter how brain dead, is allowed to carry one. When the smoke cleared Jordan Davis was dead in the back seat of the SUV he and his pals occupied. Young Mr. Davis didn't have a criminal record and forensic evidence proved he never attempted to exit the vehicle. In addition, despite what Mike Dunn might have thought, there weren't any weapons found on the youths, or in their car.

Besides playing their music too loud, Brother Dunn accused one of the teens of "scowling" at him. He also claimed they presented a, "clear and present danger" to him. His plea was self defense and his attorney cited the Florida stand your ground statute which allows goofs like him to pull a weapon and use it instead of doing something crazy--you know--like leaving.

It may have worked for George Zimmerman, but this time things turned out differently. After over 30 hours of deliberation the jury came back irrevocably hung on the single charge of first degree murder. However, on four lesser charges, three of attempted murder and one of, "firing a deadly missile into an occupied vehicle," they cooked his pale goose.

He won't be sentenced until March, 24th, but Michael Dunn is looking at 60 years total on the four counts--plus, States Attorney Angela Corey says she will retry him on the murder charge.

Because of the crime's racial overtones the media put a heavy emphasis on the ethnic make up of the jury, noting time and time again the panel was comprised of eight Caucasians, two African Americans, one Asian, and one Hispanic. So far none of the jurors have spoken to the press explaining why they could not come to a decision on the murder one charge, or why they didn't exercise their options to convict on lesser charges of murder two, or manslaughter.

It probably doesn't matter. Corey has promised a retrial and even if Dunn gets out on parole after 20 years, he'll be an old man with very few options remaining in what life he has left.

Apparently Mr. Dunn was utterly convinced of the righteousness of the kill. NBC News quoted his attorney, Cory Strolla as saying, "He basically said, 'How is this happening?' The counselor added, "It hasn't settled in." It will soon, especially when he takes a one way bus ride to some Florida correctional facility and has to seek out the dubious protection of The Aryan Brotherhood.

Jordan Davis' mother, Lucy McBath was quoted as saying, "...we are so grateful for the truth, we are so grateful that the jurors were able to understand the common sense of it all."

Yes, given the tyranny of the NRA, it was a refreshing change to see a group of people grasp the term, "common sense" and put it to use. That sort of critical thinking has been far too rare in this country lately.

Obviously no one can bring Jordan Davis back. He is lost to his family forever and despite what his mother said about closure in her statement to the press, there really is no such thing. She will always know her son was killed for no good reason and he will never have the opportunity to either succeed, or fail in life. Mike Dunn's fear and irresponsibility made sure of that.

Sadly, it is just a matter of time before it happens again.

Hey, this is, after all, the United States of America--and just because we can--we're all armed and dangerous. Just ask the family of Jordan Davis.

sic vita est


Friday, February 14, 2014

Ted Cruz Burns Bridges and Books a Trip to Iowa

You can say many things about the mad Canadian, Ted Cruz, however you'll never be able to accuse him of being afraid to burn bridges. Senator Cruz did just that on Wednesday when he forced members of his own party to vote in favor of a motion to bring the "clean" debt ceiling bill to the floor.

The old guard knew it was coming and they didn't like it. Prior to the vote Cruz had issued a statement which read, "Historically the debt ceiling has proven the most effective leverage for reining in spending; 28 times congress has attached meaningful conditions to debt ceiling increases. We should do that again to address the real problem. I intend to object to any effort to raise the debt ceiling on a 50 vote threshold. I will insist on a 60 vote threshold."

He didn't get it, but what he did get was a vote to lower the threshold from 60 to 50 which ensured the bill's passage. After 12 republican senators, including minority leader Mitch McConnell and the number two GOP member, John Cornyn joined with democrats to halt the filibuster rule the actual measure passed, 55-43 with the voting falling along party lines.

Following the initial vote Cruz shrugged and said, " was a victory for the Washington establishment."

Calling Cruz a loose cannon is rather like calling Moe, Larry, and Curly's brand of humor subtle. He went around promising everyone he wouldn't raise money or campaign for a couple of fellow tea party hot shots who are running against McConnell and Cornyn in the primary season. Now he might as well have, because he just gave the Matt Bevin campaign in Kentucky and the Steve Stockman team down in Texas enough fuel to last right through the spring.

Both of those yokels were already calling McConnell and Cornyn closet liberals to begin with. Now they can really bay at the moon and play to the torch carrying mobs. To make sure everyone knew what he thought of McConnell, Cruz told a reporter the decision to keep him as minority leader was, "initially" up to the voters of Kentucky.

Among those of the GOP voting to stop the filibuster rule was Nebraska Senator Mike Johanns. When someone asked him about Cruz he simply said, "He's new here."

Therein lies the rub. Ted Cruz is new in the Senate, but he doesn't plan on growing old there. No, the man from Alberta is ruffling the feathers of everyone so he can go on the stump in 2016 and portray himself as the quintessential outsider who shook things up in Washington. Indeed, it is easy to burn bridges when you view your Senate career as nothing more than a moving van taking you straight to the big white house on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Next month, while Cornyn and McConnell are fighting for their political lives Cruz will be in Iowa speaking to an arch conservative crowd which is holding something called, The Home Schooling Rally. This is a fairly significant gathering and it has previously drawn right wing presidential hopefuls such as, Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, and Ron Paul.

It is unknown if Cruz realizes the list of past guest speakers at the "rally" is nothing more than a ragged collection of abject losers who never made any sort of real run at the nomination, or not. The truth is, all he'll be caring about is he will be among his people and they'll cheer wildly at everything he says.

Sure--keep the dream alive for as long as you can. After all, when you're trailing a failed vice presidential candidate, an out of office governor, and some fat dude from Jersey in the polls you must remain positive at all times.

Ted Cruz appears to be the next coming of Big Joe McCarthy. That makes him scary. It also makes him, if history has taught us anything, a quick flame out. The trick is surviving his brutal and cruel demagoguery and bald-faced treachery while he is around.

Just ask Mitch McConnell and John Cornyn.


Thursday, February 13, 2014

Justin Adams Walks

The deal was struck and yesterday both parties held up their ends of it.

In today's, The Oklahoman, Matt Dinger reports that on Wednesday, Justin Dewayne Adams pleaded guilty to two counts of first degree manslaughter then walked out into a bright February sun, for all practical purposes, free as a bird.

It has been a long trip--one that began on December 9th, 2011. That was the night Jaymie Adams, age 25 and pregnant with her fifth child, went off to meet a john at a Midwest City McDonalds. She never came home. Her body was found in south east Oklahoma City near Lake Stanley Draper on January 7th, 2012. She had been stabbed 18 times in the back, 29 times total, and her jaw had been broken in three places.

Justin Adams notified police his wife was missing on the 10th of December and the investigation almost immediately homed in on him. There were a couple of reasons it did. Adams first told the cops his wife had gone to meet a friend, but then his story began to shift. After some questioning he admitted they were swingers who advertised on Craig's List for partners. Then finally, he fessed up to the hard truth, which was Jaymie Adams was pulling down tricks and basically he was a soft core version of a pimp. There were also questions about his actual location the night she went missing. In addition the cops knew the odds. In this country if a wife is murdered chances are better than 50-50 the husband did it.

Adams was arrested and chucked away while the police and DA's office tried to complete their case against him.

It wasn't happening though. Try as they might they couldn't come up with a smoking gun that would either slam the door on Adams for life, or get him the hot shot on a gurney down in McAlester. In late January of 2012 police and the DA admitted to the media they were still searching for additional evidence. By July of that year a judge let him out on $100,000 bond even though he was still charged with two counts of first degree murder,

It turned out the police had begun looking at another guy for the killing. His name was Joseph Cyr. He had been interviewed by the authorities as early as ten days after Jaymie Adams disappeared. Cyr maintained then and still does, he had exchanged text messages and emails with Mrs. Adams on the 9th, but after trading photos and finding out what her going rate was, decided not to meet her.

However, police obtained a sample of Cyr's DNA and according to press reports, matched it with DNA found on the body. That was in July, 2012. For reasons, which remain unexplained, Cyr wasn't arrested and charged with the death until early April of last year.

At the same time the charges against Adams were lessened to first degree manslaughter--the logic being he had facilitated criminal behavior and aided and abetted in a felony which put his wife in a position to be murdered. Adams' attorney, Irven Box basically called the manslaughter charges bull shit. His opinion hasn't changed. 

In Dinger's story today Box stated he advised Adams not to plead guilty, but his client is so distrustful of the justice system he didn't want to face a jury. Well, that and he probably didn't want the DA to show them an ad he wrote on Craig's List which read: I am letting any willing man come and have his way with my wife with a little compensation for us to help with our holiday funding we need.

Yes, one can easily imagine a jury of 12 outraged Southern Baptists taking one look at that, then throwing him in the slammer just for being the ultimate sleaze--not to mention a lesser charge of gross illiteracy.

As it stands now Justin Adams is beginning to serve two 10 year suspended sentences with two years of supervised probation. Cyr is still in the county jail. Dinger writes his preliminary hearing will be held on April 4th.

So one chapter in the tragedy of Jaymie Adams is seemingly over, but we're a long way from the conclusion. Given how things have gone so far, it feels like we're equally as distant from the final answers to the mystery of her death.

Indeed, where are Lenny Briscoe and Jack McCoy when we need them?

sic vita est



Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Deadly Scowls in Jacksonville and Valentine's Day with Your Someone Special in Oklahoma City

Michael Dunn is a 47 year old software engineer. Last November 23rd he pulled into the parking lot of a Jacksonville, Florida convenience store with his fiancee, Rhonda Rouer and came to a stop next to a SUV. Within a few minutes of that decision we found out three things about him. One, he really doesn't like loud rap music. Two, he was licensed to carry a concealed weapon. Three, he was willing to use it.

Yes, we're back in Florida with another armed white guy in a confrontation with black kids. Dunn, who has been charged with first degree murder and three counts of attempted murder, is claiming--you guessed it--self defense. NBC reports, Dunn took the stand today and testified, among other things, "I was in fear for my life. I couldn't believe what I was seeing and hearing."

According to Dunn's version of events, the SUV's volume and bass were turned up so loud his, "...rear view mirror was shaking, my eardrums were vibrating. It was ridiculously loud." He told the judge and jury he asked the occupants of the vehicle to tune it down. He said they did and he thanked them.

Apparently that is when things went terribly wrong. Dunn testified someone in the SUV began cursing and used the terms, "cracker and white boy." At that point the music went back on loud and Dunn says the teens became menacing, one going so far as to scowl at him. That's right, it is the old he scowled at me defense, which is always useful when explaining why you opened fire on a black kid.

He told the court, he asked them, "Are you talking to me?" It is the line made famous by the psychotic lead character in the movie, "Taxi Driver."  Dunn maintained by saying it he was trying to, "de-escalate the situation." As you can expect, it didn't.

He then said a passenger in the back seat reached down, picked something up, and pointed what he believed to be a shot gun barrel at him. At the same time another youth got out of the SUV. Dunn described the actions as a, "clear and present danger."

He told the jurors he reached into the glove compartment of his car, pulled his weapon out, said, "You're not going to kill me you son of a bitch," and fired nine rounds. Immediately after the shooting he and his fiancee pulled out of the parking lot and drove to a hotel where they were staying.

The NBC story doesn't say if the prosecution asked him what would seem to be the most obvious question--which is--Mr. Dunn, why didn't you do that in the first fucking place?

The result of all this nonsense was that 17 year old Jordan Davis, of Marietta, GA was killed. There wasn't a shotgun, or any other type of weapon in the SUV. Michael Dunn was, at best, mistaken. At worst, he's just another middle aged white guy pissed off by what he described on the stand as, "rap crap," being played loudly. Not to mention, one so scared shitless by the close proximity of black teenagers, he's willing to use deadly force at the drop of a hat.

Dunn testified he didn't know anyone was killed until he saw news reports later. According to him, "We just thought we made them go away."

That is one way to put it, because Jordon Davis has certainly gone away. And he won't be back--ever.

Meanwhile here in Oklahoma City, today's daily paper carried an offer for a different sort of Valentine's Day sweetheart package. A south side gun range is asking you to, "Bring your Someone Special for a memorable Valentine's Day." The great memory would include, "range time and dinner for two" on Friday, February 14th. Next to the pink and black ad copy is a photo of bullets set up in the outline of a heart.

Well why not? Nothing says amore quite like an intimate dinner for two and a couple of hours spent making sure you and your true love have all the requisite skills needed to blow away those deadly scowls teenagers wield so ruthlessly.

Land of the free, my ass.


Friday, February 7, 2014

Friday Dispatches: Joe Biden Can't Count, No Do Overs in Tampa, and This Doesn't Look Like Sochi

Maybe it is something in the heating ducts--some unknown extraterrestrial spores that have caused at least a few of us to jump head first into the swirling and bottomless hole known as dementia.

First on the list is Joe Biden. The vice president told an interviewer he would wait until the summer of 2015 to decide whether to run for the democratic presidential nomination, or not. He added, there is, "no obvious reason not to run."

You gotta love the bravado, but Joe here are a couple of things you might want to consider. In the last national poll taken of democrats, over 70% said they would back Hillary Clinton and just 12% preferred you. It doesn't take a whiz in Vegas to figure those odds are pretty long. She also has the announced support of the largest democratic super pac which means her funds, while not unlimited, are going to make whatever you're able to either borrow, or steal look like chump change. All this begs the question, can Joe Biden count? 

Of course Mr. Biden's cruise into the fog bank pales in comparison to the bizarre safari Curtis Reeves has embarked upon. Reeves is a retired Tampa cop. He became really pissed off because a guy sitting in front of him in a theater was texting on his phone while the coming attractions were playing. To make sure that rude and unacceptable shit stopped in a hurry, Brother Reeves shot him to death.

The 20 year police veteran appeared in court today for a bail hearing. Four or five people spoke on his behalf, testifying under oath the defendant doesn't have any anger management issues and won't be a danger to anyone in the community.

Tell that to Nicole Oulson. She was wounded in the hand when Reeves squeezed off a round during the sudden and deadly confrontation. The same bullet that got her, killed her husband, Chad Reeves, the father of a three year old. He had been texting his child's baby sitter. According to Mrs. Oulson, "He (Reeves) confronted my husband several times, which my husband ignored, ignored, and ignored. And it just got to the point where my husband spoke up."

A tape of a police interview with Reeves was played where he claimed Oulson had struck him in the face and, "It scared the hell out of me. The guy was very aggressive."

Unfortunately no one else in the theater, including Reeves' wife, saw the alleged hay maker, although several witness believe Oulson might have tossed some popcorn at him. Vivian Reeves testified that while she didn't see a punch thrown, Mr. Oulson was leaning toward her husband and using a string of expletives. She also admitted, despite the language, Oulson did not make any threats.

Mrs. Oulson told the court that after the shooting Reeves sat back in his seat and didn't offer any assistance when others came to her husband's aid.

The police recording concluded with this observation from the shooter himself, "If I had it to do over again it would have never happened. But, you don't get do overs." No, you don't, especially if you're the now fatherless daughter and widow of Chad Oulson.

Reeves is charged with second degree murder and aggravated battery. He is pleading not guilty and because it is Florida, claiming he was acting in self defense. Well, why not? As we've seen, that argument has worked before.

Finally, in breaking news, some clown tried to hijack a passenger jet by claiming he had a bomb on board. He told the pilots he wanted to be flown to the Russian city of Sochi where the winter olympics are in full swing. The pilots told him, sure, we'll do that, then turned off the passenger monitors, and flew the goof straight to Istanbul, escorted by two Turkish F16s. Police took a Ukrainian man into custody and at last report were searching the plane for explosives.

So there we have it. Just another frozen February day involving dark skies, dirty snow, and a virulent strain of cabin fever which has apparently become highly contagious, not to mention wide spread. It is, in the end, the only possible explanation,

Luckily, the bar is open.


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Shifting Sands in Duncan

The sand is shifting down in Duncan, Oklahoma. The deadly tale of Chancey Allen Luna, Michael Dwayne Jones, and James Francis Edwards Jr. reached the courtroom during a preliminary hearing yesterday and things have changed from what we were initially told back in August.

The three teens were accused of shooting, Christopher Lane to death that month because they were bored, had a gun, and could. Lane, an Australian, was a catcher on the Oklahoma East Central University baseball team and was in town visiting his girl friend, Sarah Harper. He had gone out jogging and was shot in the back from a car Jones was allegedly driving.

Initially the local DA's office seemed to be negotiating with Jones and a plea deal appeared to be in the works for him. He is the one who reportedly told the cops he and his pals did it because they didn't have anything better to do.

All that began to change a couple of months later when Oklahoma City's daily paper, The Oklahoman, ran a story saying the DA had suddenly withdrawn the offer to Jones. At the same time it was also revealed someone in Duncan had shot a donkey to death the night before Lane was killed.

The Oklahoman reporter, Nolan Clay wrote in today's news it was Edwards who went onto the stand to give an account of the shooting and he is the one being offered a deal. According to the story Edwards claimed the three weren't sitting around a house when they first saw Lane, but in Jones' car at a stop light. In this version Luna and Jones had picked up Edwards to take him to the Stephens County courthouse so he could sign some papers. While en route, Edwards began to roll a joint which was a payment of sorts to his pals for the ride.

During the trip Edwards claimed he asked Jones if they'd shot the donkey and he admitted they had. Clay reports the animal had been found shot multiple times. Edwards testified he was in the front seat, Jones was driving, and Luna was in the back seat. He identified Luna as the shooter although he maintains he didn't know Luna was carrying a weapon until the moment the shot was fired. He also testified Jones swerved the car toward Lane immediately prior to the shooting, presumably to provide Luna with a better target.

Well, maybe--at that point things turned even weirder, which, given the nature of this gruesome episode, seems impossible. According to Clay's story, after the shooting, the three hot dogs drove to the parking lot of a Mexican restaurant so they could hide the piece under the hood of the car. Edwards testified at that point Luna looked at Jones and said, "I thought there were supposed to be blanks in the gun." Jones' response was, "Me too. Sorry."

Ah yes, the old, we thought the gun was loaded with blanks defense. Who knows, maybe they did, although they certainly knew it didn't hold any blanks when they shot the living shit out of that ass the night before.

After the hearing, Clay writes Luna's attorney told the press, "Our young man is innocent of premeditated murder." He added, "These young fellows thought there were blanks in the gun."

Indeed, the whole thing was just a harmless practical joke gone awry. The guys were simply trying to have fun and, after all, to paraphrase Cyndi Lauper, boys, just want to have fun.

Police still haven't found the weapon that was used in the murder. Clay reports Edwards is accused of calling a friend from the jail to tell him to make sure it was ditched it in parts unknown. Why someone looking for a deal with the DA would do that remains a bit fuzzy. But--as we've seen, there are a lot of blurred details at the moment.

Edwards will be charged as an accessory after the fact if he continues to testify against Jones and Luna. Although now, nothing seems a sure thing. The next appearance date for Luna and Jones is March 12th. Edwards isn't scheduled back into court until May.

It is brute cold here on the southern plains in more ways than one. Tragically, much of it doesn't have a thing to do with climate change.

It increasingly looks like civilization is nothing more than a myth. It is some strange word we came up with to make us feel better about ourselves. And--America is a terrible mistake, an experiment gone so horribly wrong it has the life expectancy and the historical significance of the Dodo bird.

If there are any questions, I'll be in the bar.


Monday, February 3, 2014

Willie Edge Threatens to Sing: Who Hired This Clown?

We are grateful for David Wildstein's commitment and dedication to the important work of the Port Authority and thank him for his service to the people of New Jersey and the region.

Michael Drewniak, spokesperson for Governor Chris Christie, addressing the resignation of Christie appointee, David Wildstein following the George Washington Bridge lane closures in Ft. Lee.

What a difference a month or so makes. Drewniak said those glowing words in December. That would be before Wildstein's lawyer told the media, "evidence exists," the governor knew about the lane closings which fouled the flow of vehicles onto the George Washington Bridge.

Oops. According to Christie's marathon mea culpa a couple of weeks ago he didn't have any idea the lanes were closed. He was, according to himself, merrily campaigning away at the time and had far more important things to think about than some traffic jam in Ft. Lee.

Saturday the Christie people issued a statement saying, among other things, "David Wildstein will say anything to save David Wildstein." Well, yeah--that is why people like Wildstein are called, rats leaving the ship. It doesn't mean they aren't telling the truth though. Hell, even John Dean got religion as the Nixon administration crumbled before our eyes.

The whole GWB affair called into question the governor's character and political tactics. Was he some sort of street bully who basically put out a hit on Ft. Lee, because the mayor there wouldn't support him? Or, was the whole affair caused by a few over zealous staffers going rogue without his knowledge?

If Christie's people wanted to dis-spell the vindictive bully image they didn't exactly help themselves Saturday. The list of Wildstein's sins coming from the Governor's office was as long as it was bizarre. 1. As a 16 year old he sued over a school board election. 2. He was publicly accused of deceptive behavior by his high school social studies teacher. 3. He had a controversial tenure as mayor of Livingston, NJ. 4. He wrote a blog using the pseudonym, Willie Edge. 5. He had a strange habit of registering web addresses for other people's names without telling them.

Okay, granted, number 5 is a tad creepy. However, when you start talking about some guy's teen years and what one of his high school teachers thought of him, you've entered into a realm of vindictiveness so cruel and petty in nature it makes it easier for some of us to think Christie did know about the lane closures. Given the tone of the accusations, the next press release might tell us that as a five year old, David Wildstein once urinated behind a tree in a park.

The accusations also call into question the governor's hiring practices. Hey, if Wildstein was such a rotten apple from the day he was born, why did Chris Christie appoint him in the first place? And--why was there praise for him after he quit? Did the governor know of all these terrible offenses before he gave this modern day Moriarty a job, or was there an epic failure on the part of the Human Resources Department? Indeed, what in God's name were we thinking when we hired this clown? 

NBC speculates the Christie staff might have gone a little off deep end with the accusations in order to show other potential canaries what they could expect if they sing along with, Dave. It might work with some of them too, but at same time such heavy handedness leads us straight back to the perception the governor might be better suited to running the Corleone Family than the state of New Jersey.

Yes, it would seem, just as the ancient beasts at the La Brea tar pits found, the more you struggle the quicker the goo sucks you under.

Is Christie done? Not yet, but he is definitely a man in need of oxygen and an IV drip.

Wildstein's attorney did not offer up what the "evidence" is, but now it is just a matter of time before it becomes public knowledge. We'll have to wait to see if it is fatal, or not.

sic vita est


Saturday, February 1, 2014

The Super Bowl: Big Bucks, Big Gambles, and the Big Ape

It is here again. The great American Bacchanalia known as the Super Bowl. We know it must be not only important, but wildly pagan and bloodthirsty because the media won't refer to it as, the 48th Annual Super Bowl. No, we insist on using Roman numerals. Indeed out with the common and in with the Latin. It is Super Bowl XLVIII. The only thing that will be missing Sunday are the players facing the crowd and reciting, Hail Caesar, we who are about to die salute you.

Well, you can't have everything, although God only knows how many Super Bowl party revelers  will be wearing replicas of team jerseys--the 21st century version of the toga.

The estimated viewing audience for this years game is 108 million human beings. That means big bucks, because each and every one of them can buy stuff. In 1967, during the first one of these things, the average ad spot ran $42,000 a pop. The Washington Post reports the median amount spent for a 30 second advertisement tomorrow evening will cost your company, $4 million. That breaks down to $133,000 per second.

The reward for that investment could be substantial. The Wall Street Journal says the stock of publicly traded companies who advertise during the game rises both in the week before kickoff and during the week after. Paying the big bucks doesn't come without a risk though. If you've got just enough cash for one of those 4 million dollar spots and it is scheduled for the last quarter, you'd better get down on your knees and pray to the Good Lord the contest is close. Every stat out there says if the game is a blowout tens of millions of people start looking for reruns of "Law and Order," or "Criminal Minds" shortly after half time. 

So, how seriously do we take this nonsense? According to the Wall Street Journal once again, Dr. Bryan Schwartz of the University of New Mexico did a study where he found during the 8 days after the Patriots blew the 2008 game to the Giants, heart related deaths in Massachusetts went up by 24% when compared to same period after previous Super Bowls. In addition the WSJ quoted a consulting firm which estimated, nation wide, the week before the game, employers lose $1.3 billion in wasted work time because everyone in the office is planning partys, organizing and betting in office pools, and generally grousing about who will win, or lose and why.

Beyond the work place and health factors--in Nevada, where betting on events like this is legal, the WSJ says $99 million was wagered on last years game in one way or another. For those of you not familiar with the one way or another, there is not only who wins, but what is called the over/under (the number of total points both teams will score). In addition there are the true betting aficionados who will wager the half time over/under, the per quarter over/under, who wins the opening coin toss, how many field goals will be kicked, and this year, how many times Peyton Manning calls out the word, "Omaha" before each Denver offensive play. In reality those options only scratch the surface, because in Vegas they'll take whatever bet you want to place. If you go into a Las Vegas sports book and put some bucks on how many times the cameras show Peyton's old man, Archie sitting in a luxury suite during the game, they'll take it in a minute. It is estimated world wide, $10 billion will be put at risk on what happens.

Which brings us to how does everyone decide who to put their money on. The Vegas line is Broncos minus 2 and a half. In other words, if you wager on Denver they must win by at least three points or you lose. The guys out in the Nevada desert are pros, they make their living doing things like this. In theory you should be paying attention to them. The problem is the Vegas numbers will move up or down, depending on where the action is. If everyone is taking Denver the line will go up. If everyone is betting on Seattle it will go down.This being the internet though, a couple of different theories are afloat. First is a nine year old episode of the cartoon show, "The Simpsons" which predicts a Denver win by 5 points. The second is based on an orangutan in the Salt Lake City zoo named Eli. He has successfully predicted the winner for the last 8 years in a row by knocking around one of two styrofoam replica helmets of the competing teams. He has gone with Seattle.

Think about it,  why not believe him? After all, Caligula made his horse a member of the Roman Senate, so why can't millions, if not billions of dollars change hands because of the capriciousness of some caged beast in Utah?

It makes perfect sense given what this country has and hasn't become, especially when you consider all the wild hoopla and high stakes corporate wagers which accompanies the current dementia and festivities.

In the end, after careful consideration, I'm ready to make my decision. Look, I've never said I'm without sin, or not part of the problem. That's right, I was born and bred here--and--I'm going with the fucking ape. Put me down for a C-note on Seattle. Hey, the monkey is on a hot streak. And--if we know anything--you ride a hot streak to the flaming finish.

It is, The American Way.

sic vita est