Monday, March 31, 2014

Monday Madness: Chris Christie Inserts a Foot into His Mouth, Flight 370 is Still Lost, and Vlad Putin Might Be Nuts

It was a weird weekend and so far today the situation has not improved.

Saturday, NJ Governor Chris Christie spoke to the Republican Jewish Coalition in Las Vegas. He had just been cleared of any wrong doing in the George Washington Bridge scandal by a panel he commissioned. Although those doing the reviewing were members of a law firm he has close connections to, he had to feel the tide had turned and he could finally concentrate fully on his presidential bid. In addition, he was scheduled to have a private conversation with gambling mogul Sheldon Adelson, during which the Governor would presumably kiss Mr. Adelson's ass numerous times while in search of  a large campaign contribution.

Then, in a surreal moment of political nihilism, or gross stupidity, he placed his foot squarely into his mouth. During the speech he recalled a helicopter tour he once took in Israel. While he was telling the gathering about it, he referred to Gaza and the West Bank as, "the occupied territories."


It isn't clear who wrote the speech, but the author really needs to understand you don't stick your guy in front of a bunch of influential, rich, American Jews, then have him use the term occupied territories while he talks about Israel. NBC reported Christie ended up apologizing personally to Adelson afterward. It is unknown at this time if Sheldon put a stop payment on a check, or simply told the Governor he'd have better luck getting funds from a roulette wheel at the Venetian than he would from anyone in the audience.

Out over the Indian Ocean, the search for Malaysian Airlines flight 370 continues to prove utterly futile. All the promising pieces of flotsam turned out not to be from the missing Boeing 777. The debris was described as discarded, or lost fishing boat gear.

Meanwhile, in their never ending quest to fuel conspiracy theories, the Malaysian authorities are now claiming the final radio broadcast from the aircraft was, "Goodnight: Malaysian flight 370." This is opposed to the, "All right, goodnight," broadcast they previously insisted was the last audio contact from the plane that went missing on March 8th.

The latest revelation moved former head of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board, James Hall to say, "This investigation is an example of what not to do. Everything they do, they change."

While the Malaysians maintain the person who spoke the last communication was co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid, there is no telling if tomorrow they'll decide it was pilot Zaharie Ahmad Shah, or even Rich Little. It is increasingly clear Malaysian Airlines and the government of Malaysia itself, hired their staffs from the same agency who provided Governor Christie with his invaluable personnel.

Finally, the Russians are conducting military exercises about 150 miles from their border with Finland. They claim the maneuvers were "pre-planned."

That won't ease nerves in Helsinki. The Finns have a long history with Russia. They were occupied by them for a little over 100 years beginning in the early 19th century and fought them in couple of wars during the 1940's.

In addition NBC says a short while ago, former Putin economic advisor, Andrei Illarionov told a Swedish publication his old boss will, "seek historical justice by reclaiming Finland and ex Soviet countries."

It might be time to ask ourselves a dreadful question. Is, Vladimir Putin off his nut? Let's face it, the parallels are becoming a little eerie. The late, unlamented, Herr Hitler hosted an olympics in 1936. In 1938 Germany annexed the Sudetenland in order to protect "ethnic Germans." Sound familiar? Not long afterward he had all of Czechoslovakia, was invading Poland, and a war, which left most of Europe in ruins, was in full swing.

Various experts quoted by NBC, think the risk of the Russian army moving against Finland is low. Of course in 1938, Neville Chamberlain told the population of Great Britain he had achieved, "Peace for our time." Within a year the terrible conflagration began.

Indeed, as the last part of the old saying goes, "...sometimes the bear eats you." It looks like Vlad is going to keep pushing until someone gives him the old, enough is enough talk. We should all hope a reasonable person has the guts to deliver it and Putin has the brains and sanity to believe him when things are explained in full.


Friday, March 28, 2014

Friday Dispatches: Sheldon Goes Shopping, Another Problem for GM, and an Inappropriate Ad in the Tube

Our old pal, Sheldon Adelson is back in the political mix. NBC and the Washington Post are reporting that over the weekend he will be having heart to heart chats with NJ Governor, Chris Christie, WI, Governor Scott Walker, former FL Governor, Jeb Bush, and OH Governor, John Kasich. All of the gentlemen are mulling over presidential runs

They'll be in Adelson's home town of Las Vegas the next couple of days speaking to the Republican Jewish Coalition. Between the VIP dinner held in Adelson's private airplane hanger, a round of golf, a poker tournament, and a scotch tasting, Shelly will be conducting what amounts to job interviews. Neither media outlet was willing to describe the private visits as that, although the Post came close when it referred to the weekend as, "the Sheldon primary."

Well why not? Let's face it, presidential campaigns aren't cheap and when a man is willing to spend millions and millions of dollars on one he should be able to make an informed decision on which middle aged white guy to buy.

NBC noted Rand Paul would not be attending and speculated because of his views on Israel, Adelson is not only uninterested in backing him, but might spend some large chunks of change trying to make sure he is defeated in the primary season. It is unclear if Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Paul Ryan are also in the Adelson dog house, or if they've been quizzed separately on other occasions.

All of this might make more than a few of us a tad queasy. Especially when we admit to ourselves that a man who could end up President of the United States has, at one point, groveled--tin cup in hand--in front of a guy who made his considerable fortune in the gambling industry. Indeed, in some quarters, the word bribery might even be bandied about. However, one must keep in mind the sheer magnitude of the numbers involved. In 2012 Sheldon Adelson spent $93 million trying to get someone other than Barack Obama into the white house. That sort of largesse will cause even the most seasoned politician to pull on the old knee pads and perform prolonged acts of fellatio whenever and wherever asked.

Meanwhile, General Motors has issued a stop sale order to dealerships involving the 2013 and 2014 editions of the Chevrolet Cruze. True to form, GM has yet to explain why, but NBC reports experts say when something like this happens it usually has to do with a safety issue.

Sound familiar? It should. GM is already in the midst of a massive recall involving a number of models because of ignition switch problems. NBC also says, of the 1.6 million flawed vehicles involved at least 1.4 million are still on the road--1.2 million of them here in the United States. By the corporation's own admission at least 12 people have died in accidents directly related to the defect.

Elsewhere, the hunt for Malaysian Airlines flight 370 continues with spectacular  non success. The search has now shifted about 700 miles north east of where authorities had been looking in the southern Indian Ocean. Not one of the tantalizing objects photographed by satellites, or spotted by airplanes has been recovered. So, in truth, there is still no concrete evidence of the missing Boeing 777's location, or fate.

And finally, British Airways has pulled an ad in the London subway system which told riders to, "Escape the commute and discover the Indian Ocean." It featured an undersea photo stretching off into blue infinity. The airline admitted the timing of the advertisement was, "inappropriate."

There we have it. Another week is in the books.

As always, stay low, don't bunch up, and for God's sake keep moving.


Thursday, March 27, 2014

Chris Christie, Innocent For Now

There is finally some good news for New Jersey Governor, Chris Christie. He is currently mired in the middle of a motley pack of GOP presidential hopefuls while being relentlessly hounded by the George Washington Bridge scandal. Today, NBC reports an internal review has cleared him of any and all wrong doing in the lane closing fiasco last fall. In fact the investigators paint Christie in such flattering terms you'd think he appointed them himself.

Well, okay, he actually did, but let's not dwell on details.

The review, commissioned by the Governor was conducted by members of the law firm, Gibson, Dunn, and Crutcher. NBC noted the firm and it's founder have had close ties with Christie for a number of years. So when a sentence, in the final analysis reads, "Governor Christie's account of these events ring true," one might want to keep in mind who wrote it.

While finding Christie innocent of knowing anything about everything, his former Deputy Chief of Staff and a disgraced Port Authority employee he appointed were thrown so far under the bus they were run over by the back tires first. According to the report, David Wildstein, the Port Authority employee, cooked up the scheme and Kelly, the Governor's Deputy Chief of Staff went along with it, but absolutely no one else was involved.The evil intent was to punish Ft. Lee, NJ, Mayor Mark Sokolich for not supporting Christie's re-election bid. It isn't clear why Kelly and Wildstein became so enraged by the democratic Mayor's refusal. According to the investigation, the lane closings, which fouled traffic in Ft. Lee for days, went into effect about 48 hours after Kelly reconfirmed Sokolich was refusing to jump on the Christie bandwagon.

The day before the shit hit the fan, she sent a cold blooded email to Wildstein which read, "Time for some traffic problems in Ft.Lee." His terse response was, "Got it." According to the findings, when Kelly found out Sokolich was complaining about the traffic problems she emailed, "Good."

NBC pointed out critics of the review say, even though responsibility for the thuggery was dropped squarely in their laps, neither Kelly, or Wildstein were interviewed during the probe. The investigators also failed to question Port Authority Chairman, David Samson and Christie's former campaign manager, Bill Stepien.

Stepien and Port Authority honcho Bill Baroni were cleared of any wrong doing, because, even though they knew of the lane closings, they didn't know the real reason behind it.

In addition Kelly was accused of flat out lying to Christie during a December meeting when he questioned staffers about their possible involvement in the act. The report went so far as to say she made a frantic appeal to an aid to delete emails in order to hide her involvement.

In response to Wildstein's accusation he had told Christie of the lane closings at a September 11th memorial event, the panel wrote, "Indeed it seems unlikely such a brief mention, even if made by Wildstein to the Governor, would have registered with the Governor at all." It also said, while Christie recalls speaking to a number of people that day, including Wildstein, he couldn't remember what was said.

Randy Mastro, who is a spokesman for the firm, assured everyone, despite the connections with Christie, his people would have dished dirt on the Governor if they'd found any.

Investigators dismissed a separate scandal involving accusations by Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer. She has claimed Christie tried to force her city to accept a real estate deal which would profit some pals of his by hijacking Hurricane Sandy relief funds. The report basically says Her Honor is full of shit.

NBC finally tells us there are other investigations taking place which are not under the auspices of Gibson, Dunn, and Crutcher. Those results are still pending.

Despite lingering questions of why the Governor would hire cretins such as Kelly and Wildstein, it appears he can head out to Iowa to face the immense and savage ego of Ted Cruz with his head held high--at least for now anyway.

Sometimes, all you can do is take what you can while you can and run with the wind. Hey--you might as well, because there is no telling who is lurking right around the corner with a cocked Louisville Slugger.

That is the state of politics in America and, as we've known for years, the way we deal with those other people .

sic vita est


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Deadly Malfeasance and a Dodged Bullet

Sometimes it hits a little too close to home.

The latest act of deadly corporate malfeasance is brought to us by General Motors. The Detroit giant recently issued a recall of 1.6 million vehicles. The models, which were manufactured between 2003 and 2007, include the Chevrolet Cobalt and HHR, Pontiac G-5s, Solstices, and in Canada, Pursuits. Then finally, Saturn Ions and Skys. It seems the ignition system in these cars are a little quirky and sometimes, out of the blue, the key will flip from the "on" position to "accessory." This causes the engine to die. When it does you lose your power steering, power brakes, and most importantly, it shuts down the air bag system--so if you run into something hard, like another car, or a tree, it won't deploy. By GM's own admission at least 12 people have died in accidents directly related to the engineering flaw. However, the number could be higher.

Well, these things happen. After all, no one is perfect. The real crime is, for at least 12 families, their nightmares were preventable. Now there is hard evidence which shows GM has been aware of the defect since 2004 and possibly as long ago as 2001. Despite the knowledge they did very little to correct the problem.

Reports are that in 2005 a partial fix was made available, but no recall was issued. Instead the corporation told it's dealerships if anyone came in with a problem they were to use the new part to fix it. The piece cost about $1. That is right, a single George Washington.

To illustrate the GM mindset at the time, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration began receiving reports of deaths related to the flawed key system in 2007. According to the corporation itself, the NHTSA didn't force them to issue a recall, so they saw no reason to do it on their own.

During the same period GM's legal department was doing everything in it's considerable power to fight off law suits filed by the families of victims. Today's New York Times ran a grim list of people who lost their lives when the keys in their vehicles switched to the accessory position. The paper also details the actions taken by the corporation to avoid responsibility for the faulty engineering. Included were threats of counter suits and promises of complaints to bar associations about the lawyers representing the families.

But--now that the gruesome skeleton is out of the closet and GM has admitted to their cruel mendacity, as an old pal of mine used to say, "Sue the bastards."  You bet, get their asses in front 12 men and women who could have owned one of those cars themselves and wait for the cash to roll in. Well, it isn't that easy. In fact, for many of the families, it could be impossible.

On July 10th, 2009 General Motors declared bankruptcy. In that instant, legally, it became a new company. The pre July 10th GM was suddenly defunct, gone; it no longer existed. That means, if your kid, wife, or husband died before July 10th, 2009 in a faulty GM product, you can't sue now, because--hey--the new GM has nothing to do with the old General Motors.

The Times cited the case of Alan Ray Floyd. Mr. Floyd was killed after he lost control of his vehicle when it shut down on a highway. The tragedy occurred on July, 3rd, 2009, a week before the bankruptcy went into effect. The GM reaction to the family's suit was to claim it was "frivolous" because the new corporation wasn't liable for the old one. The family attorney was told if he pursued the matter the company would go after the plaintiffs for any legal expenses incurred by the company during the proceedings. Floyd's family decided the risk was too high and backed down.

Mary Barra, the current CEO of General Motors, is apologizing profusely to everyone and has promised to, "change the process for handling such situations." Yes, that is all fine and good, but note she didn't say they were going to pay any money to people impacted by the incompetent designing and the ensuing cold blooded cover up.

According to a couple of sources, the size of the recall is so vast it will probably be early fall before all the vehicles are refitted. MSN reports GM has promised loaners which can be used until the tainted cars are repaired. The same story also says many of the dealerships around the country refuse to participate in the deal.

Meanwhile, sitting in my desk drawer is a letter from GM telling me about the recall of my 2006 Chevy Cobalt. It informs me replacement parts won't be available until sometime in April and I'll be receiving a second letter telling me when to call the dealership for an appointment.

Now I know what happened that early Saturday morning several months ago when I made a left turn onto May Avenue here in Oklahoma City. In the middle of it my car's engine died suddenly for no apparent reason. Luckily, no one was barreling down on me from either ahead or behind and as I coasted toward the opposite curb, I was able to shift into neutral and restart it.

It appears I dodged a bullet. I just wish I had known someone was shooting at me.

Happy motoring, America.


Monday, March 24, 2014

Trials in Egypt and Wreckage in the Indian Ocean

It appears the people currently running Egypt, or at least the court system, has had enough of the of the Muslim Brotherhood's shenanigans. MSN, via the A.P. is reporting 545 people went on trial in the city of Minya. All of the defendants were either members of the brotherhood, or other supporters of deposed president Mohammed Morsi. The entire group was charged with murdering a cop and attacking a police station in August of last year. The violence occurred after police and the military cracked down on pro-Morsi demonstrations, which of course, had followed the massive anti-Morsi demonstrations that prompted the army to remove him from office. 150 of the accused were present. Everyone else is currently on the lam, so they were tried in absentia. 

It didn't take long for a verdict to come down. In fact after only two days, the judge, Saeed Youssef Mohamed ended the trial, saying defense lawyers were disrupting the proceedings and muddying the waters by, "discussing politics." 16 people were acquitted while 529 were found guilty and sentenced to death.

Ouch. Not even Isaac, the hanging judge, Parker went that far when he was running the U.S. federal court in Ft. Smith, Arkansas. He condemned a paltry 160 people to die and that number was spread out over 21 years. Well, as we all know, everything moved slower before there was an internet and cell phones.

Needless to say the defense attorneys took exception to the ruling, most claiming the conduct of the judge was unconstitutional and the sentences overly harsh. One hearty optimist went so far as to say the convictions would be overturned on appeal.

A lot of people should hope so, because tomorrow another 683 souls go into the dock, including Mohammed Badie, the head of the brotherhood.

Morsi, who is a member of Badie's outfit, was the first and so far only freely elected Egyptian president in 5,000 plus years. He is currently sitting in a jail somewhere, proving that in some places you can win the vote, but if you lose the army you're utterly screwed.

The brotherhood has now been labeled a, "terrorist organization" and the government blames it for everything from bombings and suicide attacks to faulty plumbing in public buildings.

Meanwhile, Malaysian Prime Minister, Najib Razak announced to the press missing flight 370's last known position was out in the middle of the definition of nowhere. This being the 21st century, relatives of the victims were texted the news rather than being told in person. The comforting message read, "The plane was lost and none of those aboard survived."

NBC reports, Razak claimed the information came from the U.K. Air Accidents Investigation Branch and a satellite owned by Inmarsat Corporation. In his words, the new and improved knowledge was gleaned by, "...performing further calculations on the data using a type of analysis never before used in an investigation of this sort." The British wouldn't comment, saying the investigation was, "ongoing."

The revelation came on the heels of accusations, leveled by many of those same relatives this weekend, that the Malaysian government had been deceiving them and the world about what it really knew of the details of the disaster.

NBC also said, an Australian aircraft spotted two floating objects, one orange and rectangular and another, either green, or gray and round. Both were approximately 1,550 miles south west of Perth. This news follows the release of Chinese and French satellite photos showing some sort of debris floating in the same general area.

Malaysian Airlines issued a statement which read, "The ongoing multinational search operation will continue as we seek answers to the questions which still remain."

Yes, there are several of those. The first of which is why did your plane end up closer to Antarctica than its original destination, Beijing? The second one being, who was at the controls?

It has been a rough start to the week, especially if you're a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, or related to someone on the doomed flight 370.

Given what else is going on in the world, the prospects of things improving any time soon seem fairly dim.

sic vita est


Friday, March 21, 2014

Friday Dispatches: Duke in the Tank, Teenagers in Duncan, No Tweeting in Turkey, and Vlad Signs the Papers.

Krzyzewski, you rotten sonofabitch!

Who is paying you off, you wretched little squirt? How much did it cost some bookie to get your guys to go into the tank for the second year in a row? I'm starting to think there is a Higher Power at work here. Last March it was Lehigh and now it is Mercer. That's right, Mercer. I didn't even know where the God damned school was until I googled it a few minutes ago. Just be glad I'm a long way from Durham and not a member of the NRA. Hey, if a jury will let George Zimmerman off the hook, they'll never convict me after I tell them what you've done to my brackets over the years. They'll rule it utterly justifiable.

Meanwhile, in less personal matters, The Oklahoman reported today, Michael Jones and Chancey Luna will go to trial in August down in Duncan. They are the two quaint country lads who are charged with the shooting death of Australian, Christopher Lane last year. Both pleaded innocent. Police say the motive for the crime was something along the lines of--well--they wanted to kill someone and Lane was handy. A third person involved, James Edwards, is turning state's evidence and in exchange for his testimony he'll be charged as an accessory. Nolan Clay, who wrote the story, notes the trial date might be significantly delayed because Luna is requesting a change of venue and at some point the young charmers might ask for separate trials. If convicted Luna and Jones are looking at life without the possibility of parole. Duncan authorities still haven't located the weapon used in the attack.

In Turkey, Prime Minister, Tayyif Erdogan has issued an order banning the social media service, Twitter. He did so apparently because people use it to say bad things about him. Several European nations have roundly condemned the move. His response to their objections was, "The international community can say this, can say that. I don't care at all. Everyone will see how powerful the Republic of Turkey is."

Well they might, but at least one expert reveals the average Turk can get around the censorship if they can, "...operate a computer at a minimum level..." In fact instructions on how to dodge the ban are not only showing up on Facebook, but also being spray painted on the walls of buildings in Istanbul. A similar prohibition of Youtube was abandoned by the Turkish government four years ago mainly because it proved so ineffective. Erdogan and his administration are caught up in a massive corruption scandal which he maintains is nothing more than a "plot" to get him out of office.

Over in Moscow, Vladimir Putin signed papers which formally annexed the Crimean Peninsula, officially adding it to the Russian Federation. Everyone in town celebrated and there were fireworks and the like. The U.S refusal to recognize the act hasn't put a dent in Vlad's enthusiasm. He called the annexation a, "remarkable event."

Around the same time NBC reported the Ukrainian government signed a deal with the European Union which creates a, "political association agreement." The Russian Foreign Minister quickly claimed any such agreement was premature. He also said the new Ukrainian leadership lacked popular support, yada, yada, yada. The head of the U.N. then showed up in Kiev and called for cool heads to prevail.

It is estimated a minimum of 20,000 Russian troops, including airborne forces, and special ops units are camped just outside Ukraine's eastern border. They are backed by armor and helicopter gunships. The thinking here is Brother Putin will let the pot cool for a bit. Then, at the suitable moment, his military will respond to the, "overwhelming desire" of Ukraine's eastern provinces to join Crimea in the big happy family of Mother Russia.

The U.S. and Europe will scream bloody murder and there will be further sanctions. However, in the end, none of the noise, or economic consequences will mean squat to ol' Vladimir. When you're busy rebuilding an empire you aren't distracted by the minor things.

Yes, just another Friday in the books. The curse of the Dukies continues, teenagers face life in prison because they're stupid and had their hands on a gun, The Turkish P.M. can't stand Twitter, and the brutal truth is Putin is going to do whatever he wants.

Ladies and gentlemen--the bar is open.


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Flight 370: A Lot of Water to Cover

It is a mystery so confounding, so incredibly full of dark possibilities, a huge portion of the human population is fixated on it. No, not even rampaging hordes of Russians in Ukraine are able to tear us away from updates concerning the fate of Malaysian Airlines flight 370.

The conspiracy theorists are already running amok as new details emerge which conflict wildly with previously reported information. In fact the only thing certain at the moment is nothing is certain.

Time lines provided by the Malaysian government and airline management don't agree, fueling the dizzying spin into never never land. No one really knows if the last voice message from the cockpit, the now cryptic, "All right, good night," was uttered before or after the flight navigation equipment was programmed for the mysterious left turn. The moment when the ACARS system and transponder were shut down is also lost in a great fog bank of confusion.

Yesterday CNN reported Thai radar confirmed the left turn which would head the jet back over Malaysia and toward the Straight of Malacca, but even that was old news. The Thai authorities revealed they had let the Malaysians in on the information earlier, but were just now releasing it to the public. There were also reports yesterday that witnesses in the outer Maldives saw a low flying aircraft bearing the red stripe of the Malaysian airliner, but they proved to be untrue.

At the center of it all is the pilot, Zaharie Ahmad Shah and co-pilot, Fariq Abdul Hamid. At first blush it would appear one or both of them would be the only people on board to have the means and capability to change the computerized course and shut off the messaging systems, but again, no one can be sure. Exhaustive searches of both their homes hasn't turned up any hint they might be involved, although there is interest in the information Shah apparently deleted from his in home flight simulator.

Despite the lack of evidence, pilot suicide is high on the list of possibilities given the circumstances. That would mean, unless some outre agreement was reached between them, one of the two flight officers would have had to somehow incapacitate the other.

There has been speculation a fire occurred in the cockpit, or another part of the plane. It would be an event which would cause a sudden change in course, but there was no distress call issued. A catastrophic failure, the plane disintegrating in the air, or the more paranoid notion someone shot the Boeing 777 down would have produced wreckage. A rapid decompression would have triggered the oxygen masks to drop and even then there would have been time for a mayday.

Of course, now that we are painfully aware there are people out there capable of such things, there is wild speculation--and not just from the crazed infowars types--the jet was hijacked, landed somewhere, and is currently being outfitted for a 9-11 style attack. The airline itself is culpable in enabling this line of reasoning. Let's face it, at first anyway, they didn't even know who was really sitting in the passenger section. They were completely unaware of the presence of the two Iranians who were using passports which were stolen months ago in Thailand. The truth is, for all they, or anyone else knew, the ghost of Osama bin Laden could have been in seat 12B ordering Singapore Slings.

One poster on youtube claims the whole disappearance was co-produced by the Israeli Mossad and the CIA via remote control. His belief is a false flag operation is underway which will lead us into another war, profiting the governments of both nations. He was a bit fuzzy on where the aircraft is now, but similar theories have mentioned secret airfields everywhere from Vietnam to Pakistan.

Another claimed, a bit breathlessly, if you call the cell phones of the passengers they will ring, but no one answers. That is, I suppose, morbidly eerie--at least until you realize you can call just about any cell phone in the world and as long as the account is active--to you--it will either sound like it is ringing, or you'll go straight to the user's voice mail. It doesn't matter if he or she has the phone turned off, or is eating cold chicken and drinking chardonnay on top of Mt. Everest.

Finally, there are accusations the United States, through its network of spy satellites and the like, knows exactly what happened and where the plane either landed, or went down. In this scenario American intelligence agencies are withholding the information from Malaysia and the world because releasing it would compromise a myriad of top secret operations which we don't want anyone to know about.

Someone should call Ed Snowden in Moscow and ask him. It is, after all, his area of expertise and he doesn't mind talking.

Well, there we have it--at least for now. Although we might never know the why, the location of flight 370 and it's 239 passengers and crew is probably somewhere on the bottom of the Indian Ocean. The search area now encompasses three million square miles, roughly the size of the continental U.S. The triple seven is a big plane, but that is a lot of water to cover.

The only thing we can be sure of at this point is--even if searchers find the plane tomorrow--because of the way officials in Malaysia botched the aftermath, there will be vast  numbers of people who will refuse to believe them when they tell us what really did happen.

Of that we can be assured.


Monday, March 17, 2014

Madness in March: Russians Running Amok, Missing Planes, Sex Crazed Generals, No Drugs in Oklahoma, and at Long Last, Basketball

It hasn't been a pretty, or reassuring month so far. The world appears to be teetering on the verge of disaster and war. Buffoons, would be Tsars, and outright maniacs are in charge of governments, both large and small, across the globe. Planes disappear, generals think with their penises, and even the brute simple act of executing people is bungled in ways no would could have ever imagined.

In Crimea thousands of Russians are running amok and the Ukrainian government, such as it is, has called up 40,000 reservists. A vote of sorts was held on the peninsula yesterday and 96 plus percent of those who cast ballots were in favor of the region seceding from Ukraine and joining the Russian Federation. The sheer size of the majority immediately calls into question the legitimacy of the count. Let's face it, even in his heyday, Ted Kennedy couldn't put up a number that tall in Massachusetts and he was an institution so firmly entrenched he didn't have to actively campaign.

Meanwhile, the search continues for Malaysian Airlines flight 370. No one knows what happened and neither do they have a clue as to where it is. It is a mystery so befuddling to authorities they've been forced to admit the missing aircraft could be anywhere from Kazakhstan to points just north of Antarctica. As more time passes comparisons to the old Twilight Zone episode, "Odyssey of Flight 33" will begin to surface, not to mention theories of UFO abduction and secret military death ray tests. There can be no doubt the mad hatters of the conspiracy world are gathering their facts and putting together rock solid evidence of hidden agendas and black ops even as these words are typed.

General Jeffery Sinclair has gotten off the hook relatively speaking. NBC reports he has agreed to plead guilty to "mistreating an ex lover," whatever that means and some minor league violations. They are a far cry from the sexual assault charges originally brought against him. The general was initially accused of forcing a female captain in his Afghanistan command to give him blow jobs by threatening to harm her and her family.

In Oklahoma, prison officials have fessed up they can't find the drugs needed to carry out two executions on the 20th and 27th of this month. Oklahoma law has a proviso which says, if the state can't use lethal injections for this very reason, it can put the two guys up against a wall and shoot them. However, so far anyway, such a situation has never arisen. State authorities have admitted the two inmates could and, no doubt will, appeal if the firing squad option is decided on, indefinitely delaying both dates.

Yes, given what has gone down, there is a tremendous urge to escape to some deserted beach in Fiji. Then, as the surf rolls in over and over, lounge in the sand with the world's largest gin and tonic,  while tuning out all the nightmares, war, noise, and, insanity. Alas, the current state of personal financial affairs prohibits the trip.

But--there is, by God, the NCAA men's basketball tournament and with it a window of opportunity to let everything else slide. Yeah, screw the Russkies and everyone else for that matter. Fill out the brackets, bet the money, and watch nonstop the rest of the week.

As always there are a myriad of land mines and the dreaded curse of the Dukies remains a potent force. Krzyzewski and his gang always beat me like I'm a dumb beast. When I like them to go far, as I did last year, some band of hapless clods will turn into the fucking Miami Heat for one night and blow them out of the tournament. Decide they'll lose in the first round or two, they will, invariably, end up in the final four.

This year I went with a long shot and have Wichita State winning the championship. Why is it a long shot--after all the Shockers haven't lost a game. Well, that is precisely the reason. The last time a team went through the regular season and tournament undefeated was 38 years ago in 1976.

Hey, no guts, no glory. That's right, it might be time for another college basketball version of Secretariat.

So as businesses everywhere grind to a halt because the workforce is poring over brackets, match ups, and pages of stats instead of ordering widgets, keep in mind there are more important things in the world--but now is the time to ignore them.

Indeed, as we know all too well, the disasters, brutes, and predators aren't going to disappear. It is, in the end, the only sure bet in the field.

sic vita est


Thursday, March 13, 2014

Texting in Tampa and Missing Others in Duncan

He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone...

Jesus of Nazareth, Jewish activist, major league trouble maker, and Son of Almighty God

Well, none of us have ever been able to follow that particular instruction, at least not with any consistency.

Curtis Reeves certainly didn't on January 13th of this year. Reeves is the retired Tampa cop who was sitting in a theater on that day waiting for the start of the film, "Lone Survivor." He got pissed off because a guy in front of him, Chad Oulson, was texting during the coming attractions. Words were exchanged, things boiled out of control--then--because apparently every white guy in the state of Florida ends an argument with gunfire--Mr. Reeves shot Oulson to death.

Today, MSN News is reporting that newly released court records show Reeves was doing a little thumb magic himself in the auditorium of the movie house that fateful day. Matthew Reeves was supposed to meet his mother and father at the theater, but was running late. At 1:04 pm, 16 minutes before the film was supposed to begin, the elder Reeves texted his son to let him know he and his wife were already seated. A scant few minutes later, just as Matthew, an active duty Tampa cop arrived, his father killed Chad Oulson during an argument about Oulson texting messages to what turned out to be his child's babysitter.

The 71 year old Reeves is charged with second degree murder and aggravated battery. He has pleaded not guilty and claims he acted in self defense. In his version of the events Oulson stood, confronted him, and hit him in the face with either his fist or cell phone. While such actions may, or may not be what amounts to a capital offense in the Sunshine State, no one else in the theater, including Reeves' wife, who was seated next to him, saw the phantom punch. A couple of people did say they witnessed popcorn flying in the air right before Reeves fired the fatal round, so perhaps the ex cop was fearful of a deadly husk lodging in his mouth which could cause serious gum damage.

Listen, that shit is possible.

Meanwhile, down in Duncan, OK, a judge ruled Chancey Luna and Michael Jones will be charged with first degree murder. Luna and Jones are the two bright bulbs who are accused of killing Australian, Christopher Lane while he was jogging. Young, Mr. Lane was in town visiting his fiance and went out for a run to stay in shape because he was a catcher on the East Central Oklahoma college baseball team.

There is no clear reason why the shooting occurred other than the clowns charged with the crime had a loaded gun and wanted to use it. None of them had any connection to Lane. Initially it appeared Jones would flip on Luna and James Edwards, who was also in the car during what amounted to a drive by shooting. He had told authorities early on they shot Lane because they were bored.

Then the prosecution switched horses and now it is Edwards who is turning state's evidence on Luna and Jones. According to Edwards, he was in the front seat rolling a joint, completely unaware of what was about to transpire, when Jones, who was driving, suddenly swerved the car toward Lane and Luna shot him from the back seat. The prosecution said the maneuver proved pre meditatation. During the proceedings the D.A. also dismissed statements by the defendants that they thought the weapon was loaded with blanks. He claimed they were abject lies, made up after the act to cover up their deadly intent.

The story in, The Oklahoman, written by Nolan Clay, noted the prosecution called a Stephens County Sheriff's Department dispatcher to the stand. She testified she over heard a conversation between Jones and another inmate back in August of last year. She swore, Jones admitted, "We tried to shoot several others, but kept missing."

Hey, as everyone around here knows, it is tough to hit a target from a moving vehicle, especially if you're on a bumpy road.

Luna's mother claims her son told her he didn't do it. She says she believes him. Yesterday she showed up at court wearing a pink tee shirt with a large photograph of his face on the front of it. The police have yet to locate the weapon used during the crime.

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to law and order in the real world. 

Yes, nothing is certain and as the TV show disclaimer tells us, "all parties are considered innocent until proven guilty."

That is all.

I'm done here.


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Joel Osteen's Church Gets Hit

I rob banks because that is where the money is.
Willie Sutton

Not any more. Just ask the unknown persons who cracked the safe at Joel Osteen's Lakewood Church either Sunday, or early Monday morning. They walked away with $200,000 in cash, $400,000 in checks, and an unspecified number of envelopes containing hand written credit card numbers and expiration dates. It is a haul worthy of not only Sutton, but the gang who robbed the Brinks joint in Boston 64 years ago.

Various news reports tell us the amount taken was given to Osteen's Houston, TX church by his congregation during last Saturday's and Sunday's services. That's right, Brother Osteen took in $600,000 plus in only two days. Hey, that old time religion is a really great gig if you know how to work it right.

Although sources vary a little in their numbers, most agree Osteen's sermons are televised in 100 countries and 40,000 to 43,000 people a week show up in person at Lakewood Church. To put that into perspective there are 25,000 or so Episcopalians in the entire state of Oklahoma.

Obviously one of the first questions that comes to mind is, what in God's name does Osteen and his organization do with such a massive cash flow? For one, he has a huge building to finance. In 2003 he bought the Compaq Center in Houston. It is the former home of the NBA's Houston Rockets. In fifteen months his operation spent $105 million to renovate the facility and expand the seating capacity. Wikipedia says the opening night crowd for his first sermon in the place was over 55,000 enthusiastic fans. In addition there are missions to places like the Dominican Republic, India, El Salvador, and Israel to pay for. There are other things reported by the internet media, such as out reach ministries to unwed mothers, homeless persons, drug addicts and the like, although nothing on the church's web site mentions any of them.

Quite frankly, at first blush, it is easy to lump Osteen in with all the other cold blooded con men who pull television scams under the ruse of Christianity--guys like Jim Bakker, James Robison, Jimmy Swaggart, and the most grotesque grifter of them all, Benny Hinn.

But, in truth, it would be unfair to do so. Unlike the usual suspects, his family's only brush with scandal came when his wife, Victoria was sued by a flight attendant for assault. It was dismissed by a jury in less than three hours. He has broken bread with Barack Obama, of whom he says, " my heart I know he is a Christian."

According to Wikipedia's bio, he will not openly preach against homosexuality, although when pressed he states he is against same sex marriage and believes the, "homosexual lifestyle can be cured through God, as can any sin, or addiction." He avoids sermons about abortions and other social issues. Wikipedia also says he refuses to harp on money, because of, "the reputation of tele-evangelists." The same article maintains he stays away from talking about hell, sin, and the devil because he prefers to focus on the positive aspects of God's love. His church web site even has advice on how to maintain a healthy diet that would fit right in with what Michelle Obama tells school kids on a regular basis.

If you browse web sites and blogs which condemn Joel Osteen, you'll find the vast majority are composed by fire breathing, on the edge, types who claim Obama is a Socialist Muslim and the whole country is going to hell because of gays, communists and anyone else who doesn't believe like they do. A few of them go so far as to accuse him of heresy, which for some of us is a charge, at least from people like them, that's a badge of honor.

Still, it isn't easy for many people to be comfortable with someone who seems so completely wrapped up into not only saving souls, but accumulating huge amounts of cash. The incident with his wife happened on a Continental flight going from Houston to Vail while they were lounging in first class. Victoria's initial complaint was about about some sort of stain either on her seat, or chair arm.

In addition, a look at his church web site today turned up an ad, among many others, which offers believers the delivery of  a package called, "God's Promises for You." Included are tracts like, "God's Promises for Your Every Need--Promise Cards--Healing is Yours-- Healed of Cancer--and, as a special gift, two tumblers." The blurb went on to say, "This brand new collection of resources will help you experience the wonderful promises of God for your life. You'll be blessed by God's Word and the inspiration and encouragement of Joel."  There you have it--God and Joel Osteen--it is a duo the likes of which the world hasn't seen in 2,000 plus years.

The whole set comes with a minimum "donation" of $90.

Lakewood Church officials assured their congregation the money stolen was covered by insurance and it is currently working with the carrier to make sure the theft was only a minor blip in the good work of the Lord. Osteen's facebook page told them, "Have faith that everything will work out in God's perfect timing. Trust in God and enter into his rest. No thieves are going to stop this Mega Church."

Obviously not. An outfit such as this will recoup their money in an amazing amount of time. The recovery will be to them, God's will.

To the rest of us, it will be due to years of premiums payed out to an insurance company, not to mention the deep pockets of the congregation,

Yes, we all interpret things differently. Some see the Divine while others have visions of an actuary beating his head against a wall because he made the wrong bet.

It is, in the end, a mystery which will linger in the news for a few days. When it is done it will prove to be a crude exercise and everyone will yawn because the people who pulled it off will probably blow their entire take on either a long shot at a craps table in Vegas, or some high class hookers in overpriced hotel rooms. The whole heist will have nothing to do with religion, or insulting Christianity. It will, however, have everything to do with the money in the safe--and their ability to break into it.

Unfortunately, that is what happens when the Lord's and Joel Osteen's payroll is collected in cash.

sic vita est


Monday, March 10, 2014

Lunatics There and Here

On Sunday voters in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea went to the polls in droves. In fact, according to the Korean Central News Agency, the turnout was close to 100%. Up for grabs were the 687 seats in the Supreme People's Assembly. MSN reports this is the first election held in North Korea since Kim Jong-un began running the place.

Of course the process in the DPRK is a tad different than it is in the U.S. or Britain, or France, or just about any place else for that matter. There isn't a campaign season per se. In fact there isn't even a campaign. That is because there is only one name on each ballot and voters have two choices: Yes, or No.

It is unclear what happens if the nays outnumber the yeas in a given district. Mainly because everyone always votes yes, for personal and, no doubt, safety reasons. Indeed, better to go with the flow, than end up scavenging some weeds to spice up a cup of watery rice soup in a God forsaken work camp for twenty or so years.

Kim's name was on the ballot in the Mount Paektu district. It is the home of the tallest peak in the nation and what many Koreans, on both sides of the DMZ, believe to be the ancestral home of the Korean people. It is also considered a holy place. According to his bio, Kim's father, Kim Jong-il was born there, although there are some scurrilous rumors he actually made his first appearance on the planet in an eastern Russian outpost.

Be that as it may, the KCNA was proud to report Kim the younger received 100% of the votes cast in the district, a margin of victory way beyond the wildest dreams of any American politician. A statement released to the world media read, "This is an expression of all the service personnel and people's absolute support and profound trust in Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un as they single mindedly remain loyal to him."

Yes, it would appear you don't need the help of something as mundane as a Super-Pac, when you have the secret police on your side and you're willing to use them. One can only wonder if there were a few bumper stickers floating around that said something like, "Vote for Kim and no one gets hurt."

Meanwhile, here in the states, Adam Lanza's father, Peter did an interview with New Yorker writer, Andrew Solomon. For those of you who don't remember--which apparently is a number far larger than any of us should be comfortable with--Adam was the demented geek who killed 26 babies and teachers in Newtown, CT 15 months ago. Prior to making that deadly trip he shot and killed his mother. Then, before he could be arrested, he blew his own brains out in the elementary school he had so brutally invaded.

Solomon spoke on The Today Show this morning and described Peter Lanza as a decent man who is terribly haunted by the violence, terror, and grief wrought by his kid. According to Solomon, "I think they (his parents) had no sense Adam was dangerous." He went on to say when Peter Lanza taught his son to drive he believed Adam was the, "safest, most cautious, rule following person I ever met."

Well, maybe at age 16, however the NBC report noted Peter Lanza had not seen his son in two years and had received emails from his ex-wife telling him to stay away from Newtown. Solomon speculates Nancy Lanza was, "too focused on a good day for Adam, rather than a good life." In other words she was reacting to his behavior day to day and instead of seeking long term help was doing everything she could to hide his ongoing meltdown, even from his father. As we all know, she also owned guns--lots and lots of guns. And--she thought they'd help her son learn responsibility and give him focus.

In what might be a key to how this nightmare came about, Solomon spoke about Adam Lanza's diagnosed condition which was a form of autism known as Asperger Syndrome. It is a disorder which doesn't lead to deadly behavior. But--because of it--both parents knew he could act exceedingly strange at times and, significantly, they never looked beyond it to consider something more serious and potentially dangerous, such as schizophrenia, could be wrong with their son. If the autism masked the real cause of the madness it did it well, because not one psychiatrist or M.D. who examined Adam Lanza over the years considered him capable of violence.

Peter Lanza said he refuses to mourn the death of his son. He told Solomon there isn't an hour go by during the day he doesn't think about the carnage at Newtown and how he wishes he could go back in time to fix what went wrong.

In the end he told his interviewer, "I wish Adam had never been born."

He'll get no argument there.

sic vita est


Friday, March 7, 2014

Ted Cruz Tells Us Why Dole, McCain, and Romney Lost; Meanwhile Abe Spins in His Grave

All of us remember President Dole and President McCain and President Romney. Those are good men, they're all decent men, but when you don't stand and draw a clear distinction, when you don't stand for principle, democrats celebrate.

Rafael Edward Cruz: United States Senator, Canadian by birth, and Right Wing Grand Poo-Bah

As a movie line said, "That boy is rambunctious."

The great CPAC get together of 2014 rolls on in Washington and Ted Cruz continues his wild ride through the dizzying world of conservative politics. His stay in the Senate is, so far, marked with all the subtlety of William Clarke Quantrill's visit to Lawrence, Kansas during the American Civil War. In fact at this rate, before he is done, the only people who will hate him more than democrats are his fellow republicans.

John McCain went on Andrea Mitchell's show and had this to say about the junior senator from Texas, "He can say what he wants about me, he can say what he wants about Mitt. Mitt can take it. But when he throws Bob Dole in there, I wonder if he thinks Bob Dole stood for principle on a hill top in Italy..." There was more to it, including some things about Dole "leaving body parts" and Cruz "crossing the line," but everyone caught the drift.

Dole told NBC News, "Cruz should check my voting record before making comments. I was one of President Reagan's strongest supporters and my record is that of a traditional republican conservative." Proving how popular Brother Ted is among the old guard, Bob Dole refused to refer to his detractor as either, Senator Cruz, or the gentleman from Texas, a common courtesy among those who are in, or have served in congress..

The problem, of course, is Cruz doesn't give a rat's ass about Ron Reagan. In his mind Reagan was a pussy. In addition, he has about as much respect for traditional republican conservatives and the Senate itself as he does for your common garden slug.

Indeed, the little Canadian has a singularly low tolerance for the institution he plans on leaving soon and party members who have been defeated on the biggest of stages. Dole, McCain, and Romney all fall into that category. Each one of them got their asses kicked by democrats in presidential elections and that is all he cares about. Voting records in the Senate, or any place else for that matter, don't mean squat to him.

He is, as they say, the man with the plan. When in doubt turn right and all America will follow. In his view if Dole, McCain, and Romney had just been--well--more like Ted Cruz they would have won.

A Cruz spokesperson issued this statement in response to McCain and Dole's complaints, "As noted in his speech the senator greatly respects these men, particularly the heroic military service of Senators Dole and McCain. Suggesting anything otherwise is just an unnecessary distraction. He will not hesitate to talk about substantive matters of conservative principle that are important to bringing republicans to victory, even if others may disagree."

Yes, yes, thanks for getting blown up and shot down, but you're still losers and you're muddying up the waters with your jealousy and denial. It is my party now and I'm here to tell everyone how to win, because I'm me and no one in the world is smarter than I am.

In the last six plus decades, with the possible exception of General Douglas McArthur, the nation has not been confronted by an ego the size of Ted Cruz's. His disdain for the intelligence of those who disagree with him literally seeps from his pores like some foul oil slick leaking from a ruptured tanker. In the final analysis, he is a young Newt Gingrich on mega steroids.

Cruz is off to the races when it comes to 2016. There is absolutely no doubt of that. Right now his poll numbers are abysmal when you talk to anyone who isn't a tea party loon. What's really scary is he doesn't seem to understand it. The reason he doesn't has three possible explanations. First, he refuses to believe the numbers. Second, the media gives him so much hype it stokes that insufferable ego and convinces him he has far more juice than he does. Third, he is as crazy as a wolverine who is chugging down tabs of LSD like they are M&M's.

None of the options are comforting. Let's face it, he is either in denial, delusional, or, frighteningly, a fully functioning psychopath.

Apparently this is where the GOP is at these days. It is a vanilla colored collection of grifters, thieves, and utterly daft bats who purge and disown members of their party before going after the other guys.

And everyone thought Stalin was bad.

Trust me, ol' Abe Lincoln is spinning in his grave at this very moment.


Thursday, March 6, 2014

CPAC and the Usual Suspects

All the usual suspects have shown up at the Conservative Political Action Conference this week. The big pow wow, also known as CPAC, is a wildly enthusiastic gathering of republican and tea party movers and shakers who are hell bent on stomping anyone to the left of Chris Christie.

It is also a platform for every fire breathing screecher who wants to be the GOP nominee for president. Yes, that whole morbid posse of wannabes is falling all over themselves right now, trying to make friends and sway those who not only have solid grass roots influence, but boat loads of readily available cash.

That is, no doubt, the reason NJ Governor Chris Christie spoke about, "two great American entrepreneurs," being picked on by Harry Reid. Obviously he was referencing the brothers Koch out of Wichita, KS. Between them, they have enough money to pay for an entire national campaign without any outside help.Their financial support would mean the governor wouldn't have to shift hard to the right in order to try to glom onto money the yokels at super pacs such as Club For Growth control.

Let's face it, Christie watched as Mitt Romney went down the tubes when right of center democrats and independents decided he'd sold out to the lunatic tea party cranks--well--that and when everyone saw the surreptitious cell phone video and realized what an elitist asshole he was. Obviously, Christie is determined not to make the same mistakes. During his speech he told the overwhelmingly white crowd, republicans should, "...start talking about what we are for and not what we are against."

Good idea. Unfortunately the governor then ignored his own advice and didn't say a word about what he was for. In fact he stayed as far away from the subject as he did that whole George Washington Bridge thing which is haunting not only his state administration, but his campaign as well. On the upside, at least he was there. Last year, still incensed over his thanks to Obama for Hurricane Sandy relief, the pure of heart zealots who run the confab didn't even invite him.

Marco Rubio, for reasons known only to him, concentrated on foreign affairs, but didn't offer anything beyond criticizing Barack Obama. At least he realized who he was speaking to, so he and everyone else completely avoided immigration reform. When it comes to that messy and divisive issue, it increasingly appears the official GOP policy is to ignore it and hope, by some act of God Almighty, it will go away.

Paul Ryan and Ted Cruz spoke earlier, mainly delivering jokes about the president. This afternoon Wayne LaPierre of the NRA will be at the microphone making sure we all understand none of us will be safe until every man, woman, and child in the United States is packing a weapon. What he doesn't seem to get is we're nearly at that point now and it hasn't worked out real well for us.

Mitch McConnell showed up totin' a rifle. It was the NRA's gift to outgoing U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, R-OK. They called it their "Courage Under Fire Life Time Achievement Award." The honor rather conveniently forgets the only time Coburn was ever "under fire" from his constituency was when a large chunk of them thought he was going too soft on the issue of gun ownership. But hey--what is a small detail when compared to the big picture?

In addition Donald Trump will speak this afternoon, no doubt delivering another rambling, stupefying, assessment of the current situation. His presence on stage guarantees bewildered expressions and lingering trips to the cash bar for vast numbers of attendees.

The highlight of the event will come this weekend when a presidential straw poll is taken. Odds are the winner will be someone like Cruz, or Rand Paul. This is their sort of organization and their type of crowd. NBC reports Christie seemed to recognize it, when he warned the conference, "We don't get to govern if we don't win." It was a thinly veiled shot at the tea party savants who count the people in the hall and come to believe everyone thinks just like they do. Meanwhile, it never dawns on them there are tens of millions of other Americans who aren't there and steadfastly believe they're fucking nuts. This debilitating condition is also known as FOX News Syndrome, most famously exhibited by Karl Rove and Dick Morris a year and a half ago.

Obviously the republicans are in trouble when it comes to national elections. They are too old, too white, and the very idea of compromise causes a huge number of them to howl and foam at the mouth like rabid werewolves. When it comes to dealing with minorities and the potent Hispanic demographic, the only plan the party seems to have truly committed itself to is making sure none of them can vote. It is a strategy which has caused the American election process in places like Florida to resemble those in Zimbabwe, Venezuela, and Iran.

Luckily the weekend is only a day away and the NCAA basketball tournament is just around the corner. It is the sort of cleansing process one needs after dealing with an extended convocation of nattily dressed thugs and grifters. Indeed, forget all about those scaly groupers for now and concentrate on what the brackets might look like. After all, there will be money, not to mention pride, at stake.

Ladies and gentlemen, the bar is open.


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Darren Lannou and the NRA Moment of the Week, Plus Arming Vandals, Broncos, and Bengals in Idaho

Darren Wayne Lannou is from Texas. On Saturday he was in Oklahoma City for a visit, but unfortunately it didn't turn out quite the way he expected.

Like many around these parts Mr. Lannou has a license to carry a concealed weapon. According to a report buried in the back pages of the local paper, The Oklahoman, he and his five year old son went into the local Bass Pro Shop in downtown OKC. It seems Brother Lannou had decided to shop for a new holster to house his piece.

He picked one out, then he and his son entered a dressing room so he could try it on. Hey, let's face it, one must remain not only well armed, but also tres chic in this world. As with any accessory you need to check out the color to determine how it coordinates with your wardrobe and the size, because Lord knows you don't want to risk looking ostentatious. Indeed, in matters of high fashion, less is more.

Lannou put down his old holster which was holding his weapon, as his son reportedly played on an IPod. After modeling the new holster while it was empty he turned to get his gun, no doubt to check the fit and was startled to find his son holding it.

You can probably guess what happened next. He reached for the gun and it went off accidentally. His son suffered a minor injury to his thumb. Lannou took the round in his right leg--the wound was what they call a through and through. In other words the bullet went in one side of his limb and came out the other. After it exited, it grazed his left leg.

The paper's account went on to say Lannou threw the gun on the floor, opened the dressing room and yelled for someone to call 911. Both he and the kid were transported to the OU Medical Center. Store personnel unloaded the weapon before the police arrived. Luckily, father and son will recover.

OKC police spokesperson, Jennifer Wardlow told reporters Lannou was "very remorseful" and repeatedly claimed he had made a mistake.

Oh, you think, Darren?

Wardlow said that while the incident certainly appeared to be an accident, it would be up to the D.A. to decide if any chargers are filed.

Meanwhile, up in Idaho a bill moved out of a house committee which would allow people to carry concealed weapons on a college campus. The measure has already been passed in the state senate. It is opposed by student groups, a gaggle of Idaho police chiefs, and the heads of all eight state operated universities.

One Supporter claimed people get carry and conceal permits because they are scared of getting caught in a, "fishbowl" if they find themselves in an active shooter situation and a college campus is no different from any place else. Another dismissed the argument that mass and deadly chaos could reign when police arrive at a shooting scene only to find everyone holding a weapon. In what ranks as one of the most profoundly stupid statements ever made, the Boise State student assured us he'd rather be shot and killed accidentally by a cop during a shooting event than offed by some lunatic with an AR-15.

Technically, the act allows retired law officers--you know guys like, Curtis Reeves, who is currently charged with murder because he shot a man for texting during a movie--to carry a concealed weapon on any state run campus. In addition everyone else, including students and staff, would be able to pack a gun if they are properly licensed like Michael Dunn was. He was recently convicted on a number of charges because he opened fire on a car load of kids, killing one of them, because they not only dissed him, but wouldn't turn down the stereo in their car. And, of course, licensed like fine tuned intellects such as good 'ol Darren Wayne Lannou who is damn lucky he didn't have his brain sprayed all over a Bass Pro Shop dressing room.

Think about it. There are huge numbers of Americans who are so frightened in their own country they can't leave home without carrying a deadly weapon. Many of these people are paralyzed in terror by the thought of not being able to buy anything short of a fucking rocket grenade launcher. Then these same goofs have the gall to call their abject fear freedom. Not to mention, they'll brag about this place being the home of the brave.

In both instances, they are, demonstrably, wrong.

I want a drink.


Saturday, March 1, 2014

Taking Names and Kicking Ass in Ukraine

That didn't take long.

As I type plane load after plane load of Russian troops are landing on airfields in Crimea. It is highly unlikely it will be their only stop. NBC reports Russian President, Vladimir Putin sent this note to the upper house of the Russian parliament:

"Due to the extraordinary situation in Ukraine and the threat to the lives of Russian citizens and compatriots and the personnel staff of Russia's military forces based in Ukraine, according to international agreement: I submit a request to the Federal Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation for the use of military forces of the Russian Federation on the territory of Ukraine until the social and political situation in the country normalizes."

The Council gave a unanimous okay to the breathless request, then it's speaker petitioned Putin, through the council's committee on foreign affairs, to recall the Russian ambassador to Washington. That would be in response to President Obama's statement to the media indicating there would be "costs" to the Russians if they intervened in Ukraine militarily. According to council head honcho, Valentina Matviyenko, Obama's threat, "crossed a red line."

Of course the president didn't specify what those "costs" would be. In fact it is unclear what sort of costs, besides empty symbolic gestures, the United States and NATO members would, or could inflict upon Russia. The idea of NATO sending in troops to confront them is so far fetched no one, other than perhaps John McCain and Sarah--by golly--Palin would seriously consider it. It is doubtful there will be any economic sanctions since the Russians are sitting on vast amounts of oil and natural gas which large numbers of Europeans count on.That leaves some sort of diplomatic isolation, which Putin and his toadies on the council probably could care less about now that the Winter Olympics are over with.

NBC is also reporting the U.N. Security Council will meet today to discuss the crisis. In truth, however, the exercise will be a complete waste of time and oxygen. The Russians hold permanent membership and have the power to veto any measure which the body might pass and that includes something as minor as an official condemnation of their actions.

The thinking here is the Russians aren't going to limit themselves to Crimea, where 60% of the population regards itself Russian, rather than Ukrainian. Yes, at the very least they are going to carve Ukraine in half, then underwrite the new country, whatever it is called, with a huge influx of cash. Afterward Putin will let Kiev and the pro western parts of Ukraine go their own own way, which will eliminate the messiness of dealing with seasoned street fighters and perhaps Ukrainian security forces. The Americans and Europe won't be happy, but they'll deal with it. Or--the worse case scenario--Vlad the Impaler decides to go all Chechnya on the new Ukrainian government. He orders the tanks to roll right into Kiev, ignoring the outraged bellowing of Obama and everyone else from Poland on west, then, as they say, takes names and kicks ass.

Why not? It isn't like it would be the first time. Besides some old fashioned violence and rape is good for the troops' morale.

It is dark and dreary here on the southern plains. A heavy mist has coated the streets with an oily sheen. The big storm hits tomorrow with brute cold and snow. It is, in one way or another, a winter without end everywhere. Unfortunately, nature isn't the one at fault in Ukraine.   

sic vita est