Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Minimum Wage and May Day

The vote was 54 in favor and 42 against. Just about any where in the world that would mean a proposal to raise the minimum wage, over a 30 month period, from $7.25 per hour to $10.10 per hour would have passed. Unfortunately the United States Senate isn't just any where in the world. In that hallowed chamber of congress you need 60 votes in order to get a measure through.

Not that it matters. Those conservative cretins in the house would have killed it quicker than you can say John Boehner once it arrived there.

Republican Senator John Cornyn of Texas accused the democrats of playing politics with the issue. NBC reports he was whining those in favor of the bill were simply trying to make the GOP look, "hard hearted," during an election year. Perhaps, but Senator you'll have to admit it is pretty fucking easy to make republicans look hard hearted any time, whether there are elections coming up, or not.

That is what happens when many of your party, especially in the house, want to do away with the minimum wage altogether, while others tell single parents minimum wage jobs were never meant to raise people out poverty to begin with. You bet, next time, baby give head and, by the way, I'll take a large order of fries with my burger.

NBC quoted Washington democratic Senator, Patty Murray as saying, "Their vote today defines their priorities."

The republicans are justifying these beastly acts by claiming they are trying to save small businesses. Of course their love of mom and pop stores has never stopped each and every one of them from accepting contributions offered by people like the Walton family, who have spent their entire lives driving mom and pop operations straight into bankruptcy.

The vote in the Senate came on the eve of May first, which is a traditional spring holiday across the globe, particularly in Europe. The first day in May, or "May Day," is also known as International Workers Day in many places. Because it is recognized and celebrated by a lot of people the United States government has traditionally disliked--you know, communists, socialists, minimum wage workers, and just about anyone wanting to make a decent and dignified living--the American version of International Workers Day was set in September and called, simply, Labor Day.

May Day came about because of a minor demonstration held on the night of May 4th, 1886 at Haymarket Square in Chicago. Prior to the 4th that year there had been a general strike of laborers which began on May 1st. The walkouts involved upwards to 300,000 workers nationwide. The demonstrations in Chicago continued beyond the first, mainly because there was an ongoing strike at the McCormick Harvesting Machine Company. On the third of May things turned ugly when strikers, who were incensed by replacement workers, were fired on by Chicago police. Depending on who you believe, between two and six strikers were killed.

The next night in Haymarket Square a crowd of somewhere between 600 and 3,000 showed up to listen to some radical left speakers. It was raining and as usual the guys making speeches were boring and by 10 or 10:30 pm a lot of people had drifted away. According to Wikipedia the demonstrators were so laid back, the mayor of Chicago left the square early, thinking there was nothing to worry about.

However, those of us who are a certain age know all about the Chicago police department, it's tactics, and the violent tradition it is so proud of. As the demonstration was winding down a phalanx of cops came marching down the street and the officer in charge ordered the "mob" to disperse. What happened next is up to historical interpretation. Someone threw a bomb toward the police lines. It went off. The police began shooting into the crowd. Absolute chaos ensued. There were reports of people at the demonstration firing on the cops, although later, at least one official said, many of the police who had been shot were downed by fellow officers firing blindly in the darkness, confusion, and rain. By the time it was done seven policemen were dead, as were four civilians. At least 70 were wounded, although it is generally acknowledged there were many injured demonstrators who refused to go to hospitals out of fear they'd be arrested.

Whatever the case may be, the night became a cause celebre. Within a year and a half, Illinois hung four guys, none of whom threw the bomb, or built it. Another killed himself before he could be executed. Three others were eventually pardoned, because a few years later a  progressive governor recognized all eight of the accused had been railroaded. The person who actually chucked the explosive device was never caught. Some primordial leftist conspiracy theorists claimed an unnamed Pinkerton's detective had infiltrated the labor movement and committed the act in order to discredit it. Finally, the governor who issued the pardons was defeated when he ran for re-election, because he was accused of being a socialist sonofabitch.

So, what was the terrible trigger for all the violence, death, turmoil, and political retribution? Well, the workers in the streets on the very first May Day, at McCormick Harvesting, and in the Haymarket were demanding an eight hour work day.

Yes, they were fighting for the very same job institution the huge majority of us take for granted in the year 2014.

It would seem some things never change. If you're poor and abused by your employer there are vast forces actively at work to keep you that way--then and now. According to them the poverty you were born into is your fault and any attempt you make to break out of it is tantamount to stealing from them.They have and will continue to call this cruel scam stuff like, The American Way and Free Enterprise. If you question these phrases you are considered a traitor to the nation they control and you, despite the terrible mistreatment, still love.

Welcome to the land of the free.

The bar is down the hall and thankfully, it is open.

sic vita est


Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Donald Sterling Gets the Boot and Lawyers Begin to Line Up For a Big Pay Day

So long Don Sterling.

The NBA Commissioner Adam Silver came down hard on the rogue owner of the Los Angeles Clippers a little while ago. He had little choice as the outrage over Sterling's taped comments about African Americans has gone not just viral, but nuclear.

At the moment, Mr. Sterling still owns the team, but cannot participate in either it's operations, or the league's for the rest of his unnatural life. In addition, he is forbidden to attend any games and must pay a $2.5 million fine.

According to an NBC report, in order to sell the team out from under him, Silver needs the support of three fourths of the league owners. No doubt the Commissioner wants this clown as far away from the game as possible, but even if he gets the necessary votes everyone is looking at a legal quagmire which could last decades. Huge numbers of lawyers are lining up at a couple of doors as I type and every last one of them is expecting a big pay day.

The first and foremost problem is Sterling himself. The man loves to tie things up in courts for years. The feds have been after him since 2009 on housing discrimination charges and the case is still pending because of his delaying tactics. Second, his estranged spouse, Rochelle is apparently heavily involved with the club's operation and she hasn't been accused of anything, other than perhaps rotten judgement when it comes to her marriage. The bottom line is it will likely take an army of litigators to sort out all the civil ramifications involved with taking the team from not just, Don, but his wife--especially if she files for divorce and gets half his share of the club in the settlement.

The scandal has attracted a ground swell of skeptics who are hinting, not too subtlety, Big Don was set up by his girlfriend/companion/fantasy sugar baby. Actually, Ms. V. Stiviano is a bit of a mystery. Some reports label her as a model. FOX sports says her, "bio," lists her occupations as, "artist, lover, writer, chef, poet, stylist, and philanthropist." It is unclear where FOX discovered the "bio," but such an eclectic group of professions does make her sound a little iffy.

A quick look didn't turn up a Wikipedia page referencing her and every other web mention of Stiviano had to do with the leaked tape which screwed Don so completely. In addition, Rochelle is suing her for the return of gifts Don lavished on her, including four autos and a duplex, coincidently a figure which comes to $2.5 million.

A couple of conspiracy theorists are contending,  Earvin, "Magic" Johnson is orchestrating the whole affair because he wants to buy the Clippers on the cheap. As everyone knows, he was in the Stiviano instagram photo which pushed Sterling over the edge. As weird as the accusation sounds, Johnson felt the need to issue a denial he was interested in buying the franchise.

Of course, even if it was a set up, the evil fuck said what he said. Criminal entrapment is one thing, being baited into speaking your feeble mind and exposing your attitudes toward an entire race of people is another altogether.

Luckily for Adam Silver the scandal hit just a couple of months after he took over command of the league. Now he'll be able to dodge some questions which will be directed toward former Commish, David Stern. As more than a few people have noted, Sterling's attitude, at least toward potential tenants, has been public knowledge for years. When it comes to the NBA, basketball legend and former Clipper employee, Elgin Baylor made some pointed attacks on his boss's views regarding African Americans in a law suit he filed against Sterling in 2009. That was all during Stern's watch and he didn't do a thing to censure the guy.

To take it a step further, Stern put the kibosh on a trade between New Orleans and the L.A. Lakers which involved the league's premier point guard, Chris Paul. Then, after some negotiations the, then Hornets, traded Paul to Sterling's Clippers. At the time the New Orleans team didn't have a viable owner and was being controlled by the league itself. In other words, Stern okay'd the final deal, which had a direct and positive impact on the Clippers and Sterling's pocketbook.

Yes, there is going to be some serious soul searching and more than one reputation will go down in flames before this is over. Stern's legacy is now open for debate. The NAACP barely dodged a bullet--for some unfathomable reason they were within an inch of giving this cretin a "life time achievement award."

Our pal Rush Limbaugh claimed Sterling is a "Hollywood democrat" and no one would be howling for his head if he had only kicked a big contribution to Barack Obama during the last presidential election. As usual, Brother Limbaugh had his facts wrong. Although Sterling was a democrat once and contributed money to a handful of democrats in the past, the L.A. county registrar's office shows he became a republican in 1998.

Not that it matters.

As Keith Olbermann tweeted the other day, "I don't care what political party he belongs to. He is still a pig."



Saturday, April 26, 2014

Don Sterling on Tape

The hits just keep on coming.

I have a conservative friend who tells me, among other things, liberals and especially African American liberals play the race card as if this nation is still mired in the Jim Crow era. She has constantly challenged me when I say things like, in the dark heart of many tea party quacks there lies an incurable strain of racism. It has been my contention that racism is what has driven the "birther" movement and the virulent, unreasonable, hatred of Barack Obama. Her argument is that while there are racists they are generally confined to skin head groups and covens of the Ku Klux Klan. According to her, it is politics and politics alone which causes tea party types to post photos of the president dressed in stereotypical Hollywood style African bushman costumes, complete with a bone through his nose.

Out in Los Angeles a twenty something model named V. Stiviano recently taped an argument she and her 81year old boyfriend had on the phone. He was plenty pissed she had posted a photo on instagram which showed her with former NBA star Earvin "Magic" Johnson.

He had this to say about it. "It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you're associating with black people. Do you have to?

There was more. "I'm just saying, in your lousy fucking instagrams you don't have to show yourself walking with black people."

Then: "Don't put him (Johnson) on an instagram for the world to see, so they have to call me. And don't bring him to my games."

Games? Who is this beast? What sort of crude outback Yahoo are we dealing with here?

Well, his name is Donald Tokowitz Sterling. He owns the NBA's Los Angeles Clippers. In 2013 his reported net worth was $1.9 billion. The skinheads and KKK won't let him join because he is Jewish.

Mr. Sterling bought the Clippers in 1981 for $12.5 million. That was when they were in San Diego and lucky to win 20 games a season. Now they are in the playoffs and according to Forbes Magazine, last year the franchise had an estimated value of $575 million. As you might guess, there are more than a few African Americans playing on the team and they are obviously making Don Sterling tons and tons of money.

Okay, maybe ol' Don just went a little funny in the head during a heated moment. After all dating a woman 50 years younger than you is liable to effect you in strange ways. Let's face it, God only knows what the running tab for Viagra costs the man.

Actually Sterling, who made his initial fortune in real estate, was taken to court by the feds in 2005 for not renting apartments to African Americans, Latinos, or families with children. According to Wikipedia he ended up having to pay a $2.7 million fine and court costs amounting to nearly $5 million.

In 2009 NBA legend Elgin Baylor, who worked for the Clippers, accused Sterling of discriminating against him based on his age and race. A jury let the boss off the hook. Later in same year the U.S. Department of Justice sued his ass, charging he refused to rent to non Koreans in the Koreatown district of L.A. and wouldn't rent to African Americans at a Beverly Hills property he owned. One of the accusations made in the suit is that Sterling claimed he wouldn't rent to blacks because they smelled and attracted vermin. The case is still pending.

TMZ, who broke the story, posted a few, brief responses to the contents of the tape. Earvin Johnson called Sterling, "Shameful." Sports guy Keith Olbermann wants the Clipper's players to boycott the rest of the playoffs. Reverend Al Sharpton suggested the league should take the team away from him. My favorite, however, came from rap star, Snoop Dogg. He had this to say about Don Sterling, "He's a bitch ass redneck, white bread, chicken shit, mother fucker."

Now there is eloquence.

And honestly--there is not a thing I could possibly add to it.


Friday, April 25, 2014

Friday Dispatches: The NRA Boogie Man De Jour, Plebeians in Pennsylvania, and Cliven Bundy Says Martin Luther King Jr. Hasn't Done His Job

Time certainly does fly when you're having fun. It seemed like the last NRA annual convention was held only a week ago, but here they are again--just as ripe, righteous, angry, and blustery as ever.

The boogie man de jour this time around is former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. He made the hit list because he is coughing up $50 million of his own money to combat the NRA's influence during the 2014 election cycle. Our old pal, Wayne LaPierre appeared on video and told the congregation, "He's (Bloomberg) a guy with millions and we're millions with our 25 bucks. Let's see who crushes who."

Equally as subtle was the NRA's chief lobbyist, Chris Cox, who called Bloomberg, "an arrogant hypocrite." Okay, arrogant maybe, but one has to wonder about the hypocrite part, because Bloomberg has been as consistent on the issue of gun control as Cox's employer has. He went on to tell Bloomberg to, "Stay the hell out of our gun cabinets because this freedom is not for sale."

Yes, but the guys who are speaking to the group later today sure are. FL Senator, Marco Rubio, LA Governor, Bobby Jindal, IN Governor, Mike Pence, and former PA Senator, Rick Santorum will all be auditioning for large amounts of moolah this afternoon. Each man is entertaining a run for the republican presidential nomination. At the moment they are long shots and no doubt in need of a steady influx of cash, no matter how unsavory the source might be.

Hey, when you're a pro you suck every penis, no matter who it is attached to.

Meanwhile, NBC is reporting new details have emerged in the deadly case of Alex Hribal. He is the kid who armed himself with two knives on April 9th, then raced down the crowded halls of his high school stabbing and slashing everyone within reach.

NBC says court records show that after he was taken to the ground by Assistant Principal Sam King he initially refused to let go of the knives because, "My work is not done. I have more people to kill."

Luckily he didn't kill anyone, but he did wound 21, a couple severely. Police found a note in his locker which was dated three days before the attack. It read, "I can't wait to see the priceless and helpless looks on the faces of the students of one of the best schools in Pennsylvania (when they) realize their precious lives are going to be taken by the only one among them that isn't a plebeian."

After the assault, Hribal's attorney, Patrick Thomassy told the press his client had no previous history of mental health problems.

Well, counselor, he certainly does now. Alex Hribal has been charged with 21 counts of attempted homicide and will be tried as adult.

Finally, it appears, Cliven Bundy is just too stupid to shut up. He is the Nevada rancher who has grazed his cattle for decades on federal land, all the while refusing to pay the government fees for the privilege. He had the complete support of some FOX celebrities, plus a couple of heavy duty politicians until the other day when he went off into a vile rant about, "the Negro" not knowing how to pick cotton any more. During this revelation of personal philosophy he also speculated that African Americans might be better off if they were still slaves.

Today he gave an interview to CNN and explained himself this way, "If I say negro, or black boy, or slave and those people cannot take those kind of words and not be offended then Martin Luther King hasn't done his job yet."

Someone from FOX might want to call this guy and let him in on the breaking news. You know,  that Martin Luther King Jr. "hasn't done his job yet," because he was assassinated 46 fucking years ago.

Bundy's racist nonsense has caused two United States Senators and a few FOX personalities to duck and cover. The most prominent of the FOX people, Sean Hannity. issued a statement in which he babbled that his support was never for Bundy per se, but the issue of government overreach. He even went so far as to hint the "liberal" media was trying use Bundy's personal views on race to distract the public from the real issue.

An outfit called Media Watch noted FOX devoted nearly five hours of air time to Bundy's confrontation with the feds before he went all Nathan Bedford Forrest. However, once the shit hit the fan, he hasn't been mentioned by name once and the network's focus has shifted entirely to a land dispute in Texas.

Fair and balanced indeed.

And people wonder why so many of us loathe these cretins..


Thursday, April 24, 2014

Cliven Bundy Knows Things About, "The Negro"

What Senator Reid may call terrorists, I call patriots.

Senator Dean Heller, R-NV, referring to rancher Cliven Bundy and his pals as they face off against the Bureau of Land Management over grazing rights, fees, and cattle confiscations.

I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro. They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton.

Cliven Bundy, in an interview with the New York Times.

Oops.  .

It would seem all that kowtowing to the ultra right wing can backfire on you once in a while. Especially when you actually believe the gooey bilge which insists the tea party movement isn't chock full of guys who will tell you, one more thing they know about the Negro.

Even Rand Paul was singed by brother Bundy's patriotism. He had lectured Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid about his level of rhetoric when, after they pulled guns on federal agents,  Reid called the Bundy Bunch, "...domestic, violent, terrorist wannabes." Paul also mused, "The federal government shouldn't violate the law, nor should we have 43 federal agencies carrying weapons and having SWAT teams."

The Senator from Kentucky, who has had his own problems when it comes to African Americans and race relations, was quick to bail on Bundy and crew. He issued a statement saying, "His remarks on race are offensive and I whole heartedly disagree with him."

Heller, perhaps too embarrassed to show up in public, had his people release a statement which read, (the Senator) "completely disagrees with Mr. Bundy's appalling and racist statements and condemns them in the most strenuous way."

Heller's first clue about true nature of this vivid splash of neo patriotism should have come when Bundy supporter, Richard Mack told reporters, "We're actually strategizing right now to put all the women up at the front. If they are going to start shooting, it's going to be women that are going to be televised all across the world getting shot by these rogue federal officers."

I'll admit that sometimes I'm a little fuzzy on my history, but honestly, I don't recall  the Minute Men employing that particular tactic on the Lexington Green, or at the bridge in Concord. Obviously they didn't have a strategizer as brave and resourceful as Mack, who is reportedly a former Arizona sheriff.

Bundy's conflict with the government has gone on for years and involves not only grazing fees and fines, but environmental concerns and at least one endangered species. He and the Bureau of Land Management have faced off in court on numerous occasions and he has lost every decision.

He likes to portray this as some dramatic constitutional issue involving state's rights, but it really isn't. It is more akin to when Terry Nichols tried to skip out on $40,000 in credit card debt by claiming since he didn't recognize the government of the United States, it's laws didn't apply to him. After the courts refused to agree, he went out and helped Tim McVeigh blow up the Oklahoma City federal building.

Yes, Cliven Bundy and his supporters can caterwaul all they want about federal over reach and an individual's rights, but in the end he is just another two bit tax evader, much like Leona Helmsley was. They threw her saggy ass in prison for it and they should do the same to him.

Then he'll really know another thing about some, Negros.


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Four Suckers in the Mix and Ted Cruz Casts a Vote in the Oklahoma Senate Race

There are seven Oklahoma republicans running for the senate seat being vacated by retiring incumbent Tom Coburn. Four of them bring little or no political experience to the table. In fact a few of us have to wonder what sort of Quixotic fantasies are floating about inside the skulls of, army veteran Andrew Craig, college professor Kevin Crow, mechanical contractor Eric McCray, and paramedic Jason Weger.

Let's face it, a statewide race for the U.S. Senate isn't cheap. Hell, it costs $1,000 just to file and honestly, as decent as Craig, Crow, McCray, and Weger might be personally, they have less name recognition among the locals than the University of Oklahoma's football team punter.

At some point idealism and ego cross the line into those murky depths known as stupidity and out right insanity. What ever the case may be, as the man once said, "There is a sucker born every minute," and honestly, without them guys like Sheldon Adelson wouldn't make millions of dollars a day, seven days a week. Indeed, there isn't a casino in the world who doesn't love calling some loser's long shot bet. .

The other candidates are former state senator, Randy Brogdon, U.S. Congressman James Lankford, and former Oklahoma House Speaker, T.W. Shannon. Of those three, Brogdon is the least likely to be a factor in the June republican primary. A poll taken last month showed him mired in third place, so far behind Lankford and Shannon, his only major impact might be as a vocal campaigner for the winner of a runoff election. Hey, everyone needs a job and there is no telling what might come available via a new Senator's office.

The leader out of the gate has been Lankford. He has the support of the largest newspaper in the state and has socked back a ton of cash. In addition he has a masters of divinity from a Baptist seminary, which is never a bad thing in a state where nearly one out of three people is a Southern Baptist. Prior to 2011 he worked for the Southern Baptist General Convention and was the program director for the Falls Creek Camp, the largest youth camp in the U.S. run by a Christian denomination.

Despite the evangelical credentials there is a problem in paradise. A story in Brietbart darkly notes Lankford is unacceptable in many eyes because, "he has been cozy with the GOP leadership in congress."

No, that wasn't a typo. Jim Lankford has drawn opposition from here and out of state, not because he was some republican in name only who played pat-a-cake with Barack H. Obama. He is being hammered by the right edge, because he played ball with the senior leadership of his own political party.

T.W. Shannon, on the other hand, untainted by such a sin, is now raking in money as fast as bank transfers can be made. The, "non profit social welfare organization," Oklahomans for a Conservative Future spent nearly $400,000 on pro Shannon television ads and direct mailings in March, which dramatically dropped Lankford's lead in the polls. Since OCF is a non profit it doesn't have to list the people or corporations donating money to it so long as it spends 51% of it's income on--well--social welfare. Right, we can all just imagine what those projects are. As of late last month it's "headquarters" was a mail box at an Oklahoma City UPS store.

On Thursday of this week an all star cast will show up in Tulsa at what is being billed as the, "Liberty Rally" on Shannon's behalf. Sarah Palin and Utah Senator Mike Lee will be there, as well as the Master Blaster of all things tea party, Ted Cruz.

Cruz's office issued this statement about the former speaker, "T.W. Shannon is a strong constitutional conservative who will fight for individual liberty and help turn our country around. T.W. embodies the American dream. I'm proud to offer T.W. my enthusiastic endorsement, because he will not only vote the right way, but he'll stand up and fight with us in the senate to stop President Obama's assault on our liberties and defend America's founding principles."

In other words, he'll listen to me, rather than Mitch McConnell and vote however I tell him.

So, it would appear Oklahoma has become the latest arena in what amounts to a political putsch orchestrated by the mad Canadian. He is, at the moment, as busy as a rabid beaver trying to remake the entire GOP into his mirror image and he won't be satisfied until it is.

Yes, make no mistake about it. We are witnessing a vicious purge in it's infancy. According to the gospel of Ted Cruz there can be no dissent in his party and there certainly can't be any compromise on an issue--ever. As for two plus centuries of  house and senate rules and traditions? They're all decadent and must be done away with.

The body politic of the United States of America has never been confronted by such a massive and unrepentant ego.

He scares me. And--no matter what your political affiliation--he should scare you too.


Friday, April 18, 2014

Stormfront: Evil Lurks in the Heart of Man

Evil lurks in the heart of man and anonymity tends to bring it out. Internet flamers would never say the jagged things they do if they had to sign their names.

Garrison Keillor

Right. Actually some of the time they love to make sure you know who they are. The site in question is called It is run by a guy named Don Black. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center in the last five years at least 100 people have been murdered by active users of this particular corner of the internet. In fact the SPLC study calls it, "a magnet for the deadly and deranged."

They have a valid argument. Anders Breivik, the Norwegian sweet heart who killed 77 of his countrymen, many of them high school age kids, was a three year alum of the site. According to him, he did it because the Norwegian government was allowing the country to be overrun by Muslims.

Wade Michael Page was a ten year member. He killed six and wounded four at a Wisconsin Sikh temple in 2012 before blowing his own diseased brains out.

Richard Poplawski was a two year veteran of the site. In April 2009 he shot and killed three Pittsburgh cops and wounded a fourth a couple of hours after his last post.

The list goes on, but you get the drift. Black was interviewed by NBC the other day and called the SPLC report a bunch of bullshit. According to him, when you have 280,000 plus users the law of averages dictates there will be a few bad apples in the ol' barrel.

He says the site doesn't tolerate anyone who advocates illegal violence and it exists solely to, "educate people as to the threats we're facing which we consider to be literally white genocide." In addition he claims Stormfront provides a community to the, "embattled white minority" which, in fact, helps prevent acts of violence by it's members.

Yes, there is nothing more comforting to some out of work, blazing racist, who owns a ton of guns, than a place which assures him every person of color in the world wants him dead.

The SPLC notes membership in the site sky rocketed after Barack Obama was elected in 2008 and acts of deadly violence perpetrated by Stormfront users began to spike after his inauguration.

A quick peek at just one of the many areas on Stormfront--a section addressing revisionism--revealed these samples of entries: "The Holocaust Cartoons," "Top Ten Reasons The Holocaust Didn't Happen," and "The Persecution of Revisionists." Another promised it would prove there is, "no physical, or forensic evidence of a holocaust either by gassing, or bullets." There was other stuff. A lot of it concerned the deliberate mis-quoting of Adolf Hitler by allied propagandists. The theory being it was done in order to mis-lead us into thinking he was saying only Germans were the master race, rather than all white people, no matter what their nationality.

In the end, it would seem no matter how many times we kick evil's ass it always returns. We just can't get rid of it. It is like a horrid weed you pull out of the garden time and time again. No matter how deep you dig into the soil, you simply can't kill the whole root.

Think not? In September of 1941, over a two day period, German troops, aided by units of Ukrainian auxiliary police, killed more than 33,000 Jews in Kiev. The ravine where they did it was called Babi Yar. On Wednesday, three masked men handed out flyers in Donetsk, Ukraine. The sheets of paper ordered all Jews over the age of 16 to register at the regional government office, now controlled by pro-Russian dissidents.

Both sides of the separatist dispute are blaming the other for the outrage. Both sides also know how it resonates throughout Europe and America. Tragically, in a far darker way, it also touches a chord on the pages of places like We, as a species, are the lesser in both cases.

sic vita est


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Oklahoma Politics: Randy Brogdon, Jim Lankford, and T.W. Shannon Howl to the Moon and Drive on the Far Right Side of the Road

There they were on Wednesday. The three arch conservatives seated in a perfect row, facing a crowd of true believers. Former state senator Randy Brogdon, Congressman James Lankford, and former Oklahoma house speaker T.W. Shannon all want to be the guy who moves into Tom Coburn's seat in the United States Senate this fall--and they know what they have to do to win.

The Oklahoman reported, in a story written by, Silas Allen all of them appeared in front of a bunch of tea party types yesterday. Each one in turn claimed he was the most right wing sonofbitch in the entire state. Yes, any sort of move to the center in Oklahoma is down right suicidal. You have to go all Ted Cruz and then some if you want to win a GOP nomination here. That's right baby. Blame the federal government and Barack Obama for everything up to and including the disappearance of Malaysian flight 370. Howl to the moon about the masses on welfare stealing from the hard working few and how we're being overrun by illegal immigrants who don't believe in democracy. And--if the lazy bastards don't earn enough to pay for a hospital stay--fuck 'em--let them die in the streets.

Allen quoted Shannon as saying, "I fundamentally believe we need to get the federal government out of health care." In addition he wants to cut everything except military spending, which he intends to increase. It is a position possibly motivated by the fact, Ft. Sill is the largest employer in his home town of Lawton. Proving he is quite the diplomat the former speaker claimed military cuts have, "...created a situation where the U.S. has lost the trust of it's allies and the fear of it's enemies." That would confirm what we all know,  fear is a true democracy's greatest asset. He also said some things about communicating, because--you know--the reason conservatives got their asses kicked twice by Barack Obama is because of a lack of communication, not their politics.

Lankford babbled on about restoring state's rights, which is pretty much the same argument used by Nathan Bedford Forrest in 1861. He has the support of the daily paper and much of the GOP establishment which makes him suspect in the eyes of the far right edge. Despite the inherent mistrust he leads in polls taken of republican voters both in OKC and Tulsa.

Of course mainstream and establishment are relative terms when it comes to guys like these. The Congressman, along with the other two candidates, says he wants the United States to withdraw from the United Nations. Brogdon went further in this exercise of one-upmanship by saying he not only wants us out of the U.N. but the U.N. out of America. According to him, "I think we should shut the United Nations down, run them out of New York City." Then, in an appeal to the elusive Hispanic demographic, he also advocated closing the border with Mexico--entirely--rather like that fine line which separates the two Koreas. He added, "at least until it can be made secure." He didn't go into detail on what his idea of, "secure" is, but the imagination runs wild with the possibilities.

Brogdon is the third place horse in the race. He has a lower statewide profile than either Lankford, or Shannon and probably far less cash. It means he'll have to scream the loudest and play to the fringe by saying things like the federal government wants your first born child for satanic purposes.

Lankford is from Edmond, which is an OKC suburb. If he can win big both here and in Tulsa and stay close in the outback he will probably move to the senate.

Shannon, who is African American and part Native American, has the backing of Chickasaw Chief, Bill Anoatubby and a couple of out of state superpacs which means he should be able to hang with Lankford when it comes to campaign spending. Oklahoma has sent a black man to Washington once before, but it was in the house and he had formerly played quarterback at the University of Oklahoma. Shannon doesn't have that particular credential.

The brutal truth is we're going to be stuck with whichever one of these clowns wins the republican primary. There isn't a democrat alive right now who can win a state wide race in Oklahoma. A decades long right wing media blitz, the rise of the evangelical movement, and an innate, if fuzzy fear of change, has rendered state democrats, real democrats, as relevant as the Woolly Mammoth.

Such is the cruel nature of evolution. It doesn't, however, mean all of us who live here have to like it.

sic vita est


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A Nightmare in Utah, A Storm Trooper in Kansas City, and Someone Else Was Bored in Duncan

There are times when you have to wonder about the whole evolution thing. You know, natural selection, survival of the fittest--those dead ends which are supposed save us from the grotesque mutants whose twisted chromosomes will ultimately lead the species to doom.

On days like these it is easy to think Darwin was as daft as those who argue that 5,000 years ago humans shared this blue ball with dinosaurs, rather like they did on the TV show, "The Flintstones."

Over the weekend, Pleasant Grove, UT police arrested the 39 year old mother of three, Megan Huntsman. She now sits wide eyed in the lockup charged with six counts of murder.

On Saturday her estranged husband, Darren West was cleaning out the family garage when he came across the body of an infant wrapped in plastic and packed away in a cardboard box. Mr. West, who did a little time of his own because of drug related charges, immediately called the local police. They discovered six more bodies, raising the gruesome total to seven new born infants--all packed away as neatly as the first.

Reports are Ms. Huntsman confessed to the police the dead children were hers and she either strangled or smothered the six immediately after giving birth to them in the house. Authorities have determined the seventh baby was still born.

The nightmare apparently began in 1996 and didn't end until 2006. According to the cops, West and Huntsman's three children, who lived in the place with her during that period, had no idea she was  pregnant multiple times, much less killing her babies. In fact, the youngest daughter, un-named in the reports, was born at some point in the middle of all the madness. Why she survived and the rest didn't is currently a mystery, as is who might be the father, or fathers of the murdered new borns.

When interviewed, neighbors claimed they didn't see anything strange, although a couple of them said they noticed Huntsman's weight tended to yo-yo up and down.

While mothers who commit infanticide are certainly not unheard of, this is a whole new ballgame  Honestly, the mind reels at the sheer number of victims and time span. I mean didn't this crazy bitch ever hear of contraception, or even the last, desperate, resort of abortion? What was going through that reptilian brain of hers? Who is this horrifying beast hiding out in the guise of a human being?

The experts don't have a clue. To illustrate it, Diane Sanford, a psychologist and author of a book about postpartum depression had this nugget of wisdom, "These women aren't well."

Really? Thanks for letting us know, Ms. Sanford. We'll keep that one filed away.

Then on Sunday, Frazier Glenn Cross, aka, Glenn Miller, went on a shooting spree in the Kansas City metro area. Mr. Cross/Miller, a Vietnam veteran and former head of the Carolina Knights of the Ku Klux Klan  doesn't like Jews--so much so he once went on Howard Stern's radio show and told the host, "Compared to our Jewish problem all our other problems are mere distractions."

At the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City he gunned down 14 year old Eagle Scout, Reat Underwood and his grandfather, Dr. William Corporon. He then drove to the Village Shalom Retirement Community and shot Terri LaManna to death.

Police quickly arrested Cross/Miller who reportedly yelled, "Heil Hitler," as he was being carted off.

The first and most obvious question is how did a former felon, which Cross/Miller is, get his hands on a weapon? Some gun store owner will insist it was a legal transaction citing his alias and no doubt impeccable ID. After all, when you want a gun in this country, you'll get one no matter what your criminal record.The NRA is sure to issue a statement telling us if there had been armed guards, or citizens at both centers none of the killings would have taken place.

The feds say they have enough evidence to hang him out to dry on hate crimes. That would be in addition to the murder charges the local authorities are going hit him with. In the end, it turned out none of the 73 year old storm trooper's victims were Jewish.

Finally, down in Duncan, OK, a man with the regal sounding name, Oddesse John David Barnes became the fourth person charged in connection with the death of Australian, Christopher Lane. Nolan Clay reports in today's "The Oklahoman," Barnes is being accused of hiding the weapon used during the crime. According to the story, police contend Barnes knew it was the murder weapon, but still tossed it into some high grass when they came looking for it. The gun has never been found, which means it is still out there--available for use by another tough guy wanna be who wants to make a name for him, or herself.

Chancey Luna, who is accused of being the shooter, reportedly gave the weapon to Barnes. Michael Jones, the guy police say, was the wheel man during the drive by and Luna face murder charges. In exchange for turning state's evidence, James Edwards will be charged with accessory to murder after the fact. Oddesse John David Barnes is jammed up on the same rap.

The original motive, given by one of the bright bulbs involved in the murder of Lane, is brutally simple. He said they shot him because they were bored. Well, when you're young and mired in Duncan, you have to find something to do don't you?

Who says this isn't the greatest nation in the whole wide universe?

If you want me, I'll be in the bar--mulling over the re-lo to Belize


Sunday, April 13, 2014

Malaysian Flight 370 is Gone: According to YouTube It is Murder for Profit, Cloaking Technology, or Deadly X-Ray Devices

Well you can say one thing for the Malaysians, they know how to feed huge amounts of fodder to the conspiracy theory industry.

The publication,"New Straits Times" has published a story claiming flight 370 co-pilot, Fariq Abdul Hamid attempted to place a call on his cell phone during the fateful night the aircraft went missing. The story went so far as to say the fleeting contact with a communications tower was made when the plane was 200 nautical miles north west of Penang and flying at a low altitude, presumably in an attempt to avoid radar contact.

Although the story cited anonymous sources involved in the investigation, a Malaysian official was quick to say he didn't believe it was true--his contention is everyone would have heard about it before now. It isn't a bad argument. On the opposite end, The New Straits Times maintains the information wasn't released earlier because it was part of the ongoing search to find out who was at the controls when the plane went missing.

Can you say complete disconnect?

Other sources were quoted in the MSN story which said, for one, if a com tower did pick up a signal from Hamid's cell phone it could be he simply turned it on and wasn't trying to call anyone. In addition the head of the search operation has stated no one has any idea what flight 370's altitude was when it flew off into never, never land. Finally, a week ago FBI computer hot shots came to the conclusion there was nothing suspicious on the home flight simulator owned by pilot, Zaharie Shah.

Reports today indicate the batteries on the plane's black box have apparently gone dead,  meaning searchers in the southern Indian Ocean are now groping around completely blind through 15,000 feet of black water for the missing air liner.

All the conflicting information released until now, all those blurry satellite photos looking down on pieces of possible debris, which have invariably turned out to be nothing more than garbage--they have done nothing, but add to the confusion. In short they have thrown the door wide open to every conspiracy theorist with a PC and web cam.

Indeed, a quick sampling of them today on YouTube provides us with these startling headlines and expose's.

The Real Reason Flight 370 Disappeared!
Posted by something called Western Journalism, the story goes into arcane details about the Carlyle Group which, with the Blackstone Group and a couple of other entities, bought  a company called Freescale Semiconductor in 2006 for $17 billion. Freescale had the the misfortune to have 20 or so employees on the flight. This particular theory revolves around a close knit group of important figures gaining full control of some jointly owned patents. Reduced to its most basic level  it claims the flight was either hijacked, shot down, or dematerialized for no other reason, but profit.

Flight 370: Largest Conspiracy Since 9-11
It is narrated by a guy named Christopher Greene. Greene actually makes a valid point by saying no one knows what happened to the flight and everything at this point, including it's final resting place, is nothing, but speculation. Then he trips off into the Freescale Semiconductor scenario with the added tidbit the corporation is heavily involved in the development of top secret "cloaking" technology.

There are others, loads of others. Some kept going back to the Carlyle Group/Freescale Semiconductor connection, while darkly informing us New World Order types such as the Bush family, the Rothschilds, and even the bin Ladens have their tentacles squirming deep into each company. A couple of less detailed posts admonished those of us viewing not to believe anything we're told by anyone--ever--unless, of course, we hear it from them.

My personal favorite, however, was:

Leuren Moret: Flight 370 Was U.S. Demo for Putin: Patent Scam: Payback for Tribunal vs. Israel, U.S./U.K.
Moret is described by interviewer, Alfred Webre as a radiation expert. She is convinced there were multiple reasons for the downing, which she says has been confirmed by Vietnam. In fact she claims the Vietnamese have even recovered the tail section of the Boeing 777. According to her the U.S brought down the aircraft with an "energy weapon," probably some sort of X-ray device. The reason the government did it was to show Vladimir Putin we have a working model ready to shove up his ass. If she is right the deadly demo certainly hasn't impressed Putin enough to slow him down in large sections of Ukraine. For me, the perfect moment during her "explanation," came in the first part of the video. There is a blip in the presentation, causing a couple of seconds to be lost, rather like a needle skipping on an old fashioned vinyl record. It was immediately followed by the disclaimer, "Note, NSA like party sabotaged connection."

Hey, it could happen. You can never tell who is watching and listening these days and as everyone knows, loose lips sink ships.

Obviously these clowns would be around with different axes to grind if flight 370 hadn't gone into the drink so mysteriously. Many conspiracy posts carry a sulphuric whiff of anti-Semitism, or at least a heavily anti Israeli slant. Others rant about the Rothschilds and the dreaded Iluminati while alleging satanic connections to both. More than a few throw out sentences filled subtly with terms from the book of Revelation. Moret goes so far as to claim we are currently in the middle of Armageddon.

Andy Warhol once said, "In the future everyone will be world famous for fifteen minutes."

If you have a web cam and a YouTube account the future is now. Unfortunaty a lot of cranks can thank Malaysia Airlines and the Malaysian government for their current quarter of an hour.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the bar is open.

sic vita est


Thursday, April 10, 2014

Knives, Not Guns in Murrysville

Even though many people were injured and injured severely, this would be a completely different scenario if a firearm was in place.

Dr. Juan Carlos Puyana, speaking about the April 9th carnage at Franklin Regional High School in Murrysville, Pennsylvania.

Yes, the pro gun wits are already making jokes about the government forcing everyone to register their cutlery and Barack Obama trying to figure out a way to ban knives. However, deep in their dark hearts they know if there had been a couple of Glocks, or a Bushmaster .223 laying around his parent's house, Alex Hribal would have used them in the halls of Franklin Regional on Wednesday. Instead, because the gun option wasn't available, he was forced to launch his savage attack with what has been described as two steak knives.

Before he was tackled by an assistant principal and a gutsy senior, Hribal managed to stab 20 fellow students and a school security guard. One of his victims, Jared Borger, remains in critical condition, although Dr. Puyana told NBC he felt a second operation last night probably got him through the deepest part of the life and death crisis. Everyone else is predicted to recover fairly quickly.

The rest of the account is so numbingly familiar it is like we are watching an endless remake of some dreadful movie. Only the characters and location change, the plot remains exactly the same.

There are conflicting reports about Hribal's high school social status and popularity. In addition there are rumors he was bullied, which are countered by claims no one ever gave him a hard time. His attorney was quoted by NBC as saying, "This is a nice young man. He's not a loner; he works well with other kids at school." While that theory is all fine and good, some students who were interviewed painted a different picture. They said he was very quiet, stayed to himself and--as one put it--"He was a shadow in the hallway." As if to confirm the assessment early stories say when Hribal arrived at school yesterday he was wearing all black.

Sounds a tad familiar doesn't it.

Patrick Thomassey, Hribal's lawyer, was also quoted as saying, "There is no evidence the family is dysfunctional." He added, "If there was something wrong with him, he sure hid it well."

Actually, Mr. Thomassey might want to rethink saying such things to the press. Let's face it, right now there is only one plausible defense for his client--who has been charged as an adult--it would be to argue Alex Hribal is utterly bats.

The counselor described Hribal as confused and scared. One report says after he was subdued he cried out he wanted to die. Authorities have seized his computer in order to find a reason why he went off, as if there would be only one. There is another report of an angry, or threatening phone call between Hribal and some unidentified person the night before he became the latest in a long line of teenagers who have gone berserk.

The truth is no one knows the why and at this point the accused is not talking to police.

We've always been a culture of indiscriminate violence. Our history is full of war and murder most foul on both a mass scale and a personal one. So it might be reasonable to think now that everyone with a twitter account and smart phone has become a journalist with an instant global audience, it only seems like we've reached some terrible tipping point.

I tend to go another way. Something awful has happened and we have no clue what it is and certainly no answer for it. It wasn't a mass moment of craziness, not some vast tectonic shift which jarred all our brains into poisonous jelly. It crept up on us like the fable of not knowing the water is getting hot if the dudes cooking us in a huge iron pot raise the temperature by only one degree every few minutes.

Honestly, I'm as clueless as everyone else when it comes to doing something about it. The only thing I know for sure is, Dr. Juan Carlos Puyana was right. As horrifying as it was, the Franklin Regional High School student body caught a break because guns weren't involved.

You can take it to the bank.


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Bob Coy and Vance McAllister Have Moral Failures and Eight Minutes in Moore is Enough for Westboro Baptist

Watch and pray that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.

Jesus of Nazareth, professional trouble maker, accused drunkard, Savior, and Son of God Almighty

Indeed it is. Just ask Bob Coy and Vance McAllister.

Down in Florida, Coy has been the senior pastor of Calvary Chapel in Ft. Lauderdale since it was founded in 1986. The name sounds humble, but make no mistake, Calvary Chapel is big business. It has 20,000 members, which makes it the second largest church in Florida and 14th largest in the United States. It's assets are listed at $135 million and while that isn't Joel Osteen territory it is still a sizable chunk of cash.

Unfortunately for pastor Coy the high, fast, and clean ride ended on April 6th when he was either canned outright, or forced to quit. His church released a statement which said he, "resigned, "...after confessing to a moral failing in his life which disqualifies him from continuing his leadership role at the church..."

Coy's media arm, named "Active Word" which distributed his sermons to radio, TV, and internet outlets has been suspended. This means there are now some serious holes in programming schedules for places like Trinity Broadcasting Network where Coy was a regular.

There weren't any salacious details released by the church, but a blogger named, Michael Newnham is claiming Coy fessed up to at least two extra marital affairs last year alone and to a serious taste for porn. It is unclear how Newnham got his information and the church refused to comment on his report. The imagination does tend to run a tad wild though since Calvary Chapel's board room wasn't in the mood for a dramatic televised mea culpa, followed by an opportunity for penance and redemption.

Meanwhile, in Louisiana republican congressman, Vance McAllister issued this statement, "I am asking for forgiveness from God, my wife, my kids, my staff, and my constituents who elected me."

His exercise in self flagellation came after the West Monroe Citizen, a local paper, posted a thirty second kiss the representative planted on the lips of a woman who is not his wife. The publication said the low grade video came from an anonymous source and the moment of secret amore happened prior to last Christmas. That would be not long after McAllister won his seat during a special election.

So why all the hubbub? I mean, let's face it, Ted Kennedy would have bought the media a round of drinks and shrugged off an indiscretion like this as just another Tuesday night.

Well, unfortunately for McAllister, nearly every campaign ad he ran featured him bragging about his Christian family values. He even dragged those duck hunting born again types, Phil and Willie Robertson onto the TV screen so they could tell everyone what a fine upstanding, Southern Baptist guy he is.

Hey, if you're going to talk the talk, you'd better walk the walk. If we've learned anything lately it is there are no secrets in the 21st century. McAllister has been married for 16 years. He and his wife have five children. The dinner menu at their home tonight includes discomfort with a side of awkwardness, both served extremely raw.

Finally, on a slightly different subject, the wankers from Westboro Baptist Church showed up in Moore, OK on Sunday. They secured a permit to picket in front of Moore's Central Jr. High. It is currently providing classroom space for the students of Plaza Towers Elementary, one of the schools destroyed by last May's horrific tornado. Seven Plaza Towers students died in the storm when the building collapsed on them.

It was business as usual for the Westboro crowd. There looked to be eight to ten of them holding the usual signs which said stuff like, "God Hates Fags" and God Hates Oklahoma." They showed up to illustrate their belief the children died because the Lord is pissed off at America for tolerating gay people.

The permit allowed the sons and daughters of Fred Phelps to be there for 30 minutes. However, a crowd of hundreds across the street from them quickly grew tired of their bullshit. When the incensed citizens of Moore ignored police lines and began to move toward the "protesters" the Westboro clowns fled the scene in panic after only eight minutes.

All of which goes to show martyrdom is an acquired taste and not meant for everyone.

sic vita est


Monday, April 7, 2014

Welcome to Spring and Politics on the Southern Plains

If you live in Moore, Oklahoma you're starting to get sweaty palms right about now. May is just around the corner and it has never been a kind month to your home town, or a lot of other places in the state of Oklahoma.

As a rule of thumb prime time tornado season starts around the middle of April and peters out about the same time in June. Earlier in the year it is generally too cold, after the middle of June it is too hot. Throughout May the conditions are perfectly ripe, making it the deadliest month. Those of us who have lived here for most of our lives can almost smell them coming. The day grows overly warm and humid while the sky is crowded with white puffy cumulus and alto cumulus clouds. Then cooler air floods into the atmosphere from the Rockies and some of those benign pieces of floating cotton candy begin to merge and grow like some great malevolent beast. Inside of them is a witch's brew of violence.

Lines of thunderstorms form, then move as if they're a vast and terrible army advancing across the state. In theory they can come from any direction, but the bad ones, the killers, usually come up from the south west and track north easterly.

Last year in May a tornado ripped the heart out of Moore, leveling not only much of the town, but two elementary schools. In all it killed seven students and 17 others. After the storm, Senator Tom Coburn strolled through the devastation offering bright assurances the odds are Moore would never get hit again. Unfortunately the May 20, 2013 storm was the once again disaster. In May 1999 a deadly twister followed almost exactly the same path, although later in the day, so schools were already out. The winds in that storm were clocked at 318 miles per hour. It is the fastest wind speed ever recorded on the face of planet earth. Despite Coburn's optimism, only 11 days after the 20th, a second tornado tracked just north and west of Moore. It turned on a dime, killing an experienced storm chaser from The Weather Channel.

After all that, who can blame more than a few people for beginning to think they are in the middle of some great celestial bull's eye.

Given what has happened a group of locals calling themselves "Take Shelter Oklahoma" circulated a petition calling for a law which would mandate storm shelters be built for all Oklahoma public schools.

Well what idiot would argue with that? I mean, for God's sake, when the television meteorologists are saying things like, "to survive this tornado you must be underground," as they were last May, it would seem to make undeniable sense.

Actually several people have problems with it. The petition called for the state to sell $500 million in bonds in order to finance the project. However, to jump start things before the bonds are sold, it also had a provision to use $40 to $50 million in business franchise taxes, because--you know--at this point May is only 24 fucking days away.

What happened was this--late last year republican state attorney general, Scott Pruitt re-worded the gist of state question 767 to the point it sounded like local businesses were going to have to foot the entire bill. Some people sued, claiming Pruitt was an abject tea party asshole sucking up to business interests. They took their case to the Oklahoma Supreme Court. It promptly ruled Pruitt could word the bill any damn way he pleased. His office issued a statement saying, "Throughout the process my office acted as a neutral legal advisor." Tellingly, a Pruitt spokesperson also said, in perfectly pronounced tea party dialect, a private non profit organization has been set up which would issue grants to school districts so they could build shelters.

Right, so why worry? There is no need for government when private enterprise is hard at work and on top of the situation. At this time the amount of money collected by the non profit is a little over $2 million--just a tad short of the $500 million Take Shelter Oklahoma says is necessary.

Attorney David Slane, is one of several lawyers representing Take Shelter Oklahoma. His response to, Pruitt's edit job was it's, "Biased, misleading, and confusing to voters." He also said a few things about the Oklahoma AG being in the hip pocket of business leaders, which of course everyone perpetrating this stall job is denying vehemently.

Republican governor Mary Fallin says she has her own plan which will allow "more local control" of the shelter building. She is proposing each school district hold a special election to decide whether, or not to raise property taxes to finance safe areas. She is the same woman who refused to be seen with President Barack Obama last year when he flew in to view the carnage.

State Representative, Joe Dorman, a democrat running for governor, calls Fallin's idea, "unrealistic." He also notes, at this very moment, 506,000 Oklahoma students and teachers are currently unprotected from deadly storms in 1,109 schools across the state.

And they are going to remain that way for this and probably many future Mays.

The brutal truth is conservative politicians hate public education, the men and women who teach there, and the administrators who run it. All those people are unionized, they are noisy, they're always demanding more money for education and themselves, not to mention a lot of them tell their students about anti born again Christian stuff, like evolution.

So screw 'em. Those kids should be home schooled anyway.

They test the storm sirens nearly every Saturday at noon in this town. As we've seen there is a reason they do. As we've also seen, a warning is one thing, but getting safely into a steel reinforced hole under ground is another entirely.

Welcome to spring and politics on the southern plains.


Friday, April 4, 2014

Just Another Week in the Greater Twilight Zone Metropolitan Area

At times the weirdness piles up so quickly it is hard to keep track.

Much of it is minor league stuff. You know, like republican Senator Dan Coats showing up at the wrong committee meeting, sitting there for something like an hour, before being told by an aid he'd screwed up.

Other times it is a tad more malevolent. It appears the CIA set up a a Twitter like network in Cuba in order to foment political unrest to the point of revolution. The ultimate aim was to oust the government, which, as we all know, has been an on going project for over half a century. Like so many other attempts this one failed miserably. As bizarre and stupid as the plot sounds someone getting paid good money must have thought it would work. The Prime Minister of Turkey, Tayyip Erdogan certainly thinks it could have. He was so enraged by the posts of political opponents on Twitter and YouTube, he banned both social media outlets in his country.

Then there is strange in an unsettling way. Today, George W. Bush recalled a couple of meetings with Vladimir Putin. The first was in Washington where Putin was introduced to Bush's dog, Barney. The second was in Russia where Putin dragged out his mutt and bragged to the president, "Bigger, stronger, and faster than Barney." Bush didn't mention if Vlad wanted to take the next logical step in this macho game of one-upmanship--which would have involved both leaders dropping their pants in order to compare the size of their penises. Odds are just that sort match up with the current U.S. president is in the works.

In Mississippi, incumbent republican Senator Tad Cochran is locked in a tight primary race with state Senator Chris McDaniel. McDaniel is a tea party guy who has been raking in contributions from groups like Club for Growth and Freedom Works. Both are ultra right wing slush funds aiming to buy senate seats from coast to coast.

The other day McDaniel was listed as the keynote speaker at something called, The Combined Firearm Freedom Day/Tea Party Music Festival. Unfortunately for him there was another list--one which let everyone know what vendors would be attending the gala event. One of them was, Pace Confederate Depot. They specialize in not only tea party gear, but white pride merchandise.

Establishment republicans, who are supporting Cochran, were quick to attack. The ensuing hubbub immediately caused McDaniel to go on the defensive. His people issued a statement saying the candidate had never agreed to attend the event and won't.

Well, not now anyway.

The GOP national organization is desperate to keep tea party loons from unseating incumbents like Cochran. That's because third rate Ted Cruz imitators don't do so hot in elections which include people other than republicans. In the last election cycle, the party of Herbert C. Hoover lost four winnable senate seats because rabid tea party types defeated more moderate candidates in the primaries, then got hammered in general elections.

Finally, there was more deadly business at Ft. Hood, TX. On Wednesday, Army Specialist Ivan Lopez became the latest name on the never ending roll call of American mass shooters. He brought an unregistered gun onto the base after an argument and began firing away at no one in particular and everyone in general. The army is still trying to figure out the reason--that would be besides the obvious one--which is their man was bats.

Lopez killed three and wounded 16 before blowing his brains out with a semi automatic hand gun. He had recently purchased the weapon at a Killeen, TX retail outlet named, "Guns Galore."

Those with good memories might recall Guns Galore is the same place which sold Nidal Hasan a FN 5-7 tactical pistol back in 2009. Major Hasan packed up 16 magazines with 460 rounds of ammo, then went a little funny in the head. Before he was shot by military police he killed 13 and wounded 31. He now resides on death row.

Hasan claims to have done it in defense of Islam. Lopez appears to have opened fire because, as his father grimly understated, "he must not have been in his right mind."

You think?

So there we have it--just another week here in the greater Twilight Zone metropolitan area we all call home.

Ladies and gentlemen, the bar is open.


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The GOP Plan: Steal it Where You Can and Buy Everything Else

You have to give it to the republicans. They go straight to the heart of the matter with all the subtlety of Vladimir Putin's final solution in Crimea.

The hand wringing, self doubt, and talk of figuring out a way to appeal to minorities after the 2012 disaster is gone now. It has been replaced by cold blooded pragmatism and a two pronged strategy which is gaining steam on both fronts.

The initial step is brutal simplicity--don't let the fuckers vote. Republican controlled state legislatures all over the place are doing everything in their power to restrict access to the polls. It is a continuation of the campaign which began prior to the 2012 election. Part one demands registered voters must secure a state ID card before casting a ballot. The argument is the ID's will stop in person voting fraud. Such a notion is prima facie bullshit and flies in the face of repeated studies by a number of groups and institutions. All the research has shown the problem simply doesn't exist--at least not in any numbers significant enough to change an election outcome, even in a single precinct.

Coupled with the ID requirements are efforts to reduce early voting periods and the hours polls are open, especially in precincts where minorities and low income voters are apt to be registered. The latest example of such chicanery occurred in Wisconsin last month. Republican Governor Scott Walker, a man mulling over a presidential run himself, signed a bill into law which reduced early voting in his state from three weeks to two and completely eliminated early voting during a weekend. A federal appeals court, which struck down a similar law in Ohio, stated in it's decision, "...early voters have disproportionately lower incomes than those who vote on election day." Going unsaid is the obvious, lower income voters also tend to cast their ballots for democrats.

So, screw 'em, they're not going to vote for us anyway. Let's clog up the pipeline to the polls and hope they either can't get off work to secure an ID, or get stuck for eight or nine hours in line at a polling place, which of course, is what happened in Florida last time out.

Today, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the second line of attack, which is tied to the almighty dollar. While the contribution limit to an individual federal candidate remains at  $2,600, the amount a big time donor can give to a variety of his or her favorites is gone. In other words, the law previously said the Koch brothers out of Wichita could only directly contribute $2,600 to single candidates of their choice up to a total of $48,600. Now they can dole out that $2,600 contribution to as many people as they want, from sea to shining sea. More importantly, the $74,600 ceiling on gifts to organizations directly controlled by political parties has been abolished.

Reince Priebus, the Republican National Committee chair, had this to say of the ruling, (it is) " important first step toward restoring the voice of candidates and party committees and a vindication for all those who support robust, transparent political discourse. When free speech is allowed to flourish our democracy is stronger."

While one might argue giving an itinerant tea party clod a huge load of greenbacks is an expression of free speech, a bunch of us would point out dollars don't equal words which are the definition of speech. Common Cause president, Miles Rapoport countered the ruling with, "This is Citizen's United round two, further opening the floodgates for the nation's wealthiest few to drown out the voices of the rest of us." He went on to talk about big donor access to elected officials and the influence they have with them. You know, stuff like favorable tax breaks, sweetheart deals when it comes to granting government contracts and the like, but you get the drift. The word bribery seemed on the tip of his tongue.

The Center for Responsive Politics noted 650 donors hit the now voided $48,600 limit in 2012. 57% of the cash went to GOP candidates, while only 43% went to democrats.

All of this is in addition to the previously mentioned Citizen United ruling. It allows money of unimaginable amounts to pour into ad campaigns and other forms of support through organizations which, in name, are not directly connected to a candidate. The heavy duty and anonymous donations skew wildly in favor of republican candidates.

Indeed, why compromise with any democrat, or even try to appeal to a minority when you have a plan like this? Just bide your time while waiting for the latest edition of Jim Crow laws to dismantle the new national demographic and the fabulously financed propaganda machine to work it's vile magic.

Ultimately, the republican party has just told us they know they can't budge their right wing on any substantive issue. It is the tea party's way, or the highway. And--as the GOP leadership understands far too well, it can no longer win a fairly contested national election while it kowtows to the hard and bitter right edge.

It is, in the end, a juxtaposition of an old axiom which now reads, you can't win without 'em and you can't win with 'em.

That leaves only two available options for the party of  Warren G. Harding--steal it where you can and buy everything else. Unfortunately they have the will and means to do both.