Friday, May 30, 2014

One More Awful Week in the Books: The Lord Doesn't Speak Up in Palm Beach, Honor in Pakistan, and the National Sport of India

It had been a rough couple of weeks for Kimberly Dawn Lucas. NBC reports she and her partner of nearly two decades, Jacquelyn Jamason had recently separated. Jamason was the birth mother of two children who shared both their last names.

Last Sunday, Lucas, in turmoil about the situation, went to church. During the service the pastor of the Metropolitan Community Church of the Palm Beaches, Lea Brown gave a sermon which centered on the Genesis story of Abraham. That would be the one where God commands him to kill his son Isaac as a sacrifice, but at the last second tells him to stop when the Lord becomes convinced of Abraham's absolute devotion.

After Ms. Lucas drowned two year old Elliana Lucas-Jamason in the bathtub on Monday, she typed what authorities call a suicide note on a laptop computer. In part it read, "Lea's sermon really touched me yesterday, but God never told me to stop."

No, He didn't. However, while God in heaven didn't speak to her, the Palm Beach County Sheriff's department certainly did. She has been charged with first degree premeditated murder and unpremeditated murder during a felony. The second charge is because she tried to do in the 10 year old brother of Elliana with a drug overdose.

On Tuesday, 25 year old Farzana Parveen was standing outside of the Lahore, Pakistan High Court. She was there to face charges she had eloped with Muhammed Iqbal. This is a big deal in Pakistan because women aren't supposed to run off with guys they love, but marry the man their family picks out for them.

Rather than settle things legally, members of her family attacked her and over a fifteen minute period beat her to death with bricks. Her husband, Muhammed Iqbal told the media he pleaded with police, who were on the scene and watching, to help, but they refused saying, "this is not our duty."

As with many of these awful things, the story went a tad sideways when Pakistani authorities tried to downplay the vile act by saying Ms. Parveen was already married to her cousin, the good soul her parents had picked out for her. In addition, they claimed, Iqbal had in fact murdered his first wife for unspecified reasons, making him, "not a pristine character."

Ah, well that certainly excuses everything.

The only person currently in custody is Ms. Parveen's father who, according to NBC, freely admits her death was an "honor killing." Her alleged husband has been accused of taking part in the savage attack and now, despite all that honor stuff, is on the lam. NBC says last year the Pakistani press covered 869 such murders, although it is commonly known many more aren't mentioned in the local media. Farzana Parveen was three months pregnant at the time of her death.

On the same day, in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, two girls, age 14 and 15 went outside because that's where the bathroom is for most rural Indians. When they didn't return one of their fathers reported them missing, but according to him, the police  were so unintrested they dismissed his concern and didn't do anything.

The next morning the girls were found hung from a mango tree limb. Villagers reportedly gathered around the tree and refused to allow the bodies to be cut down until police arrested a suspect on Thursday. It was quickly determined both young ladies were the victims of a gang rape, an activity which appears to have become the national sport of India, before they were hung.

Police have two suspects in custody. In addition they fired two officers for not filing a missing persons report, then arrested them just for good measure.

Yes, there we have it. Another awful week is in the books.

Ladies and gentlemen, for obvious reasons, the bar is open.


Thursday, May 29, 2014

Al Gerhart's Website, Cliff Branan, Tim Hiett, and the State of Politics in Oklahoma

You can say many things about our man, Al Gerhart, but none of them will ever be he goes away.

He currently runs a website named, In theory it is satirical site lampooning republican state senator, Cliff Branan who is running for a seat on the Corporation Commission. It has one good line--the first--then sinks into a bizarre miasma of self pity and truly unfunny attempts to portray Branan as an elitist jerk.

Branan is, of course, the guy Gerhart tried to bully into moving a bill onto the floor of the senate. Because of the wording of an email he sent the senator and a subsequent press conference, Gerhart managed to get himself charged with blackmail and violating the Oklahoma computer crimes act. A short while ago a jury found him guilty on both counts and fined him $1,000. The decision not only cost, Brother Al a grand, but ensured he'd forever be known as a felon.

The presence of the site was reported by The Oklahoman's Nolan Clay a couple of weeks ago, so it isn't really what you'd call breaking news. A quick check of it today provides a couple of insights. One, it looks good, or at least slick. It should. It was designed by a professional outfit called Website Builder. They are out of Scottsdale, AZ. According to the site is currently worth, $8.95, so if you're in the market you can pick it up on the cheap, assuming Mr. Gerhart is willing to sell it after the June primary.

Clearly, Big Al has obsessed on Branan. So much so he even provides a visitor with tapes of Branan and his secretary talking to an agent of the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation. The conversations, in Gerhart's mind, proves how shockingly bigoted Branan is. While they certainly aren't a smoking gun on the level of  Don Sterling's vile rants, the recordings do reveal what Branan thinks of, not only Gerhart, but the tea party wags who hang out with him--that they're all fucking nuts. 

Branan's main concern in his talk with the agent is his family's safety. He recounts spending a day or so mulling over the text of the offending email. He speaks about his wife's fears and his kids' and what they had to deal with when he was accused of cheating on their mother. He is also worried about his secretary's well being. She is the woman, Gerhart said, "the scuttlebutt was," Branan was having an affair with. On the site Gerhart mocks Branan's concern, then tries to portray it as an issue of the arrogant nabob vs. the self proclaimed "little guy." There has never been any proof Branan was in the sack with his secretary. And, given his politics, there certainly isn't any proof Gerhart is a fan of the real little guys.

While Gerhart's site and the people who agree with him will tell you he was and is fighting the good fight against corrupt politicians, the fact is this whole mess came about because the head of the Sooner Tea Party was incensed about a single piece of legislation. The threatening email was sent to Branan because he wouldn't let a measure onto the senate floor which prohibited Oklahoma from having anything to do with United Nations Agenda 21. The non binding proposal is a right fringe hot button issue because--well--it's came out of the U.N. and therefore is an eco-socialist plot designed to destroy the United States. Hey, just ask Glenn Beck. As usual, he has all the details--they will be filed right next to the name of the real Boston Marathon bomber. promises us a true conservative is running against the senator next month and the Sooner Tea Party will make sure republicans from Idabel to Kenton realize Branan is a rich snob who doesn't listen to the public--that he is in the pocket of that arch liberal organization the Chamber of Commerce.

The populist opponent running against Branan, Gerhart seems so high on is, Tim Hiett. He is a former speaker of the state house of representatives. In his bio he tells us while he was a student at Oklahoma State University he leased 160 acres of land near Stillwater on which he ran a calf and cow business, rented rooms to other students, and boarded their horses.

Oh yes, quite the man of the people, because as everyone knows the average college student in Oklahoma often runs such a humble enterprise.

Neither Branan, or Hiett mention each other on their campaign websites. Hiett, not so mysteriously, doesn't list Gerhart, or the Sooner Tea Party as supporters. If you read the "issues" sections of both men you quickly figure out they're are running against the federal government and Barack H. Obama rather than themselves. Well, why not? After all, when the energy industry is involved it's best to go straight to the big picture.

The first truth here is Al Gerhart could give a rat's ass about Tim Hiett. All he knows is, Cliff Branan nailed him and he is going to do everything he can to make damn sure he returns the favor.

Unfortunately, the second is we're going to get stuck with one of these terrible goofs after the primary because there wasn't a democrat willing to run against them.

Such is the state of politics in Oklahoma--conservative, more conservative, and then so corrosively conservative you get convicted of a crime.

sic vita est


Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day 2014

Here in the United States it is Memorial Day. It is always celebrated on the last Monday of May and unless you work in a retail business, or the restaurant industry you more than likely get the day off. In theory we're honoring those who have died in all the wars the nation has fought. Many of us will do this by going to baseball games, or the beach while untold thousands will fire up outdoor grills, drink beer and woof down enough smoked meat to feed the entire population of Somalia for ten years.

That's not to say every American will ignore the significance of the day. Little American flags are by now fluttering in the breeze at grave sites all across the land. Speeches will be made by politicians and stories will be written by journalists about the high price of freedom and those brave souls who fought to protect it.

There are a lot of them. According to Wikipedia 1,321,612 Americans have died in combat throughout our history. If you throw in the number of wounded and those who died because of things like disease, or accidents the figure jumps to 2,717,991. In addition the site says 38,159 are listed as missing. Those living in the south will consider the numbers short, because it doesn't include confederate casualties in the Civil War. Most people tend to think it would raise the total by about 300,000, but no one is completely sure because the confederate states weren't very good at keeping those sort of records.

Wikipedia's casualty list encompasses 87 different wars, or conflicts fought by the armed forces of the United States over a 239 year span. Of course many people, among them Mexicans and Native Americans, can and do argue a sizable chunk of the combat had nothing to do with "freedom," or at least their freedom.

Of the 87 wars, one was a blatant and cold blooded land grab from Mexico. Another 21 were fought against Native American tribes, who, as we all know, were here first and doing perfectly fine without a country called the United States. Those campaigns began with the Northwest Indian War fought from 1785 to 1796--we got Ohio out of the deal--to the Sugar Point War fought against a band of Chippeweas in 1898. In between the government felt it necessary to fight those pesky Seminoles on three separate occasions alone. There were also wars against the Lakotas, Yakimas, Cayuse, Nez Perce, Utes, Arapahos, Cheyennes, and--oh hell--just about every tribe.

Over seas, between 1918 and 1920, we fought on two separate fronts in Russia, trying to influence the outcome of the Bolshevik Revolution. Prior to that we declared war on Spain in order to free the Cubans and as a side benefit the Filipinos. Then we had to turn around and fight the Filipinos because they were of the opinion we hadn't actually freed them at all. We occupied Haiti for a while in order to "protect American business interests." We did the same thing to Nicaragua three different times.

None of this is to question the courage, or sacrifice of individual members of the American armed forces. However, it is worth remembering on this day a lot of  soldiers, sailors, and marines paid the ultimate price for something far less glorious than our right to down a brewsky and eat a brat in any manner we see fit. Not to mention there are a hell of a lot of people both here and abroad who don't equate the U.S. Army, Navy, and Air Force with the word freedom.

Hey, it may not be the most patriotic thing to say, but it is the truth.

sic vita est


Sunday, May 25, 2014

Isla Vista Updated: The American Way and the Price of Freedom

Today all the sordid and terrible details are pouring out of southern California.

Thanks to newly released information, we now know, Elliot Rodger had been off his rocker for years. In fact, according to his 106,000 word "manifesto" he bought his first firearm in December of 2012 and a second in the spring of 2013. He initially planned a deadly attack for November of last year, but, in moment of doubt, put it off until Friday.

According to his bloated screed, titled "My Twisted World" his rage against women had been mounting since the moment he reached puberty. He lusted for many, particularly blondes, but found them utterly unapproachable. He railed at them and the guys they dated. He retreated into the world of online gaming and spent hours dwelling in a realm of fantasy and stylized violence. His favorite was World of Warcraft.

NBC reports his family wanted him to be more independent so he moved to Santa Barbara at age 19. According to an attorney representing them, Elliot had been treated by numerous medical doctors and psychiatrists.

In July of last year he got into a fight because, as he walked around the streets of Isla Vista, he began pointing his forefinger at couples, pretending to shoot them. The police investigated after he ended up in a hospital ER. As always, he tried to portray himself as the victim, but they determined he was at fault. They didn't pursue the issue though and no charges were filed. On April 30th of this year Rodger's parents asked police to check on him because of the nature of the videos he was posting on Youtube. According to Santa Barbara Sheriff, Bill Brown, deputies found him, "polite, shy, and having a difficult social life," but they decided there was nothing to worry about.

In Elliot Rodger's own words, "If they had searched my room that would have ended everything. For a few horrible seconds I thought it was over."

Yesterday Brown told the media, "It is very apparent, the severe extent of how disturbed Mr. Rodger was."

The Sheriff's Department now says they found three hand guns and 400 rounds of ammunition in the car with him. Various media outlets are reporting, Rodger died of, "an apparent self inflicted gun shot."

The authorities found his first three victims, all male, who have yet to be identified, at his residence. They had been stabbed to death.

He drove over to the Alpha Phi sorority house, which he bragged he'd staked out on numerous occasions, and pounded on the front door. In a stroke of good fortune no one would open it for him. Frustrated, he turned and saw three women walking down the street. He shot and killed, Katherine Cooper and Veronika Weiss and wounded the third. Then he climbed into his BMW and began his deadly tour through town.

As he passed by a deli, Rodger opened fire on a crowd of people milling around outside on the sidewalk. Christopher Ross Michaels-Martinez was killed. By the time the lunacy was over, 13 more people were injured--eight by gun fire, four others were hurt when he rammed them with his vehicle. It is unknown at this time how the 13th person was injured.

Last night UC-Santa Barbara students and others held a candle light vigil. According to the organizers, "This is a time to reflect on, honor, and celebrate the lives of those we lost."

Yes, we Americans are well versed in conducting these sort of ceremonies. That's because crazed people with guns are everywhere in this country and this type of demented barbarity happens all the time here. However, the gruesome truth is, while we are pros at mourning, we steadfastly refuse to do any thing about the guns.

Let's face it, Elliot Rodger had been utterly bats for half his life. For years he had been descending into a darkness which no one on the bright side of the moon can fathom. He knew it, his parents knew it, his doctors should have known it, and the cops would have realized it if they'd just opened his fucking bedroom door. Yet, despite all the mounting evidence, he was still able to load up with three semi automatic hand guns and 40 ten round clips of ammunition just as easily as he could have bought an Icee at a local 7-11 store.

Bill Brown wasn't the only person addressing the media yesterday. Christopher Michaels-Martinez's father, Richard Martinez also spoke to them. He told the press and the rest of us, this: "The talk about gun rights. What about Chris' right to live? When will enough people say, stop this madness. We don't have to live like this. Too many people have died." He then collapsed to his knees in tears.

Indeed. Too many people have died.

The real tragedy is many more are bound to. You see, there are powerful forces who will cruelly argue, Elliot Rodger's right to own a gun trumps, Chris Michaels-Martinez's right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

They will then call their grotesque politics, The American Way and themselves, patriots.

As for the innocent dead? Well, they are the price we pay for our freedom. Their deaths, while sad, fall into the category of acceptable casualties.

Will someone please tell me how we dare call ourselves civilized?


Saturday, May 24, 2014

There is Something Wrong With Us

We're mutants. There is something wrong with us, something very very wrong with us.

Bill Murray, as private John Winger in the movie, "Stripes."


Everyone knew it would happen again, it was just a matter of time.

The Los Angeles NBC affiliate says the first 911 call was received at 9:27pm last night. It was a report of shots being fired near the University of California, Santa Barbara campus. At 9:30pm, 911 dispatchers began receiving multiple calls of a man driving a black BMW who was shooting randomly at people as he cruised the streets of a tiny community named Isla Vista. At 9:33 sheriff's deputies engaged the man in a gun fight as he sped away from them. At 9:34 Another deputy exchanged gunfire with him. At 9:37 the BMW crashed into a parked car and deputies found the driver dead from a head wound. In the 10, or so minutes he was running amok, six people were shot to death and seven more injured. If you count the shooter, the body count rises to seven.

Reports are the police found a semi automatic hand gun in the vehicle. It remains unclear at this time if the suspect was killed during the gunfight, or he blew his own brains out when the authorities began closing in on him.

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office has, so far, refused to identify the suspect, but various media sources say his name was, Elliot Rodger. An attorney for Peter Rodger, the assistant director of the movie, "Hunger Games" has issued a statement saying his client's son is dead and the family believes he was the shooter.

An updated report claims the family alerted the police several weeks ago after seeing Youtube videos of their son talking about suicide and murder. According to the attorney, police interviewed Elliot and found nothing suspicious. The lawyer, Alan Shifman, described him as, "perfectly polite, kind, and wonderfully human."

Yes, aren't they all.

A spokesman for the Sheriff's Office said his department was, "analyzing both written and video evidence which suggests this atrocity was a pre meditated act of mass murder." He also called the shooting, "the act of a madman."

According to NBC, Elliot Rodger took the time Thursday to post nine videos on Youtube. The LA NBC station says almost all of them were laced with anger toward women. The one I watched was still available for viewing about two hours ago. It will be the most dreadful six minutes and fifty-five seconds of your day, if you choose to watch it.

The video is shot from the dashboard of a black vehicle. Rodger is sitting behind the steering wheel with the sun in his face. He has sleepy eyes and speaks in a monotone. His language and demeanor is such you can make an argument he is reading from a script. He talks about being a virgin and how lonely he is. More than once he claims he has no idea why girls ignore him, because he is a perfect gentleman, unlike the louts they so disgustingly prefer. He giggles a bit melodramatically a few times while he promises retribution for the terrible slights to his manhood. He also brags he will enter a sorority house, kill all the women in it, then he'll take to the streets killing each and every person he sees. He uses video gamer terms like, "mountains of skulls" and "rivers of blood."

Yes, it appears we've manufactured one more loon who has been pushed around the bend by delusions of grandeur and persecution. And then, just like, Adam Lanza, James Holmes and countless others--after he came to a boil--someone, somewhere, either gave, or sold this whacked out goof a gun. It was one so efficient at least one witness said he believed there must have been at least two weapons because the bullets were flying so fast for so long.

No country in the world has more privately owned firearms than we do in America. So on this Saturday afternoon one can reasonably ask, exactly what has the second amendment to the constitution of the United States done for the population lately?

Well, last night, in Isla Vista, CA, it got us, Elliot, fucking Rodger who murdered six innocent people. 

Right. Will someone please explain to me again how we're free?


Friday, May 23, 2014

Another Week Down the Drain: Acting Happy in Iran, The Undiplomatic Prince, The Twelfth Coup, Phil Robertson Redux, and Don Gives up the Ghost

It was a busy week for a lot of people who are in the business of being outraged, or in charge, not to mention those who can best be described as, the usual suspects.

First, a video was posted on the internet showing six young people reacting to Pharrell Williams' song, "Happy." They pretty much did what any kid would do in a similar situation. They danced, posed, and laughed while wearing funky clothes and hair dos. Unfortunately they forgot where they were living. That would be Iran, which, as we all know, has a decidedly deficient sense of humor when it comes to young people dressed funky and being happy.

All six were arrested and their mugs were shown on TV to make damn sure everyone else there knows, "decadent western culture" is unacceptable to the protectors of the faith. At last report all six were out of jail, but the guy behind the camera was still in the slammer. The kids, not being crazy, or dumb, claimed they'd been told the video shoot was an audition for a movie and it would never be put on line. Well, you have to say something don't you--especially when you find yourself in a windowless room surrounded by members of the morality police who are looking to put their truncheons to use.

Today, the AP is reporting Iranian authorities have banned the social media Instagram because of, "privacy issues." Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube had all been previously outlawed because they're considered part of a, "cultural invasion." The AP also reports Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenie, both have Instagram accounts. In addition the Iranian Foreign Minister has a spot on Twitter. Obviously these distinguished gentlemen are above the temptations of western decadence, while the hoi polloi can't be trusted to be so utterly immune.

Roughly 54% of the Iranian population is under the age of 30 and various sources say many of them routinely ignore the prohibitions and access social sites through various means. Hey, telling a young person not to go somewhere doesn't do anything, but make the destination that much more attractive  Just ask scads of children who lived in repressive fundamentalist Christian families in the United States.

Meanwhile the Russians were aghast at Britain's Prince Charles' recent comments. His Highness was visiting Canada this week. He had what he thought was a private conversation with a 70 something woman whose family fled Poland to get away from the Nazis. During the chat Charles compared Vladimir Putin's actions in Ukraine and Crimea to those of Hitler on the eve of the second world war.

The woman blabbed and the press ran with it. Various Russian officials called the comparison, low and disgusting--outrageous--and, my personal favorite, unworthy of a future British monarch. People in the U.K. opposed to the monarchy immediately jumped on board. A few went so far as to say, Charles should abdicate.

Well, lets see. Russia annexed Crimea because Putin said ethnic Russians there were being increasingly marginalized and persecuted by an illegitimate Ukrainian government. In addition he insisted most of the population of Crimea was ethnic Russian so they should be able to determine which country they wanted to belong to. Then, he sent in the troops.

In September of 1938, Herr Hitler made a speech about ethnic Germans living in an area of Czechoslovakia known as the Sudetenland. During the speech he called Czechoslovakia a "fraudulent state," and claimed the Germans living there didn't want to be a part of the country. In addition he accused the Czech government of planning some sort of slow motion genocide against the German population and that he, as the head of the German state, supported ethnic German, "self determination" in Sudetenland.

Shortly thereafter, in collusion with the French and British, who were desperate to avoid another war with Germany, Adolf annexed the territory and, you guessed it, sent in the troops.


While what the Prince of Wales said might not be considered extraordinarily diplomatic it certainly seems like, ol' Chuck did have a valid point.

In Thailand there was a military coup--the 12th since 1932. The head of the army told the nation it had to be done to restore order in the country. Indeed, if you fuckers can't get along on your own then big brother will make you. After all, what else is an army to do other than make everyone behave?

The Duck Dynasty guy, Phil Robertson rose to the pulpit to say homosexuality, among other things, was a sin. It isn't the first time, but honestly, who gives a rat's ass what the old rube has to say? Let's face it, if you're worried about Phil Robertson's views on social issues, you really need to get a life.

Finally, FOX Sports is reporting Don Sterling is giving up the ghost and wants his wife Shelly to negotiate the sale of his NBA franchise, the Los Angeles Clippers. This. despite a letter sent last week to the league by his lawyer, saying he wouldn't pay the fine imposed on him and would sue if the the NBA attempted to sell the Clips without his permission.

It remains unclear if Shelly Sterling, who, unlike her estranged husband, hasn't been accused of saying anything grotesquely racist, will agree to give up her share of the team without a fight. Unfortunately for her, the NBA constitution, signed by the majority owner of the club, who would be dear old, Don, says when this sort of drastic measure is called for, minority owners, no matter how innocent, must relquish their shares too .

And there we have it. Another week down the drain.

As the cartoon character, Zippy the Pinhead  used to say, "Are we having fun yet?"


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Ted Cruz Takes a Hit as the GOP Wises Up

It was a terrible pack of blood thirsty werewolves, screeching lunatics, and crazed religious zealots, the likes of which are usually associated with outfits like Boko Haram.

The GOP senate primary in Georgia alone contained three tea party hacks currently sitting in the U.S. House of Representatives. Our old pal Paul Broun was in the race. He is the distinguished statesman who claimed Barack Obama wanted to establish a civilian national service corps for the sole purpose of creating a Marxist dictatorship. In addition he once addressed a southern baptist church, telling them embryology, evolution, and the big bang theory were all lies, "straight from the pit of hell." He also threw in his conviction the world was created in six days, "as we know them." He won re-election two years ago, but his views inspired over 5,000 voters in his district to cast write in ballots for Charles Darwin.

Along with him was Congressman, Phil Gingrey who, a couple of years ago, said Todd Aiken was, "partly right." That was after, Aiken, a republican candidate for the senate in Missouri, told an interviewer women don't become pregnant after being raped because their bodies have, "a way of shutting that down."

Last night both men became abject losers thanks to the republican voters of Georgia. David Perdue came in first, although he couldn't avoid a runoff. Perdue is a former CEO of Dollar General Stores and has never held a political office. His campaign web site brags that during his tenure at the retail chain, he personally created, "thousands of quality jobs." It is unclear if the rank and file employees of a business which is essentially a chain of mini Wal-Marts would agree, but the issue is neither here, nor there at the moment.

Perdue's opponent in the runoff will be Congressman, Jack Kingston. His main claim to fame is his desire to force children from low income families, who participate in the federal school lunch program, to sweep the cafeteria floors where they eat. According to him, such an arrangement would teach the little loafers, "a work ethic and that there is no such thing as a free lunch."

Meanwhile in Oregon, Monica Wehby won the republican nod for the senate. Her closest competitor was state representative, Jason Conger. Wehby got herself on the tea party hit list because of her stated opinion that abortion is, "a personal decision between a woman and her family." She is a pediatric neurosurgeon by trade and, like, Perdue a new comer to politics.

In Kentucky Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell kicked Matt Bevin's ass. Bevin ran as a "true conservative." That would be in opposition to McConnell's alleged, yet, unfathomable, sub rosa political love affair with Barack H. Obama..

So, are we seeing a pattern here? Perhaps. Last month in Texas a tea party hot dog was beaten like a gong by incumbent Senator John Cornyn. There was also a right fringe set back in North Carolina.

Yes, Ted Cruz and outfits like Club for Growth might feel the sand shifting beneath their feet at this point. Cruz didn't publicly support any of  these vicious rubes, but notably he refused to endorse either McConnell or Cornyn before the votes were counted. One could almost see the wheels turning in his head.

McConnell and Cornyn don't get it. I'm the new face and soul of the republican party. If those two old farts are out of the way I'll be King of the Senate and on my way to the convention. 

Ah, but even the best laid plans sometimes go awry.

So all this is great for democrats, right? Actually no, it is just the opposite. Now, Michelle Nunn, the Georgia democratic senate candidate, is going to have to run against someone with a functioning brain. Hey, if you were her wouldn't you prefer an opponent who is such a repulsive clown that 5,000 of his constituents voted for a dead guy rather than him? And let's face it, Claire McCaskill might not be in the senate today if Missouri republicans had picked someone other than a degenerate misogynist to run against her.

Apparently it has dawned on more than a few republican voters that if they want to win state wide general elections and the big white house on Pennsylvania Ave. they are going to have to walk away from the lunatic edge of their party.

Does it mean we're rid of Cruz? No, but his influence among senate republicans is in the midst of taking a major league hit and some of those good ol' boys he has ignored and dissed might want a little payback. Indeed, enjoy your new appointment, Senator--that one on the Senate Select Sub Committee on the Cultural Influences of Ancient Astronauts. Unfortunately, the down side of all this means it just became tougher for democrats to hold onto the senate.

Stay tuned. This fall will be a close thing for everyone involved. All the evidence indicates the GOP has wised up.


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Viva "Moms Demand Action" and Viva Chipotle Mexican Grill

Here is to a bunch called, "Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America." Over the weekend they asked the Chipotle Mexican Grill chain to forbid firearms in their restaurants.

They didn't get an outright ban, however the Denver based corporation did issue a statement today which will touch a nerve. The company officially requested that all the Rambo wannabes out there leave their guns either at home, or in their cars before coming in for some frijoles.

According to Forbes the "Moms Demand Action" group was founded shortly after the Newtown, CT mass shooting. It is now being financed, at least in part, by Michael Bloomberg's $50 million investment in public safety which is meant to fight the NRA and their equally demented kin.

The Moms decided enough was enough this weekend because a rootin' tootin' gang calling itself, "Texas Open Carry," showed up at a Dallas area Chipotle's. They were armed to the teeth with semi automatic assault style weapons--which as we all know make those burritos just that much tastier.

The corporate statement, in part, read, "The display of firearms in our restaurants has now created an environment that is potentially intimidating, or uncomfortable for many of our customers."

Oh, you think?

Yes, there is nothing quite so relaxing as taking the kiddies into a place for tacos, then after the order arrives  watching the entire business fill up with an unknown bunch of camo outfitted yahoos who have weapons which would make Boko, fucking, Haram envious.

A spokesperson for "Texas Open Carry" claimed his people weren't demonstrating, or otherwise attempting to make a point. He said they simply showed up for a meal after a group, "event." You bet, this grotesque display of machismo was just a merry mix up.

A "Moms Demand Action" spokesperson called Chipotle's statement "bold" and compared it to the open letter written by Howard Schultz, the CEO of Starbucks coffee shops. In it Schultz wrote, "Pro gun activists have used our stores as a political stage for media events.....To be clear: we do not want these events in our stores." He went on to "respectively ask," NRA types not come onto any Starbucks' property while they're carrying a firearm, either concealed, or otherwise. In other words, if you're strapped, go to a  Dunkin' Donuts.

Starbucks took their position in September of last year after some hot shot gun lovers wanted to conduct a well armed righ wing political coffee klatch at a store in the aforementioned Newtown, CT. You know--the place where 20 babies and 6 educators were murdered by Adam Lanza a mere 10 months before their scheduled get together.

It is unclear at this time if the group involved paid members of the Westboro Baptist Church a consulting fee for their brilliant and sensitive idea, but it certainly sounds like it came straight out of Fred Phelps' vile playbook. To his credit, Howard Schultz ordered the store to close temporarily rather than permit it.

The reason Mr. Schultz and ultimately Chipotle's "respectively asked" these goofs to leave the hardware at home, rather than banning all guns outright, is no doubt, inspired by the legal departments of both companies. To paraphrase a bit, Schultz said he's, "not comfortable" asking an employee to kick a bunch of gun totin' loons out of a store. Well, who can blame him? You can just imagine the law suits flying his way when a minimum wage barista gets riddled with bullets by some outraged Ted Nugent posse after he, or she orders them off the premises.

Don't think it wouldn't happen either. People who feel compelled to bring a Bushmaster .223 into a restaurant are the very definition of nuts.

You don't win many when you're up against the gun lobby and as we've found, in this country anyway, you'll never win big.

So, in the end, you take the small victories and run with them.

Today, at last, we got one of those.

Viva "Moms Demand Action" and Viva Chipotle's


Friday, May 16, 2014

Racists Come Swarming Out of the Dark Recesses

They're swarming out of the dark recesses now. They were tucked away for the longest time and we only caught brief shadowy glimpses of them. Despite hints to the otherwise some naive souls went so far as to claim they'd gone extinct, but now we know. The ugly fuckers are everywhere.

The hard truth is this president hasn't accomplished a lot in six plus years. Oh sure, there is the Affordable Care Act and a gutsy call when it came to nailing bin Laden, but for the most part he has been stymied at every turn. Some of it is his fault while much of it has been because of a virulent opposition the likes of which hasn't been seen since the Andrew Johnson administration in the late 1860's. However, thanks to Barack Hussein Obama's tenure in the White House there is no longer a shred of doubt the cancer of racism is alive and thriving in the United States of America.

The latest evidence of it started a little while ago with Cliven Bundy. He is the Nevada rancher who became a cause celebre when he and his pals faced off against Bureau of Land Management personnel. People like Sean Hannity flocked to his side, portraying him as some sort of every man hero fighting the big bad federal government. He was called a patriot by Nevada Senator, Dean Heller and was being cheered on by presidential hopeful, Rand Paul.

Then, in a moment of perfect clarity, he told the New York Times what he knew about, "the negro." It was a screed so demented and foul, Hannity, Heller, and Paul couldn't dig holes deep enough to escape the fall out. Even worse than his original comments about African Americans not knowing how to pick cotton any more and being better off as slaves, was Bundy's astonishment that people were actually pissed off at him because of what he believed.

Then came Donald Sterling, the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers NBA franchise. None of us should have been surprised. The guy has been in and out of courts for close to a decade because he's been practicing systematic housing discrimination not seen since the early 1960's. But, when everyone actually heard him on the tape telling his girl friend/companion he didn't want her to be seen with black men and he didn't want black people in attendance at Clipper games, it was a stunning and gut wrenching revelation.

He went on CNN to apologize and in an astonishing, surreal, performance ol' Don managed to sound, at best, completely unhinged. The head coach of the Clippers, Doc Rivers put it best when he said, "It didn't sound much like of an apology to me."

Now CNN is reporting Sterling's lawyer has sent the NBA Commissioner a letter which in part says, "We reject your demand for payment." That would be in reference to the $2.5 million fine which was levied against him. In addition Sterling is threatening to sue the NBA if it enforces the life time ban on him and sells the club without his permission. In short, Donald Sterling doesn't think he has done anything wrong.

Today, MSN is reporting a citizen of Wolfboro, NH wrote a note to the town manager accusing one of the three city police commissioners of calling President Obama the "N" word. 82 year old Robert Copeland went right up front with that accusation. He sent an email to the other two commissioners and copied the woman who had complained. It said, "I believe I did use the "N" word in reference to the current occupant of the White House. For this I do not apologize--he meets and exceeds my criteria for such." He didn't mention what his "criteria" was, although one can hazard a guess.

At a town meeting the other night more than a few people called for Copeland's resignation. One of his defenders claimed, "All the man did was express his displeasure with the man who is in office."


There you have it. Racism is nothing, but freedom of expression. If you don't want to rent to people of a different color, if you don't want them at your basketball games, that is your business and not anyone else's. You can call someone whatever grotesque name you want and there will be absolutely no consequences.

The next logical step in this horrific bullshit will be some vile ferret like Bob Copeland putting up a sign in his restaurant window which says, "White People Only." You can almost hear the excuse now, "Hey, segregation is just an outward manifestation of my opinion. There shouldn't be a law against it."

Ladies and gentlemen, this society is one sick puppy. Don't let anyone tell you differently.

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


Thursday, May 15, 2014

Islam Being Reasonable

When you're convinced God is on your side, you are capable of anything.

The late Mike McQuay, science fiction author.

Brother McQuay didn't mean that in the good sense. Specifically, he was talking about the long history of barbaric acts perpetrated by those who are inspired by the white hot purity of their faiths.

Of course he was a stone cold atheist and had little use for anyone who professed a belief in a supreme being, no matter what their tradition, or culture.

Those of us who knew him can only imagine what he might have thought, or said about those good 'ol boys known as Boko Haram. They are the outfit in Nigeria who kidnapped 200 plus school girls and are threatening to sell them into slavery. The group's leader, Abubakar Shekau has said they did it with Allah's approval.

Yes, it would seem, just like the Bible, the Qu'ran can be used to justify anything that is part of someones agenda and behavior no matter how cracked it might be.

Various media sources are saying the Grand Mufti of Saudia Arabia has condemned both Boko Haram and Abubakar Shekau. Sheikh Abdulaziz Al al-Sheikh said, among other things, the group was, "set up to smear the image of Islam." He also claimed they are, "misguided." Then he noted, "These groups are not on the right path because Islam is against kidnapping, killing, and aggression." Finally, he added, "Marrying kidnapped girls is not permitted."

The Guardian on line reports scholars from the Cairo based, Al-Azhar, a Sunni learning center, issued a statement saying the kidnappers had grossly misinterpreted the faith and their act has, "...nothing to do with the noble teachings of Islam."

Hey, all that seems pretty darned reasonable doesn't it?

Well, tell it to Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag. She lives in Sudan and is married to a Christian man. According to Amnesty International, her father was Muslim, but he flew the coop early on so Mrs. Ishag was raised as an Orthodox Christian by her mother who is of that faith.

Despite those circumstances she was charged with apostasy because her dad was Muslim and Islam is apparently like the Hotel California--you can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave.

The 27 year old woman is eight months pregnant, but MSN reports that didn't stop Judge Abbas Mohammed Al-Khalifa from sentencing her to death. Just to make sure she learns her lesson he threw in 100 lashes for adultery, because according to Sharia law her marriage to a Christian is just that. It remains unclear if she'll be beaten to death with a whip before, or after she is executed.

MSN quoted the judge as saying, "We gave you three days to recant, but you insist on not returning to Islam. I sentence you to be hanged." It's true. Ishag was convicted on Sunday, but over the next 72 hours she refused to budge on her beliefs, despite Muslim clerics urging her to do so.

Her response to the sentence was reportedly, "I am a Christian and I never committed apostasy."

The embassies of the U.S. U.K. Canada, and the Netherlands issued a statement saying, "We call upon the government of Sudan to respect the right to freedom of religion, including one's right to change one's faith or beliefs."

The Sudanese Information Minister seemed befuddled by all the hubbub. He pointed out most Muslim countries, including Sheikh Abdulaziz Al al-Sheikh's home turf of Saudi Arabia, forbid Muslims to convert to another religion.

Indeed, what's the big deal?

It would seem Mike McQuay was right back then and still is now.

If you need me, I'll be in the bar.


Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Don Sterling Explains Things to All of Us

I'm not a racist.

Donald T. Sterling, soon to be former owner of the Los Angeles Clippers Basketball Club

I feel bad for him, because he's not the man I know, or knew. There is something wrong. I personally think he has dementia.

Shelly Sterling, estranged wife of Donald Sterling and soon to be litigant in the biggest sports team related law suit ever witnessed.

If you listened to her husband's rambling interview with Anderson Cooper on CNN you might tend to agree with Rochelle, Shelly, Sterling. Let's face it, his entire performance was a vile stream of consciousness which bordered on a horrifying piece of Dadaist street art.

Sterling bounced from effusive apologies for his "terrible" remarks straight into a series of vicious, personal, attacks on Earvin, Magic, Johnson. A moment later he was nearly wailing as he made over the top denials that he is not now, or has ever been a racist. He whined about being baited into saying what he did by V. Stiviano while claiming he didn't know he was being taped. He even became delusional when he said the Clipper players loved him. "Absolutely," he told Cooper, "they know I'm not a racist."

That would be the same team who dumped their warm ups onto the middle of the court in Sacramento and wore their shoot around jerseys inside out. It would be the same team whose point guard is Chris Paul, the head representative of the NBA players union. You know, the guy who told the media if the league hadn't banned Sterling for life when it did the Clippers and every other team in the playoffs would have refused to play another game.

Shelly Sterling also told NBC's Savannah Guthrie, "I don't think it happened overnight. I think it's been happening, but nobody really knew the reason. He gets crazy and yells and screams and hollers one moment and the next moment he'll talk about something else. Its like nothing makes sense."

Ok, Shelly, but as Guthrie pointed out during the interview, dementia doesn't make you say racist things unless you're already in that fetid place. Let's face it, Don Sterling's record on race has been public knowledge since at least 2005 when he was dragged into the dock for not renting to African Americans, Latinos, and families with children. People have testified in open court for nearly a decade that his attitude and language toward minorities is appalling .

And it all bubbled right up to the surface when he went off on Johnson. "What has he done?" Sterling asked Cooper. "Can you tell me? Magic Johnson, what has he done? That's one problem I have. Jews, when they get successful they will help their people and some African Americans--maybe I'll get in trouble again--they don't want to help anybody."

When Cooper pressed the issue Don Sterling almost went over the edge again. "There's no African American--then sensing imminent disaster, he caught himself--"Never mind. I don't know.I'm sorry. You know they all want to play golf with me. Everyone wants to be with me. I'm easy. I'm fun."

Obviously there are several disputable facts found in that diatribe. One is, Magic Johnson has done plenty for the African American community through Magic Johnson Enterprises. Another is it's highly doubtful, "they," all want to play golf with him. Third, the man has apparently never heard of Bernie Madoff.

Although Sterling maintains the owners won't sell the team out from under him, it is hard to imagine any NBA, CEO wanting to take the sort of massive PR hit he would have to endure by basically endorsing this goof.

While crazy ol' Don might be done, things are going to get sticky with Mrs. Sterling. She has already promised a legal battle. NBA spokesperson, Mark Bass claims the league constitution is specific when it comes to these things. If the owners force the sale of a team with a 75% majority vote, the minority partners in the club get their involvement terminated also. So, Shelly, you have no case. What Mr. Bass doesn't seem to appreciate is if, Shelly Sterling has a law firm on retainer, she has a case. They're paid to make sure she does.

That's right, unfortunately we aren't done with the highly dysfunctional Sterling family. At least not in the foreseeable future.

Meanwhile chatrooms across the web are full of anonymous right wing werewolves yapping about Sterling's right to free speech while at the same time howling at the moon about people like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson. The current phrase du jour these malicious fucks use is, "the word police."

Well, the word police beats the hell out of guys who won't rent to people because of the color of their skin. They are also preferable to liars who make up evil nonsense to justify their attitude toward an entire race of people.

Donald Sterling desperately wants to be a victim. A lot of others just like him want the same thing.

None of them should be tolerated.

Now you know why I despise being called a liberal. I am, many times, not tolerant, which is the very definition of that tepid label.


Monday, May 12, 2014

Another Monday in the Books: Voting in Ukraine, Boko Haram Videos, and Marco Attempts a Comeback

It was a long weekend for many, especially if you're living in Ukraine.

Violence in the eastern part of the country is intensifying daily. Two areas of the nation, Luhansk and Donetsk held a referendum and the majority of voters in both places decided to secede. At least that is what pro secessionists say

NBC's Bill Neely pointed out the wording on the ballot was penned by separatists. Then the same separatists policed the voting, although there were no voter lists and therefore no way to tell who was eligible, who wasn't, or even how many times each person voted. After the polls closed the separatists were the ones doing the counting. They were also the people who announced the results, which was 89 to 90% in favor of secession.

Yes, the word "fixed" would seem to apply to the proceedings. Neely also noted those in charge of the affair claimed the turnout was 75%. It is a number which left a few experts a tad suspicious since vast numbers of people boycotted the vote either because they knew it was rigged, or they were afraid they'd get their heads blown off while standing in line--not an entirely unreasonable fear, because there were reports of Ukrainian militia firing into crowds of people waiting to cast a ballot.

NBC is also saying Donetsk has formally asked Moscow to annex it into the the Russian Federation. Exactly who might be doing the asking is a bit unclear since, at the moment, Donetsk has no president, premier, or parliament. Well, sometimes these decisions are best left to an unknown intelligentsia and an anonymous armed force who controls government buildings across the region.  

As you can guess the Ukrainian government in Kiev, the United States and other western nations don't recognize the vote, while the Russians do. Each side is busy calling the other illegitimate and both have arguments which support their claims. Let's face it, the guys currently running the show in Kiev didn't win an election, fixed, or otherwise. They took power when former president, Viktor Yanukovych was run out of town after a series of mass demonstrations which turned into deadly riots.

In a further effort to do in Ukraine as a nation, the Russians have announced they'll cut off the natural gas supply to the country on June 3rd if the cash strapped government doesn't pay for June's allotment in advance. It is a move which will disrupt supplies in several European countries because Ukraine is the conduit through which they import Russian fuel.

Meanwhile those gentle souls known as Boko Haram have released another video. This one shows a large group of girls sitting on the ground reciting the first chapter of the Koran and praying.

The head of the outfit, Abubakar Shekau is also featured, although separately. Shekau is quoted as saying, "These girls, these girls you occupy yourself with we have indeed liberated them. We have indeed liberated them. Do you know (how) we have liberated them? These girls have become Muslims."

Then he seemed to make an offer. He said, "We will never release them until after you release our brethren. Here I mean those girls who have not submitted." (converted to Islam.)

Several media outlets are reporting Shekau is offering to give up all the girls in exchange for his comrades sitting in jail right now. However, barring some sort of translation issue, it looks to this eye he is saying he'll trade only those girls who haven't converted to Islam--that he and his gang get to keep the rest who have.

The actual number of kidnapped teen agers has varied on a day to day basis. The current number is 223. It was estimated around 130 of them were shown on the video.

Here in the states, Florida republican Senator, Marco Rubio was interviewed by ABC Sunday. Rubio is the guy who the tea party loons began running away from when he came out in favor of a bipartisan immigration policy. Indeed, nothing will cost you right wing votes quicker than saying you'll work with democrats on anything, especially immigration. After all, those damn foreigners are the reason Obama is in the white house in the first place.

So what is a GOP presidential hopeful to do? For one, he can go on national TV and say, "I don't believe human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate the way these scientists are portraying it. And I don't believe that the laws that they propose we pass will do anything about it. Except it will destroy our economy."

Atta boy, Marco. Get right back in there with a hot button issue and hammer away at those eco-lefties who are out to destroy The American Way of Life.

You might want to watch that stuff about "dramatic changes to our climate" though. Thanks to clowns like Oklahoma's very own Senator Jim Inhofe, there are plenty of GOP fringe dwellers who don't believe there is any climate change. That's right, humans aren't involved in global warming because, according to them, global warming is a myth. As for anyone who says it isn't, well, they're part of  a massive left wing conspiracy which is out to kill the fossil fuel industry and force each and every one of us to become socialist vegetarians who must ride bicycles every where.

Marco Rubio seems set on a run for president. He went so far as to say if he does run in 2016 he will not seek reelection in the Senate. He might want to re-think that strategy. The latest poll involving viable potential GOP candidates shows him sitting in last place.

And there we have it. Another Monday is in the books.

There is a reason the Good Lord invented martinis.


Thursday, May 8, 2014

Al Gerhart: Guilty and Guilty Again

Get that bill heard or I will make sure you regret not doing it. I will make you the laughing stock of the Senate if I don't hear this bill will be heard and passed. We will dig into your past yoru (sic) family, your associates and once we start there will be no end to it. That is a promise.

Al Gerhart's email to Oklahoma state Senator Cliff Branan.

When Brother Al sent those words to the Senator, the ship known as the S.S. Gerhart almost immediately began taking on water. Branan passed a hard copy of the email to the Highway Patrol, who in turn gave it to the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation. It finally landed on the desk of District Attorney David Prater. That was early in April last year.

The end game came yesterday when Gerhart was convicted of both blackmail and violating the Oklahoma Computer Crimes Act. The jury let him slide on the computer crime by neither fining him, or giving him a jail term, despite the conviction. He was hit with a $1,000 fine on the blackmail charge, but got off with no jail time once again. He was lucky. The maximum was a $15,000 fine and ten years worth of casual strolls in the yard of a Department of Corrections facility.

Gerhart, who bears a disturbing resemblance to Uncle Fester in the Addams family cartoons, was  shocked by the decision. He was so confident of a favorable outcome that Tuesday, Nolan Clay of, The Oklahoman, reported our man, Al bragged in a Sooner Tea Party newsletter, he had turned down a plea bargain offered by the D.A's office. According to Gerhart, in exchange for a guilty plea on the blackmail rap, the computer crimes charge would be dropped, he'd receive no fine, get one year of unsupervised probation, and afterward, his record would be expunged.

When the judge asked assistant D.A. Scott Rowland about the deal, Rowland admitted an offer had been made, but only after one had been requested by the defendant's attorney. The negotiations were doomed because of two reasons. One was Al's ego, the other is why these clowns have repeatedly lost national and statewide elections--they steadfastly refuse to compromise with anyone. Gerhart told the judge he, "absolutely" rejected the deal. Hey, to do so he would have to admit guilt, which would mean he'd been wrong all along. Such an option is unacceptable to a man who claims free speech includes telling a press conference, "These politicians need to know that it doesn't end when their term is over. They need to know that their decisions are going to follow them the rest of their days."

Yes, well, there are a lot of things which follow people the rest of their days--a felony conviction being one of them.

Clay quoted Gerhart as saying the verdict, "...just chills free speech." Then, as always, the Moore carpenter, turned Tea Party honcho, attempted to portray himself as the protector of, The American Way.

According to Clay he also said, "Who is going to want to risk holding a politician accountable at this point? I lost a thousand dollars. I became a felon. I lost my voting rights. I lost my gun rights. I'm probably getting off easy compared to the rest of society though."

Some of society might disagree. When Gerhart's thuggery hit the news last year the comments section of Mike McCarville's conservative site, filled up with observations about him such as these:

"I don't know what his agenda is or what he hopes to accomplish, aside from destruction."
Steve Dickinson

He has slandered and libeled many, but narry (sic) gives it a thought. In essence he has no conscience to speak of."
Jillian Harvey

There was more, but you catch the drift. And, as you might guess, those weren't wild eyed liberal types. They were right wing activists who, in theory, think the way he does.

Indeed, Mr. Gerhart has made enemies along his ruthless way, but most of them live and breathe on his side of the railroad tracks. He can howl he is being politically persecuted all he wants. However, in the final analysis, what got him to the spot he is in now are these words: Blackmail can involve any communication that threatens to expose information about someone which would in any way subject that person to the ridicule and contempt of society. It is blackmail if the communication is meant to extort or gain any thing of value from another, or compel another to do an act against his or her will.

The truth is the moment, Cliff Branan took the stand and said, "I know evil exists. It really scared me. He definitely was wanting me to do something I did not want to do," Al Gerhart's goose was cooked.

He had, in fact, broken the law as it is written--the jury, no matter what their political beliefs, couldn't ignore that simple fact.

sic vita est


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Boko Haram Isn't a Rock and Roll Band

Those dudes in Boko Haram certainly are a rambunctious lot.

In April they kidnapped somewhere between 200 and 300 teen aged girls from a school in northeastern Nigeria. Then last Sunday they hit the villages of Warabe and Wala, in the same general area of the country. During the raids they went door to door looking for more female hostages. By the time it was over they had grabbed 11 girls, aged 12 to 15.

On Monday, Boko Haram troops, if you want to call them that, overran the border town of Gamboru Ngala. After killing an estimated 300 civilians they burned much of the place to the ground. Nigerian Senator, Ahmed Zanna was quoted as saying, "All economic and business centers have been burnt."

This sort of barbaric shit has been going on for over five years now and its been routinely ignored by everyone who isn't a Nigerian. Let's face it, prior to the mass kidnapping, if you had asked the average American who Boko Haram was, he, or she would have probably told you they were a 60's rock and roll band.

No, that was Procol Harum and they are from Britain. These guys are Muslim fundamentalists who want to carve out an Islamic state in northern Nigeria and return it to the middle ages.

The leader of the outfit is one, Abubakar Shekau. He showed up on a low grade video the other day bragging his group had kidnapped the girls. He also threatened to sell them into slavery. Some experts speculate he has already started the bidding. Others think he is selling them directly to his fighters as wives for $12.

How things got this far is a bit complicated, as is everything in Africa. The Nigerian government has been slow to move against Boko Haram. Up until now the prevailing philosophy seemed to be contain, rather than eliminate. The group is hidden out in the Sambisa Forest and the adjoining mountains. It is a foreboding place filled with wild game and poisonous snakes. The local population, while not necessarily sympathetic to Shekau and his crew, are predominantly Muslim and they don't particularly care for President Goodluck Jonathan's administration.

The reason why is brutally simple. When government troops have ventured into the area they tend to act as if everyone is a member of Boko Haram and there is a lot of indiscriminate killing and arson involved in the pacification process. In other words, the guys who are supposed to be good have acted just as bad as the bad guys.

The United States has sent in a team of military advisers, law enforcement types and some people from "other agencies" in order to assist the Nigerians. The British, French, and Chinese have also offered help. Jonathan's acceptance of the aid is being read as an admission he can't get the job done when dealing with the beasts prowling his northeast frontier.

Well, he had to act one way or another. Protesters have been massing in the streets of the capital, Abuja and other cities. They're demanding he do something. In addition huge numbers of people on more than one continent are up in arms. The U.N. has gone so far as to say Shekau will be charged with crimes against humanity if he actually does sell the girls.

In fact, right now the only guy who is, to borrow a phrase, happy happy happy, is Abubakar Shekau. He finally has what he's wanted all these years--the full attention of the world. At this very moment he's, no doubt, bopping himself in the forehead with the palm of his hand while wondering aloud, "why didn't I think of wholesale child abduction before now?"

Indeed, now that he has all this press and even though American involvement is minuscule, he can recruit all manner of monsters from across the globe. Not only will there be a chance to kill some westerners, Boko Haram has a bevy of future wives available at a price everyone can afford.

Jonathan's efforts to find them have been tepid at best. Although he did manage to open up Gamboru Ngala to attack when the troops meant to protect the city were redeployed toward Lake Chad in order to search for the victims. Any advice the Nigerian army might get, either from us, or others still has to be carried out by them. Telling someone you have to plow straight through an ambush in order to break it is one thing--them actually doing it when you aren't there and real bullets are flying about is another altogether.

The truth is the girls have probably been split up into small groups and now they're scattered across the Sambisa in various hide outs. No, there won't be any sort of Entebbe style rescue even if the Nigerians had the means, or will.

The end game could be, Shekau is looking for a big fat ransom. After all, weapons and ammunition cost money. Or, it might be he is just trying to boost the morale of those rowdy guys he commands by providing them with some companionship, no matter how gruesomely coerced it is. The only thing known for sure is, in his twisted mind, he has hit the jackpot. We can look for him to quickly double down. As the song says, when you're hot, you're hot and he knows he is.

This nightmare isn't ending any time soon.


Monday, May 5, 2014

Cinco de Mayo: Starting a Long Losing Streak, Girls on the Market, Crazy in Jonesboro, and Al Gerhart Goes To Trial

So here we are on Cinco de Mayo. In Mexico the 5th is officially known as, "Dia de la Batalla de Puebla," which translates into American as, "Another Excuse to Drink a Lot of Beer Day."

Most Anglos assume May 5th is the Mexican equivalent of the 4th of July, which it isn't. That celebration is in September and it is almost uniformly ignored north of the Rio Grande. No, today commemorates a Mexican military victory over invading French troops in the year 1862. It was, in fact, the battle which began a French losing streak in wars which lasted right through both Vietnam and Algeria nearly a century later.

But enough of history. There are things happening right here and now.

A French news agency secured a video of Mr. Abubakar Shekau. He is the head of Boko Haram, another in the seemingly endless list of radical Islamic groups. They operate in the northern outback of Nigeria and love to burn down schools with the children and teachers in them--most of the time anyway. In mid April members of the group raided a girl's school and kidnapped around 200 female students.

In the video Shekau made these terse statements, "I abducted your girls. I will sell them in the market." He added that, Allah had told him to do so. Hey, it beats having to feed them and as the late science fiction author, Mike McQuay said, "Once you have God on your side, you're capable of anything."  The Nigerian president claims his government will secure the girls' release, but so far, if any actual attempts have been made, they've failed. People in Nigeria and across the globe are outraged. The United States, as usual, has promised to support the Nigerian government's efforts, although what support that might be remains a tad fuzzy.

Reports say, "Boko Haram" means, "western education is sinful." In the grainy video Shekau admonished girls, presumably everywhere, not to go to school, because they should get married instead.

Yesterday, here is the states, Mr. Porfiro Hernandez showed up at a home in Jonesboro, Arkansas carrying a .357 magnum handgun. Before he left two were dead and four were wounded, three of them critically. He then drove about three miles down the road where he shot and killed a third person. Police found his car and body parked on a rural road a little while later. The evidence available is, after the deadly rampage, Hernandez used the weapon on himself.

In an email, a Jonesboro police officer told the Associated Press that Porfiro Hernandez had recently been released from a "mental health facility." Why should anyone be surprised? There was no mention of who owned the weapon, or how Hernandez got his hands on it, although this being America if it hadn't been that one, he would have certainly found another.

Locally, Mr. Al Gerhart, head of the "Sooner Tea Party" went on trial this morning. The charges are blackmail and violating the state's computer crimes act.

A year ago, Gerhart was all hot to trot about a bill in the Oklahoma senate. The measure would have banned the state and local communities from dealing with any entity which participated in a voluntary U.N. program, because--well--it is a U.N. thing and therefore a terrible threat to the sovereignty of these United States.

In March, 2013, he sent an email to state Senator, Cliff Branan, a fellow republican. In it he told Branan that unless he moved the bill out of committee there would be hell to pay. The communication read, "Branan, get that bill heard or I will make sure you regret not doing it. I will make you the laughing stock of the senate if I don't hear this bill will he heard and passed. We will dig into your past, your family, your associates, and once we start on you there will be no end to it. This is a promise."

Later Gerhart held a press conference and claimed Branan had taken the email to the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, because the "scuttlebutt" in the senate was  he'd had some sort of sexual dalliance with a staffer. Branan denied it and Gerhart, who promised he'd make sure the Senator's church knew what he was really like, has never provided any proof of the accusation.

That hogwash wasn't what got him charged though. The line about, "I will make you the laughing stock of the senate," is what landed Brother Al in the dock. As The Oklahoman's Nolan Clay reported today, Oklahoma law, in part, states blackmail can involve any communication which attempts to compel someone to do something against his, or her will by threatening to expose information about that person, which would in any way subject such a person to the ridicule or contempt of society..."


The defendant is claiming the email was free speech and his attorney is howling the case is pure, "political prosecution." He maintains Oklahoma legislators do this sort of shit all the time when they're trying to get a bill passed. If true, it would make the Oklahoma house and senate two of the most ruthless places in America, outside of a few "social clubs" catering to mob types.

Gerhart was, for the most part, unknown outside of the world of conservative politics before this slimy affair hit the news. However, among fellow travelers on those dark seas he has quite the reputation as a bellicose bully. When the conservative on-line news letter, "The McCarville Report," first began covering the controversy last year it's comments sections were full of horror stories written by conservative activists regarding the man.

Clay notes the trial should last three, or four days. He also says the defense has subpoenaed a number of legislators as "expert witnesses" on the legislative process.

In the end, the bill's sponsor in the senate withdrew it from consideration after he found out about the threats to Branan and his family. It hasn't been heard of since.

There we have it. And just think, it is only Monday.

Viva Mexico!


Friday, May 2, 2014

Friday Dispatches: Unavoidable Sanctions, A Deeply Troubling Execution, and A Shooting in Alaska

German Chancellor, Angela Merkel showed up outside of the White House today along with President Barack Obama. Both of them promised there would be another round of economic sanctions if the Russians don't tone down their act in Ukraine.

Obviously, they have to do something, because the ones in place now certainly haven't put a dent in Vladimir Putin's enthusiasm for annexing territory and slipping special ops forces into the eastern parts of the country. Neither Merkel, or Obama went into detail about the nature of the "unavoidable" sanctions, or how they might curb Russia's involvement in the ongoing attempt to partition Ukraine and isolate the government in Kiev.

Meanwhile, the situation there continues to deteriorate. NBC reports there was rioting today in the city of Odessa between pro unity backers and separatists. An English language media outlet in Kiev claims Russian speaking thugs attacked a demonstration of pro government supporters. At this point there is no telling what really happened. The truth is always the first casualty in situations such as these. Everyone knows the value of the media and how to manipulate it and nobody hesitates to do so.

In the eastern part of the nation, Ukrainian troops are pushing into the city of Slovyansk, which has been under the control of anti government forces. The move has angered the Russians, who, as always, are never at a loss for reasons to be angered. They are claiming the offensive voids a cease fire agreement brokered by the U.S. and others. Today, the Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement which says, "English speech has been heard on the air and English speaking foreigners were spotted among those who attacked Slovyansk."

In addition the foreign ministry is accusing U.S. "private security forces" of being involved in Ukraine. Both accusations are a double edged sword. The first question, which could reasonably be asked, is how did the Russian government get this shocking intelligence? If the charges have any merit there are only two possible answers. The first is they are so closely supporting the separatists they have constant communications with them. The second--Russian troops are directly involved in Slovyansk, despite the tepid denials by Vlad himself.

Much closer to home, Oklahoma authorities are still trying to figure out what went wrong Tuesday during the execution of Clayton Lockett.

Mr. Lockett did not go quietly into that good night. The Department of Corrections issued a statement saying prior to the botched execution, Lockett had to be tasered because he was, "uncooperative" when officials tried to restrain him for a pre hot shot set of X-rays.

Then things really went down hill.

First off, the phlebotomist apparently couldn't find a usable vein in his arms, legs, or feet, so the IV was inserted into Lockett's groin. He was administered the drug midazolam which was meant to knock him out. Then he was given a dose of vecuronium bromide in order to paralyze his muscles To end it, potassium chloride was added to the mix which was supposed to stop his heart.

It was the first time Oklahoma had used this particular mix of drugs. It was also the first time anyone had used them in the doses which were run into the IV. It will probably be the last, because things went terribly awry. Even though Lockett had been declared unconscious he began thrashing about on the table and for, at least a moment or two, seemed awake. The doctor in charge decided his vein had collapsed and called a halt to the execution saying the drugs had either leaked out, or been absorbed by Lockett's tissue; that there weren't enough in his system to kill him. A faint heart beat was detected, but the doctor was wrong, there was enough potassium chloride in him that 43 minutes after the execution began, Lockett was declared dead of what has been diagnosed as a heart attack.

Yes, it seems when the state kills people, we'd rather not have them flopping around on the gurney like a boated tuna, especially in front of witnesses. The White House issued a statement earlier this week through Press Secretary Jay Carney, saying the execution, "fell short of humane standards." Today Barack Obama said he was "deeply troubled" by the affair. In the past, he has also said some crimes are so heinous the death penalty is warranted.

Governor Mary Fallin delayed the execution of Charles Warner until May 13th, so someone could figure out what went wrong. He was scheduled to be killed a couple of hours after Lockett. Robert Patton, the head of the Oklahoma DOC sent the Governor a letter saying all executions should be delayed indefinitely. Warner's attorney agreed and added she believed a cover up was in process and an independent investigation should be conducted.

Lockett was convicted of shooting a teen aged girl with a shotgun, then watching as two of his pals buried her alive. Warner maintains he is innocent of raping and killing an 11 month old baby.

Finally, up in Alaska, a man described by a witness as, "a young kid, or young adult," shot and killed two state troopers in the town of Tanana Thursday. Tanana is 130 miles west of Fairbanks and so isolated it can only be reached by air. The suspect was taken into custody last night by an Alaskan SWAT team after a standoff.

So far the NRA has been mum on the shooting. No doubt the organization realizes their contention the killer would have been stopped if everyone was armed is pretty useless when it comes to a place like Alaska. Because--you know--everyone there is armed.

And there we have it. Just another Friday down the drain.

As always, the bar is open.

sic vita est