Friday, August 29, 2014

Friday Dispatches: Malaysia Airlines Takes a Hit, The Ebola Conspiracy, The Newest Citizen of the Islamic State, and Gov. Fallin Can't Have it Both Ways

MSN news is reporting there is big trouble at the headquarters of Malaysia Airlines. According to an on line story the company has announced it will soon lay off up to 6,000 of its 20,000 employees. The outfit is also looking for a new CEO, although not a new name--something a lot of marketing wonks think must happen if the airline is to survive.

Of course there are more than a few people around who wonder if the corporation should survive. Let's face it, when a person, or persons unknown commandeers one of your planes, along with 293 people and flies it off into the murky netherworld of the Twilight Zone, then another is routed over an war zone and gets shot down, serious questions about competency will be asked.

According to the airline's own stats there has been a 11% drop in passengers, although that figure might be wildly optimistic. MSN's report also notes some of the few brave souls who still fly Malaysia Airlines have taken to posting mid flight photos of nearly deserted cabins.

In the It is All a Conspiracy Department, citizens in Nzerekore, Guinea went a little funny in their collective heads when, for some inexplicable reason, they came to believe health officials were spraying the ebola virus throughout a local market in order to infect people with it. MSN quoted the president of the Guinea Red Cross as saying the run amok rumor his organization was attempting to spread the disease was, "...totally false..." Of course in the minds of die hard members of the conspiracy community, he would have to say just that, otherwise it wouldn't be--you know--a conspiracy.

Apparently none of the rioters, many of whom were armed with clubs and guns, thought to ask the most obvious question. It being, why would the Red Cross do such a thing? However, given the breaking news, there can be little doubt YouTube accounts are being created at this very moment which will give us indisputable evidence of Iluminati involvement in the deadly plot.

As a result of the violence health workers were forced to seek shelter at a local army base while troops were deployed to quell the rioting. There was no word on the number of casualties.

A Fox report says Nidal Hasan, the savage crank who murdered 13 soldiers and wounded another 32 at Ft. Hood in November, 2009 has written an open letter to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the head of ISIS. In it, he, "humbly" requested he be granted Islamic State citizenship. The Fox talking heads, predictably, vented their stunned outrage. Why they should be surprised by anything Hasan says is a bit of a mystery. The former army major has repeatedly told everyone who will listen that before he opened fire he had decided to defend Islam with deadly force. He has also claimed he should be treated as a prisoner of war.

Even if granted citizenship, the newest member of the Islamic State will continue to sit on death row until he takes a needle in the arm for his new team.

Finally, today's The Oklahoman reports governor Mary Fallin, who is up for re-election in November, is also outraged, but for a different reason. Earlier this year the tea party hacks in the legislature dumped out of the Common Core education program because--well--it sounded like something Barack Obama liked. The article, by Tim Willert, points out the immediate result of the legislation has been the loss of a flexibility waiver under the No Child Left Behind Act.

The waiver would have allowed Oklahoma to use right around $30 million of federal education funds however it saw fit. As of today, the state is required to spend the money on, "tutoring and transportation at schools now considered to be in need of improvement."

Willert quotes the governor as saying, "It is outrageous that President Obama and Washington bureaucrats are trying to dictate how Oklahoma schools spend education dollars."

The story said U. S. Department of Education Assistant Secretary, Deborah Delisle told state schools superintendent, Janet Barresi the waiver was denied, "because Oklahoma can no longer demonstrate that the state's standards are college and career ready standards."

In her befuddled anger, Fallin whined Oklahoma was being punished for repealing Common Core, which was developed, not by Obama, but the National Governor's Association.

In addition to Fallin's maniacal blubbering, Willert reported reaction to the decision by three educators and one democratic legislator. They all said the loss of the waiver was a done deal the moment the governor signed off on the repeal of an act she once supported and that no one should be surprised it happened.

And there we are sports fans. Sometimes, no matter how real the delusions might be, you just can't have it both ways.

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


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Another Wednesday in the Books: More Fun With Guns and Late Summer Politics

Here is a tip of the ol' hat to Wayne LaPierre and the rest of the NRA. LaPierre and his crew appear to believe that if there is even a single law anywhere on the books which restricts gun sales, or possession the entire nation will fall. In fact, immediately after the Oklahoma City federal building was bombed in 1995, he expressed his sympathy for those killed by publicly calling ATF agents, "jack booted thugs." It was a statement so vile it prompted former president George H.W.Bush to resign from the organization.

Today we had another example of how unrestricted gun ownership in the country is working out for us. The AP reports Los Angeles police arrested Mr. Alexander Hernandez. They say Brother Hernandez had been traveling through the L.A. metro area the last five days in a row shooting randomly at targets of opportunity from his vehicle. His weapon of choice was a shotgun fitted with a pistol grip.

By the time he was popped he had allegedly killed three people and wounded four. In addition, presumably because sometimes he was too impatient to wait for human victims, Hernandez is accused of killing two dogs and wounding a third.

Currently he faces one count of capital murder, two counts of attempted murder, and three charges of animal cruelty. A police spokesperson told the media Hernandez was refusing to cooperate with the authorities. That's probably because when you've had four prior convictions like he has you know the system well enough to keep your mouth shut until you can find a lawyer.

That's right. Alexander Hernandez has done time for, among other things, possession with intent to sell meth, possession of a controlled substance with a firearm, and possession of a firearm after a felony conviction. However, since this is the land of the free, he was still able to get his hands on yet another weapon.

Admittedly it might sound a little goofy coming from an American, but here is an idea. Doesn't making it tougher for evil fucks like Hernandez to get firearms sound a little more sensible than LaPierre's notion a guy like him should be able to buy a used gun from uncle, Chucky Whitman without any background check whatsoever?

And--while we're speaking of crime--also in California, a right wing super pac called America Rising, hired an operative to keep tabs on democratic congressional candidate, Amanda Renteria. NBC reports the "tracker" got a little carried away with his duties. He followed Ms. Renteria into church on Sunday and began to question her as she walked down the aisle to find a seat. When she knelt to pray he started video taping her. The political action committee issued a statement saying they'd no longer use the man's services. Although America Rising fired the cretin they have not offered the candidate an apology. 

In Florida, former republican governor, turned democrat Charlie Crist easily won the democratic primary for his former seat. The Miami Herald is reporting incumbent republican governor, Rick Scott began running ads trashing Crist as far back as last November, beginning the moment he announced he would take another shot at the office. The Herald story says Scott's campaign has already spent $28 million on anti Crist spots.

NBC reports republican congressman Tom Cotton, a candidate for the U.S. Senate in Arkansas, is claiming democratic incumbent Mark Pryor is trying to blame the ebola outbreak in Africa on him. Well, sort of. Pryor's attack ads point out the representative voted to slash funding of the CDC and emergency plans to contain deadly outbreaks of disease in the United States, causing the country to be more susceptible to epidemics like the one ravaging west Africa.

Finally, here in Oklahoma, Steve Russell won the GOP primary in the state's fifth congressional district. The tea party wank immediately became the odds on favorite to win the seat in November, despite the fact he doesn't even live in the district. During his acceptance speech last night, the OKC daily paper, The Oklahoman, noted he told an admiring throng of supporters he would "defend the unborn without apology."

The unborn should probably take him up on the offer, because once they do emerge from the womb he certainly won't give a rat's ass about them.

So there we have it. Another Wednesday is in the books. Ladies and gentlemen, the smoking lamp is now lit.


Friday, August 22, 2014

The Oklahoma Right Wing: Felons, Hypocrites, and Drug Fiends

It hasn't been the best of weeks for some of the local GOP and tea party Glitterati.

First out of the chute, so to speak, was big Al Gerhart. Over the course of the past couple of years he has gone from founder of the Sooner Tea Party, political terrorist, and bully, to convicted felon. In May a jury found him guilty of trying to blackmail former state senator Cliff Branan and violating the Oklahoma Computer Crimes Act.

Earlier this week an Oklahoma County judge refused to throw out the conviction and confirmed Brother Gerhart will have to pay his $1,000 fine, plus $90 to a victims fund. Gerhart, who, in the last few months has tried to transition from bellicose tough guy into an Oklahoma version of Joan d'Arc, promised the local media he will appeal the decision.

The Oklahoman's Nolan Clay quoted him as saying, "I'm a felon now for speaking my mind in a political manner. If I don't (appeal) every single person in the state can be done the same way I've been done. It is wrong. It is wrong."

Actually none of us will be "done the same way" so long as we don't email a state senator and tell him, "...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 that 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. This is a promise." In addition Gerhart publicly questioned whether Branan's wife and family, "were under control" and said he would go to Branan's church to make sure the congregation knew what he was up to. Finally, he claimed the "scuttlebutt" in the senate was Branan was having an affair with a staffer.

Gerhart admitted to Clay he was "rough" on Branan, because, in his mind, he had to be since the Senator was corrupt and it was the only way to make him listen. He then claimed his Sooner Tea Party was the reason Branan lost in the republican primary when he ran for a seat on the Corporation Commission.


Yesterday, The Oklahoman published a story by Warren Vieth about Governor Mary Fallin. Veith quoted Fallin as recently saying of the Affordable Care Act, "Every month we learn a new lesson about why the state of Oklahoma should stay as far away from Obamacare as possible."

The headline above the story read, "Gov. Fallin applies for Obamacare grant."


According to Vieth on July 18th Fallin requested a $3 million grant to "develop an Oklahoma State Innovation Model based on health system innovation that makes good business sense." The grant is only available through the Affordable Care Act. He also quoted Fallin's communications director, Alex Weintz as saying, "I wouldn't label this an Obamacare grant. I think that classification is confusing to people."

Well you have to say something don't you, besides it is best to keep it simple for all those tea party types out there carrying pitchforks and torches. Vieth writes the application for the grant became public only after a group called Oklahoma Watch got a copy of it from a confidential source.

Fallin's hypocrisy shouldn't be a surprise to anyone. While running for governor four years ago she rather ham-handedly hinted her democratic opponent, Jeri Askins, who has never been married, was unfit by claiming you needed to have a family to effectively represent the people of Oklahoma.

Yes, there is nothing quite like those conservative Oklahoma style family values. In a recent post on the blog, "The Lost Ogle," it was revealed Fallin's first husband, Joe proposed to her while they were attending a party thrown by Hugh Hefner at the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles. Needless to say it isn't a place where you would expect a social conservative to show up at, because, after all, Hef, not only loves to have naked women running around all over the place, but unabashed coitus with just about anyone who shows up. Mary Fallin's marriage to Joe ended in divorce while she was serving as Lt. Governor. Not long after the split a highway patrol officer who was her security was reassigned because of an alleged inappropriate relationship with her.

Then we come to Chad Alexander. He is one of those murky money types the republicans are infested with. He was a political consultant and the organizer of a pac called, Oklahomans for a Conservative Future. Earlier this year the OCF was happily funding ads in support of people like T.W. Shannon, a U.S. Senate candidate and Joy Hofmeister, who was running for Superintendent of State Schools. Unfortunately Alexander had to resign from the pac in May when he was accused by the police of being a drug fiend.

On the 13th of that month Mr. Alexander was charged with both possession of cocaine and illegal prescription pain meds. He was also accused of obstructing a police officer in the performance of his duties.

Today things got worse for him.

In a story written by Nolan Clay, The Oklahoman revealed there is an ongoing investigation by Oklahoma County DA, David Prater into possible collusion between the political action committee and both candidates.

According to Clay, the DA's investigator is looking into an accusation Hofmeister's campaign solicited Alexander's pac to run attack ads against incumbent republican, Janet Barresi during the primary race. In theory any such communication and, or coordination between a candidate and a super pac is illegal. Both are supposed to remain completely separate.

Clay writes that the Barresi campaign found an April email from Hofmeister which talked about her meeting with a representative of AH Strategies and later that day with Alexander, who, in her words was, "probably a better fit for the independent campaign."

In a text message uncovered by the DA's office, AH Strategies rep, Fount Holland, who was by then, directly involved in Hofmeister's campaign, reportedly asked Alexander if University of Oklahoma President David Boren would be upset if his pac ran independent expenditures against Barresi. Alexander answered by saying he'd use, "a different 527." At the time Alexander was also working as a lobbyist for OU.

So there we have it. When it comes to Oklahoma republicans, felons, morally questionable hypocrites, and drug addicts running corrupt political enterprises seem to be the rule. In fact, at this point the only thing missing from the local GOP resume is a post concert hot tub orgy with Ted Nugent and his band, although given their track record that debauchery might already be on any number of day calenders.

Hey, if these clowns are going to incessantly talk the talk, you'd think they would at least make some sort of effort to walk the walk.

Luckily for the rest of us, the bar is open.


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

America, Welcome to Iraq, Part III

According to the New York Times the video of James Foley's execution was initially up loaded to an online account owned by an outfit known as the al-Furqan Media Foundation. Some grotesque beast quickly moved the nearly five minute clip to YouTube, which subsequently took it down. It was reportedly titled, "A Message to America."

The executioner who delivered part of the message wore a black hood and mask. According to the Times he spoke English with what sounded like an east London accent. The paper also reports Foley read a statement which, in part, said, "I call on my friends, family, and loved ones to rise up against my real killers--the U.S. government."

When he was done speaking, James Foley's head was cut off.

After the video hit the internet, Fox News reports there have been at least 14 American air strikes against Islamic State positions. In addition, although it hasn't been confirmed, various outlets are saying Kurdish and Iraqi forces have retaken the Mosul dam from IS forces.

Given what has transpired since Foley's murder it would be easy to gloat, or be glib about the immediate U.S. response to the Islamic State's message, despite its awful and grisly content. However they are holding at least one other American journalist, Steven Sotloff and have promised to kill him too if the strikes keep coming, which, they obviously have.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists around 20 reporters of various nationalities have been kidnapped in either Syria, or other areas of the middle east over the last few years and no one has any real idea who is holding them. Given the circumstances we can expect more hideous videos to show up soon.

Using the acronym ISIL, the president called the Sunni militants a cancer and said they, "speak for no religion." Addressing the James Foley murder, he added, "No just God would stand for what they did yesterday and what they do every day."

Of course that is a large part of the problem. While Obama and the rest of us can say no just God would put up with the brutal and senseless killing of hundreds, if not thousands of innocent people, the crazy fucks who are perpetrating these atrocities believe God does just that. Indeed, they not only think the Good Lord approves their acts, they're convinced He will send them all directly to an eternal paradise because they commit them.

It goes without saying when you're dealing with monsters like these there is no room for negotiation, or compromise. Think of the Nazi SS--the congregation of the Westboro Baptist Church multiplied by tens of thousands and armed to the teeth--Attila the Hun, whipped into a frenzy by a tab of window pane acid laced with too much speed.

Yes, such visions are a terrible and bloody tableau, but that is exactly what we are faced with when it comes to these gruesome werewolves.

Fox also reported the United States is mulling over the possibility of sending in an additional 300 or so troops, to bolster "the security of American interests" and personnel in Iraq. If true, it would be the third escalation of  the American ground presence in the country during the last two months. Some of us have seen this sort of slow creep before.

Tragically, we are on the verge of a third Iraq war, because the truth is the assholes running ISIL are either utterly stupid, or quite smart. If they think the public murder of one or two U.S. citizens will scare us away they have no concept of the American psyche. On the other hand they might believe another incursion into Iraq by forces of the United States will rally thousands of true believers to their cause.

Even if they are convinced of the latter possibility they still have a major problem.  As brutal as their God might be, in all His blazing and righteous anger, He still has no answer to massive air power.

And while bombs alone can't defeat an entrenched enemy, it can certainly make the ruthless bastards crawl into holes and not advance on an objective.

The terrible truth is we're going in once again. If you don't believe it, you should sit out in a field with Charlie Brown late this October and wait for the Great Pumpkin.

America, welcome to Iraq part III. 

sic vita est


Monday, August 18, 2014

Ferguson, Missouri: Confusion, Anger, and Chaos

Confusion, anger, and chaos still reign in Ferguson, Missouri because of the August 9th shooting of an unarmed African American teenager named Michael Brown. He was, on that day, killed by a white cop and at this moment no one knows exactly why.

Today, the state's governor, Jay Nixon lifted a midnight to five am curfew, which no one was paying any attention to anyway, while at the same time calling up units of the national guard. According to Nixon, the NG's will be under the command of the highway patrol, who, in theory, is in charge of security in the St. Louis suburb,

Nixon says the guard is primarily there to keep the "unified command center," safe. He claims it came under a "coordinated attack" during last nights violence. During his presentation to the media, the governer failed to identify who was in charge of the military style tactics used by those nefarious persons who mounted the assault, but you have to realize in situations such as these everything is, a tad foggy.

In the mean time the Ferguson Police Department looks to be completely out of the picture now and the St. Louis County police, after they appeared to be having far too much fun gassing retreating crowds, TV camera crews, and strong arming journalists have been placed in reserve.

Much to the dismay and disgust of the majority of protesters, sporadic looting continued last night. It was perpetrated by people who seem to have found the perfect excuse to throw bricks through windows and score bottles of top shelf vodka and scotch. Yes, for some, tragedy is the ultimate opportunity. All you have to do is seize the night and get into and out of a smashed store front as quickly as you can.

Meanwhile, Brown's family hired forensic pathologist Shawn Parcells and former New York City Chief Medical Examiner, Dr. Michael Baden to perform an independent autopsy of their son's body. It is one of three. The county either has, or will perform one and the U.S. Justice Department has said it will conduct a third.

Given the initial findings of the independent team the word "overkill" seems to be an appropriate description of the shooting. Baden and Parcells found Michael Brown had been shot six times by Officer Darren Wilson. Four of the rounds hit him in the right arm, while two struck him in the head. One shot, the fatal one, was to the very top of Brown's skull, which, according to Baden and Parcells indicates his head was leaning forward when it struck him.

The two men said they didn't find any powder residue on Brown's skin, which is an indicator he was shot from a distance. However, both added, since they didn't have access to the clothes Brown was wearing, such a finding couldn't be conclusive. In addition the wounds didn't provide any proof one way or the other if Brown was actually holding his arms up in the air when he turned to face Wilson as at least two witnesses have said.

Three people in total, Dorian Johnson, Tiffany Mitchell, and Piaget Crenshaw dispute the police version of events which maintains Brown lunged into Wilson's car in an attempt to get his gun. According to all three, the officer grabbed Brown through the window of the vehicle and Brown broke free of his grip and attempted to run away. Wilson then exited his vehicle and pursued him down the street. As he did he pulled off at least one round. Brown then turned to face him. According to Mitchell and Johnson, he raised his hands in order to surrender. Crenshaw, in a television interview, didn't say if he did, or didn't. All three agreed though that after Brown stopped and turned, Wilson continued to fire until the young man collapsed face first onto the pavement.

Besides hiring Baden and Parcells, Michael Brown's parents have enlisted the help of Benjamin Crump. He was last seen, nationally, representing the family of Trayvon Martin--another unarmed black kid shot to death for reasons no sane person can understand.

Was Michael Brown a saint? No. Was Michael Brown headed off to college. Yeah, but only if you count a for profit trade school like Vatterott College as one. Did he lift a box of cigars from a convenience store prior to the shooting? Maybe, but at the time of his death, he certainly wasn't charged with a crime, let alone convicted of it and Wilson didn't have any idea he might be a suspect. Did he deserve to be shot six times on a street in Ferguson, Missouri by a cop whose life was not in imminent danger at the moment he began pulling the trigger? The answer to that question depends on whether or not you're a racist coward, frightened by every African American kid who is simply walking down the road.

As always, my next stop is the bar. We can talk about it there..

sic vita est


Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Saturday Recap: Genocide, Blame the Victim Games, Another Rough Night in Ferguson, and the NRA Moment of the Week

If this week has taught us anything it is you'll never be able to accuse humans of acting humanely. Indeed, the entire concept of behaving civilized has escaped massive portions of the species, calling into question that whole theory of evolution thing.

The AP is reporting that about 12 days ago a large number of Islamic State fighters surrounded the Iraqi village of Kocho. Most of the town's population belong to the Yazidi religion. According to the IS, being Yazidi is a capital crime, which in itself isn't unusual, since the outfit's brain trust thinks every religion in the world, other than theirs, merits a death sentence.

Unfortunately for the Yazidis, they are stuck living in the same place where these demented geeks are running amok. Yesterday the IS moved its men into the town and gave everyone a choice. You could convert to their version of Islam--because after all, no other flavor will do--or die. According to witnesses when 80 some odd Yazidi males refused the demand they were marched to the outskirts of the village 10 and 12 at time, then gunned down with assault rifles. Afterward IS men walked through the carnage firing pistol rounds into the bodies of anyone who might be still be alive.

There is a flashback a lot of people, especially older Jews, could have done without.

The AP reports surviving witnesses say afterward the Yazidi women and children were carted off to the nearby town of Tal Afar. At this point no one has been willing to hazard a guess what is going to happen to them, although given what has gone on so far, the odds are when we do find out the answer words like horror and outrage will be used to describe it.

Photos and or videos of the massacre will, no doubt, be posted on the internet by the IS, if they haven't been already. That's because, unlike the Nazis who perpetrated similar atrocities, these grotesque fucks are more than happy to brag about how evil they are.

Meanwhile here in the states a number of people in Ferguson, Missouri decided to cash in on the death of Michael Brown by looting a few stores last night.

Brown was the unarmed teenager shot a week ago by a white Ferguson cop, who was identified yesterday as Darren Wilson. In the never ending game of blame the victim, Ferguson police chief, Thomas Jackson claimed Brown was suspected of using strong arm tactics to steal a $49 box of Swisher Sweet cigars from a convenience store prior to his death.

Actually there is some evidence that Brown did commit the crime. However, according to Jackson once again, Officer Wilson was unaware Brown was a robbery suspect at the time of the shooting.

Oops. That means, without any knowledge of Brown's alleged crime, Wilson shot an unarmed kid multiple times--one who, three witnesses say, was holding his hands up in the air to show he was unarmed as he attempted to surrender.

In a fit of rage, irony, or simply the DT's a few of the demonstrators broke into Ferguson Market and Liquor and began looting it despite the loud objections of many others in the crowd. It is the same place Brown was accused of stealing the cigars from. In the end about a dozen protesters cleared the store of looters and stood in front of it, protecting it from further damage.

After starting their campaign to sully the image of Michael Brown, the local police began an attempt to restore theirs. Only one tear gas canister was fired last night while the armored vehicles, dogs, and rubber bullets which had been previously employed by the authorities were absent.

Then finally, we have our NRA moment of the week. Early Tuesday morning Easton McDonald woke up in his Winchester, Virginia home when the burglar alarm went off. McDonald, a Sgt. with the Loudon County Sheriff's Department, armed himself and began to investigate. When he saw a shadowy figure entering through the garage door he opened fire, apparently, without warning, or saying something like, "Hey, who's there?"

His marksmanship was impeccable. The suspected prowler was hit and went down. The only problem was Sgt. Easton McDonald put a bullet, not into a would be thief, but his 16 year old daughter.

After he realized what happened Brother McDonald attempted to drive his kid to the hospital, but ended up in a car wreck. EMT's finally got her there and she is listed in "stable" condition at this time.

So there we have it. Genocide, the start of a foul PR campaign, looting, and outright stupidity.

Yes, given the current circumstances it seems safe to say Mr. Darwin's ideas could use some serious tweaking, at least when it comes to Homo sapiens.

If anyone asks, I'll be in the bar.


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Time Travel in Ferguson, Missouri

It appears time travel has become a reality in Ferguson, Missouri. Given what has happened there lately it is almost as if a terrible tornado has whipped that burg, not up to Oz, but straight back to America in the 1960s.

What else is one to make of the happenings going on there since Saturday. It is at best an evil flashback and at worst the most recent culmination of what we know is a resurgence of virulent racism.

Here is what went down. On the evening of August 9th, two black kids were strolling down a street. As far as any person knew then, or knows now, including the cop who confronted them, they didn't have any gang affiliation, outstanding warrants, or criminal records. One of them, Michael Brown, was a recent high school graduate. On Monday, the 11th he was scheduled to begin classes at one of the many campuses of the for profit, Vatterott College.

Ferguson's population is well over 60% African American, but the police force of 53 officers and detectives has only three black members. The cop who pulled over next to Brown and Johnson has yet to be identified by city officials, but given the numbers, the odds he is a white guy are overwhelming. The officer ordered both young men to get out of the street and immediately things began to go terribly wrong.

Even at this late date there are only two things everyone is sure of, or at least can agree on. First, both Michael Brown and his pal, Dorian Johnson were unarmed. Second, Michael Brown was shot multiple times by what is almost assuredly a white cop.  Allegedly, one of those rounds got him in the back and most certainly the rest of them slammed into him anywhere from 20 to 35 feet away from the patrol car. He was declared dead shortly thereafter.

The police version goes this way. The unnamed officer pulled up next to Brown and Johnson and was assaulted while in his car, apparently by Brown. During a struggle for his weapon a shot was discharged from inside the vehicle. The fight spilled out onto the street where Brown was shot and killed. According to the Ferguson PD Chief, Thomas Jackson, the officer involved suffered a number of blows to the face which caused significant swelling.

Dorian Johnson says he and Brown were ordered out of the street by the patrolman. When they didn't immediately comply he pushed his car door open, "aggressively." However it was so close to one of them it, "ricocheted" shut, enraging the officer who then reached outside the open window and grabbed Michael Brown by the throat. Brown fought to get away as the cop fired his weapon the first time. Brown escaped and began to run down the street as the officer exited his vehicle and began shooting at him, hitting him at least once in the back. Young Mr. Brown then stopped, turned toward the policeman, and raised his hands to show him he was unarmed and wanted to surrender. Despite this the officer continued to shoot and Brown fell dead in the street.

According to CNN two other witnesses who saw the tragedy pretty much confirmed Johnson's retelling of the events.

Since then the shit has hit the fan in Ferguson, a suburb situated at the north end of St. Louis. Demonstrations were scheduled and took place. At times the protests turned violent and during the early ones there were reports of arson and looting. The local authorities called in the St. Louis County Police and asked for aid from other departments. The help arrived with all the subtlety of Russian troops cracking down on an anti Putin parade in Sevastopol.

Automatic weapons atop armored vehicles were deployed when marchers moved through the streets. Snarling dogs, tear gas, and smoke bombs have been used to clear out demonstrators. In some of the videos available you see phalanxes of police firing tear gas toward crowds who are already in full retreat from them. Last night two reporters, one from The Washington Post, another from The Huffington Post were confronted at a local McDonald's by police who refused to give their names, or badge numbers.The cops ordered the journalists to stop filming their arrests via their cell phones, then for good measure, roughed them up, before hauling them away for no reason. Both were released today. No charges were filed and no explanation was given for their detention.

In another video, a TV camera crew's position was gassed, then police moved in and turned their lights toward the ground and pushed their camera lens downward so there wouldn't be a record of what happened next.

Yes, when the cops start arresting journalists and shutting down TV film crews, those of us who are a certain age and political disposition know exactly what it means. The brutes are caught up in a fascist blood lust and have a hard on to break heads. None of what happens next will be either pretty, or legal and they don't want any witnesses.

Today Barack Obama admonished both those demonstrators who had committed violence and the police as he called for cooler heads to prevail on all sides. Al Sharpton addressed a crowd and called for a federal investigation of the entire horrible affair. The point he made was valid. No one in the African American community of Ferguson, Missouri will ever trust a local investigation into what happened, or believe the results they arrive at.

When it comes to the violence, he told the locals this, "I know you are outraged, but you're not outraged more than Michael Brown's parents." Indeed, the Reverend's message was don't do anything Brown's parents wouldn't--and--don't warp the image of Michael Brown by committing criminal acts.

In the end senseless felonies lessen not only him, but all of us and, worse, it gives every racist and rotten cop out there just another excuse.


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Black Maw of Mesopotamia

For many of us in this hemisphere it is befuddling. That's because from the Arctic Circle to Tierra del Fuego our concepts of politics, government, society and yes, even, democracy come from a European perspective. The native populations of the Americas, had they survived the tsunami of Euro and Anglican hordes, might have had some sort of insight into it--simply because, like the Arabs, their civilizations were also tribal based. And like the Arabs, while similar in so many respects, many of those tribes were not particularly enamored with each other, even to the point where clashes between them were not unheard of.

So given that, let's try to run down the current situation in the Mid East--a name given to an area which Westerners decided was about half way between them and what they called the Far East.

The whole landscape of the region was controlled by the Ottoman Empire for years until they ended up on the losing side during World War I. The Ottomans were Turks and Arabs thought of them pretty much the same as 19th century Sioux, Cheyenne, Comanche, and other American tribes thought of the new government in Washington which was ruthlessly expanding its control into their lands.

Up until the Ottoman collapse, there was no, what we would consider, sense of nation or nationality in the Arab world east of Egypt. Everyone belonged to one tribe or another and each of those tribes practiced whichever version of Islam had been handed down to them through the generations. They lived, fought themselves time and time again in skirmishes and the only common enemy was the Turk.

Enter the French and British. They got together in their insufferable imperial sort of way and carved up the area into spheres of influence. Before they were done they had drawn arbitrary borders and decided who was going to be running each of the "countries." To them an Arab was an Arab and little attention was paid to which sect lived where and which sect the man, or family they put in charge belonged to. The Europeans made the same dreadful mistake in Africa, when the colonial powers divided up the continent into countries based, not on tribal, or ethnic differences, but their own political ends.

Jumping forward a few decades: Saddam Hussein, who was a Sunni, brutally governed a nation with borders which were drawn by western powers and was populated by mostly Shi'ites. The United States got rid of Saddam so George Bush could say his penis was larger than his old man's and Dick Cheney's buddies could make a few billion bucks.

We made sure there was an election, because we think elections solve every problem and the Shi'ite majority, of course elected a Shi'ite prime minister named Nuri al-Maliki. After a few years and an insurgency which failed thanks to us and some Sunni tribesmen who naively thought things were going okay, he and his government told us to withdraw our troops.

Immediately after we left, Maliki went all Saddam, the Shi'ite version. Within a short time his policies managed to piss off every Sunni in the country, not to mention kill a good number of them..

So we've come to this.

Iraq and parts of Syria are now infested with a bunch of run amok monsters. They are so out there they gleefully post beheadings and crucifixions on the internet because they actually believe it is good PR and will help them recruit new members. Gruesomely, their ad department appears to have nailed the campaign, so to speak, because large numbers of disaffected youths and the criminally insane are lining up to participate in the violence and awful sadism.

The British, French, and other Europeans are flapping around like panicked quail squawking that someone has to do something--just so long as it isn't them. At this time the Russians are too busy trying to eviscerate Ukraine to do anything, while the Chinese, who don't seem to have any interest in world affairs outside of a quick profit and Asia, are preoccupied with taking control of the entire Sea of China.

That would leave us, the good ol' U.S. of A.--you know--the same people who started this huge bloody snowball rolling downhill in the first place.

For those of us who are of a certain age, quite honestly, the nightmare in Iraq right now makes the one we went through in Vietnam look like a little slice of heaven.

People like John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and others want to put American troops on the ground in a place where Sunnis hate Shi'ites, Kurds, Christians, the Yazidi and Iranians. The Shi'ites despise the Kurds, Sunnis, and, if it wasn't for their military and political help, probably the Iranians too, because after all, they aren't Arabs. In fact, besides the Israelis, the only people any of these crazed fucks hate more than each other is us.

Maliki is being replaced by a man everyone hopes is more tolerant and acceptable to the Sunnis, Haidar al-Abadi. However, Maliki is claiming the new government is illegal and refuses to step down probably because in Iraq if you can't be The Guy, you many times end up being just another Dead Guy. In the strange bedfellows department, both the U.S. and Iran are applauding the change, as are what appears to be large and important segments of the local Shi'ite leadership. Maliki, despite his bitter caterwauling, looks to be a goner.

While Abadi might make a difference, at least early on, the truth is the situation is so FUBAR now it is nearly impossible to believe Kurdish and Iraqi forces alone can destroy the rogue army of Islamic State. Indeed, the truth is, every gun, bullet, rocket, and tank we give the Iraqi army, given its combat record, could well end up in IS hands.

When it comes to Iraq, Barack Obama is in an untenable position. There is no right decision The republicans will rage and beat their chests and blame him, but they haven't an answer to the crisis either. The American public is loathe to jump into another war, so despite the rumblings of McCain and Graham and because of public opinion, both ends of the spectrum will blame the other, rather than make any sort of real effort to stop the carnage.

Hey, modern military technology can solve a lot of problems, but this isn't one of them. The truth is, unless this nation wants to reinstate the draft and send a half million young people kicking and screaming into the black maw of Mesopotamia for decades, we'll never come close to a solution our western sensibilities are comfortable with and even then it won't be a done deal.

We all know it. The politicians, both dove and hawk, just don't want to admit it.


Friday, August 8, 2014

In Iraq, the First New Step Down the Slippery Slope

Once more unto the breach, dear friends...

From the play, Henry V, by Wild Bill Shakespeare

Yes, it appears we are headed back into that black hole known as Iraq. Even as Barack Obama assures us, "As commander in chief I will not allow America to be dragged into fighting another war in Iraq," he has given the go ahead for deadly force to be used against the loons who call themselves the Islamic State. It is, as they say, the first step down a slippery slope.

MSN reports early this morning a couple of American F/A-18 fighter bombers launched from the carrier George H.W. Bush dropped two laser guided five hundred pound bombs on an IS artillery piece and the truck towing it. There isn't a soul on this world, or any other who doesn't know this is just the beginning.

The ruthless mutants in the Islamic State forces certainly know it. CNN is reporting, one of their spokesmen, Abbu Mosa issued a statement which said, "I say to America that the Islamic Caliphate has been established. Don't be cowards and attacking with drones. Instead send your soldiers, the ones we humiliated in Iraq. We will humiliate them everywhere, God willing, and we will raise the flag of Allah in the White House."

Yeah, yeah--as we say here in the southwest, small dogs bark the loudest. However at least Mosa knows, despite what Obama says, we're on the way and it is just a matter of time before American boots hit the ground. Look at it this way, Mr. Mosa is simply firing up the good ol' boys in the backs of all those Toyota pickups to the reality of it. It is his version of some demented pre-game speech given by the inmate coach of a state prison football team.

What precipitated this latest nightmare was a major defeat suffered by the Kurdish Peshmerga and the suddenly quite real possibility the IS could move into Erbil. Erbil, spelled in some quarters as Irbil, is the home to an American consulate and 400 some odd U.S. troops who are there to protect it. While Obama might say he doesn't want another war in Iraq, he certainly doesn't want the capture, or massacre of hundreds of American servicemen and women. On MSNBC this morning, correspondent Chuck Todd asked a White House spokesperson the obvious question. Given the threat, why don't we evacuate U.S. personnel from the city? The response he received was basically, "because we don't want to."

Ah, there is a reasoned diplomatic answer. In a lot of places such a statement would, or, at least could, be called drawing a line in the sand.

Complicating things further, during all the madness, the IS has managed make even the Taliban look civilized when it comes to the civilian population in the areas it has wrested from the Iraqi government. Reports and videos of beheadings are becoming common place as the militants move through towns and villages. The situation is so dire for religious minorities, the word genocide is now being tossed out to the media to justify intervention. And, honestly, given the IS tendency to brag about and air its barbarity on the internet, such a charge doesn't seem far fetched.

At the moment there are around 40,000 refugees surrounded by militant troops on Mount Sinjar in northern Iraq. They are there because they're either Christian, or Yazidis and collectively were given the offer they couldn't refuse by the troops of Islamic State--either convert to our version of Islam, pay some sort of extortion fee to be left alone, or die. Given the gruesome options they fled from the extremist's advance with little more than the clothes on their back.

On Thursday America transport planes delivered 8,000 meals and 5,300 gallons of water to those stranded there.

Republican senators Lindsey Graham and John McCain, two guys who never saw a war they didn't want us to fight, are hot to trot to send in the marines. A number of months ago McCain and Graham also wanted the United States to intervene in Syria and aid the rebels fighting president Bashar al-Assad. At the time, Islamic State, then going by the name, Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, were fighting on the same side both these distinguished statesmen wanted us to commit American material resources and lives to.

Indeed, irony by any other name is still irony.

We know a few things. One of them is Islamic State is everything the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas wants to be, except they have more people, guns and, because of the incompetence of the Iraqi army, tanks. Two, a couple of bombs and one destroyed artillery piece isn't going to stop them. Three--and this lesson goes way back to the 1940's--unless you are willing to use nukes, air power alone won't defeat someone who is convinced his, or her cause is right. You can kill a lot of people from the air with conventional weapons, but the survivors really get pissed off. Just ask people everywhere from London to Hanoi.

Barack Obama can say he is against another war in Iraq. However, if we are going to really save religious minorities and the Kurds from the evil fucks running this monsterous pogrom, he knows. deep down, we are in for the long haul and--tragically-- many more American and Iraqi casualties can be expected in a place we should have never gone to in the first place.

sic vita est

8-14-14  .

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Another Poll and Gruesome Beasts on Ballots

The good people at NBC and the Wall Street Journal are back to asking Americans questions. What they've found is we're not a happy lot.

In fact the Vox Populi is pretty much disgusted with everyone and everything. According to the poll, Barack Obama's approval rating dropped to 40%, a new low for him. It isn't the only bad news for the president. Only 36% of Americans approve his handling of foreign policy while 43% think he is doing okay on the economy.

Things aren't a lot better for congressional democrats. 31% of those asked consider them favorably and 46% rate them unfavorably. In addition only 43% of those polled say they prefer a congress controlled by the party of Jefferson.


Looking at numbers like these it easy to imagine corks on champagne bottles being popped at the headquarters of places like FreedomWorks and Club for Growth, while Sheldon Adelson yells, "Free drinks for everyone," at a few of his casinos. Not to mention Rush Limbaugh perversely exposing himself on some broad urban avenue as he does the jelly belly to the sounds of Ted Nugent's "Cat Scratch Fever."

Well, GOP movers and shakers might want to keep the bubbly on ice for a little bit longer and Rush should probably hold off on emptying that extra large tube of KY Jelly onto his naked torso just yet.

43% might have said they want a democratic controlled congress, but the republicans could only beat that number by a single point, which is well within the margin of error. What isn't within the margin of error is the mere 19% of Americans who rate republican members of congress favorably as opposed to the 54% who gave them an unfavorable mark. The poll also says the party of Richard M. Nixon trails among women by double digits.

Everyone knows, or should know, both the left and right are going to spin these numbers in the most favorable way and try to discredit the other side's version. In fact the right wing media is already claiming NBC is trying to shift the dissatisfaction with Obama to Washington as a whole.

Actually NBC doesn't have to shift anything. According to the poll a grand total of 79% of everyone asked thinks this congress is unproductive and 50% of those people say it has been very unproductive. 71% believe national economic problems continue due to the inability of all elected officials to get anything done. And while Obama's approval rating is at 40%, the number of people approving of congress right now is 14%. It is the 7th straight time over a three year period the figure has stayed under 19%.

While all that is appalling the most frightening number to emerge is the 79%  who said they weren't only dissatisfied with the players, but the entire political system. That's right, nearly eight out of every ten people who were asked are so pissed off at what is going on in Washington they seem to be saying they'd like to toss out everything--what they want to replace it with is a little scary to contemplate.

Meanwhile, up in Iowa presidential hopeful, Rand Paul told a crowd of believers there is nothing wrong with GOP policy, it is just that if people don't think you care about them they won't listen to your ideas.

In order to dispel the entire notion of republicans not caring about people the party had two candidates to choose from in the senate primary held in Kansas yesterday.

The incumbent, Pat Roberts has been in congress so long his permanent home is in northern Virginia. His voting residence is a room he supposedly rents from a political supporter in the state.

What an asshole, right? He's Exactly the type of guy all those poll results say America is fed up with. His opponent was a fire breathing tea party type named Milton Wolf who, coincidentally, is a distant relative of Barack Obama. He is also a doctor and a kind of of political newbie--which made him the perfect sort to take out some dude who, as they say, is part of the problem.

NBC is reporting Roberts won the race, despite all his baggage. One of the main reasons he did is during the campaign a Topeka newspaper found out in January of 2010, Dr. Wolf posted a bunch of patient X-rays on his Facebook page along with some, let's say, morbid jokes about their conditions.

On his campaign website Wolf claimed he was against Obamacare because, in his words, it was "immoral."

While it might be tough for the senator from Kentucky to fathom how millions of people can come to the conclusion republicans don't care about them, less than 24 hours ago there was a major hint in Kansas.

Hey, it's just an observation..


Monday, August 4, 2014

Judge Thompson's Decision in Alabama

U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson has an opinion and it is a lengthy one. In fact it is 172 pages long. The gist of it is an Alabama law which requires doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital is just so much bull shit.

All right, we all know he didn't use that particular term, but he did say the law, "unduly hampers a woman's ability to obtain the medical procedure." According to the AP, he also wrote the state legislature of Alabama exceeded their authority when they passed the act.

Similar pieces of "legislation" are floating around all over the place. Usually that is an indication some shadowy big money outfit, like Heritage Action, Club for Growth, or FreedomWorks came up with it in draft form. Afterward, "the bill" is passed on to rubes in state houses everywhere so they can alter it just enough to give it a local flavor and claim responsibility for it.

There are couple of reasons guys like the Koch brothers have their people pull these back room acts of slight of hand. First, such laws have about as much chance of passing the United States Senate, or getting by a presidential veto as somebody does hitting the Power Ball lottery jackpot. Second, they know, better than anyone, your average tea party crank who represents a district in, say, Beaver County, Oklahoma is far more adept at doodling with crayons than drafting actual legislation.

The recommended, not to mention, quite canned, argument low level conservatives use when they defend this particular idea is they are concerned for the safety of the woman who is having the procedure performed. As state representative, Randy Grau said of the Oklahoma version, "If you are performing this type of surgery on an individual it just makes sense that you would have admitting privileges to a nearby hospital so you could continue the care of the patient."

Grau's statement is such utter nonsense, no one, not even the people who vote for him, buy into it. The whole point of these laws--while leaving a woman's choice to have an abortion technically legal--is to make it impossible for her to obtain one. It is rather like telling a person smoking marijuana is perfectly fine, however you can't buy, sell, grow, or possess it without being charged as a felon.

Judge Thompson did say his ruling on the law is not final and he will allow both sides to submit further, written, arguments. A similar law was blocked recently in Mississippi. The AP noted courts have voided nearly identical legislation in Kansas and Wisconsin, although it remains unchallenged in Missouri, North Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah. The Oklahoma law will come into effect later this year. It remains to be seen if anyone will step up with the money and expertise in these locales to sue, even though, given the recent decisions, a precedent has now been set and as we know, a federal  judge, any federal judge,  is loathe to overturn a  precedent.

In the final analysis, for all their indignant blathering about too many laws and government overreach into the personal lives of American citizens, these terrible and crazed right wing mutants love to pass measure after measure which are far more invasive than anything liberals do.

The truth is conservatives don't care about a woman's safety during an abortion and they certainly don't give a rat's ass about children, unborn, or born. They simply want women to stop having casual sex and be good--well, either that, or they want to make sure those nasty sluts only give head.

Hey, given their demeanor and day to day behavior, the odds on that bet are about even.