Saturday, January 31, 2015

Mitt Quits and Sarah Takes the Final Bullet to Her Foot

It would seem Mitt Romney actually can read the writing on the wall. On Friday he made it perfectly clear he wouldn't be running a third time for the big white house at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. That sigh of relief you heard shortly after his announcement came from the GOP movers and shakers who consider themselves the mainstream. You know, the ones who aren't supporters of the chock full o nuts wing known as the tea party.

While Romney led in many current polls among republicans most of the big money people know exactly how many times a two time loser has been successful winning a presidential election on his third try. That would be zero, as in nil, or as we all might end up saying one day, nada.

Actually the only people who were truly in favor of Romney getting in were the yokels who would have never voted for him in the first place. People like the functionally insane Brent Bozell, the ultra conservative faux author and pal of Sean Hannity. Bozell and his crowd wanted Romney in because he would, in theory, split the moderate vote with Jeb Bush which would allow some cracker like Ted Cruz, or Mike Huckabee to waltz into the 2016 convention as the nominee.

So much for that crafty plan. There will be plenty of short term speculation about why Romney fell on his sword. Some of it will even center around his wife, Ann, who seemed dead set against him running even as he was testing the waters. The Washington Post ran a piece which claims Mr. Mitt saw the results of the latest Iowa poll and decided enough was enough. The poll, conducted by the Des Moines Register and Bloomberg showed that while 57% of Iowa republicans viewed him favorably a full 40% consider him unfavorable. In addition 45% of them didn't want him to run. Those are pretty tough numbers among the faithful, especially when you consider Jeb Bush is going to be in the same field twelve months from now.

Of course Bush's presence in the race might have been the true deciding factor. Bush has the pedigree, the connections, and seemingly the momentum to be the new standard bearer for what passes as the middle of the party. Indeed--why back a guy who couldn't beat John McCain in 2008 and then choked against Barack Obama four years later when there is a fresh new face in the crowd. One who not only isn't a certified loser, but hasn't publicly babbled on about focusing his campaign on helping the needy and narrowing the income gap between the very rich and the working poor.

Saying crazed shit like that in front of GOP hot shots, which Romney did a few weeks ago, will lead many to conclude you've either spent too much time in a Colorado pot emporium, or you have suffered a psychotic break.

Speaking of which, Sarah Palin was in Iowa last week in order to attend something called the Iowa Freedom Summit. Within hours after telling the Washington Post she was, "seriously interested," in making a run for the presidency, Ms. Palin delivered a speech which was apparently so aggressively disjointed, clichéd, and self pitying even some of her past defenders declared her incompetent.

Well these things happen--for some people the light bulb simply turns on later than it does for others.

So now we're officially rid of Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin seems to have, at last, put the final and fatal bullet into her foot. Not all the faces left are new. Mike Huckabee's certainly isn't, neither is Rick Perry's, or former senator Rick Santorum's. All three of them have been to the big dance before, although the only one who had a modicum of success was Santorum, who served as the ultra rights last stand against the Mittster three years ago.

Yes, many will hit the trail, but only one will reach the end successfully. At this early date it is hard to handicap the coming race, but one has to think Bush will be tough to handle outside of the deep south.

Whatever the case, don't touch that dial. Things are just getting interesting.


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Sally Kern's Last Ride: Three Bills in the Works and a Dead Heat on the West Side of Oklahoma City

Just about everyone will admit it is easy to rag on Oklahoma state representative Sally Kern. Let's face it her homophobic rants are so crude and hateful they've made both national news and the late night talk show circuit. Usually everyone references her infamous remark about homosexuality being more dangerous to the country than terrorism. That is a simplification of the history lesson she, as a former teacher, was actually trying to impart.  The exact quote reads this way, "Studies show that no society that has totally embraced homosexuality has lasted more than, you know, a few decades. So it is the death knell of this country. I honestly believe it's the biggest threat that our nation has, even more so than terrorism, or Islam--which I think is a big threat, okay."

That's right, studies show. Unfortunately for academics everywhere no one has ever been sure of what studies she was citing, when they took place, or which societies have actually fallen victim to the clutches of gay equality throughout the millennia. It should also be noted, everyone always skips over the inclusion of Islam on this terrible rocky shore the great ship known as America is threatened by. How can that be in this day and age?

Perhaps in Sally's weird little world they are all in it together. That would be a summit worth witnessing--gay men, drag queens, and stone cold lesbians on one side of the table while al-Qaeda, ISIS, and Hamas sit on the other--all of them plotting the down fall of the United States.

See, just the mention of her name invites an at length and surreal digression.

In todays, The Oklahoman, there was a story about the plucky little republican. She has been busily writing bills, three in fact. The first says no taxpayer money, or government salaries can be used to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples, or in support of them. The "in support of them" part of the proposed law is a little fuzzy, but when it comes to the marriage licenses the author is more specific. A federal court may have said it is legal for gays to get married in Oklahoma, but if Sally Kern has her way it will become illegal for any city, county, or state official to issue them a marriage license, or for the state to even pay for the paper it is printed on. One local source, "The Lost Ogle," goes so far as to say the act includes wording which calls for the dismissal of any judge who rules the bill bat shit bill crazy and unconstitutional.

The second piece of legislation concerns gay and transgendered teen agers under 18. It says the parents of such a child have every right to send their kid off to what is known as, conversion therapy. Conversion therapy is, in its most basic form, nothing more than aversion therapy. You know--show a 15 year old boy a picture of some half naked stud and if he gets an erection whack him in the back of the head with a baseball bat. After repeating the treatment fifteen or twenty times the youth's brain might be turned into a horrific, suicidal, mush, but he will have achieved Mom and Dad's desired conversion.

The third bill is basically a nostalgic trip into yester-year. If it is passed any business in the state that wants can refuse to seat, sell to, or serve gays, or transgendered people. In fact you'll be able to post a sign on the front door of your gun range, or convenience store that says something like, "No Queers Allowed."

We've been there before haven't we? Well, at least some of us have.

One would like to think none of this nonsense will make it out of the house, or at least the senate, but you never know. Sally Kern was sworn in as a state legislator in January of 2005. She has been spewing this vile crap ever since. In all those years she has never even been pushed in an election. In fact she is such an institution during the years 2006, 2012, and 2014 she ran unopposed in the general election. The only reason we'll be rid of her in 2016 is because of the Oklahoma term limits law.

Yeah, it might be easy to rag on Sally Kern, but thanks to the voters of House District 84 and an utterly powerless democratic party we certainly couldn't run the awful crone out of office.

All of which raises the question--who is worse--Kern and her politics, or the people on the west side of Oklahoma City who have elected her six times?

In the end it appears to be a dead heat.

sic vita est


Saturday, January 24, 2015

Run, Sarah, Run

Yesterday in the lobby of a Des Moines, Iowa Marriott Sarah Palin had this to say to the Washington Post about the upcoming presidential race: "You can absolutely say that I'm seriously interested. Who wouldn't be interested? Who wouldn't be interested when they've been blessed with opportunities to speak about what is important to this country and for this country."

Well why not? The republican field is already full of has beens and losers. There is plenty of room in that great muddy pond for Mrs. Palin too.

Let's face it, when you take a long look at the likes of Rick Perry, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Rick Santorum, Ben Carson, Chris Christie and even Mitt--by God--Romney there must be a huge temptation to think, Buggers, I can't do any worse than these guys. Indeed, given the current list of candidates one can almost imagine Michele Bachmann showing up tomorrow on Meet the Press saying she is considering another run.

The terrible truth is there are huge segments of the GOP who are completely out of touch with reality. Palin is in Iowa in order to attend what is being called the Iowa Freedom Summit. It is being hosted by Representative Steve King, R-IA, who the Post describes as a hard liner against immigration reform.

Right. There is nothing which will attract the elusive Hispanic demographic--you know, the one that sent Mitt Romney into the tank--than an Anglo-Saxon republican who wants to deport everyone who learned English as a second language.

According to the Post, others in attendance were Senator Mike Lee, R-UT--the guy who caddies for Ted Cruz in the upper chamber--the aforementioned Rick Santorum, and even that ghost of primaries past, Newt Gingrich.

No wonder Jeb Bush has donned his running shoes. If abject idiots like Palin are in the mix it simply makes him appear more and more like the only viable candidate in 2016--at least to those in the party who remain ostensibly in control of their full mental capacities.

Unfortunately for Jeb the functionally sane republicans seem to be shrinking in number. The hard right, which includes Palin and people like Lee and Cruz, trend toward an American version of the Japanese code of Bushido. They'd rather go down in flames than make any concessions. Yes, for the true believers it is better to lose with their concept of honor intact rather than compromise. For them it is the whole pie, or none of it at all.

This philosophy and attitude, at least in part, explains the presence of Barack H. Obama in the Oval Office.

Bush knows it far too well. His job is to overcome these suicidal tendencies next spring and summer. Whether he can, or not is the big question.

Palin told the Post she didn't feel rushed to make a final decision about 2016. Ah, as always, she is such a tease. Trust me Governor, I believe I speak for almost everyone on this side of the aisle when I say to you--run, Sarah, run. The idea of you in the presidential primaries is just too delicious to want otherwise. It's probably the only thing Jeb Bush and I will ever agree on.



Thursday, January 22, 2015

Jim Inhofe is a Little Fuzzy on the Concepts

It would take years to list all the things that are wrong about Oklahoma republican senator, Jim Inhofe. He is by every reasonable measure, a shameless oil industry shill, a liar, and a hypocrite. He is also quite possibly both the meanest and stupidest man currently sitting in the Senate--and given some of the vile characters in the upper chamber at this moment that's saying a lot.

Senator Inhofe has spent years claiming that climate change in general and global warming in particular is a hoax. He even wrote a book about it three years ago, titled, "The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future." That's right all these disparate scientists, from dozens of fields, have gotten together and decided to, according to Inhofe, cripple the American economy in order to fulfill their extremist ecological views. The senator has never told us exactly when, or where this nefarious cabal came together in order to hatch their dastardly plot, but then he has never been accused of being a detail oriented sort of guy.

Given his history it must have come to a shock to many of his colleagues when he co-sponsored a one sentence amendment to a bill yesterday which read, "It is the sense of the Senate that climate change is real and not a hoax."

It is unclear if Ted Cruz choked on his tongue when he realized Inhofe had a part in the amendment.

Not to worry though, The Oklahoman's Chris Casteel writes, Inhofe explained himself this way, "(The) Climate is changing. Climate has always changed and always will. There is archaeological evidence of that, there is biblical evidence of that. It will always change." According to Casteel he went on to say, "The hoax is that there are some people who are so arrogant to think they are so powerful they can change climate. Man can't change climate."

Sure, other people disagree with him on the subject, but they're all a bunch of scientists and don't have the extensive background in aviation, real estate, and insurance than James Mountain Inhofe has. That's right, how many of the so called scholars can say they were the president of Quaker Life Insurance when it went into the tank like he can. Besides, none of those crazed liberals are on the take from the people who really know what is going on--the oil companies.

As you can probably guess Senator Inhofe doesn't agree with President Obama a whole lot--actually he doesn't agree with him ever. The other day after the president's state of the union speech he issued a statement which, in part, said, "The truth about this tax package, (which was proposed in the address) is that it will crush our farmers and ranchers ability to stay in business. It's just more of the president's socialist agenda."

There is our Jim, looking out for all the farmers and ranchers. This despite the fact he is a huge fan of the Keystone XL pipeline which will slice right through the center of hundreds if not thousands of those same ranches and farms.

Yesterday the Los Angeles Times published a story about 90 Nebraska property owners fighting the TransCanada Corporation who wants to build the Keystone XL. TransCanada has run into so much local resistance they've gone to the state government to initiate a campaign of eminent domain. In this case it means they can build their pipeline across a farmer's land even if the owner doesn't want them to and at a price determined by the corporation without any negotiation.

The Times quoted Jeanne Crumly, whose family has been farming the same land for over 100 years as saying, "(The pipeline) is simply a for profit  venture and they're asking landowners to accommodate that. There is no compelling reason whatsoever any of us would want this to go through our land, our state. There is no benefit to our personal property, or our state."

Another Nebraska farmer, Nancy Allpress said, "This is a foreign owned company coming in and exercising eminent domain against our will for a project we believe is of no benefit to the United States."

They're right when they say the pipeline is of no benefit to either Nebraska, or the United States, with the exception of a few oil refineries in the Houston area. That's because almost all that Canadian crude is going to be exported to places far, far away. The existence of the Keystone XL will do absolutely nothing to lessen this country's dependence on foreign oil. It will however make huge bucks for TransCanada.

So there we have it. Jim Inhofe says Barack Obama has a socialist agenda. This despite a soaring stock market the likes of which Ron Reagan could only dream about, plus an ever widening income gap between the wealthiest one percent and the rest of us. Meanwhile he thinks it is just fine for a state government to allow a rogue foreign corporation to plow right through the middle of some Americans private property without their permission and at a price they don't agree to.

It appears someone around here is a little fuzzy on the concepts of  big government and socialism.

Well these things happen when you are busy exposing hoaxes perpetrated by...arrogant people who think they are so powerful...

Hey, there are a lot of things happening and a senator really can't focus on everything at once. Sometimes it is inevitable there will be inconsistencies. If James Mountain Inhofe proves anything during his career it will certainly be that.


Monday, January 19, 2015

Monday Dispatches: Taylor Swift Gets Used By John Boehner, The President on the Rise, and Mitt Drops Acid

The Christian Science Monitor is reporting Speaker of the House, John Boehner, the wild hipster that he is, recently enlisted the help of pop star, Taylor Swift. According to the Monitor, Boehner's people released what is called a "listicle"--a series of Swift's GIFs separated by snippets of  text--in this case slamming Obama's proposal to provide free tuition for students wishing to enroll in community colleges.

The message itself is the typical republican bull shit about how Obama will have to pay for it with tax increases, or the whole idea will burden the next generation with a larger national debt. However the use of the GIFs and the presence of Ms. Swift dancing around and doing things like smashing out the head light of a sports car with a tire tool,  gives the stale and glum politics a sort of 21st century, with it, feel. You can hardly blame the Boehner camp for going this route. After all, they are trying to convince the very people the proposal will help that it is somehow bad for them.

Ah, very clever indeed, but the Monitor notes there might be a problem. No one, at this point, knows if Swift is aware her images are being used, if she is actually against the community college idea, or, ultimately, if she even knows what it is. Given those possibilities, it may turn out she thinks she is being exploited by a dirty old man for his own selfish purposes. If she does this whole thing could blow up in Boehner's face. The Monitor reports, the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives has 314,000 followers on Twitter. Taylor Swift has 51 million. If she does get mad about the use of her likeness in Boehner's campaign we can safely assume each and every one of those 51 million people are going to hear about it.

In other news a new Washington Post/ABC poll shows the president's approval rating has hit 50% for the first time since the spring of 2013. The online article by the Post says in the last month alone Obama's approval rating jumped nine points while his disapproval number dropped by ten.

According to the poll the president's biggest gains were among democrats--up 10%, political moderates--up 10%, Hispanics--up 22%, and adults under 30--you know that Taylor Swift demographic--up 19%.

The Post claims the economy is the driving force behind the improving numbers, although, at least with Hispanic voters, you would have to think his executive actions on immigration reform would certainly have something to do with it.

Of course the opposition to America's first African American president remains fierce. 35% of those polled strongly oppose him, while 24% strongly support him. Among republicans his approval rating is 14%.

Finally word comes to us, via the Los Angeles Times, Mitt Romney spoke to a bevy of republicans over the weekend in, California. His message was so bizarre that one could reasonably speculate Mr. Romney had dropped a large dose of window pane acid about an hour before delivering his speech.

The Times reports the two time presidential loser promised the crowd if he ran a third time for the office his campaign would focus on fighting income inequality and poverty.

That's right, the guy who just under three years ago told supporters he would never get the vote of 47% of the people, because they were dependent on the government and later claimed he lost the election because Barack Obama gave "gifts" to blacks, Latinos, and young voters, is now, according to him, their new champion.

The Times quoted one former aid as saying, "I don't understand the angle he is taking. I don't understand why it is one of his three talking points. I'm still trying to sort that out."

Well, let's face it, there is no sorting out the ravings of a man deep in the throes of an acid binge. No, it is best to just let him jabber on for a few hours after making sure all the cutlery is locked up.

Mr. Romney's chance for another republican nomination was tenuous at best before this weekend. After his latest performance it is, at the moment, non-existent.

So now we must ask ourselves at least three questions. Will John Boehner start twerking at news conferences in further efforts to attract young voters?  Is Obama's sudden and positive bump in popularity simply an anomaly which will fade as quickly as it appeared? Then, lastly, what sort of awful rehab facility will Mitt Romney end up in after the intervention?

Many will ponder these mysteries in the coming days. There is no telling when the answers will come.

And with that, for obvious reasons, the bar is open.


Saturday, January 17, 2015

Simulations in Plano, A Gun Sale in Cincinnati, The American Way, and One is Born Every Minute

I still got killed, but I did better than I thought I would.

Matthew Parks

There is a bit of optimism you don't usually hear from someone who is supposedly a corpse. Mr. Parks was a volunteer in a number of simulations of the Charlie Hebdo attack which were held in Plano, Texas this past week. The tests were conducted by an outfit called, The Truth About Guns. It is an organization which appears to be an offshoot of the NRA, or at least some mutant hybrid of it.

The objective of the simulation, using paint ball guns, was to prove if there had been some Charlie Hebdo staffer in those Paris offices armed with a semi automatic weapon, the nightmare could have been prevented, or at least lessened. The U.S. version of the Guardian reports the results weren't entirely to the liking of The Truth About Guns.

Two volunteers played the roles of Cherif and Said Kouachi. Others acted as the victims of the savage attack. What happened depends on who you read. The Guardian story, written by Alan Yuhas, claims the armed defender nailed one of the attackers only twice out of nine times and never got both. The Truth About Guns site says one terrorist was shot seven out of the nine tests, but admits the second gunman was never touched and was able to run as wildly amok as he wanted. In every instance, but one, all twelve volunteers playing the staff of the satirical magazine, including the guy with the gun defending them, were killed. In the single scenario where someone escaped, the person fled as soon as he, or she heard gunfire.

What TTAG doesn't say is that in each of the simulations, the participants playing the victims, and the "armed civilian" as he was called, knew the attack was coming. They might not have known the exact moment, or from where, but they did know and despite the foreknowledge and the presence of an armed person, the body count remained terribly constant. The poor schmucks at Charlie Hebdo, even if one of them had a gun, didn't have that advantage.

So much for the fanciful, "The only thing that will stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with one," argument.

It is probably time to face a gruesome reality. People like the NRA and The Truth About Guns actually want bad guys to have firearms. There is very little doubt they believe it is the most effective way they can convince people like you and me to go out and buy one so we can defend home and hearth. Hey, nothing sells a gun quicker than paranoia.

Think not?

Yesterday, Raheel Mahrus Ubaydah, nee Christopher Lee Cornell  was denied bail in federal court. Mr. Ubaydah, of the greater Cincinnati metro area, has been charged with plotting to attack the capitol of the United States of America. The working theory is he was going to explode pipe bombs and shoot elected officials and employees.

His father, John Cornell claims his son was set up by a, "snitch" and is a "mommy's boy." According to Mr. Cornell, 20 year old Raheel still lives at home, is usually unemployed, and spends hours in his room playing video games.

We've certainly heard that before. In fact Mr. Ubaydah sounds disturbingly like Adam Lanza, the Newtown, CT shooter, only with religion. He was arrested by the FBI in a sporting goods store parking lot immediately after legally buying two semi automatic rifles and 600 rounds of ammunition. It was a purchase the people at The Truth About Guns and the NRA insist he, as an American citizen, should have the absolute right to make.

Now the TTAG site is saying guys like Raheel Mahrus Ubaydah are the reason you and I should immediately go out and arm ourselves.

I know, it gets a little dizzying, but these shills for the gun manufacturers remain confident in the inability of large numbers of Americans to see their despicable symbiotic relationship with the evil and insane. Indeed, as long as they can keep those fuckers armed, they can convince the rest of us we must be also.

According to them, this awful duplicity is called, The American Way. Tragically, too many of us have bought into their cynical and deadly bullshit.

Yes, even in this day and age it would seem, P.T. Barnum was right. There is a sucker born every minute.

sic vita est


Thursday, January 15, 2015

Mike Has Concerns While The Righteous and Has-Beens Crowd the Field

Mike Huckabee has some concerns regarding the children of Barack and Michelle Obama. The reasons why are probably connected to him eyeing the big white house located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in 2016, although, right now anyway, the smart money is saying if he does walk through those grand doors it will be as just another tourist. He, like most of the crowd of rubes and losers vying for the republican nomination, are, at the moment, running hard against Mr. Obama, despite the fact the president's name won't be on any ballot next year.

In that vein, the other day, the former Arkansas governor went so far as to question the Obamas child raising skills. According to him, "...they don't see anything that might, or might not be suitable for either a preteen, or teen in some of the lyrical content and choreography of Beyoncé, who has sort of a regular key to the door (of the White House)." He went on to add Beyoncé's husband, Jay Z, "is arguably crossing the line from husband to pimp by exploiting his wife as a sex object."

That's right, forget the third Iraq war which is looming on the horizon, immigration reform, health care, and a myriad of other issues--the greatest threat to the future of the republic is some pop singer and her husband.

So what sort of family entertainment does Governor Huckabee think we should all be enjoying? According to him he is a huge fan of the reality TV show, "19 and Counting" and its star, Jim Bob Duggar.

Given his apparent tastes one has to wonder if Mr. Huckabee was shattered by the cancellation of another reality show, "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo."

Actually the Governor, when he isn't lecturing the Obamas on what they let their kids see, is a big fan of the family friendly rock band, The Rolling Stones. So much so he once scored a back stage pass to one of their concerts. He also brags, "One of my last acts as governor was to issue a pardon for a traffic violation he (Keith Richards) had in 1975 when he and Ronnie Wood were driving through Arkansas. He got pulled over for a reckless driving charge."

So there we have it. Long before he condemned Beyoncé and Jay Z for lewd and lascivious behavior Big Mike was happy to fix a ticket handed out to a known drug abuser for driving wildly out of control on the highways of Arkansas. In some quarters this is known as flexibility. In others there is a harsher term for it.

Elsewhere Mitt Romney has begun talking about making a third run at the presidency. For the most part the news has been met with utter indifference from republicans. It is reported Romney's 2012 congressional liaison, Senator Roy Blunt, R-MO was so unimpressed he told an interviewer he might support a candidate coming out of the senate. Other former supporters said things like they would, "wait and see" and "reserve judgment."

Such is the fate of a two time loser in the biggest game of all. Of course Romney wasn't trusted by the hard right edge of the party even after he won the nomination three years ago. In fact if the ultra conservatives could have settled on one candidate that spring and summer, rather than bouncing willy-nilly back and forth between a handful of them, Mr. Mitt would have never made it to the 2012 convention.

Which brings us to former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum. Santorum won 11 primaries and caucuses three years ago, mainly because Romney was so distasteful to the fractured mob known as the tea party . He will be in Scottsdale, AZ this weekend, meeting with advisors and some big money people in order to lay the strategic ground work for a second helping of presidential politics next year.

Yes the field is growing crowded with the righteous and has-beens and it will get nasty before it is over. The party leadership knows it too. That is why they are limiting the number of primary debates this time out and have even moved up the date of the convention. Indeed, keep the blood letting to a minimum early on. There will be more than enough of that when it comes time to face Hillary Rodham Clinton.

sic vita est


Monday, January 12, 2015

Fox News Flash: Birmingham, England is Totally Muslim

According to Steven Emerson's web site he is, "one of the leading authorities on Islamic extremist networks and financing operations." In addition he, "frequently provides briefings to U.S. government and law enforcement agencies, members of congress, and congressional committees."

Hey, he certainly appears to be the go to guy when it comes to background and intel on Islamist terror groups doesn't he?

Yesterday Emerson sounded the alarm on the creeping Islamic threat in Europe and Britain. He appeared on Jeanine Pirro's Fox News show informing both her and the viewing audience that Birmingham, England is "totally Muslim," and a place, "non Muslims just simply don't go in." It didn't stop there. He claimed there were certain areas of London where Islamic police roamed the streets beating anyone who, "didn't dress according to religious Muslim attire."

Ms. Pirro responded to the shocking revelation by saying, "You know what it sounds like to me, Steve? It sounds like a Caliphate within a particular country."

Holy Shiite! What the hell is going on over there? No doubt many a fan of Fox immediately took to their Facebook and Twitter accounts in order to spread the word of this insidious take over of England's second largest city and British society altogether.

Unfortunately for Fox and Brother Emerson there are people who actually live in the United Kingdom who watched the broadcast. David Cameron, the British prime minister, was one of them. His initial reaction to the report was, "This guy is clearly a complete idiot."

Who can blame him for coming to such a blunt conclusion? The latest census of Birmingham, a city of 1.1 million people, showed the population was 22% Muslim. You don't have to be much of a math whiz to run the numbers. Simply subtract 22 from 100 and you'll see that 78% of everyone else in town isn't a Muslim.

This isn't the first time Steve Emerson has riled up the right wing fringe with tales of Islamic treachery. After the Boston Marathon bombing he told Fox News host, Sean Hannity government sources had assured him a Saudi national was involved in the plot. Within hours fellow traveler, Glenn Beck, a guy so crazy even Fox got rid of him, was claiming on his radio show the Obama administration had whisked the alleged criminal out of the country on the sly at the behest of the Saudi government.

Not one bit of it was true, but it made for great radio and fed that ever hungry conspiracy theory beast.

The entire transcript of the informative little chat with Pirro is still on Emerson's web site, although he prefaces it with an extended apology to the, "beautiful city of Birmingham." It remains unclear how he knows if Birmingham is beautiful, or not since the silly son of a bitch has obviously never been there. He also says he will make a donation to the town's children's hospital.

Yes, that is all fine and good, however there is still a problem here in the states. The vast majority of the people who saw his assessment of both Birmingham and London will never see the apology. They will go their merry way claiming vast portions of the UK are either forbidden to non Muslims, or are too dangerous to enter unless you're a crazed member of al-Qaeda. They will, in fact, end up being carted away to their graves believing it.

It has happened before. Prior to Barack H. Obama winning his first term in the White House, Fox News reported he received some of his early education from a radical Islamist madrasa in Indonesia. The whole "radical Islamist madrasa" part of the story, which is what they wanted to stay with you, was utter bullshit. To this day I know people who still believe the report was accurate.

So there, in a nutshell, is the nature of journalism in the 21st century. There is red news and blue news and never shall the twain meet.

As for fact checking? Well that part of the profession, as we saw yesterday, has gone the way of the Dodo.

Somewhere in the chilly burg of Oklahoma City my high school journalism teacher, Mrs. Ward, is weeping.


Saturday, January 10, 2015

Je Suis Charlie Hebdo: Some Chasms are Just Too Deep and Wide

Some people who feel crushed, or ignored will go toward extremism and they will use religion because that is what they have at hand.

Said Ferjani, an official of  Tunisia's mainstream Islamist Party

What has ISIS done that Muhammad did not do?

Ahmed Harqan, an Egyptian atheist.

Both quotes are found in a New York Times article examining the ongoing debate between Muslims about how their religion is perceived by others. It is a discussion worth having because, let's face it, among tens of millions of non-believers that perception is not very flattering at the moment.

In the wake of the brutal assaults on the offices of the French magazine, Charlie Hebdo and a Parisian kosher grocery store this week the cultural and religious divide between Islam and others, especially Europeans and North Americans, seems as vast and dark as the space between here and the moon.

Many agnostics and atheists will point out the history of Christianity is rife with  intolerance, violence, and racism and they'd be right. In fact, since the fall of the Roman Empire, it is easy to think all religion, not just Islam, is to blame for a vast majority of the world's conflicts. Still, when you watch either Said, or Cherif Kouachi calmly stroll down a Paris sidewalk, then murder a prostrate cop--one who ironically happened to be Muslim--it is tough for many not to associate modern terrorism and extreme violence with Islam.

Clerics of every religion have and will continue to call for peace and respect among all faiths. Panels and conferences will be convened. Sincere talks will be held and reasonable theologians will agree we all just need to get along.

It is easier said than done. On one hand you have western culture which believes anyone can say or print whatever the hell they want. To paraphrase the publisher of Hustler magazine, Larry Flynt, "What good is freedom of speech if you can't offend someone?" It's a concept completely removed from religion which stands separate and is subject to the same criticism and satire as any other part of society, including the government, political leaders, and anyone who has gained even a moment of fame.

There is no such separation in Islam. Religion and culture are so intertwined they are inseparable. To parody one is to parody both. Even if a western satirist realizes the interconnection he, or she will gleefully ignore that the joke, as it were, is considered a deep insult in Islamic culture. In the end the author, or cartoonist applies western standards to a culture which quite simply isn't western. The wild anger it inspires, even that which calls for a violent response causes the artist to push the envelope even further, because no one--by God--will dictate to him, or her what he, or she can, or can't say. In America and Europe the violence perpetrated this week is, first, unfathomable and second, it is insanely out of proportion to the act which provoked it. Throw in an Islamic judicial code deeply rooted in a book authored in the early middle ages and horror and revulsion, not to mention varying degrees of condescension and contempt, sweeps through the average western psyche.

Think not? Ask yourself  what you think of a report in the Los Angeles Times regarding Mr. Raif  Badawi. He ran a reformist blog and web site in Saudi Arabia. He was convicted, not of treason, or sedition, but of "insulting Islam." He was sentenced to seven years and 600 lashes. Then he really fucked up. He appealed the decision and the appellate court hit him with 10 years, a $250,000 fine, and 1,000 lashes to be administered 50 at a time over his sentence. All that for doing what I'm doing right now. In addition the Times reports two Saudi women will be tried in an anti terrorist court for driving cars, which is in violation of the law there.

Is it just me, or is it a bit tough to reconcile Saudi Arabia's peculiar sense of justice with the knowledge they're on our side in the fight against ISIS--that we consider them, like us, the good guys.

There are hundreds of millions of Muslims who would rather not have anything to do with people like Said and Cherif Kouachi and Amedy Coulibaly--the guy who killed a woman cop, then four hostages in the Kosher grocery. However, that doesn't mean the average westerner will ever be able to see Islamic culture as compatible with ours. At least not until they can take a joke like the rest of us.

Indeed, some chasms are just too deep and too wide for it to ever happen.

sic vita est


Thursday, January 8, 2015

It Didn't Take Long for Representative Steve Russell to Figure it Out

In France the authorities are currently hunting down a couple of mad dogs. Here in the states at least one freshman congressman found out what it is like when you pander to the ultra right in order to get elected, then don't do exactly what they want.

In this morning's The Oklahoman, Chris Casteel reports it didn't take long for Steve Russell, the state's new fifth district congressman from Oklahoma City, to figure out just how nuts some of his constituency is. Casteel writes Russell's Facebook page was inundated with outraged messages after he voted to keep John Boehner as speaker of the house.

Yes, it would seem Mr. Boehner is, to the surprise of many of us, a sort of closet liberal. His ultimate crime isn't that he agrees with, or supports Barack Obama, but every now and then he is willing to compromise with the president. For that offense many living on the fringe believe he is a traitor to the cause--a fiendish apostate undermining the will of those who are awash in the true faith. The Oklahoman's Washington Bureau chief quoted one woman as telling Russell, "As a Christian we thought you would stand against evil, but with the first vote you have proven to be weak and one who is going to continue to cave to political pressure." Casteel says the woman also told the representative she was sorry her family had put one of his campaign signs in their yard.

According to the story, Russell was surprised by not only the number of messages, but the "uncivil" nature of some of the posts. Oh really, congressman? Exactly what type of wankers did you think were showing up at your rallies this past fall? They certainly weren't members of the Colin Powell fan club.

Just to prove he might be nearly as bats as the people he pissed off, Russell responded on Facebook with a rambling metaphor involving the old testament story of Daniel and Nebuchadnezzar.

It is safe to say the other three Oklahoma members of the house who voted for Boehner received the same sort of responses Russell did. Casteel says republican Tom Cole, who represents the fourth district, was in particular, the target of wild hysteria. After the vote on Tuesday he had called the opposition to Boehner, by members of the GOP," unprofessional."

In all, 25 house republicans, including Tulsa's Jim Bridenstine saved themselves some online grief by voting against the speaker. Being tea party hacks, none of them had a clue when it came to who they thought should actually be in charge of the lower chamber. All any of them knew was they didn't want it to be the old pinko appeaser, John Boehner. In the aftermath that particular posse can count on being stuck in the outback by Boehner who happens to be in charge of  handing out committee assignments. Bridenstine, himself, is most likely a candidate for the House Select Sub-Committee studying the energy potential of dung beetle farts.

Meanwhile the president has dusted off the veto stamp because he understands the GOP's idea of bi-partisanship is him doing everything they want, no matter how outlandish. He also knows the chances of a veto being overridden are next to nil.

So look for gridlock to continue. The only difference from this point until the next election cycle is the republicans will be blaming President Obama and democrats for the dysfunction, rather than the other way around.

In the middle of it all you can look for Steve Russell to kow tow to the tea party mob with an occasional histrionic address on the floor of the house, or possibly a vote along the lines of deporting everyone whose last name ends in a vowel. After all, you can cross those people only so many times before they find someone even crazier than you--then try to get him, or her elected to your seat.

sic vita est


Monday, January 5, 2015

Here They All Come for 2016

Here they all come. They aren't pushing or jostling yet, at least not in earnest, but they are out there, working those select crowds, looking for the big bucks it will take to win the 2016 republican nomination.

There is now no doubt Jeb Bush is in. The Washington Post's Mike Cillizza reported yesterday the former Florida governor and the third member of the Bush family to seek the presidency has not only formed what is being called a "Leadership PAC," but has resigned his spots on various corporate and non profit boards. You don't do those sorts of things unless you've already traded your Burberry suit in for a pair of running shoes and shorts.

In addition it appears former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee is ready to take the plunge. Cillizza writes he has quit his Fox News show because, in the words of the Huckster, "I cannot bring myself to rule out another presidential run." While Huckabee might be confusing television ratings with actual votes, he could be a force in the early primaries as a viable alternative to someone like Ted Cruz. The problem is he has been there before and failed miserably, so it will be interesting to see if people like Sheldon Adelson and the Koch brothers are willing to back a long shot.

We pretty much know the rest of the crowd who is busily groveling for cash. Rick Perry has tried to re-invent himself  by pretending he has a functioning brain. However, he might not even be able to win his home state's primary, because of the presence of  Senator Ted Cruz in the race. Cruz, who is, quite frankly, delusional has his own problems. He actually believes the tea party yokels who cheer so long and hard for him at town hall meetings and select gatherings of the faithful represent a majority of the American people. In addition he's a one note Johnny. His only clear idea is to shut down the government and he harps on it every chance he can get. When he got his way once the maneuver backfired terribly on him and his party, but the P.R. disaster which ensued hasn't even seemed to register with him. There isn't a single poll of republican voters out there right now which shows him leading among people who are to the left of--well--him.

Chris Christie is in, but won't be able to win a primary any where south of Pennsylvania and west of Illinois. Rand Paul is too, but his libertarian bent might be a bit hard to swallow for many in the GOP.

The rest are a bunch of losers who will be gone within three, or four primaries past Iowa. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, Ohio governor John Kasich, Dr. Ben Carson, Marco Rubio and Rick Santorum are simply wasting every one's time and money, including their own. Let's face it, three years ago Santorum lasted only as long as he did because no one on the far right really wanted Mitt Romney. They just couldn't find anyone, to beat him. Of this batch, Wisconsin governor, Scott Walker might have a little more staying power, but that is simply a hunch. 

Cillizza reports it cost Mitt Romney $76.6 million to win the republican primary in 2012. That is a load of Benjamans. Especially when you consider the winner this time will end up facing Hillary Rodham Clinton who should need to spend about twenty-three dollars and change during her primary season, plus she'll have the backing of every major democratic donor on the planet earth.

The feeling here is Bush is the real player to watch. He will end up with the vast majority of the mainstream republican money and he plays well to the middle. Of course he has to get there and the tea party loons come out in force during the primaries.  And--as we all know--they will only vote for some lunatic who promises tanks on the Rio Grande and mass deportations at the point of a gun.

The major upsides for the republicans are their backers, with only a couple of exceptions, have far deeper pockets than the democrats and in most cases the nation is loathe to extend one party's control of the White House more than eight years in a row. It has happened only once since the day Franklin Delano Roosevelt died. The torch was passed from Ronald Reagan to George Herbert Walker Bush. Four years later he had his head handed to him by Mrs. Clinton's husband.

There is a long way to go and many will want to serve, but only one will be chosen. The early money is on Jeb Bush, but hey, early bets can lead to disaster. Just look where the University of Oklahoma's football team started out in the polls in late August and where they ended up at a few days ago.

Ladies and gentlemen, as always, the bar is open.


Friday, January 2, 2015

David Duke is a Racist? Hey, Who Knew?

David Duke emerged from the darkness back in the early 1970's. He showed up on a late night NBC television show hosted by Tom Snyder. You could tell from the very first he was a smarmy little Eddie Haskell type looking for attention. He was, in his own mind anyway, the new and improved face of the Ku Klux Klan.

On the program the young Grand Wizard talked about black racism, hinted that many of the white players on the LSU football team were a part of his Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, and bragged there were more Klan members in the north than the south. All of it seemingly shocked and appalled Snyder and amused David Duke to no end.

He graduated from Louisiana State and eventually got a "Doctorate," from something called the Ukrainian Inter-Regional Academy of Personnel Management. Wikipedia reports his doctoral thesis was titled, "Zionism as a Form of Ethnic Supremacism."

Later he served one term in the Louisiana state legislature. His time there was described by one person as being short and uninspired. He also ran for congress, then later for president, once as a democrat and a second time as a republican. Right before he went to jail for filing a false tax return and mail fraud, he founded a group called the European-American Unity and Rights Organization.

Given all that it is safe to say pretty much everyone knows who this vile clown is and what sort of people he associates with.

If you believe the new majority whip in congress, Steve Scalise, who also happens to be from Louisiana, he isn't one of them. Back in 2002 he spoke to Duke's group during his campaign for the house. Now that the revelation has gone public the congressman is taking heat from all sorts of people both republican and democrat.

His response has been he didn't know what sort of group Duke was running. He was quoted as saying, "I didn't know who all those groups were. I detest any kind of hate group."

If the representative is really telling the truth you might reasonably think he would have realized he was in the wrong sort of place after he saw all the confederate battle flags and white pride banners hanging in the room he was speaking in.

Scalise maintains he, "...spoke to a lot of groups during that period." He claims he was such an equal opportunity speaker he even delivered a talk to the League of Women voters, an organization he says is a, "pretty liberal group."

Well compared to Duke's outfit, pretty liberal is probably an apt description of the League, which has always been considered nonpartisan by everyone with a functioning brain.

The congressman is not to worry though. His old pal David Duke came to his defense during an interview with Fusion. The Huffington Post reports during the interview Duke said Scalise is a, "fine family man," and one he often agrees with.

Duke was also quoted in the article as saying, "If Scalise is going to be crucified--if republicans want to throw Steve Scalise to the wolves then a lot of them better be looking over their shoulders."

In other words I have a list of names of people, from both parties, who have cozied up to me in the past and if you ass holes keep hounding my main man I'll make them all public.

In certain quarters this is known as extortion. When it comes to Congressman Scalise, however, it could be the kiss of death. That's right, when you have David Duke, quite publicly, in your corner there are very few escape routes.

Speaker John Boehner and majority leader Kevin McCarthy both have Scalise's back, at least right now. They claim he simply screwed up and it is nothing to worry about, because the congressman from Louisiana is a decent guy who really does despise the people whose support he actively sought. Both of them  failed to mention Scalise voted against making Martin Luther King's birthday a state holiday when he was in the Louisiana house. It was a vote which took place nearly two decades after Ronald Reagan made it a national holiday.

Yes some skeletons are best left in the closet. Why roil the waters even more?

The hope here is Duke releases all sorts of names. Indeed, let's find out who these fuckers are and then we can work to rid ourselves of them.

Ultimately what it comes down to is this: Steve Scalise--a tea party sort of guy--is either a racist, wanted the help of racists, or is an idiot.

He is also the third ranking member in the majority party of the United States House of Representatives.

So much for an optimistic start to the year of our Lord, 2015.

If you wish to reach me I'll be at the far end of the bar.