Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Perfect Symbols of Southern Heritage, Tradition, and Pride: the Flag, the Delusions, Bill Kristol, and the Klan

It simply isn't working out for all those desperate white southerners who insist the confederate battle flag shouldn't be interpreted as a symbol of slavery, segregation, and racism.

If you browse the internet you can't escape them. They're everywhere on You Tube and news outlets pleading their case. They are alternately weepy with sincerity and dismissively arrogant. In both instances there is no doubt in their minds that those who disagree with them about the flag are either misinformed when it comes to the actual history of the south, or they're just plain stupid.

Invariably they'll talk about "southern heritage, southern tradition, and southern pride." While they're speaking it never seems to dawn on them that for millions of southerners--you know--the ones who are black--that the heritage and tradition they speak of means something completely different and the whole pride part is really nothing more than a brutal ethnic insult.

A couple have shown up on the internet trying to deflect the entire racial argument by pointing to photos of Ku Klux Klan rallies held in the first half of the 20th century. In those moments frozen in time the only flags in sight are the American stars and stripes.

Yeah, well that probably isn't the way to go either. The Klan widely used the American flag until the federal government began to enforce the desegregation of southern public schools and passively support, the civil rights movement of the 1960s. That's when secessionist colors began to be commonplace props during Klan gatherings and ended up on top of the capitol buildings of South Carolina and, for a briefer period, Alabama. The confederate battle flag had never flown over either place before then, even during the civil war. At that point all the "southern history," gas went out of the balloon. There was no doubt, at least among the non delusional, that the banner stood squarely as a symbol of the racist political cause which was, to quote George Wallace, "Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever."

None of that has prevented at least one supposed mainstream conservative from mounting an attack on not just, "liberals" wanting to remove the flag, but those who he sees as the quisling retailers who are dumping confederate themed products off their shelves.

Bill Kristol has been around for decades. He served under Ron Reagan's Secretary of Education, William Bennett. In addition he was chief of staff for Vice President, Dan Quayle during the elder Bush administration.

He was such a mover and shaker he is widely credited as being the main force behind the demise of the Clinton administration's proto universal health care plan. His argument at the time? "There is no health care crisis." It was a line used verbatim by Bob Dole in response to Bill Clinton's state of the union address which advanced the proposal.

Since then, besides founding the conservative political magazine, The Weekly Standard, thanks to Rupert Murdoch's money, Mr. Kristol has bounced around all manner of cable news outlet shows and panel discussions.

The other day on MSNBC's Morning Joe he vociferously claimed places like Wal-Mart and Amazon were caving into political correctness by discontinuing the sales of items emblazoned with the confederate colors.

Earlier, in reference to the whole flag controversy, he had tweeted, "It's our own mini-French Revolution, expunging history in a frenzy of self righteousness. Luckily, so far: 1st time tragedy, 2nd time farce."

Then, just in case there was any confusion, he tweeted, "The left's 21st century agenda: expunging every trace of respect, recognition, or acknowledgement of Americans who fought for the confederacy."

Cenk Uygur, host of the internet news show, "The Young Turks," went spinning off his nut when he addressed the content of Kristol's tweets. In what can best be described as an apoplectic fit, Uygur, a former republican, ranted that it's actually the defenders of the confederate flag who are attempting to expunge history. That they routinely do so when they deny, or ignore the verifiable truth, which is hundreds of thousands of confederate soldiers fought for and ultimately gave their lives in the defense of slavery, then, even beyond defeat, Jim Crow laws, and segregation.

He does have a point.

Luckily, for Bill Kristol, while he may have Cenk Uygur up his ass, at least someone out there not only agrees with him, but, on the surface anyway, sounds pretty much like he does. It's been announced there will be a two hour pro confederate flag demonstration held on July 18th from 3pm to 5pm at the South Carolina state house. One of the organizers released a statement which said the protest was being held because, "To us they are erasing white history and culture right out of the history books. That's why they want to take that flag down."

The author of the press release is identified only as the "Grand Titan" of the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. Their web site describes the chapter as the largest Klan in the United States. According to one report they expect between 100 and 200 members to attend.

Ah, won't that day be a perfect symbol of southern heritage, tradition, and pride?

Indeed, the ghost of Nathan Bedford Forrest will be proud.

sic vita est


Saturday, June 27, 2015

The Tragic Irony

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A man identified by the press as the manager of a gun store called, "Shooters Choice." He was responding to a question about Dylann Roof's alleged purchase of a hand gun from the establishment in April.

Well he really didn't need to. The ugly truth is tumbling out now.

The weapon the deadly little twist bought was a Glock .45 caliber semi automatic. It is one of those guns you can shoot as fast as you can twitch your finger. If you run out of ammunition, before victims, you simply push a button to let the empty magazine fall out of the hollow grip. Then, in an instant, you can jam a loaded one in and voila,  you're free to start twitching your finger again.  He walked into the store on April 11th of this year, eight days after his 21st birthday. Under normal circumstances, since he was chronically unemployed and broke, he would have never been able to buy it, but his parents gave him cash for his 21st birthday which enabled him to make the purchase.

He had been indicted for possession of a controlled substance two months earlier, but because the charge was a misdemeanor rather than a felony and it was still pending, the transaction was perfectly legal.

As we learn the details of this latest horror, it is increasingly apparent young Mr. Roof had been traveling the dark and winding slope down the rabbit hole for a while. The AP is reporting that last August he began posting on a white supremacist site known as The Daily Stormer. His screen name was, Aryanblood1488. For those of you not up to speed on white supremacist/neo Nazi cryptology, the number 1 can be interpreted as "I" and 4 as "For." 88 is the number which  translates as Heil Hitler, because the letter H is the eighth letter of the alphabet.

While posting on The Daily Stormer, Aryanblood1488 claimed he had googled the term, "black on white crime" and had come across the web site of The Council of Conservative Citizens. He wrote that the CofCC site enlightened him to just how desperate the situation was for white people in America.

In February of this year Roof, or someone working with him, established a web site. One entry features a photo of him, taken by an unknown person, burning an American flag. Later on, other undated pictures show him holding a replica of the confederate battle flag while brandishing his newly bought Glock.

The written manifesto which accompanied the photos, while lightly peppered with typos and grammatical errors, contains language suspiciously sophisticated for a guy who twice failed the 9th grade, then dropped out of school altogether. That's not to say he didn't write it, but someone else did take those photos, so it could be reasonably argued he had a ghost writer working with him.

Does this conspiratorial stuff mean he didn't do it? Or, that he was the victim of some sort of MK Ultra hoo doo mind control perpetrated by the federal government? Hardly.

It does, however, mean he isn't the only sick fuck out there who either has a gun, or access to one. It also means there are a lot of evil minds who would love to commit a Charleston like atrocity, if not in person, at least by proxy. Yes, there are scads of savagely racist beasts running around this country and in these last days of white rule in America, they are becoming increasingly desperate and unhinged. There is no act too vile for them to either commit, or actively support.

Despite this gruesome affront and all the monsters swirling around them, the citizens of Charleston, SC have refused to give into hate. It is highly unlikely, Dylann Roof, as he sits in his jail cell, will ever figure out why.

That's the tragic irony which always accompanies nightmares such as these.   

In the end there can be no doubt, because of his racist bullshit, Dylann Storm Roof walked into that church last week utterly convinced the Christians kneeling in prayer before him were just as rotten and dangerous as he is. And, ultimately, despite his moment of doubt when those good people welcomed him, that's why he opened fire.

sic vita est


Friday, June 26, 2015

A Tough Week for Conservatives

It hasn't been the best of weeks for conservatives. In fact we haven't seen them in this state of shocked disbelief and anger since that autumn night in 2012 when Barack H. Obama won re-election.

It started off badly early on for at least four republican presidential candidates. It turned out that at least part of, Dylann Roof''s inspiration to commit mass murder inside of an African-American church last week came from the web site of what is called, the Council of Conservative Citizens. The CofCC as they like to call themselves has been identified as a white supremacist group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

When confronted by the media, the head of the CofCC, Ed Holt issued a statement which said, "The Council of Conservative Citizens is hardly responsible for the actions of a deranged individual merely because he gleaned accurate information from our web site." Yes and as many an "expert" used to say, there is no proof tobacco use leads to cancer and heart disease.

At the same time this news hit, The Guardian found out Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Rick Santorum had all accepted campaign donations from Brother Holt. A fourth hopeful, Mike Huckabee, actually addressed the group's national convention in 1993, via video tape. A year later, when Huck was asked to speak at a luncheon held by the group, he accepted, then backed out after realizing he would have to share the stage with a notorious holocaust denier. At the time, Lt. Governor Huckabee told the media he didn't know anything about the outfit when he agreed to have lunch with them, even though he had spoken to their convention the year before.

In the wake of the revelations, both Paul and Santorum immediately said they would donate the money their campaigns received from Holt to a fund benefiting the families of the Emanuel Church shooting. Cruz simply said he'd return the contribution.

Things really began to roll down hill yesterday. The Supreme Court, in a decision which left many conservatives with that Karl Rove, "this can't be happening," look, refused to gut the Affordable Care Act by a 6-3 vote.

Among the faithful, eyes bulged, faces turned beet red, and froth flecked outrage was expressed.

Huckabee called the ruling, "An act of judicial tyranny." He added, "The republican house and senate must redouble their efforts to repeal and replace this destructive and costly law." It's unclear if the candidate realizes any such, "redoubled," effort by congress would still run smack into a presidential veto--one they don't have the numbers to over ride.

Rand Paul said, "This decision turns both the rule of law and common sense on its head." He then explained he would, as president, "propose real solutions for our health care system."

Others also blathered on, but it was only the hapless Bobby Jindal who seemed to grasp the predicament his party is in. He told the press, "Republicans must outline a clear and coherent vision for health care to win the trust of the American people to repeal Obamacare.

Indeed, before we instantly fuck 6.5 million potential voters out of their health care coverage plus another 10  million down the road, shouldn't we actually come up with a plan of our own? You know--one besides the old, if they can't pay, kick 'em into the streets and let 'em die policy we've been backing until now.

Jindal claims he has just such a plan, but like Don Trump and his strategy to defeat ISIS, it appears the Louisiana governor is going to keep it secret for the time being.

Then today the Supremes ruled 5-4 in favor of gay marriage everywhere in these United States.

Jindal started jabbering about states rights, the same issue the south used as a reason to secede from the union a little over 150 years ago. He also said the ruling would, "Pave the way for an all out assault against the religious freedom rights of Christians who disagree with this decision."

Mike Huckabee went a tad over the top by claiming he, "would not acquiesce to an imperial court any more than our founding fathers acquiesced to an imperial British monarchy." He told the press, "We must resist and reject judicial tyranny (yeah, he seems stuck on the whole tyranny thing) and not retreat." He promised to launch a "religious liberty" town hall tour in Iowa soon. Potential tee shirt vendors presumably should send inquiries regarding both booth availability and placement to his campaign.

Fiorina and Santorum also raged against the gay marriage ruling, while Jeb Bush tried to sound like the voice of concerned reason--an attitude which will get him no where in the primary season.

Yes, as the week winds down it would be easy to gloat, but success, like glory, is always fleeting. No matter how many times you beat these wankers they always come back and far too often things fall their way.

That's why the Good Lord invented martinis.

And aspirin.

sic vita est


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Not So Much Fun With Flags: Welcome to the New South

My apologies that this episode is coming late. I did shoot one last week in honor of Black History Month, but I was informed by my roommate that my spot on portrayal of George Washington Carver could be considered wildly racist. My heart goes out to the members of the African-American community, who like me, have been kept down by the man.
The "Big Bang Theory" character, Dr. Sheldon Cooper speaking on his fictional You Tube show, "Fun With Flags."
Yes, that snippet from a popular American television comedy pretty much sums up the thinking of a lot of white folks in South Carolina and other places in the old confederacy at the moment. Indeed, some, when confronted with reality, will just start babbling any crazed shit that comes to mind. Right now all they can do is try to prove they and the flag they've defended for generations aren't racist and somehow they're connected to the soul of black people. Hey Bro and Sistah, after all, we've lived together for hundreds of years, right? Can't we all just get along?    
Yeah, well, the problem is while you can be as delusional as you want, the confederate banner will always remain a constant reminder of human bondage and soul crushing segregation to every black American. It is representative of a system which amounted to nothing more than a Western Hemisphere version of apartheid.  
South Carolina used to fly the battle flag of the confederate army on top of the dome of its capitol building. The battle flag, as the ever awkward, Dr. Cooper might tell you, is different from the Confederate States of America national flag, of which there were several versions. The battle flag was square rather than rectangular and never flew in front of, or on top of government buildings even during the American civil war. Its sole purpose was to be at the head of military units in the field.
A little over fifteen years ago it was removed from the top of the South Carolina state house and placed next to a memorial to confederate soldiers on the capitol grounds. Just to make sure there wouldn't be any more compromises with contentious African Americans, or common sense, the Anglo dominated legislature passed an act saying it couldn't be taken down by anyone, including the governor, unless they approved by a two thirds majority.
In most places this is known as minority rule.
Like in other southern locales, the white establishment in South Carolina has maintained the battle flag represented, not slavery, or even segregation, but rather the courage, determination, and honor of a civilization which stood fast against a foe, vastly superior in numbers and resources. No one else in America got that nuance, or if they did, believed it for a second. Especially when you can turn on a TV, or computer and watch savage packs of skin head neo Nazis, and  KKK members suck any sort of supposed honor, completely out of it. 
For ages it has been a painful and uncomfortable part of the d├ęcor, justified by an ever shrinking group of people who are defending what amounts to an act of treason--one which was, at great expense, defeated through strength of arms.
Despite everything, it has seemed no amount of debate, or logic could get the flag down, or even curb the sale of secessionist merchandise. You know--those delightful double shot glasses emblazoned with it, usually found at sophisticated outlets like Wal-Mart, Love's Country Stores, and just about any other place located near a trailer park, or truck stop.
Then along came Dylann Roof. Last week the murderous little cretin strolled into Emanuel AME church in Charleston and after an hour's pause opened fire. Before he left nine African Americans attending a prayer service were dead.
Within days photos of this gruesome twist surfaced on the internet, many of them showing him holding small versions of the confederate flag. It didn't take long for the tipping point to be reached.    
As these words are being typed, retailers are scrambling to get confederate themed products off their shelves. A version of the flag was taken down at the Alabama state capitol earlier today. Governor Robert J. Bentley basically said, his state has more important things to worry about than some 150 year old memory of an ass kicking.
South Carolina governor, Nikki Haley is leading a proposal to have the flag removed from the state house grounds in Columbia and she seems to have momentum. Tragically, any legislative action is still weeks off. Today, as one of the victims, senator and pastor, Clementa Pickney's body lays in state at the capitol and while the American and South Carolina flags are at half mast, the battle colors of the confederacy still wave atop a pole just yards away.
Why? By an act of the legislature it has been padlocked in place and therefore is ever present and unyielding, just like the mindset of its dwindling number of supporters.
Ahh yes, welcome to, The New South. Unfortunately, the old one is always simmering right beneath the surface and sometimes, it erupts--reminding us all of just how crude and violent it was and can still be.
sic vita est

Monday, June 22, 2015

The Latest Poll: A Possible Glimpse of the Cast on Stage in Cleveland and the Lesson Never Learned

Those wild and crazy pollsters have been at it again. The latest NBC/Wall Street Journal poll has arrived, at least partially, on the internet. The full results will become public later today.

At the top of the republican leader board is former Florida governor, John Ellis Bush. Better known to most of us as, Jeb, he raked in 22% of potential GOP primary voters. His closest competitor was Wisconsin governor, Scott Walker who was sitting at 17%.

The poll itself carries more significance than your normal run of the mill early survey.That's because in a little over a month, on August, 6th, Fox News will sponsor the first republican presidential debate of the election cycle. Fox--to avoid mass confusion and the increasing possibility its moderator might not even know the names of a couple of the participants--has limited the number of people on stage to 10.

According to The Washington Times, the list will be determined by an average of five of the most recent polls, using standard methodology, before an August 4th deadline. It is a format Times writer, Arnold Steinberg is already complaining about. He points out some of the candidates will stop focusing on early primary states, which should be their real concern and spend precious money and time trying to raise their national numbers in order to be invited. He also notes some of the candidates who haven't officially announced will now delay doing so until the last viable moment so they can enjoy the traditional bump in the polls such announcements provide.

Despite Steinberg's angst ridden jitters, the upshot of it all is this survey could well be giving us a glimpse of who will get to bash Obama and Clinton on the night of the 6th and who won't.

Right now it appears, Lindsey Graham, Don Trump, John Kasich, Bobby Jindal, Rick Santorum, and George Pataki will be watching the proceedings on TV along with the rest of us.

If the numbers at the bottom don't change, the night's line up will include, Bush, Walker, Marco Rubio, Dr. Ben Carson, Mike Huckabee, Rand Paul, Rick Perry, Ted Cruz, Chris Christie, and Carly Fiorina.

South Carolina senator, Lindsey Graham, Brother Trump, and Ohio governor, John Kasich could be considered on the bubble. They all managed 1% in the poll, while Fiorina is hanging on for dear life at 2%. Ted Cruz and Chris Christie sit tied at an unimpressive 4%. However, despite his weak numbers, it's unlikely Cruz will be denied a lectern. The rabid little Canadian's whole candidacy is rather like a cult movie. His following might be small, but they are fanatical. Christie, on the other hand, could well tank even further between now and then.

Part of the survey asked GOP voters who they could support and who they wouldn't when it came to the party's nominee. 55% of those responding said they would not support Governor Christie if he was at the top of the ticket. The only person with a worse number is Donald Trump, who is arguably a complete buffoon. A lot of republicans know it too. When asked, 66% of them said they'd never vote for the guy.

Other aspects of the poll dealt with the concerns of voters, both democrat and republican when it comes to the 2016 election. The biggest worry is the undue influence of fabulously wealthy individuals and corporations on candidates and their campaigns. 33% of those asked thought big money funneled into Super Pacs by people like the Kochs and others are a real problem. 25% felt the candidates spend too much energy savaging their opponents and not enough time making their own concrete proposals. It goes down hill from there, although there was good news for both Bush and Mrs. Clinton. Only 4% polled were worried about that whole White House family dynasty issue.

And then finally, if the past weekend proved anything politically, it's that almost the entire crew of republican candidates still haven't figured out why Mitt Romney lost in 2012. Well guys, here is part of it. That autumn Barack H. Obama pulled in 71% of the Hispanic vote while Mr. Mitt got only 27% of it.

So where were the all the GOP hopefuls when nearly 1,500 Hispanic movers and shakers gathered at the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials confab? Thirteen of them were at the Faith and Freedom Coalition conference pandering to Christian evangelicals. That's right--in their mad dash to suck up to protestant fundamentalists, the vast majority of whom are white, all but one, Ben Carson, totally ignored the leadership of the largest minority demographic in the United States of America.

It would seem some lessons are never learned.


Saturday, June 20, 2015

Here We Go: Chuck Cotton Blames Reverend Pickney For the Charleston Shooting, the Conspiracy Theorists Don't Think There was One, and Rick Perry Calls it an Accident

Here we go.

The dead aren't even in the ground yet and the Danse Macabre has already begun.

Mr. Charles Cotton is a moderator on the Texas Concealed Hand Gun License Forum, otherwise known as the Texas CHL Forum. He's also a board member of the National Rifle Association and on the board of trustees of the NRA's Civil Rights Defense Fund. On Thursday he came to the conclusion the blame for the murders of nine congregants in Charleston, South Carolina's Emanuel AME church should be placed squarely on the shoulders of, not the shooter, but Reverend Clementa Pickney. You know--one of the people killed.

On Thursday, one day after the shooting, in response to someone on the forum mentioning Pickney was also a state senator, Cotton posted, "And he voted against concealed carry. Eight of his church members who might be alive, if he had expressly allowed members to carry hand guns in church, are dead. Innocent people died because of his position on a political issue."

Indeed, if a servant of the Lord is too much of a wimp to pack a piece then it is all his fault when members of his congregation are gunned down by a gruesome racist twit.

Raw Story reports even the NRA got a little queasy after Cotton's post became public. They issued a statement saying, "Individual board members do not speak for the NRA and do not have the authority to speak for the NRA."

It's also obvious someone from the organization's PR department gave Mr. Cotton a pointed phone call. He quickly told the Washington Post, "I was speaking as a, "private citizen." In addition his entry on the site was deleted. Despite it all, Brother Cotton remained unrepentant. He went on to tell the Post, "...there should not be any gun free zones in schools, or churches, or anywhere else."

No one will ever truly know what Jesus Christ thinks of Chuck Cotton's opinion about arming worshippers in the house of the Lord. However, after reading the gospels, one has a tendency to believe the Savior would probably come down on the side of Pastor Pickney in this particular debate.

Meanwhile the conspiracy theorists, as predicted, are running amok on You Tube. A sampling of a few titles gives us insight into that peculiar life form. There is "Church Shootings: False Flag or Hoax?" then the wonderfully terse, "The Illuminati Want Our Guns," as opposed to, "Charleston Church Shooting and Illuminati Gun Control Agenda Exposed." My personal favorite was the blandly named, "Charleston, SC Shooting: The Agenda Exposed." 

That last one is authored by someone using the nom de video, Professor Doom. The prof is a bit all over the place and tends to ramble off on tangents ranging from the Sandy Hook massacre, to uber wealthy bankers migrating to secret bunkers in the Ozarks. He also likes to rant about the, "Jade Helm" military exercise planned for later this summer and feared by everyone from him to current Texas Governor, Greg Abbott.

According to Professor Doom, the gist of, "the agenda" that drove the government to perpetrate the Charleston murders--if there were any actually committed--was to begin a race war which would give the Feds and their overlords an excuse to confiscate everyone's weapons cache. He spices up his cryptic view of the tragedy by saying, "We never actually see him (that would be Dylann Roof, the confessed killer) enter the church. We only see him at the door."

Finally we come to republican presidential candidate, Rick Perry. God Bless him, he just can't say anything right. He was being interviewed by News Max journalist Steve Malzberg, when he said President Obama wanted to, "Take the guns out of the hands of everyone in this country." Then, referring to the Charleston shooting,  he added, "This is the M. O. of this administration. Any time there is an accident like this the president is clear. He doesn't like for Americans to have guns and so he uses every opportunity, this being one, to basically parrot that message."

One can only imagine the absolute horror and frustration felt by his staff as soon they heard him say the word, accident. They immediately scrambled damage control teams who reassured everyone their guy really meant to say, incident.

Look for many of them, at least the smart ones, to begin emailing their resumes to other campaigns within the next few hours.

Yes, there we have it on a muggy day here on the American southern plains. There is nothing like cold blooded cruelty, vile weirdness, and brute stupidity to start off the weekend.

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


Thursday, June 18, 2015

Back Just in Time for the Latest Installment of, The Never Ending All American Horror Show and Dance Revue

The self imposed news black out went into effect early last Wednesday. After three and a half plus years of near constant blogging and 636 posts it was time to hunker down and regroup. We loaded the rental car with some clothes and an ice chest filled with bottled water, Diet Coke, vodka, dry vermouth, and a jar of olives. I pointed the vehicle due west on Interstate 40 and somewhere around El Reno set the cruise control at 90 miles per hour.
A little less than seven hours later we hung a right onto US 285 and made the run up into the mountains and Santa Fe. The hideout was a 50's style motel located near the plaza in downtown. Between lazy meals taken on patios, museums, and rummaging through a mind boggling number of retail establishments I was able to avoid both the local and cable news outlets, not to mention the world wide web for days.
Then, as it always does, the itch returned and we beat a retreat from the land of turquois, silver, and over priced cocktails. As happenstance would have it, I landed back in town just in time for the latest installment of, The Never Ending All American Horror Show and Dance Revue.
Yes, it was just another day featuring a brand new vile whack job with a gun. This afternoon details of the latest nightmare are beginning to coalesce.
Yesterday evening a thin young white guy entered the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. There was a prayer meeting being held in the building, so steeped in civil rights history it is called by some of the locals, "Mother Emanuel." By all accounts he sat there for an hour quietly listening to the Reverend Clementa Pinckney. Then he abruptly stood and opened fire with a hand gun. According to one witness he reloaded five times during the rampage. He told the survivor, "I have to do it. You're raping our women and you're taking over our country and you have to go."
By the time he left eight people, including Pastor Pinckney were dead. A ninth would die at a local hospital later. Three people lived through the attack.         
The accused shooter is a 21 year old named Dylann Roof. He was picked up this morning in North Carolina. Reuters reports an uncle described him as--does any of this sounds familiar--quiet, soft spoken, and too introverted. The uncle, Carson Cowles was quoted as saying, "At 19 he didn't have a job, a drivers license and stayed in his room." Others described him as withdrawn and troubled.
Right, so what did Dylann Roof's father give him for his 21st birthday? According to the uncle it was a .45 caliber handgun, because--you know--nothing helps a withdrawn and troubled dude come out of his shell quite like a deadly weapon.
Mr. Cowles also told Reuters, "I don't have any words for it. Nobody in my family had seen anything like this coming."
What they would have seen, if they'd looked on his Facebook page, is young Dylann Roof glowering at a camera. In the shot he is wearing a jacket adorned with the apartheid era flags of South Africa and what was then Rhodesia. Let's face it, someone in that family knew something--at the very least they knew about his attitude toward African Americans.  
When contacted, Roof's mother, Amy told a reporter, "We will be doing no interviews, ever." Then she hung up.
Earlier today Barack Obama told the press, "I've had to make statements like this too many times." He then pointed out, "This type of mass violence doesn't happen in other advanced countries." CNN reports that in the six and a half years of his presidency there have been 14 mass shootings.
The NRA will go on the attack within the next 48 hours, howling that it wasn't the gun's fault. They'll claim if there had only been an armed guard at the door, or if the congregants had been packing weapons of their own none of this would have happened.
In addition vicious conspiracy theory rubes will begin posting on You Tube the shooting was a "black flag" operation perpetrated by Obama himself. Some will go so far as to contend that the attack didn't happen at all and the victims, including Pastor Pinckney, who was also a state senator, never really existed.
Think not? Go to the site and look up what they have to say about the killings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.
The guns need to go, but they won't. Too many people out there are afraid they won't be able to have sex if they can't own one. That and the NRA owns congressmen and women like they are nothing more than baseball cards.
It should be obvious to everyone now, too many of us believe the right to own a gun trumps the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And--those innocent people who are dead in Charleston and dozens of other places are nothing more than acceptable collateral damage when it comes to that right.
Hey, who says the constitution isn't a living, squirming like a toad, document?   
sic vita est

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The Supreme Court vs. Six and a Half Million People

It isn't every day over six million people get screwed in one fell swoop, but the Supreme Court of the United States might just do it very soon.
The court is nearing a decision in the King vs. Burwell case. If it rules for the plaintiff all the people enrolled in Obamacare who live in 34 states which refused to establish insurance exchanges will lose federal subsidies that make their health coverage affordable. If you are one of those unlucky 6.5 million and have significant health issues--then are forced to give up your insurance due to its suddenly prohibitive cost, you are--in a word--fucked.
This is all part of a continuing right wing attack on the Affordable Care Act which went into effect in October of 2013. The conservative outrage has been so unhinged members of the republican party in the house voted to repeal the ACA over 50 times when they knew each resolution was doomed to failure.
The debate has, at times, taken on all the trappings of some absurdist play. From day one tea party hacks and Fox News journalists were screaming that the ACA would allow the government to establish death panels in order to decide who would get critical care and who wouldn't. That's right, Grand Dad might be denied care because some government bureaucrat could deem him too old and useless to save. Their hysteria was so apocalyptic, at times it seemed they were on the verge of saying not only would he be doomed, but his body would be processed into Soylent Green chips and sold at a local 7-11, just like in the science fiction movie of the same name.
When it turned out there were no death panels,Ted Cruz and others began running around screeching the ACA was the biggest job killer in the history of the republic. Another GOP presidential candidate, Ben Carson went so far as to say Obamacare was the worst thing since slavery.
Actually here is what happened. Since its glitch filled opening in October 2013 over 16 million people have enrolled and now have health coverage. There is a higher percentage of Americans covered by health insurance now than at any time in the past 30 years. According to the administration, in the first quarter of 2015 the uninsured rate is 10.5%. The Gallup people estimate the number is closer to 11.5%. Both figures beat the first quarter of 2013 when it was 17.1%.
Then there is that whole job killing deal Cruz kept babbling about. The unemployment rate in May, 2013 was 7.5%. Last month it was 5.5%.
In addition the administration is happy to tell you 137 million people now get coverage for preventative care, up to 30 million can qualify for insurance despite pre existing conditions, and 105 million Americans no longer have a life time dollar cap on health care.
In the words of Barack Obama, "This thing works." He added, "There hasn't been a lot of conversation about the horrors of Obamacare, because none of them came to pass."
The latest challenge is over the wording of a single sentence in the act--you know--sort of a grammatical thing. As the president pointed out the issue should have never been taken up by the court in the first place, however congress could cure the current nonsense with a one sentence provision.
Yeah, well, he probably shouldn't count on that happening. According to republican Senator, John Barrasso of Wyoming, "Republicans aren't interested in a one sentence fix--unless that sentence is, Obamacare is repealed."
If the court does gut the ACA, savage yokels like Barrasso will be dancing in the streets. Of course royally pissing off upwards to 16 million voters seems awfully extravagant for a party which has lost the last two presidential elections. Let's face it, if the Affordable Care Act takes a hit and millions of people lose their health insurance, next fall the GOP can count on Hillary Rodham Clinton telling everyone in America that it's the republicans who are creating death panels.
And she'll be right.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Dennis Hastert and More Than Just a Little Irony

It isn't really clear why so many conservative preachers, reality TV personalities, and politicians turn out to be smarmy philanderers, child molesters, and deeply closeted homosexuals. There simply hasn't been enough research done on the subject.

The late Hunter S. Thompson speculated their behavior has something to do with the amount of semen backed up in their systems after years of delivering wild eyed sermons, both spiritual and political. I, on the other hand, tend to believe they're a bunch of crude and amoral grifters. As soon as they realize how easy it is to score huge wads of money and dizzying chunks of power during right wing gigs, they're willing to go sub rosa with their desires in order to cash in, no matter what the consequences if caught.

Indeed, strike while the iron is hot. After all, we're talking about the ultimate risk and reward system. As long as you're making your point keep rolling the dice while praying to God you don't crap out. Only the truly brave walk away as winners.

That system certainly worked for Dennis Hastert for a long time. The republican congressman is, to this day, the longest serving Speaker of the House of Representative in the history of the GOP. When the democrats retook the house after the 2006 elections, Hastert handed over the reigns of republican leadership to John Boehner, who became minority leader. Before 2007 ended he resigned from his office. Shortly thereafter he began a lucrative career as a lobbyist.

Now, both the job and his reputation are gone.

Next week Brother Hastert will be appearing in federal court to face charges of illegally camouflaging the amounts of a series of cash withdrawals in order to avoid banking regulations, then lying to the FBI about the reason for them. He told federal agents he was taking the money out because he didn't trust banks. They contend he needed it to keep an unidentified person quiet about what he was doing with some of his students decades ago when he was a high school wrestling coach and teacher.

As a NBC report notes there is more than just a little bit of irony in all of this.

In 2006 another republican congressman, Mark Foley of FL came under fire because of salacious emails sent to male congressional pages and interns, most of whom were high school age. According to Wikipedia Foley's chief of staff says he complained about the congressman's carnal tastes to a senior Hastert aide a full two to three years prior to the scandal becoming the lead on the six pm news. In addition, Boehner and republican congressman, Thomas Reynolds both testified to a house committee they told Hastert about Foley's behavior in the spring of 2005, also well before the shit hit the fan. According to all three parties the speaker, for reasons unknown to them, didn't act on the allegations.
Hastert claimed he didn't know anything about the Foley scandal until the emails became public in 2006. In addition he maintains he doesn't remember Boehner and Reynolds ever talking to him about the gentleman from Florida. A Hastert staffer flatly denied the speaker's people were ever contacted by the Foley aide.

To take it a step further, NBC quoted former MA congressman, Barney Frank, who has always been openly gay, as saying the whole affair is, "...frankly, to me, a reminder of the hypocrisy, especially upon my republican colleagues. Dennis Hastert became speaker to preside over the impeachment of Bill Clinton who was being attacked because he had sex with an intern, of age, with a much less coercive relationship than the teacher-student." Frank went on to point out, Mr. Hastert twice sponsored amendments to the constitution which would outlaw gay marriage.
Yesterday, Jolene Burdge claimed her brother, Steve Reinboldt was sexually abused by Hastert when he was the Yorkville High School wrestling team equipment manager and Hastert was the coach. The former speaker isn't talking, at least not yet and Reinboldt can't. He died of AIDS in 1995, four years before Hastert assumed leadership of the house.

At this time no one except the FBI knows who was blackmailing Dennis Hastert, or whether charges will be brought against that person. Chances are the feds have already cut a deal with the individual which will guarantee immunity in exchange for his, or her testimony.
So there we have it, at least for the moment. We'll just have to wait until next week for the details of this sordid decadence and criminal cover up to become public.

Until then, as always, the bar is open.

sic vita est

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The Week So Far: Caitlyn on the Cover, Cavuto Mourns the Fall of Rome, Huck Makes a Joke, Scott Plays to the Rubes, Dennis Hastert Might be a Dirty Old Man, and Lyudmila Needs to Stay Low and Keep Moving

So far, it has been quite a week on the internet.

For a day or so it seemed all anyone wanted to talk about was an aging Olympic champion who decided to go all glam on the cover of Vanity Fair Magazine. The president of the United States called Bruce Jenner's decision to become a woman brave, while various Fox News personalities, to no one's surprise, scoffed in derision. One, Neil Cavuto, went so far as to describe Caitlyn's Jenner's presence on not just the cover, but the planet itself, as, "Rome, the final days."

Several web sites seemed shocked and outraged because of these unseemly reactions by right wing wankers, although it is unclear why they should have expected anything else. One site, "World Net Daily," even drudged up a February speech made by former Arkansas governor, Mike Huckabee to the National Religious Broadcasters Convention. During the speech the Huck made fun of transgendered people with a little joke about how he wished he had told his P.E. coach he was feeling more like a woman, so could he could go shower in the girls locker room.

After the crowd quieted down the presidential candidate got serious and talked about how people would have to accept that their seven year old daughters will be greeted in public restrooms by 42 year old men who are feeling feminine. At this point one could argue that seven year old girls will do far better in restrooms with transgendered people, no matter what their age, than in their bedrooms with hyper Christian, Josh Duggar, but why drag up really old news?

Meanwhile, Wisconsin governor, Scott Walker, yet another in the endless cast of republicans running for president, said he is ready to sign a state bill which will prohibit abortions after 20 weeks. The bill makes no exceptions for those women who became pregnant due to rape, or incest. It does, however, contain a provision which would allow the father of the fetus to sue the provider for, "emotional and psychological distress," even if the one and only time he ever saw the woman involved was the night he knocked her up.

Similar laws have been struck down by courts in Georgia, Arizona, and Idaho. That means, ultimately, Walker's signature is nothing more than political theater pandering to the rubes who will be voting in republican primaries next year.

On Sunday Wheaton College in Illinois took former house speaker Dennis Hastert's name off its center for economics, government, and public policy. Mr. Hastert is accused of lying to the FBI about banking transactions made over the years and will be in federal court next week to answer the charges.

The bureau is claiming Hastert lied about making huge withdrawals because he was paying off someone in his deep dark past in order to cover up, "prior misconduct." The indictment identified that person only as,"Individual A." The misconduct is alleged to have taken place in Yorkville, Illinois, while the former representative, a self described, "rock ribbed Illinois conservative," was a teacher and high school wrestling coach.

Hastert ended up in the speaker's chair after Newt Gingrich only because Robert Livingston of Louisiana stepped aside due to revelations of extramarital affairs. NBC reported the republicans, after Gingrich and Livingston, were only too happy to get a guy with a squeaky clean background to run the house. Yeah, well, $1.7  million, which is the sum Hastert paid on a $3.5 million tab to, "Individual A," buys a lot of that.

Finally the bravest person in the world at this moment resides in Russia. Her name is Lyudmila Savchuck. She is suing to shut down a Russian company known as, "Internet Research." It's located in a St. Petersburg building and employs up to 400, or so people. The sole purpose of Internet Research is to make sure the world knows what a great guy Vladimir Putin is. They work 12 hour shifts filling European and American chat rooms and news sites with pro Putin and anti west and Ukraine propaganda.

Ms. Savchuck worked there two months before quitting. She says the content of the information they were spewing out onto the web was so incredibly vile and false, she couldn't stand it any more. In her words the place needs to be closed.

The proceedings have been delayed until late June. Given what has happened to a number of high profile critics of Brother Putin it is safe to say Ms. Savchuck will be dining alone for quite some time.

Indeed, you can say many things about him, but you'll never be able to accuse Vladimir Putin of being worried about collateral damage.

So there we have it. Bruce became Caitlyn, conservative talking heads were disgusted just enough to make jokes about it, Scott Walker is playing to the howling right wing masses, Dennis Hastert might be a dirty old man who screwed the wrong kid, and Lyudmila Savchuck needs to immediately hire a food taster with suicidal tendencies.

And, just think, this week is only half done.

sic vita est