Editor's Note: Sadly, on May 14 came news that the legendary B.B. King had walked on.
CNN reported that 89-year-old B.B. King is in home hospice care from complications of type 2 diabetes.The last of several times I saw King perform, he was unable to stand, but he could still make Lucille (his guitar) sing beautifully.I remember watching him jam with Johnny Winter, the albino guitar hero, at the Dallas Pop Festival. Winter’s flying fingers rang half a dozen notes to every one of King’s…but Blues Boy King hit exactly the right notes.
B.B. King is the last of the Three Kings from my generation to walk on. All Three Kings made Rolling Stone’s 100 greatest guitarists list. Freddie “Texas Cannonball” King is 15. Number 13 is Albert King, a lefty who played a right-handed guitar strung upside down, and was greatly admired by another lefty, Cherokee-African American legend Jimi Hendrix. B.B., the King of the Blues, rings in at 6.
It would be good to honor B.B. King’s outsized tracks on the blues, an art form born on this continent, while he is still with us.
Oil company executives were singing the blues to the colonial government of Canada up above the Jay Treaty border. On the provincial level, Alberta voters swept the Progressive Conservatives out of power for the first time in 40 years. One of the New Democratic Party’s first moves was to withdraw from lobbying the U.S. to approve the Keystone XL pipeline.
The NDP made a campaign promise to remove Alberta’s drag on Canadian climate change policy, in spite of the substantial profile of tar sands development in Alberta.In response to the NDP victory—which Rachel Maddow called “like Socialists winning power in Texas”---the Toronto Stock Exchange tanked and oil executives were in shock.
On the national level, the House of Commons passed the Anti-Terror Act, a measure supported by Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper that grants the government broad powers of surveillance over political activity and makes it easier for police to detain people without charges.Amendments to moderate the bill failed, even though, the BBC reported, “ Four former Canadian prime ministers and five justices of the Canadian Supreme Court have written public letters questioning the bill.”
My cousin Ray Sixkiller put the two Canadian developments together.“The way I see it,” he explained, “Alberta is about to get crosswise with Ottawa.Maybe the Mounties would like to participate in Jade Helm 15? Everybody else is, and it’s supposed to about the central government keeping the provinces in line, right?”
The pot still simmers in Texas, where The Dallas Morning News reported that Euless lawyer Todd Smith, who served 16 years as a Republican in the Texas Legislature, wrote a letter to GOP Gov. Greg Abbott commenting on Abbott calling out the Texas State Guard to prevent the Jade Helm 15 conspiracy to take over Texas by the U.S. military, the Department of Homeland Security, ISIS, and Wal-Mart.
Smith’s complaint is typical of Texans with three-digit IQs. Like them, Smith is “horrified that I have to choose between the possibility that my Governor actually believes this stuff and the possibility that my Governor doesn’t have the backbone to stand up to those who do.”
When I offered my Republican Cousin Ray the soapbox, he was silent for a long time. “So, Steve….how many Texans do you think have three-digit IQs?”
Famous jokester Chuck Norris, writing on the kneeslapper website WND, extended sarcastic congratulations to GOP Gov. Greg Abbott for mobilizing the Texas State Guard to keep an eye on the military training exercise called Jade Helm 15.He also applauded presidential hopeful Ted Cruz for writing to the Pentagon about the commonly known conspiracy to take over Texas and “asking the hard questions.”I presume, Norris meant questions like “What does Wal-Mart want with Texas?”
Cousin Ray was not impressed.“You know how they say in some men one testicle is bigger than the other?Both of Chuck Norris’s testicles are bigger than the other.When the Bogeyman goes to bed, he checks under it for Chuck Norris…”Ray was still going on like that when I had to get back to work.
Talking Points Memo reported on GOP establishment favorite Jeb Bush, speaking at a forum sponsored by National Review.Bush twice praised the oeuvre of Charles Murray, but never picked out any particular work.Murray is a political scientist whose work is admired by both neocons and traditional conservatives.
Bush might have been a fan of Losing Ground, which purports to prove that all social welfare programs have harmed the people they were intended to benefit. Or The Bell Curve, arguing that white people get more goodies because they are smarter.
In 2000, he lamented that no GOP presidential candidate will ever have the stones to utter a simple truth: "One reason that we still have poverty in the United States is that a lot of poor people are born lazy."Will Jeb Bush come though for Murray and say that?
In a 2005 paper, Murray declared, "no woman has been a significant original thinker in any of the world's great philosophical traditions.”He has made similar remarks about women in the hard sciences.He declined the invitation to qualify the 2005 statement in 2014, leaving us to wonder if Mr. Bush means to dial back education for our daughters to home economics so as not to waste time trying to teach them mathematics?
It’s unclear which of Murray’s ideas excites Mr. Bush and probably unfair to pile everything on him.Unless, of course, he does not choose to elaborate.For now, Bush has surged past last week’s favorite, Marco Rubio, to lead the polls.
This week brought three more occupants to the clown car, none consistently polling double digits.
Mike Huckabee, who apparently thinks telling people not to join the U.S. military in wartime is presidential.Cousin Ray says it is, “if you are running for president of Code Pink.”The Huckster hits double digits every couple of weeks and so leads the greasepaint candidates.
Ben Carson, who says people enter prison straight and come out gay and that proves sexual orientation is a choice. “At least,” Cousin Ray said helpfully, “he hates gay people so much that maybe he’d put fewer straight people in prison.”
Carly Fiorina, my personal favorite because she ran the most creative political ad I’ve ever seen, the “demon sheep.”
In another ring of the circus, Joe Scarborough played video of Hillary Clinton’s testimony before one of the many Benghazi committees, where she loses it, “What difference, at this point, does it make?”Scarborough said he bets she wishes she had those words back.It’s my favorite part of the whole fake hearing, where the woman is justly angry and says why, but I’m a sucker for authenticity.“Right,” gloated my Republican Cousin Ray, “just the opposite of what she shows when she talks about what’s wrong with the Wall Street fat cats who gave her all that money.”
Billionaire hedge fund manager David Einhorn set off horse laughs across the financial news outlets when he attacked oil companies’ methods of exploiting shale deposits for being too expensive and then called out Pioneer Natural Resources as the “Mother Fracker.”Cousin Ray was having none of it.“When hedge fund managers laugh,” he reminded me, “they are usually on their way to the bank with other people’s money.”
Forbes has dubbed Floyd Mayweather the highest paid “sportsman” in the world after Mayweather disposed of Manny Pacquiao in a unanimous decision.Boxing fans called the much-ballyhooed Mayweather-Pacquiao showdown a “defensive struggle” when being charitable and an “epic snoozer” when being less so.
In a just world, more people would attend to Mayweather’s long record of using his golden fists on the faces of women. On the way to an $180 million payday that now may reach $200 million when all the ancillary dollars are counted, Mayweather trained for Pacquiao with seven assaults on five women, only counting the ones that resulted in charges, according to Deadspin.Confronted on CNN, Mayweather’s response was to point out there are “no pictures” showing his fists going to the face of females.
The very same day, Kentucky Derby winner American Pharaoh got $2 million, and where I come from, that ain’t hay.Cousin Ray said he figured when Pharaoh retires to stud, he will treat his mares better than Mayweather treated his ladies.Then he launched his usual boxing rant.
“It’s against the law to make dogs or chickens fight each other,” Cousin Ray reminded me. “Or to promote a bull fight.”I’ve heard this often enough to provide the punch line that we pay money to watch human beings attempt to inflict permanent brain trauma with a “knockout.”
The other entertainers risking brain trauma, football players, are supposed to get punished for treating women badly. The NFL told us last year that football teams would evaluate character before athletic prowess.Cousin Ray convulsed with laughter.
“Tell that to Jameis Winston.”
Florida State University shielded Winston from a rape charge by sitting on the file for almost a year after the victim called 911 immediately and went to the hospital for a rape kit. FSU let the victim get run out of school.Meanwhile, Winston managed to make two theft charges go away with the help of local football fans, I mean authorities. The NFL evaluated his character and made him the number one draft pick.
The real Florida Seminoles still have an agreement not to hassle FSU about their mascot pretending to be Osceola.Indians outside Florida, including Seminoles, differ over whether FSU’s use of a real person is an improvement after having in the past fielded “Chief Fullabull,” “Sammy Seminole,” “Chief Wampumstompum,” and, with an apparent nod to New Agers, “Yahola” the "spirit chief."
The Center for Public Integrity produced and Slate published a report documenting another hidden cost of perpetual war in nations with ineffective governments. A tally of court records shows 115 U.S. military personnel have been convicted of theft and bribery, costing the taxpayers $52 million since 2005.As of February, there were 327 more active investigations involving at least 31 troops. The sums stolen appear huge unless compared to the sums spent in Iraq and Afghanistan, over $1.5 trillion and counting.
“Nation building,” Cousin Ray deadpanned, “is expensive work.”
Less expensive in domestic, dependent nations, I guess.The 2016 budget request for the BIA and the Bureau of Indian Education combined is just over $3 billion.