The Washington Post reported that the Nonhuman Rights Project lost a unanimous opinion in New York’s Third Judicial Department turning away Tommy the Chimpanzee’s bid for personhood in law and therefore freedom. “They would have better luck in the courts,” my cousin Ray Sixkiller said drily, “if they incorporated the chimp.”
Corporations are legal persons and animals not, but dead humans were persons who ought to rest in peace. In 1981, they opened up Lee Harvey Oswald’s grave to quiet the conspiracy theorists who claimed he was not buried there. He was, but that did not have any effect on the tinfoil hat crowd who think Oswald was smart enough to get a job with a perfect sniper’s perch before JFK had any plans to visit Texas, much less Dallas, much less the particular street in Dallas.
A lawsuit just ended where Oswald’s brother is suing the funeral director who did the exhumation. Robert Oswald claims that he bought the pine box Lee Harvey was buried in for $300 and then Allen Baumgardner sold it second hand for $87,000. Baumgardner’s legal theory is that the casket was a gift to Lee Harvey that Robert did not expect to get back. Judge Don Cosby is expected to make a decision soon. “I can’t imagine,” Cousin Ray snickered, “why neither of these sterling characters asked for a jury trial.”
A more recent funeral happened when Dollree Mapp walked on. Mapp was the woman who stood up to Cleveland police, who were searching for a man allegedly involved in bombing Don King’s house, the same Don King who is now a famous boxing promoter but then was reputed to make a living in the numbers racket.
After the police shoved their way into Mapp’s home without a warrant, they found a pencil sketch of a naked person and some books with racy titles, which were illegal in those days. Her conviction was reversed in a Supreme Court opinion that started out to strike down the Ohio obscenity law for general nuttiness but veered into the Fourth Amendment and extended the Exclusionary Rule that products of unlawful search are not admissible in a criminal prosecution to state courts. So it was that this uppity woman of African-American and Mississippi Choctaw descent got her name on a landmark case, Mapp v. Ohio.
According to the Detroit Free Press, carjackings in the Motor City are down to one a day from more than three a day six years ago. Detroit’s lowered carjacking rate is still three times that of New York City, which has 12 times Detroit’s population. Police Chief James Craig was the victim of an attempted carjacking while he was in his police cruiser. Seeing those italics, Cousin Ray accused me of ignoring the value of a police cruiser. “Didn’t you see Blues Brothers?
It is axiomatic in politics that any candidate who makes light of polling data is losing. Mary Landrieu, the last statewide Democrat standing in Louisiana, proved that axiom once again by losing her runoff to Republican Bill Cassidy in a landslide. Technically, he barely cracked the landslide level, 55 percent, and some polls had his lead in double digits. That does not mean the polls were wrong. You can’t tell who will vote in a runoff and knowing the outcome in advance depresses turnout.
The second CNBC Millionaire Survey was released this week to test the opinions of the top 8 percent of Americans by investible assets (not by income). The sample attempted parity among Republicans, Democrats, and Independents, which probably means Democrats were overrepresented. Millionaires matter when the Supreme Court instructs us that the First Amendment requires one dollar-one vote.
The result: Hillary Clinton won with 31 percent, followed by Jeb Bush with 18 percent and Chris Christie with 14 percent. Among Republican millionaires, Ms. Clinton ran in single digits, behind Jeb Bush (36 percent), Chris Christie (19 percent), and Scott Walker (18 percent). Socialist Bernie Sanders got no votes among Republican millionaires, but he did score 11 percent overall.
While 93 percent of millionaires voted, only 4 percent gave more than $1,000 to a candidate, 10 percent of Democrats and only 3 percent of Republicans. That’s much higher turnout than ordinary people ever produce. Turnout in presidential elections since 1972 ranged from 59 percent in 1996 and 2000 to 70 percent in 2008.
Campaign contributions are skewed in the same manner. Less than one percent of voters contributed 80 percent of campaign funds in 2008, when the Obama campaign set new records for low dollar fundraising. Four percent of the population contributed, but those who maxed out at $2,300 were less than one tenth of one percent. “So,” Cousin Ray summarized, “rich people are more likely to vote and they give most of the political money as well. That explains a lot.”
In other rich people news, Bloomberg reported that the Porsche 918 Spyder Hybrid has sold out at $845,000 a copy. Production was limited to 918 vehicles. Americans bought 297. Cousin Ray would not say whether he bought one. “You never can tell when you might want to go zero to 60 in 2.5 seconds on 67 miles per gallon.”
An environmental committee appointed by newly elected Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi suggested that instead of punitive regulations government should “rely on business owners to voluntarily disclose the pollution that their projects will generate and then monitor their own compliance.” George W. Bush could have written that when he was Governor of Texas. Mr. Modi should visit Texas and see how that worked out. “Tell him he might want to bring an oxygen bottle,” Cousin Ray snarked.
The New York Times reported that the U.S. is going to be steered in the same direction as India by the new majority of Republican attorneys general, who are teaming up with the energy companies that donated to their campaigns to frustrate Environmental Protection Agency moves to curb pollution. It’s only fair to point out that environmental groups have worked with Democratic attorneys general to stop pollution, so it’s not so much the method as the result that voters have to pick.
The BBC reported Greenpeace’s “fulsome apology” for having created a political message next to a stylized hummingbird that is part of the Nazca Lines in Peru. The message, with which we agree, will not be repeated here so as not to endorse putting footprints in the restricted area meant to protect a world class indigenous creation that has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We reject the CIA’s reaction to the Senate report on torture, that the end justifies the means. Not for the CIA. Not for Greenpeace.
The Chicago Tribune reported on the disruption of the Midwest FurFest in Chicago that suffered an “intentional gas incident,” sending 19 “furries” (anthropomorphic animal characters) to the hospital and hundreds of people to the cold sidewalks at 1:10 a.m. Morning Joe co-star Mika Brzezinski got into such a laughing fit attempting to read the furry news on the TelePrompTer that she had to leave the set. (Speculation continues whether she became informed of the sexual aspect of furry culture.) The gas turned out to be chlorine, shutting down all the jokes about farting in costume, so Cousin Ray looked at the bright side. “If you get rousted from your Chicago hotel just after midnight in December, you are much better off wearing a fur suit.”
Jim Hightower reined in his well-known sense of humor in The Lowdown and just reported the facts when a “senior administration official” conducting a briefing on the ISIS war on background claimed, “Saudi Arabia has an extensive border with Syria.”
In the other war, nobody seemed to remember that in the year the U.S. invaded Afghanistan, the U.S. awarded the Taliban government a boatload of money in recognition of its success suppressing the opium trade. Ten years and $7.6 billion later, Afghanistan had an all time record harvest this year that made $3 billion for the Taliban and supplied 95 percent of the world’s opium.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the U.S. Navy has successfully tested a laser weapon. Cousin Ray pointed out that the weapon has a fundamental political flaw. “Each firing costs only 59 cents. No room for graft.” The weapon, which “cooks everything in its path,” can substitute for missiles that cost $400,000 per launch.
First Look showed video from a practice of the Washington football team in which “team mates” got into a fistfight, said to be over a dropped pass. “Only three wins by December will do that,” Cousin Ray pointed out. So far, the 2014 Washington team has beaten only the Jaguars, the Titans, and the Cowboys. The betting window is still open on whether the Washington team will have a winning season before they give up the racial slur in their name.