How Did I Miss That? Cousin Ray Raps; Devout Nations

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The protests against the grand jury’s inaction in Ferguson, Missouri, predicted in these pages, birthed a new slogan on Black Friday: “Hands up! Don’t shop!”

The folks in the street don’t care much for geezers who lived though the civil rights movement, so they’ll say it’s tacky of me to point out the population mix of Ferguson: 67.4 percent African American, 1.2 percent Hispanic, .4 percent Indian. The prosecutor who ringmastered that circus has to be elected again in four years. In his most recent race, he was unopposed in the primary, but 1,000 voters wrote in somebody else and 3,000 didn’t vote. “Go on,” my Republican Cousin Ray Sixkiller prodded, “tell them.”

All right, I will: Robert McCulloch is a Democrat.

Proving that electing Democrats is no solution. The structure of the system is the problem. The symbiotic relationship between the police and the prosecutor is not a bad thing, but it makes each incapable of investigating the other with any appearance of justice and the appearance matters as much as the justice.

One look in the streets right now should tell you that. Watching cops in a border town police the rez residents should tell you the same. Anybody with an IQ exceeding room temperature can see Justice Frankfurter was right when he wrote “Justice must satisfy the appearance of justice.”

Cousin Ray was glum. “You’re the lawyer. I never heard of a Supreme Court Justice named after a hot dog but I know it’ll take lawyers to fix this mess. Our folks have to demand a fix and I don’t want my grandson killed by a cop while we’re waiting. He’s out in the garage right now writing one of those rap things.”

That made me notice something was going on in the garage loud enough to flake the paint. I could make out the refrain:

Hands Up! Don’t shoot!

I can’t breathe!

“Y’know,” Ray continued, “You and I are getting too old for this, but every time another kid dies for nothing….I can’t breathe, either. He’s got a catchy rhythm going there.”

Hands Up! Don’t Shoot!

I can’t breathe!

Appearances matter in Israel, too, where Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has given up trying to hold his fractious parliamentary coalition together and called for an election. The issue that did the final bit of damage was a “nation-state” bill pending in the Knesset that would declare in law that Israel is “a Jewish state.” The problem is that Israel was founded as a democratic state as well and approximately a fifth of the population is not Jewish. A democratic state cannot, by definition, be a theocratic state.

There’s a similar anti-democratic fight brewing in Mississippi, with a petition drive to get Initiative 46 on the ballot, to enshrine in law that “the State of Mississippi hereby acknowledges the fact of her identity as a principally Christian and quintessentially Southern state, in terms of the majority of her population, character, culture, history, and heritage, from 1817 to the present; accordingly, the Holy Bible is acknowledged as a foremost source of her founding principles…”

I-46 goes on to declare English the official language of the State of Mississippi and require “all governmental or public non-emergency or non-judicial services, functions, or communications in Mississippi shall be rendered in the English language only….” and so managing to contradict several Supreme Court cases just like the opening declaration contradicts the First Amendment. “One thing about Mississippi,” Cousin Ray admitted, “it’s consistent.”

In another devout nation, the well-educated Saudis who are coming to power recognize that oil wealth has been as bad for Saudi Arabia as casino wealth has been for some Indian nations. Saudi women are better educated than Saudi men, but only 11 percent of them work. Only 60 percent of Saudi men work. Labor is for foreigners.

Educated women are eager to work but just getting to work would be a major feat of social engineering. They can’t drive. Some can’t go out without a male relative. There is talk of starting a bus system just for women, but who would drive the women-only buses?

In the U.S., where everybody has to work except the one percent, the Supreme Court is taking up the case of Peggy Young, who got put on unpaid leave by United Parcel Service because a doctor advised her not to lift over 20 pounds while pregnant. Never mind that she seldom had anything that heavy and she had co-workers willing to help when she did. Ms. Young has been fighting over the loss of her job for eight years. In this Supreme Court, working women seeking justice have had a heavy lift.

Hollywood rumor is that North Korea’s Kim Jong Un is behind hacking into computers at Sony Pictures. The hackers, calling themselves #GOP for “Guardians of Peace,” pirated five unreleased movies. The hacking is said to be in retaliation for a new caper comedy, The Interview, that centers on a plot to assassinate the boy dictator. North Korea is not denying the rumor. Kim Jong Un appears to have no sense of humor about his own assassination.

Hackers leaked documents showing that of about 3,600 Sony employees in the U.S., 17 make over $1 million. Of those, 16 are men and 15 are white. Sony denounced the hackers, called in the FBI, and hired several private security firms. Cousin Ray noted that Sony has about as much sense of humor about having its secrets hacked as Kim Jong Un does about being murdered.

Elsewhere on the Axis of Evil, Defense Department officials have confirmed that Iranian fighter-bombers are fighting in the same airspace as U.S. air forces--but not against the U.S. The Iranians and the U.S. are bombing the so-called Islamic State. Meanwhile, the "coalition partners" in this action, the Emirates and the leading Sunni nation, Saudi Arabia, would just as soon be flying sorties against Iran. Ditto the non-coalition partner but NATO ally and wannabe Sunni leader nation, Turkey. The Sunnis are also opposed to the barbaric Syrian dictatorship of Bashar al-Assad, which Iran supports, but Assad is fighting the Islamic State as well. The U.S. has said Assad has to relinquish power. "Do you mean to say," asked a puzzled Cousin Ray, "that our enemy's enemy is not our friend?"

The Telegraph and the Express in the UK and The New York Times, HuffPost, and Women’s Health in the U.S. proclaimed, “Bush is back.” Whoa, Women’s Health?

They were not writing about presidential politics but rather what Brazil is going to do with all that leftover wax now that fashion has moved on. As The Telegraph put it, “The men don’t care and the women can’t be bothered.” The Independent disagreed. The Guardian primly insisted that the decision to shave or to wax or to laser or to let grow “should be beyond the rule of fashion.” I did my best to coax a comment out of Cousin Ray, but he stopped with “I didn’t stay married all these years by running my mouth.”

Rachel Maddow reported the shocking news that incoming Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) has scheduled the next senate to work six, count ‘em six, five-day weeks in a row. Senators are not used to working more than four days in a week or more than a week without a week of recess. “What do you expect,” Cousin Ray snarked, “when you pay a bunch of millionaires $174,000 a year?”

The Cherokee Phoenix took on another powerful actor in the new Senate, James Mountain Inhofe (R-Oklahoma), incoming Chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and the most powerful climate change denier not named Koch. The Phoenix reported on complaints filed against Inhofe with the Federal Election Commission and the Department of Justice alleging that he held a political fundraiser on federal property and used Kiowa County officers for security at the event, at least one of whom was supposed to be on duty.

More disturbing to Cherokees was the allegation that the dove hunting fundraiser amounted to a “canned hunt,” where captive and semi-tame animals are released in the line of fire. No hunting is required and the animals are never armed. This violates the ethics of real hunters and the traditions of Cherokee hunters. Attendees at the Inhofe fundraiser reportedly included Congressman and Cherokee citizen Markwayne Mullin, a Republican, and Cherokee Principal Chief Bill John Baker, a Democrat.

I guess those old Cherokee stories about the origin of disease in animal abuse and the origin of medicine in plants determined to protect humans…are just stories now. If it turns out that the allegations about the “hunt” are true and the Cherokee leaders knew what was going on, it’s a sad day for our stories as statements of our values.

The New York Times reported on what might have been the greatest rez car of all time if we had got it first. Mike Ruse bought the 2006 Ford Crown Victoria retired New York City Taxi for $1,000 when it had 310,000 miles. He has spent an additional $2,000 and put an additional 80,000 miles on it in rural Vermont. “I got two words for you,” laughed Cousin Ray. “War pony!”

Jacqueline Woodson, winner of the National Book Award for Brown Girl Dreaming, published an op-ed in The New York Times that should be required reading for the “more-Indian-than-thou” types who believe Indian children are exempt from the pain of stereotyping. She’s African American and her op-ed is called “The Pain of the Watermelon Joke.” I’m betting she would understand the connection between the R word and what happens to our kids in school, and she might even get why I got sick to death of being called “Chief.”

Nature Communications published the results of wide ranging analyses of remains discovered in 2012 and thought to be the solution to a 527-year-old missing person case. Turi King and 18 others have produced solid proof that the remains are those of Richard III, the last Plantagenet King of England and one of the slimiest characters Shakespeare lifted from the pages of history. It's a fact that he discredited the marriage of his dead brother to prevent his nephews from ruling; it's a highly probable rumor that he had the boys killed.

Richard sat on his ill-gotten throne for two years before becoming the last British monarch to die in battle. A perverse turn surfaced when DNA analysis of his remains proved that while his mother checked out, there had been a recent case of, ahem, “false paternity,” in his male line. In other words, he was throwing elbows to inherit a throne that did not belong to him. "I see," Cousin Ray remarked, "19 scientists spent two years proving King Dick 3 lied about his blood quantum. He must've been after the per caps."