Let’s hear it for Buddy!
The Kuntz family was away from their Darrington, Washington home watching a ball game when the deadly mudslide destroyed it. Time turned muddy to dusty, and the family was videotaping a sad pilgrimage back to the rubble—when they heard a dog whining. I do hope somebody found that dog a drink of water.
My Cousin Ray Sixkiller was watching Randy Mastro, the lawyer from Gibson, Dunn, and Crutcher LLP, explain how New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie had surrounded himself with liars and crooks—without ever having a clue. “Christie must’ve hired this guy,” Ray said between guffaws, “because Baghdad Bob wasn’t available.”
The Boston Globe reported that Channel 4 in the UK paid Holocaust denier David Irving just under $5,000 for a lock of Adolf Hitler’s hair, supposedly collected by Hitler’s personal barber deploying sticky tape on the soles of his shoes. The Globe quoted the station’s defense: "We wanted to obtain a sample of Hitler's DNA because scientific analysis of it could provide a key biological component to one of the most significant biographies in history." Cousin Ray pictured Sioux families digging though heirloom possessions for any George Armstrong Custer DNA.
Rachel Maddow reported that California Democrats have had veto-proof super-majorities in both legislative chambers since the last elections. The good news is they have gotten state finances under control for the first time in years. The bad news is that one party corruption is already setting in, with three Democratic senators facing felony indictments.
The New York Times reported that the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway, and Transportation District has voted to erect suicide barriers under the Golden Gate Bridge after a year of 46 suicides and 118 attempted suicides prevented by bridge workers. “There might be a speck of humor in it,” Cousin Ray grumped, “if the jumpers were senators rather than voters.”
The New York Post reported that North Korean men have been ordered to get the same haircut sported by their “dear leader,” Kim Jong Un. Women may choose from 18 approved hairstyles, and the men formerly had 10 options. “Can you imagine,” asked Cousin Ray, “all the men in the US with Obama’s hair cut? National Dumbo ears?”
Legendary master of the country fiddle Charlie Daniels appeared on Morning Joe to flog his new album Off the Grid: Doin’ it Dylan, and revealed he’s been a hard core Dylan fan since he played on the sessions for Nashville Skyline. “It’s good to know,” Cousin Ray commented, “that icons have icons.”
After the military’s year of issues with sexual assault, the brass stumbled into another ethical minefield when the Air Force fired nine commanders for tolerating widespread cheating on proficiency exams for handling of nuclear weapons. The Wall Street Journal reported that Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, wants to quit teaching ethics with PowerPoint and disciplining people by email. Quoth the General: “The issue of ethics is personal and to be persuasive, it has to be relational." Cousin Ray agreed about sex, but was not sure about nuclear weapons.
Defense News reported that a mere two weeks after criticizing US policy in the Middle East, Israel has accepted ten more years of US military aid on an easy payment plan. In the Middle East, Cousin Ray opined, “it’s always hard to tell who has whose back even after you see the knife hilt.”
Joshua T. White wrote in Foreign Policy of Pakistan’s efforts to acquire US MRAPs as they are withdrawn from Afghanistan, “Pakistan would have to consider whether it really wants to assume the heavy financial and maintenance costs associated with taking on a fleet of ageing, battered MRAPs.” Cousin Ray was happy that Cherokee Chief Bill John Baker defied the words of the potato chip commercial and decided to “eat just one” MRAP.
Marine Lt. Sage Santangelo penned an op-ed in the Washington Post complaining that males were given two tries to pass the Marine Corps Infantry Officers Course and females only got one. Marine Commandant Gen. James Amos agreed it was not fair, changed the rule, and offered Santangelo a job in a combat unit while she waits for an opening in flight school. Amos was quoted in Seapower, “I got an answer back in about 14 nanoseconds…Sage is going…to Afghanistan.”
Rachel Maddow reported on April Fools’ Day that March was the first month in over ten years when no US troops were KIA anywhere. The good news is it was not an April Fool joke. The bad news is…10 years?
Asiana Airlines officials told the National Transportation Safety Board that part of the reason for the crash in San Francisco last July was the software in the autopilot.
The surge of people trying to get health insurance on the Obamacare deadline caused Healthcare.gov to crash again, leading Cousin Ray to wonder if there are any problems these days that can’t be blamed on computers?
The New York Times reported on conflicting messages the Republicans are putting forward in the midterm elections, that President Obama is both “weak” and “dictatorial.” “Sounds like,” Cousin Ray laughed, “a software problem.”
The County Commissioners where I live in Williamson County, Texas, tabled a grant proposal asking for $44,500 from Homeland Security to get a drone “for emergency situations.” In the many years I’ve lived here, the only emergencies have related to medical issues and weather. The drones can’t carry people or fly in foul weather. “That’s why,” Cousin Ray suggested, “they want us to pay extra for the Hellfire missile option. Takes care of illegal aliens and Democrats.”
On Mar. 30, The New York Times ran a story on the pattern of voter suppression laws being passed in Republican jurisdictions, aimed mostly at minority voters and young people. The Times quoted an Ohio Republican County Chairman, “We think they’re (Democrats) stoking these things for political gain.” “Well,” Cousin Ray deadpanned, “being allowed to vote would sure be a political gain.”
CNN reported that an Iowa law firm has created a smartphone app to walk suspected drunk drivers though the process. It contains a touch screen button that says “Oh crap, I’m being pulled over,” and offers advice from that point. “There is no truth to the rumor,” Cousin Ray claimed, “that the app connects your phone to the Intoxilyzer by Bluetooth.”
The Toronto Sun reported on a new political committee, “No Ford Nation,” advertising for “candidates” who promise to get publicly drunk without threatening homicide, smoke pot and not crack, and so forth, ending with the tagline “Anyone’s better than Rob Ford.” I went to ask Cousin Ray for a comment, but he was calling a list of people who might help Mayor Ford: Jon Stewart, Andy Borowitz, Jimmy Kimmel, Stephen Colbert.
A piece on the website Before It’s News claims that elk and bison are decamping Yellowstone National Park and speculates they are fleeing an impending eruption of the Yellowstone volcano. “Nah,” said Cousin Ray, “they’re running from the tourists.”
The Westboro Baptist Church picketed the 2011 funeral in Moore, Oklahoma of a 20-year-old mother killed in a sledding accident. It did the same in 2013 at the funeral of a 9-year-old boy killed in the Moore tornado. Upon the death of the WBC founder, Moore Liquor posted this sign in front of their store: “Fred Phelps, 1929-2014. Champagne 10% off! Not a coincidence.” The WBC promised to picket the liquor store.
The US Geological Survey reported that eleven minor earthquakes, ranging from 2.4 to 4.4 in magnitude, shook Oklahoma on March 30. “Aftershocks from the champagne corks popping over in Moore,” claimed Cousin Ray.
The New York Times reported that Republican farmers in California’s Central Valley are threatening to deny campaign contributions to GOP candidates over the GOP killing immigration reform. As asserted in this space last week, the Times found ”many fieldworkers are indigenous people from southern Mexico who speak Mixtec and know little English or Spanish.” “Explain,” asked Cousin Ray, “how indigenous people get to be called illegal immigrants by pols named Nieto, Obama, Harper or the guy who stopped the bill to make them legal, Boehner?”
The Texas Observer carried a bone-chilling account of the death of another black man in Jasper, Texas, the site of the infamous dragging death of James Byrd, Jr. Volunteer searchers found the mutilated body of Alfred Wright, 28, after the Sheriff gave up, but authorities still have not labeled Wright’s death a homicide. “Dang,” exclaimed Cousin Ray, “that reads like an Indian gone missing in Rapid City.”
Jesse Sheidlower published an op-ed in The New York Times so sensible it left Cousin Ray and I embarrassed, “The Case for Profanity in Print.” Sheidlower demonstrated how it’s sometimes impossible to tell a story without bad language. The Watergate tapes? Joe Biden’s hot mic moment about the Affordable Care Act? We decided to salute Sheidlower’s fine essay by printing a word you’ve never seen in this column but really is necessary to understand the news: Redskins.