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How Did I Miss That? Elephants Win One; Racist Frat Bros

Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton skipped the reenactment of the march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, site of “bloody Sunday.” Missing that 50th Anniversary of a seminal moment in civil rights history ranks with the U.S. snub of the Charlie Hebdo march in Paris and appeared to be motivated by not wishing to mix with so many reporters.

On the other side of U.S. politics, 47 Republican senators flirted with a Logan Act violation by writing to Iranian leaders to admonish that any agreement regarding Iran’s nuclear program will be good only as long as President Obama is in office, the latest in escalating efforts to scuttle the U.S.-Iran nuclear talks and engage in another splendid little war.

The Washington Post called the Republican effort to move the Iran problem from diplomacy to war “almost farcically condescending,” since 11 members of the Iran cabinet hold degrees from U.S. universities and, worse, the letter describes U.S. treaty making incorrectly. The Senate does not “ratify.” It gives “advice and consent.” After that, the President may still refuse to ratify.

In other circus elephant news, Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey has announced they will phase out their elephant abuse, I mean act. This departure from a 133-year history with performing pachyderms is a major victory for protestors against ugly training methods, and the circus promises to maintain its commitment to a dignified retirement for elephants that coined them money at the Ringling Brothers Center for Elephant Conservation in Florida.

Most humans celebrated while criticizing the “phase out,” which is not slated to be complete until 2018. I expect the “farewell tour” to last long enough to make P. T. Barnum, the putative father of the circus, proud.

On the other side of the issue, circus historian Dominique Jando, writing in The New York Times, complained that elephant acts have been banned in places where rodeos and even bullfights are allowed. The Times juxtaposed Jando’s undeniable observation with remarks from Katherine Applegate, who published a book about Ivan, a gorilla who spent 27 years in a cage shilling for a Tacoma shopping mall. Elephants, like apes, are smart and sociable creatures.

My cousin Ray Sixkiller wondered if folding the abuse tent means we now have to travel to Florida to buy a sack of elephant manure? “Go ahead and laugh. My plants love the stuff.”

Ray’s other comment was more pointed. “If the circus can give up a 133 year tradition to do the right thing, then it ought to be possible for the Washington football team to ditch a ‘traditional’ racial slur that only dates from 1933.”

The Associated Press reported that GOP Presidential hopeful Jeb Bush is asking his supporters to refrain from giving more than $1 million in a quarter to super-PACs supporting his candidacy. “If I was running,” Cousin Ray bragged, “my supporters wouldn’t have to be told to keep it under a million.”

The Indianapolis Star reported that the Department of Veterans Affairs, recently caught in a wholesale scandal of delaying treatment and lying about it, now has a retail scandal in a VA Hospital where I have been treated, Roudebush Medical Center in Indianapolis. A social worker sent a series of emails to co-workers mocking veteran suicides. The social worker is responsible for arranging mental health services for veterans returning from combat. She makes almost $80,000 a year while ridiculing suicidal veterans.

The Washington Post has reported that the Nepali government has instituted a new rule for climbers of Mt. Everest, who have numbered about 4,000 since Tenzing Norgay and Sir Edmund Hillary first topped it in 1953.

Each climber will have to return with 18 pounds of trash or forfeit the deposit of about $4,000 required for their climbing permit. It’s a start, but unlikely to lessen the load on the mountain from about 26,500 pounds of human excrement each climbing season. Sherpas pack it out from lower camps but enough is left at higher altitudes to create what National Geographic called “a fecal time bomb.”

Hearing of this unique pollution issue, Cousin Ray remarked, “No shit?"

The Lincoln Journal Star reported that Lancaster County, Nebraska deputies cited a man for possession of a small amount of marijuana after finding it inside a plastic sour cream container labeled “Not Weed.”

Social media collectively giggled when some fool asked Amal Clooney what she was wearing to court. She replied, “Ede & Ravenscroft,” referring to the major maker of barrister robes in the UK.

The student council at UCLA shined the kind of attention on their school most schools could do without. Rachel Beyda, up for confirmation to the judicial board, had a stellar grade point average and a record of involvement in law, but a surprising handicap emerged. After asking Beyda to defend the idea that a Jew could be “unbiased,” the students spent 40 minutes debating that “issue,” before voting to reject her nomination.

After an intervention by grownups, the question was called again and Beyda’s appointment was confirmed unanimously. The student-edited Daily Bruin editorialized that Beyda’s treatment was “illogical and immoral.”

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There was speculation that Beyda was being punished for Israel’s policies. If that’s so, there’s rich irony in that the only council member to make public apology was Negeen Sadeghi-Movahed, head of an Iranian student group.

Elsewhere in the formerly serious University of California system, student government on the Irvine campus voted to ban all national flags, including the U.S. flag, citing an obvious truth: “Flags not only serve as symbols of patriotism or weapons for nationalism, but also construct cultural mythologies and narratives that in turn charge nationalistic sentiments.”

Indians will note with approval another truth in the resolution: “The American flag has been flown in instances of colonialism and imperialism…” Truisms notwithstanding, there are problems with causing this silly controversy.

First, it’s unlawful for a public university to ban symbols with which it disagrees.

Second, a ban does not follow from the premises. You don’t achieve a “culturally inclusive space,” as the resolution claims, by banning symbols. Note the bone-headed attempts elsewhere to ban display of the Mexican flag.

The 800-pound political gorilla is that you don’t start stupid fights you can’t win when the stakes are invisible to the naked eye. Not only is the flag a symbol beloved by most of the country, that country is paying the lion’s share of the costs of the university education that is devalued by the blunders at Irvine and Los Angeles.

Not to be outdone by the Left Coast, members of Sigma Alpha Epsilon at the University of Oklahoma were caught on video in a racist chant that resulted in national SAE revoking the Oklahoma group’s charter

Alabama-founded SAE has drawn attention for racist incidents on other campuses in the past, according to The Washington Post. Of the 400 or so SAE members at the time the Civil War erupted, 369 fought for the CSA v. seven for the Union.

Interviewed on Meet the Press about Hillary Clinton’s email problems, GOP presidential contender and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham told Chuck Todd that he has never sent an email! Graham sits on the Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology, and the Law.

Most of the world was outraged when ISIS used bulldozers to vandalize the 3,300-year-old city of Nimrud, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Al-Azhar, Sunni Islam’s leading religious institution, called the destruction “a major crime against the entire world.” ISIS fighters profess to be motivated by Sunni Islam.

Back in the allegedly civilized world, two American women from California were caught carving their names into the Roman Colosseum, almost 2,000 years old and also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The motivation appears to be the opportunity to take selfies documenting vandalism against the priceless structure.

When I quit grinding my teeth, I was moved to look up how many UNESCO sites in this country were built by Indians: Mesa Verde, Cahokia Mounds, Chaco Canyon, and Taos Pueblo.

An organization called SAFE, Saving Antiquities For Everyone, demonstrated in front of the White House March 10, demanding that the US war on ISIS prioritize saving the world’s cultural heritage.

Speaking of cultural heritage, I thought mine was good government. Will Chavez wrote an article in the Cherokee Phoenix that is a heartbreaker for those of us who want to see our tribal government as an exemplar of a republic run according to democratic ideology.

The Phoenix filed a request under the tribal Freedom of Information Act to learn the compensation paid to members of various tribal boards and commissions.

WTF? Why should a reporter for the tribal newspaper not be given that information with a phone call? This is just like state and federal governments, who take their FOIAs as defining minimum information released for maximum bureaucratic nonsense.

Then, to frost the ape the dumbest yonega government cake, the Phoenix didn’t get everything it requested! It’s not enough for tribal governments to be just as smart as the colonial governments---they must be smarter.

“Could be worse,” Cousin Ray commiserated. “The Cherokee Marshal Service could start acting like President Obama’s Secret Service detail.”