In a Friday night interview, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) told Bloomberg News that last week’s vote to end the filibuster except for Supreme Court appointments and normal bills “will poison the atmosphere of the Senate.” After Cousin Ray Sixkiller got his breath back from his roll on the floor laughing, he gasped “Yeah...just like farting in a roomful of cyanide!”
Saturday morning, the National Public Radio quiz show Wait Wait—Don’t Tell me! had a question about the Oxford English Dictionary word of the year, which turns out to be “selfie.” Discussion turned to next year’s competition, and Canadians were suggesting “Forded” or “Ford-faced” to describe a chemically induced lack of judgment. Toronto Mayor Rob Ford had no immediate comment, leading Cousin Ray to ask if the mayor was “too Ford-faced to speak to the media?”
In the Saturday New York Times, senior editor at The Atlantic Ta-Nehisi Coates offered an op-ed about whether the n-word should be put out of our misery. Context is everything, he pointed out, and the desire to ban the word “is not anti-racism, it is finishing school.” The n-word, Coates wrote, sometimes “tells white people that, for all their guns and all their gold, there will always be places they can never go.” “If white people are offended,” Cousin Ray observed, “they can always go to a game at FedExField and get their superiority back.”
Miley Cyrus closed out the American Music Awards Sunday night with a rendition of her hit, “Wrecking Ball,” lip-synched by a giant cat projected next to her. This was a substantial toning down from her video, where she rode a giant wrecking ball while naked. Still, Cousin Ray shook his head. “She’s just too young,” he muttered, for making her AMA performance “all about that pussy.”
Foreign affairs scholar Robin Wright, speaking Monday on Morning Joe, commented on the recent understanding with Iran over nuclear research that the big deal is not so much the agreement as that the US talked directly to Iran in Geneva “more in the last six months than in the previous 34 years.” Texas Sen. John Cornyn tweeted “Amazing what WH will do to distract attention from O-care,” the exact motivation New Yorker satirist Andy Borowitz ascribed to Iran’s Supreme Leader. Cousin Ray pointed out that Borowitz’s byline now includes “(satire)”…so people will know he’s joking.
Also on Monday, a Texas appellate court held that the dash cam video of country music star Randy Travis’s nude DWI arrest near Tioga, Texas should not be ordered destroyed because Travis pled guilty to the DWI. Travis has filed suit to prevent the tape being released as a public record. Cousin Ray did not think a naked video would do that much harm to Travis’s career, but had to admit, “he’s no Paris Hilton.”
The Washington Post reported on Tuesday that a man was facing felony charges after his lawsuit against Washington Metro for $15,000 for injuries allegedly sustained from stepping on a banana peel was tossed out. The criminal charge was fraud, and the case went from civil to criminal court because the entire transaction was caught on a surveillance video. The man planted the banana peel and took a dive on camera. “What’s the big deal?,” Cousin Ray asked. “Congress made up the debt ceiling and then banged against it on purpose. They did it live on C-SPAN and it cost the taxpayers a lot more than $15,000.”
On Wednesday, the American Board of Obstetrics & Gynecology issued a statement backing down on their policy announced in September to withdraw the board certification of doctors who treat men. The policy had put at risk a government-funded study of anal cancer. Dr. Elizabeth Stier, a gynecologist at Boston Medical Center, told the New York Times “Having canceled all the men out of my clinic, I now have to un-cancel them.” Cousin Ray Sixkiller complained, “I thought Obama said we could keep our doctors?”
On Wednesday night, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reported on a confidential briefing paper leaked by Edward Snowden showing that the US National Security Agency had turned the US Embassy in Ottawa into a command post for a six-day surveillance operation covering the Group of Twenty meeting in Toronto and the Group of Eight meeting in Huntsville, Ontario. Opposition leaders expressed shock that Canadian intelligence cooperated in the operation, but their words of surprise were drowned out by howls of laughter from members of the American Indian Movement.
Thanksgiving was thankfully a slow news day, dominated by whether the balloons would fly in the Macy’s Parade, held in New York but broadcast nation-wide. Just before the festivities kicked off, the New York Times reported, “the Sonic the Hedgehog balloon bucked against its ropes at the 77th Street staging area and head-butted a tree, sending small branches and twigs showering to the street below.” Democrats and Republicans came together in a last minute bargain and agreed to keep their mouths shut so kids could enjoy the parade. The agreement resulted in a substantial drop in the amount of hot air blowing in from Washington, wind speeds dropped under 10 mph, and the balloons were cleared to fly.
Foreign Policy reports that after losing over 2,200 men and women in battle and spending hundreds of billions of dollars in Afghanistan since 2001, the US is about to follow in the footsteps of Alexander the Great and the Mughal, British, and Soviet Empires in being unable to save Afghanistan from the Afghans. The issue is the same one that led American forces to leave Iraq without saving it from the Iraqis: immunity of US troops from being prosecuted for crimes against the locals. Cousin Ray wanted to know why we couldn’t just agree not to commit crimes against the locals?
Last week, this column carried a notice that a newly elected congressman had just beaten a candidate favored by both the Louisiana Tea Party and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor thanks partially to an endorsement by stars of the reality show Duck Dynasty, while another congressman had just pled guilty to cocaine possession. Since then, an article in Men’s Journal has been brought to our attention which reveals that the Duck Dynasty stars are all use smokeless tobacco off camera. According to the National Cancer Institute, the oral use of tobacco can cause oral cancer, esophageal cancer, pancreatic cancer, heart disease, gum disease, and leukoplakia. According to Ray Sixkiller, if they are going to hang around with a person serving in Congress, they will have to consider switching to cocaine.
In other health news, the US Supreme Court has agreed to hear another challenge to the constitutionality of Obamacare. This issue this time is whether the requirement that the basic health insurance policy cover birth control violates the freedom of religion of corporate persons who believe birth control to be sinful. “It ain’t about religion,” Cousin Ray groused, “it’s about sex. Corporations don’t worship anything but money.” Thinking he had finally gone too far, I asked him which corporations made him think about sex? “How many Cherokees do you know,” he replied, “who have never been screwed by a corporation?”