Friday’s First Look broadcast über-cute video of a polar bear cub recently birthed at the Toronto Zoo. My Cousin Ray Sixkiller complained “a bear cub is a lame excuse for lack of Rob Ford news. Toronto has standards, you know?”
In US news that turned into Canadian news, Rolling Stone critic Andy Greene opined that Canadian ex-pat Neil Young’s
four-night stand at Carnegie Hall was “spellbinding,” an opinion shared by Bruce Handy in Vanity Fair. Young is in the middle of a four show “Honour the Treaties” tour with Diana Krall to benefit the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation Legal Defense Fund. The First Nations benefit is the other bookend around Carnegie Hall, the first being Farm Aid. Cousin Ray’s remark that “the oil companies have the power, but we have the music” reminded me of another Canadian, Leonard Cohen,
because oil companies can become as ugly as the scars they leave.
Young has made an issue of the cancer rates among First Nations people living near the tar sands developments, provoking a response from the Prime Minister’s office trying to drive a wedge between Young the “rock star” and “hard working Canadians.” Young is in both the Canadian Music Hall of Fame (1982) and in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for his individual work (1995) and as a member of Buffalo Springfield (1997). Stephen Harper has been in the Canadian Parliament since 1993 and his band is called Herringbone. “And we thought all the Canadians had was Rob Ford and a bear cub,” laughed Cousin Ray.
ABC News reported Friday that Norway’s Sovereign Wealth Fund has made every single Norwegian a paper millionaire. “Set up in 1990, the fund owns around 1 per cent of the world's stocks, as well as bonds and real estate from London to Boston, making the Nordic nation an exception when others are struggling under a mountain of debts.” Cousin Ray was puzzled. “Haven’t these people heard of per caps?”
A chemical spill left 300,000 people in West Virginia without water for drinking, cooking, or bathing. West Virginia politicians lined up to exonerate the coal industry, for which the chemicals were being stored. The President of the perpetrator, Freedom Industries, assured that the chemical was “low toxicity” and “has no effect on aquatic life.” “Of course the fish don’t mind it,” said Cousin Ray. “They don’t need water to make coffee.”
As of Sunday, 122 people had been hospitalized with nausea and vomiting. “Think how much worse it could be if the chemical wasn’t low toxicity,” Cousin Ray snarked.
USAToday reported Monday that a Southwest Airlines flight from Chicago to Branson, Missouri landed at the wrong airport. A teacher who lived close to the incorrectly visited airport was quoted “My dog perked up…” Cousin Ray figured the dog could probably tell the correct airport, as well as sniff out the originals among Branson “tribute” bands.
The Associated Press reported a federal judge issued an injunction against the Line Mountain School District in Pennsylvania requiring it to allow a 7th grade girl to compete on the boys’ wrestling team. The school district alleged that there were “psychological, physical, and moral risks” to allowing the girl to compete, but brought forward no evidence to support their allegations. “They were only concerned with one risk,” suggested Cousin Ray. “The risk that she would win.”
French President François Hollande said in an official statement that he “profoundly deplores the violations of the respect of private life….” He was complaining of a tabloid magazine, Closer, publicizing his love life. Never married, Hollande has two children with Socialist politician Ségolène Royal. French First Lady duties are handled by his current girlfriend, journalist Valérie Trierweiler. Closer, last noticed in 2012 when it published topless photos of the Duchess of Cambridge, claimed to document an affair with a married actress 18 years Hollande’s junior. The French voters were disinterested. “I bet Bill Clinton was interested,” smirked Cousin Ray. “He ran for President in the wrong venue.”
Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates appeared on Wednesday’s Morning Joe, where he was complimentary of President Obama. This after a week of media buzz about what could sound like negative remarks when taken out of context. Cousin Ray took the opportunity to point out the poor sales of my books as evidence I should shut up about Gates because I don’t know how to sell books.
NPR broadcast an interview with John Rizzo, a lawyer for the CIA who thinks waterboarding is not torture. Rizzo, flogging his book about “enhanced interrogation techniques,” said that when the CIA vetted his manuscript, it made him remove any reference to one technique that he judged “gruesome” and “too extreme.” Interviewer Renee Montagne, pushing for more description than “chilling and scary…something out of Edgar Allan Poe,” pointed out “our imaginations usually make things worse than they actually are.” Rizzo said “you can be fairly liberal in letting your imagination run.” Cousin Ray was considering a bid for the movie rights.
Manu Raju and Maggie Haberman did some interesting reporting on the Senate Conservatives Fund for Politico. The SCF is a funder of what Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) famously dubbed “wacko-birds.” The SCF is expected to take in $9 million in 2013, but they really appear to be grass roots, with an average donation of $37. The Obama campaign, in 2008, was averaging $108. Virtually all SCF money used for advertising has been spent attacking Republicans. SCF is the creation of a former GOP staffer, Matt Hoskins, who has paid himself and his corporate alter ego $535,750. He’s also spent $143,360 to renovate luxury office space and $427,000 on a bulk purchase of right wing talking head Mark Levin’s book, Liberty and Tyranny. Cousin Ray grumped that “the wacko-birds are getting too fat to fly.”
Speaking of wacko-birds, it’s a measure of modern craziness that the big news Thursday was the House passing a $1.1 trillion budget. The Tea Party attached a number of amendments---cutting the Fish and Wildlife Service and high speed rail; adding funding for private school vouchers in the District of Columbia---but all of the major Tea Party groups still scored the budget against the 359 who voted for it and in favor of the 67 against. “These are the days of miracle and wonder,” commented Cousin Ray, “when government breaks out in this Congress.”
Montana Sen. Jon Tester (D) on Thursday’s Morning Joe: “This job is not the most important thing in the world.” Tester talked about his kids and grandkids. “How quaint,” said Cousin Ray. “I bet the guy hangs Norman Rockwell prints in his office. His haircut gave him away, though, so the voters should not be surprised.”
Noted expert Rush Limbaugh, last in this column claiming more expertise in Roman Catholic doctrine than Pope Francis, called the polar vortex a “hoax,” part of the liberal climate change conspiracy. Weatherman Al Roker tweeted a photo of the Glossary of Meteorology defining “polar vortex”—in 1959. Cousin Ray noticed that Mr. Limbaugh appears “important enough to be called expert without saying in what.”
Blondie will play the SXSW festival in Austin this spring to kick off their 40th anniversary tour. I asked Cousin Ray for a comment, but he just kept mumbling “40th anniversary?”
In another 40th anniversary, Rep. George Miller (D-CA) retired as one of the last of the “Watergate babies,” reformers elected the last time government was as popular as your spouse’s divorce lawyer.
NARAL Pro-Choice America released their 2013 report showing 53 anti-choice laws enacted in 24 states last year. My Republican Cousin Ray has quit arguing with me about this since his party started going after birth control as well. We are both handicapped by tribal traditions that teach men to leave certain things to women.
The Washington football team has handed its coaching hot potato to Jay Gruden, most recently offensive coordinator for the Cincinnati Bengals. Gruden becomes the eighth coach in 16 seasons Dan Snyder has owned the Washington team. Apparently, Cousin Ray did not get the job because he told Snyder “racism impedes mojo.”
Onion satire or Andy Borowitz satire being picked up as real news is so common that it’s more a chuckle than a horse laugh. British Medical Journal satire, picked up as real news, may be hazardous to your health. A satire, purporting to scientifically prove “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” as well as statin drugs, was picked up by Fox News, CNN, ABC, NBC, Reuters, and even Scientific American as being real. According to Indian graduate students online, at least two Indian Health Service doctors have advised patients to eat apples rather than take statins. This satirical study comes from the same journal that reported medical evidence insufficient to prove that it’s less dangerous to jump out of an airplane if you wear a parachute. “I always thought,” mused Cousin Ray, “that it had to be true if you read it in the Daily Mail?”