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How Did I Miss That? Suicide Belts, Witch Hunts & Deadly Music

Morning Joe reported on February 7 that the Senator from Wally World, Mark Pryor (D-Arkansas), came out against raising the minimum wage. My Cousin Ray Sixkiller defended Pryor. “Walmart has an economy the size of Belgium. Do you expect they limp along with only one senator?”

The Daily Beast reported that a group has been founded in Waco, Texas called “Cookiecott 2014” to advocate a national boycott of Girl Scout cookies because, they claim, most of the famous women offered for admiration by young girls are pro-choice. The spokesman and main organizer for Cookiecott 2014 is John Pisciotta, director of Waco Pro-Life. Cousin Ray said, “I’ll have the Thin Mints.”

LiveScience reported that maritime archaeologists are mounting an expedition to excavate a 2,000 year old shipwreck, the oldest known in the Indian Ocean, off the coast of Sri Lanka. “Probably Olmecs looking to trade cocoa beans to real Indians,” chuckled Cousin Ray.

The New York Times reported on a corruption trial in Greece, the country that recently required a bailout from the European Union to stave off bankruptcy. The story was headed “So Many Bribes, a Greek Official Can’t Recall Them All,” and detailed the purchase of tanks without ammunition, fighter jets without guidance systems, and submarines that never got wet. After some discussion about US “defense” spending, Cousin Ray remarked “at least the Greeks have sense enough to laugh about it.”

In this hard winter, the Standing Rock Sioux reservation has opened shelters for people without propane, The New York Times reported, not mentioning that Standing Rock lost a woman to hypothermia. Production of propane is up 15 percent over last year, but exports of propane and retail prices are up as well. “I am shocked, shocked to hear of price gouging,” said Cousin Ray.

The Wall Street Journal attributed the stall on immigration reform in spite of agreement on all political sides that it would boost the US economy to “Republicans dancing to talk radio.” Cousin Ray attributed it to “the white descendants of immigrants dancing away from brown immigrants.”

Alex Rodriguez has dropped his lawsuit challenging his record suspension—a full season—for using “performance-enhancing drugs.” A-Rod had called the proceedings against him “a witch hunt.” Cousin Ray figured that since A-Rod had plenty of money to continue the lawsuit, “the witch hunt must’ve found a witch.”

Speaking of witch hunting, the February 9 New York Times carried a gruesome story about the whipping of alleged gay men in Nigeria while a mob outside the court rioted to demand that they be killed rather than just whipped. This version of “justice” comes from a country whose largest trading partner is the US and whose principal exports are oil and email fraud. “The US,” Cousin Ray remarked, “produces enough oil and email fraud domestically.”

The same paper had a hilarious report of the disarray among the protocol mavens at the White House caused by French President François Hollande’s high profile split with his de facto First Lady Valérie Trierweiler. Invitations to the State Dinner had to be reprinted, and there was worry over whether to cancel dancing, since Hollande would have no partner---after making sure that the new girlfriend would not be attending. “Look at the bright side,” said Cousin Ray. “Michelle Obama had some major openings in her schedule.”

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, expected to cruise to becoming the next Texas governor past Sen. Wendy Davis because he’s a male Republican, told KXAN-TV in Austin that he will never ever raise any taxes under any circumstances. Cousin Ray was embarrassed again. “Read my lips,” he grumbled, “bad government.”

Meet the Press on February 9 featured an interview with Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes flogging their new book, HRC: State Secrets and the Rebirth of Hillary Clinton. On Clinton in 2016: “The question is not whether she starts running but whether she stops running.” Cousin Ray noted that since Chris Christie jumped off the George Washington Bridge, “the strongest GOP candidate outside the clown car is Jeb Bush, if the GOP can look outside the clown car.”

The National Registry of Exonerations reports a record number in 2013, 87. A third were cases where no crime occurred and 15 were guilty pleas. I’m personally not prepared to risk the lives of others in this system unless I would risk my own life. “The death penalty is a no-brainer,” Cousin Ray commented, “in a couple of ways.”

In related news, Gov. Jay Inslee (D) of Washington, noting that over half of death penalties imposed had been reversed, joined the governors of Oregon and Colorado in refusing to order executions on his watch. Cousin Ray wanted to know if “these guys ever heard of ‘close enough for government work?’”

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Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT), appearing on Morning Joe, came out in favor of raising the minimum wage and extending unemployment benefits. Wages, adjusted for inflation, are down by .1 per cent in spite of numbers that show a general growth rate of over 4 per cent, which economists consider an adequate growth level. “If Tester keeps this up,” Cousin Ray said, “we might have to quit making fun of his haircut.”

The Weekly Standard, organ of the neo-cons, published a notice of Pete Seeger’s passing somewhat different from this publication, entitled “The Red Warbler” and quoting at length from Seeger’s “Big Joe Blues,” an anti-Stalin song, to prove that Pete had been mistaken early on about the Soviet Union. Cousin Ray reminded me they call themselves neo-cons because they used to be leftists. “No finer authorities on political error.”

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman kicked off “Operation Angry Birds” on February 10, arresting nine humans and about 3,000 chickens in major cockfighting bust. According to Al Jazeera America, authorities also seized paraphernalia to inject the birds with “performance enhancing drugs.” “There is no truth to the rumor,” Cousin Ray remarked, “that A-Rod was a consultant.”

As far as we can tell, “redskins” are welcome at Gary’s Chacaros in Enid, Oklahoma, “Where the Great Whites Gather.” Just not “niggers,” “faggots,” “freaks,” Hispanics, Muslims, Democrats, persons on welfare or in a wheelchair. Cousin Ray cautioned me to say that we really don’t know if Gary James, the owner, will in fact serve American Indians or he just didn’t think of us when making his list or printing his T-shirts (“Nigger-Free Zone”).“Here’s hoping he doesn’t claim to have a Cherokee grandmother.”

Violence between Sunni and Shia fired up again in Iraq as soon as US troops left, and recently there have been suicide bombings of mosques, funerals, soccer games, and a popular falafel shop. This may have been why The New York Times reported celebration among ordinary Iraqis when an instructor at a terrorist training camp north of Baghdad set off the live explosives in a suicide belt, killing himself and 21 “students.” Fifteen others were injured and eight were captured as they tried to escape. Cousin Ray was amazed at the number of “students.” “I’ve never understood the attraction dead guys have for virgins,” he mused, “but I do understand how hard it is to find a good falafel shop.”

Tennessee Republican legislators warned workers at a Chattanooga Volkswagen plant that if they voted to join the United Auto Workers, this might mean an end to state tax incentives to expand the plant. “If you let high wages get started in the South,” Cousin Ray observed, “there’ll be no end to it.”

In a radio interview, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minnesota) said she expected Obamacare to be repealed by an act of God. “Jesus wouldn’t cooperate,” suggested Cousin Ray, “because crucifixion is a preexisting condition.”

Michael Dunn’s case went to a Florida jury on Wednesday to decide whether he had a right to stand his ground against loud music or, as he put it, “rap crap.” “The older generation is always down on the younger generation’s sounds,” 

Cousin Ray remembered, “but there was never a death penalty for Elvis or Beatles fans.” At our deadline, the jury was still out on whether Floridians can stand their ground against annoying music.

Speaking of music that annoys some people and delights others, Rolling Stone reports that the reunion of Courtney Love with her late husband’s band mates on the occasion of Nirvana’s induction into the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame might be “awkward.” “Public bad-mouthing, lawsuits, copyright claims,” Cousin Ray laughed, “the public will line up for this, with or without a Hole reunion.

The New York Times reported that Michael Sam, who came out as gay before the NFL draft, had the support of his Missouri teammates but not his homophobic father. The “family values” of Michael Sam, Sr. led him to abandon his eight children, three of whom are dead and two in prison. Sam’s parents are both fundamentalists of differing flavors. Anti-gay bigotry in the NFL will show up or not in the draft. “Surely,” Cousin Ray speculated, “the NFL can’t be as anti-gay as it is anti-Indian?”