American Pharoah’s convincing win in the Preakness has set up a Triple Crown watch for the third time in four years as the country waits for the decisive Belmont Stakes on June 6. Fourteen horses since Affirmed took it all in 1978 have taken the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness only to falter in the race they call “The Test of the Champion.”
Remember California Chrome last year?
The Belmont is a longer race than either the Preakness or the Derby, and some analysts say that Pharoah will be beaten by one of the horses rested since the Derby. One of California Chrome’s owners blamed his loss on the practice of running the shortest race, the Derby, and resting through the Preakness. The difficulty may be real, but that’s why the Triple Crown is the ultimate test of a thoroughbred racehorse.
According to The New York Times, a Belmont with the Triple Crown on the line draws an average of 13.5 million viewers versus 5.9 million in an ordinary year.
American Pharoah’s breeding rights have already been sold to a Kentucky stud farm owned by Coolmore Stud, based in Ireland. The price was undisclosed but there were reports that $20 million was already on offer before the final deal was cut. My cousin Ray Sixkiller made a wisecrack about envying Pharoah’s retirement gig, but I’ll keep mum about the details in the interest of his marriage.
Presidential hopeful Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) gave a very long speech protesting the USA PATRIOT Act. While it’s not technically a filibuster, good for him. That awful terrible no good legislation originally surfed a wave of 2001 fear to pass by 98 to Russ Finegold (D-Wisconsin) with Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-Louisiana) not voting. Finegold lost his seat in the next election to Tea Party Republican Ron Johnson. Landrieu got Tea Partied last election.
Finegold and Johnson will have a rematch next year.
In what the tabloids termed a “War on Terrier,” Australian Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce required Tonto, I mean Johnny Depp, to remove his Yorkies, Pistol and Boo, from Australia or they would be killed. It seems the pups had snuck in without the proper quarantine period to keep the actor company while he was shooting the latest Pirates of the Caribbean. Rather than request help from The Lone Ranger, Depp decamped within the time allotted. Pistol and Boo had no comment except that Depp should keep that Vegemite crap out of their food bowls.
Minister Joyce, in response, tweeted, “Dogs gone.”
Elsewhere on Twitter, history was made this week when the President got his very own Twitter account, @POTUS.
@billclinton tweeted, “Welcome to @Twitter, @POTUS! One question: Does that username stay with the office? #askingforafriend
The President assured Mr. Clinton that the username would stay with the office but went on to ask if there were any takers for @FLOTUS?
The President was also bombarded by tweets featuring the N____ word, in case anybody thought electing a black man created a post-racial U.S. In related news, The Washington Post reported that Google has apologized after the Google Maps search engine was found to return the White House in response to the search terms “N_____ House” or “N_____ King.”
Slate interviewed former NBC correspondent Eric Burns, asking why he chose to write a book about 1920. Burns pointed out it was the year women got the vote as well as the year the U.S. had its first woman POTUS. He referred to President Woodrow Wilson’s stroke, after which the FLOTUS—Wilson’s second wife, Edith-- effectively ran the country. In her memoirs, Edith Wilson denied that narrative, claiming she only decided what was important enough to bother the President. Sounds like a lot of power to me.
The New York Times remembered an appearance by Hillary Clinton on David Letterman’s show early in her first run for POTUS, when she talked about her summer job after graduation as “the best preparation for being in Washington you can possibly imagine.” She worked in an Alaska cannery removing fish innards, a process she described by using the rare English verb, “to slime.”
Watching Letterman shake his head over the sums of money Clinton had raised so early, it’s ironic that she would run out of money and have to lend her own campaign a substantial sum just to finish. Barack Obama avoided the same problem by relying on small donors who could repeat rather than tapping out a few huge ones. In her comments, you could also see in retrospect her doomed strategy of concentrating on early and big primary states while Obama shaved delegates in all 50 states.
West Virginia provided a flashback to the Republicans in the last election explaining why they need to control women. Maybe House of Delegates member Brian Kurcaba (R) didn’t see Charleston Gazette reporter David Gutman lurking in the hearing room or maybe he missed all the men who made fools of themselves talking about rape in the last couple of election cycles. "Obviously rape is awful," Kurcaba said during a committee hearing on a new abortion restriction. "What is beautiful is the child that could come from this."
Back to back sports items flashed me back to the Cold War. On the U.S. side, Mitt “The Glove” Romney took on Evander “Real Deal” Holyfield in a match to raise money for CharityVision, an outfit fighting preventable blindness among poor people. A good time was had by all and the biggest news item besides the existence of the fight was that Romney did not want to take his shirt off to box, but Holyfield insisted.
On the Soviet, I mean Russian, side, Vladimir Putin once more suited up to impersonate a hockey player in a charity match, scoring eight goals and looking pretty grim about it. Meanwhile, the Russian national hockey team, after losing 6-1 to Canada in the world amateur championship in Prague, left the ice before O Canada was played. TASS reported that the breach of protocol will be punished in some manner by the International Ice Hockey Federation.
It was another flashback when ISIS attacked Ramadi and the Iraqi army ran away, leaving hardware provided by U.S. taxpayers to ISIS. The Iraqi troops performed just as they had when ISIS took Mosul and when ISIS took Tikrit and the same way they performed in both wars with the U.S. Iraqi troops were all hot butter waiting for a knife. The U.S. hewed to the line that this can be remedied by “training.”
As Cousin Ray noted long ago, ISIS is fighting just fine without training.
Foreign Policy reported that U.S. air strikes have hit 6,278 targets in Syria and Iraq in the last nine months and have destroyed 288 Humvees ISIS got from the Iraqi Army when it turned tail. ISIS got another load of U.S. gear this week when the Iraqi Army skedaddled out of Ramadi in spite of the latest round of magical “training.”
In all these battles, the only Iraqi unit to stand and fight was Saddam Hussein’s Republican Guard, and it’s unclear how many of the those brave men survived their encounter with the Abrams M1A1. Most of them were incinerated in their obsolete Russian rides.
With this latest fiasco in Ramadi, when is somebody going to ask the obvious questions? What does “training” have to do with it? Who trained ISIS? And who armed ISIS? The answer to that last question is that we did. Weapons given to the Iraqi Army will not stay with the Iraqi Army. “There is no truth to the rumor,” Cousin Ray snarked, “that the Pentagon has funded a study for design of combat weapons that can be carried safely while running full tilt boogie away from the battle.”
The New York Times reported that that the U.S. is rushing 1,000 anti-tank rockets to the Ramadi battlefield. “Makes perfect sense,” Cousin Ray responded. “The Iraqis need U.S. anti-tank rockets to fight the U.S. tanks ISIS already took from the Iraqi Army.” Ray’s right, and he could have added that it’s probable that the rockets will get added to the ISIS arsenal.
So goes the attempt to save Iraq from the Iraqis.
Hawaiian legislators, on a 74-2 vote, passed a requirement that the state generate 100 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2045. Right now, Hawaii is using about 80 percent imported fossil fuels, so the final result will be not only cleaner, but also cheaper. For renewables, Hawaii has it all: the best geothermal resources in the U.S., lots of sunshine and wind, and those monster Pacific waves that make world class surfing competitions can also produce tidal power. So, the only beef I can see with the bill is why 2045?