How did I Miss That? The Republican Era Sees Pandas Fly, While Trump Honors Andrew Jackson

Now that my cancer is gone we can get back to the animals taking over the news – and no, I don’t mean the Republicans.

My Republican cousin Ray Sixkiller has been chomping at the bit to get this column cranked up again and I’m out of excuses. The cancer was caught at stage two and my oncologist let me make the decision whether to do chemotherapy—that is, to consume enough poison to kill the cancer without killing me. She said it would not affect the probability of Mr. Cancer coming back to any serious degree and so I demurred.

I was surprised at Cousin Ray, since there’s a Republican in the White House I didn’t expect he would want to defend. Max Boot, a fairly conservative fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, portrays the Trump White House as a contest between the “Axis of Adults” and the “Cabal of Crazies.”

Cousin Ray agreed with Max Boot and reminded me that he did not support Trump in the Republican Primary. So noted, but as long as Ray stays in the GOP I get to pick on him.


Cranking the column up again means I get to read DuffelBlog and call it work. I see that a GOP congressman has demanded that Army basic training match the Marine Corps policy of killing some recruits, that jalapeno cheese spread has been recognized as currency at all DoD facilities, and that the VA has noticed an uptick in disability claims based on MRE exposure. Since I’m ex-USAF, I was especially excited to read that the Air Force is changing policy to allow average looking, uncool people to become fighter pilots.


The New York Times reported on the travails of a Chinese born in the U.S. moving to Chengdu, China. First, she was jet lagged. Then she had to learn Mandarin and get used to wowotou—steamed cornbread buns—in place of the biscuits she used to eat in Washington, D.C. The immigrant was Bao Bao, a three year old panda born at the National Zoo in Washington to a pair of the endangered bears on loan from China.

There are 2,060 pandas left in the world, up from 1,596 in 2004. China has sent 25 pandas to 17 foreign zoos in 12 countries. The panda ex-pats have produced 25 cubs, 18 of which survived. As soon as Bao Bao is the right age, the computers containing the genetic codes for the surviving pandas will be hunting for a boyfriend.

Cousin Ray was amazed. “Sounds like Match.com for bears."


BuzzFeed reported a 20-year old San Antonio man, known only as Derek, has received his 15 minutes of fame in a viral video because he crafted a wheelchair for a goldfish.

The little fishy has a treatment-resistant infection in the bladder that is supposed to stabilize him in the water, keeping him right side up.

Derek built a little frame around the fish to keep it from moving sideways and then by trial and error attached just enough buoyant foam to keep the finned patient from either sinking to the bottom or floating on the top of the water.

“Good for Derek,” Cousin Ray cheered. “There was a time when guys that age ate goldfish.”


A more conventional animal rescue came from KABC, which reported that the Santa Monica, California fire department responded to an apartment fire. Searching in the thick smoke for victims, firefighter Andrew Klein found Nalu, a 10-year old bichon friese/shih tzu mix. Nalu was not breathing and had no pulse.

Klein carried the dog out of the burning apartment and started working CPR, mouth to snout. Nalu came around and, within 20 minutes, was breathing through a pet oxygen mask from the fire department bag of tricks.

According to KABC, it did not take as long to put out the fire as it did to revive the dog. Owner Crystal Lamirande said she and Nalu lost all their material possessions but thanks to Klein they both had their lives.

Klein said of Nalu, “(H)e’s a life and he’s a life that matters.” He said their goal is to save people, but saving the dog was a success that boosted morale at the fire station.


WFLA aired a report of what seemed like a more unlikely animal rescue. Divers near Jupiter, Florida, were nudged and bumped by a lemon shark that did not seem aggressive. They found a hook in the shark’s belly and removed it.

When I went to YouTube to see if I could find the video WFLA had used, I found a page of similar shark rescues by divers at the “request” of the sharks.


Former Texas Governor and current Energy Secretary Rick Perry published an op-ed in the Houston Chronicle bravely attacking his alma mater, Texas A & M University, for the way the student government handled the election of the first openly gay student body president.

President-elect Bobby Brooks, like the president who appointed Perry to run a department he wants to abolish, lost the popular vote. The winner was Robert McIntosh, son of Republican fundraiser and Trump supporter Alison McIntosh.

Brooks became the winner when the Judicial Court of Texas A & M upheld an election commissioner’s decision to disqualify McIntosh for failure to make required disclosures in a finance report. Perry complained that disqualification was too harsh when the glow sticks not accounted for appeared for only 11 seconds in a campaign video.

“Look at the bright side,” Cousin Ray snarked. “In a university student government, Perry finally found a task suitable to his talents.”


The New York Times reported for men who have anxiety about their sperm count, “there’s an app for that.” Dr. Hadi Shaflee of Harvard told the Times that with the app, “a man can avoid the embarrassment and stress of providing a sample in a doctor’s office.” The smartphone attachment the app controls costs $4.45 and produces a result in less than five seconds just as accurate as the machines currently in use that cost tens of thousands of dollars.

I was wondering if Cousin Ray had a wisecrack to add, but he was embarrassed to silence when I read him that quote about “providing a sample.”


One of many similarities between how Democrats passed the Affordable Care Act without Republican votes and how the Republicans proposed to repeal it without Democratic votes resurrected the “Cornhusker Kickback,” the amendment of the ACA to snag Sen. Ben Nelson’s vote by making the federal subsidy for expanding Medicaid permanent in Nebraska only.

This year, the Republicans amended their “repeal and replace” bill with a population-bracketed provision that would take responsibility for Medicaid off the governments in upstate New York but leave it on New York City. The amendment was the price for the support of the rural New York congressional delegation and the Democrats called it, inevitably, the “Buffalo Buyout.”


The Republicans have been promising for seven years to get rid of Obamacare. How many times they voted to repeal it with Obama standing by with his veto pen depends on how you count, but it’s more than 60. President Trump ran on a similar promise. However, the Buffalo Buyout was insufficient in a Congress that is Republican, 237 to 193 with five seats emptied by members taking other jobs.


When Cousin Ray quit muttering to himself, he pointed out that Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh ran on the promise that she would sign a bill to raise the minimum wage in Baltimore to $15 an hour if it got to her desk. Last week, the bill came to her desk after passing 11 to 3 with one absent.

After being pounded by the Baltimore Development Council—the business lobby—she vetoed it. Cousin Ray wanted to be sure I told you she’s a Democrat.


Sometimes I read a wire service report and I know in my bones that it will appear in the Cherokee Phoenix. So it was when I saw the Associated Press report that Donald J. Trump placed a wreath on Andrew Jackson’s grave to honor the 250th birthday of the slave mongering Indian killer.

It would be fair to say that lots of Cherokees still hold a grudge against Old Hickory. I’ve had people ask me don’t I think it’s past time Cherokees “got over it”? “It” would be the Trail of Tears, the central horror of Cherokee history. Asking us to get over it is like asking a Jew to get over the Shoah. The body count is disputed, but even taking the low end, every Cherokee family was touched in some manner.

Jackson justified his support for Indian removal at the time:

Established in the midst of another and a superior race, and without appreciating the causes of their inferiority or seeking to control them, they must necessarily yield to the force of circumstances and ere long disappear.

We were not established in their midst. They established themselves around us. We have not disappeared, and most of us have not gotten over it.