Brian Hare and Vanessa Woods published an op-ed on LiveScience.com objecting to the “casting” of a bonobo as a villain in the summer blockbuster, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. (Warning: the link contains film spoilers.) Hare and Woods, who serve on the board of Lola ya Bonobo, a sanctuary for the peaceful primates, claim “Bonobos give us hope that we can find a way to escape our xenophobic and murderous tendencies, even if we are apes…” Hearing this, my cousin Ray Sixkiller was asking if a population of bonobos could be relocated to the Gaza Strip?
In other simian behavior, former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell seemed really cold for throwing his wife under the bus when the investigation into lavish gifts going into the Governor’s Mansion and favors coming out started last year. Now, the resulting trial has turned into a painful soap opera, with the “family values” governor claiming that his marriage had become a political sham and his wife claiming that she “had a crush on” businessman Jonnie R. Williams, Sr. who the government alleges lavished $165,000 worth of “gifts” on the couple in exchange for official actions to promote his dietary supplements, which were then subject to an investigation by the Food and Drug Administration. “Never mind Gaza,” Cousin Ray chuckled, “the bonobos are needed in Virginia.”
Speaking of soap operas, The New York Times carried a tale where the lines between fact and fiction got blurry, the life of Truong Dinh Tran. Mr. Tran died leaving an estate valued at about $100 million, 16 children by five women, and no will. Cousin Ray observed, “This guy left enough to provide handsomely for the care and education of the children….of at least half a dozen lawyers.”
Some time after 3 a.m. on July 22, perpetrators unknown used aluminum pans to block spotlights that illuminate the flags on top of the Brooklyn Bridge. They then scaled the bridge and replaced the two US flags with white flags, although it’s unclear to whom they meant to surrender. When retrieved, the white flags turned out to be bleached US flags. Traffic on the Brooklyn Bridge is 24 hours, so somebody had to have seen something. The police don’t appreciate being pranked, but the serious side of it is that New York is as much a terrorist destination as a tourist destination. The alleged mastermind of 9/11, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, is said to have entertained bringing down the bridge by severing the suspension cables.
Crossing a bridge on the other side of Manhattan, The Washington Post reported that Republican Gov. Chris Christie’s idea of reforming public employee pensions in New Jersey hammered the employees: raise the retirement age and employee contributions while cutting benefits and cost of living adjustments. The “reforms” are coming unglued and he now says “Promises were made that can’t be kept. Welcome to the real world, folks.” My Republican Cousin Ray Sixkiller said the Five Tribes have seen this movie before. “We called it Pacta Sunt Servanda. The colonists call it Oklahoma.”
The attacks on 9/11 kept on giving for Al Qaeda when New York Post reported the cancer toll among responders to the terrorist attack on 9-11 has broken above 2,500, up from 1,140 last year. Workers at Ground Zero have rates of prostate and thyroid cancer, leukemia and multiple myeloma already shown to be much higher than the general population, and they face a deadline of October 14 this year to file claims for compensation. “Here’s hoping,” Cousin Ray remarked, “that everybody who is going to get cancer gets it on the right schedule to be compensated.”
Discovery reported observations of Canadian leafcutter bees, which do not build hives of wax, revealing the insects have taken to using bits of plastic to construct their nests. Cousin Ray suggested that Canadian insects can afford to work in plastic because they are covered by Canadian Medicare.
The New York Times quoted Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), “If you don’t ask for the sale, you don’t get it.” The only African-American Republican in Congress was commenting on GOP presidential candidate and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul’s ongoing efforts to reach out to African-American voters.
Most blacks, like most voters, don’t yet know who Rand Paul is. Paul’s libertarian leanings have led him to support repeal of the sentencing disparity between crack cocaine and powder cocaine and to oppose the War on Drugs generally. Blacks, like Indians, have no love for dangerous drugs in their communities, but they can see the lopsided racialized enforcement.
Sen. Paul has recanted his opposition to the public accommodations protection in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and now, as Rachel Maddow documented on video, often denies he ever opposed the Civil Rights Act. Most voters are too young to remember that fight or the fact of segregated facilities.
In other libertarian news, The New York Times editorialized that marijuana should be legalized on the federal level and the matter left to the states, so we can see if the world ends in Colorado and Washington. If it sounds like the Grey Lady is toking up, keep in mind she still requires employees to pee in the bottle.
It’s easy to think of how war wastes talent, and how the person who was destined to discover a cure for cancer may have died in WWII—or in the Nazi death camps WWII shut down. Another waste is creative people turning their talents to destruction, as shown in a New York Times story about Abu al-Baraa, a Syrian rebel who designed a new battery for the shoulder-fired missiles the rebels use to bring down Syrian aircraft, using “electronic devices from a broken radio and a capacitor from an old fridge.”
Mark your calendar on July 25, when the mother of all do-nothing Congresses passed a bill. The House went along with a bill the Senate had already passed repealing the criminal penalties for unlocking your cell phone for the purpose of changing carriers. The penalties had already been widely ignored. “What this tells me,” grumbled Cousin Ray, “is that the Tea Party signed off on the bill.”
Exhausted from actually passing a bill, Congress is about to take a breather for all of August and part of September, when they will briefly bump fists to celebrate cutting government activity before taking off from the first week in October to Election Day in November. “It doesn’t take long to do nothing,” Cousin Ray mused.
Rachel Maddow reported that the House will attempt to pass about one sixth of the appropriations President Obama requested to deal with the emergency on the southern border, but two thirds of the funds would be earmarked for “security.” Cousin Ray wondered if maybe there were more guys in uniform on the border, “maybe the kids from Central America could turn themselves in quicker?”
Joe Nocera published an op-ed in The New York Times arguing that the US Chamber of Commerce “lost its way” when it went all in with Republican candidates in the 2012 elections. The Chamber put money into 15 Senate races and lost 13. In the House, the Chamber scored 4 of 22. The Chamber was a big part of the GOP takeover of the House in 2010, but has since been learning that money can’t buy love from the Tea Party.
The US Chamber of Commerce would like to see continuance of the Export-Import Bank, a rise in the gasoline tax to replenish the Highway Trust Fund, and comprehensive immigration reform—all smacked down by the Tea Party. When the Chamber lobbied against the last silly government shutdown engineered by their newly minted Tea Party representatives, it got shrugged off. Cousin Ray, a Republican who agrees with all of the above, called it a clear case of “lie down with dogs and get up with fleas.”
In a scandal that will provoke chuckles by Indians who’ve seen the same in their tribal governments, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has departed the list of potential Democratic presidential candidates by appointing a commission to study corruption and then abruptly pulling the plug when subpoenas landed on his friends.
The Republican National Committee has accused Hillary Clinton of “Hispandering,” a term coined by Rush Limbaugh back in 2012, because she belatedly decided it would not be a good idea to cut off hearings for the Central American children coming across the border to determine whether they have lawful claims for asylum. Nobody questions that all of the children do not meet the legal standard, but nobody questions that some of them do. The policy issue is whether the US, as current law requires, should take the trouble to sort them out. Cousin Ray suggested that his party should consider a little Hispandering, since they have the Angry White Male vote sewed up.