The New York Times reports a study on Magellanic penguins, long in jeopardy from predation and starvation, now dying from climate change-induced hypothermia. The study on the South American birds mirrors a similar finding on a colony of peregrine falcons in the Canadian arctic dying off from changing rain patterns. My Republican Cousin Ray Sixkiller has been embarrassed by his party’s climate-change deniers. “I’m waiting,” he grumbled, “for climate change to wipe out the wacko-birds.”
Former Gov. Mike Huckabee dominated Friday political news by entering the battlefield of the Republican war on women, charging that Democrats are telling women “they cannot control their libido…without the help of the government.” Cousin Ray wondered if the male libido might have something to do with birth control prescriptions as well?
After an informal survey of women we know, Cousin Ray and I concluded that women do not equate family planning with having a voracious sexual appetite. Huckabee brought to mind Rush Limbaugh’s 2012 remarks that a woman who wants birth control coverage is “having so much sex she can't afford contraception.” Mr. Limbaugh’s understanding that each sex act requires a birth control pill caused great hilarity…among Democrats. Robin Abcarian wrote of Huckabee’s efforts to connect birth control to “libido” in the Los Angeles Times: “The party must find a way to turn women on, not off. Don’t smirk. You know what I mean.” Cousin Ray accused Abcarian of “piling on,” adding “you know what I mean.”
Gail Collins, writing in the Saturday New York Times, made fun of Huckabee’s admission that he “used to fry squirrels in a popcorn popper.” This reminded me of a sixties Jack Lemmon movie where Lemmon used a tennis racket to strain spaghetti. The women in the theater laughed, but the men did not. “Now,” Cousin Ray said excitedly, “ we have a real difference between men and women.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) remarked that “extreme conservatives” have no place in New York, leading Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) to invite them to move to his state. Cousin Ray wondered how extreme Louisiana’s conservatism could be when their GOP Sen. David Vitter survived showing up on the D.C. Madam’s “trick list?” Sen. Vitter has announced plans to run for Louisiana governor in 2015, when Gov. Jindal is term-limited. Cousin Ray offered to trade offended extreme conservatives for offended women “and throw in two random political insults to be named later.”
The Guardian, inspired by Justin Bieber’s latest arrest, published a piece on “the art of the celebrity police mugshot” dominated by Lindsay Lohan who, Cousin Ray reminded me, “set the bar for celebrity arrests.”
History Professor Adam Rothman published a story on Al Jazeera America about the diary of a Union soldier in the unit that liberated the plantation in Louisiana portrayed in 12 Years a Slave. The soldier’s diary led Rothman to argue that Solomon Northup, the free black man kidnapped into slavery for 12 years, was watering down the horrors to something his audience could digest. “Slavery was horrible,” observed Cousin Ray, “who knew?”
Duck Dynasty ratings are way down after Phil Robertson’s remarks about happy slaves and effeminate chefs but it still led cable TV. Cousin Ray surmised that the pickings must be slim on cable TV but observed that Robertson still got invited to the State of the Union address “to pump up ratings for the GOP.” Congressmen lined up to have pictures with Robertson.
The Sunday New York Times reported on a provably inaccurate anti-American propaganda “report” being distributed by the Afghan government that has substantial overlap with similar documents distributed by the Taliban. Abdul Satar Khawasi, a member of the Afghan parliament who produced the false information, was quoted that Americans “are heartless people.” Cousin Ray said that if we don’t get our sons and daughters out of Afghanistan, we will prove that “Americans are brainless people.”
Speaking of brainless, Cousin Ray was reading a letter out loud about the government being gridlocked while people were out of work and the politicians living high while the voters suffer. “Republican or Democrat?” I asked. “Blackfeet,” he replied glumly.
Pope Francis prayed for the Ukraine Sunday and then the children on each side of him released white doves as symbols of peace. Both doves were immediately attacked by a seagull and a crow. The Vatican had no comment on the symbolism.
According to the Chicago Tribune, never-married French President François Hollande said in an official statement that “I have ended my partnership with Valérie Trierweiler,” who had been in charge of the First Lady’s office with a budget of about 20,000 Euros per month. Cousin Ray wished tribal governments could afford that luxury.” “Just imagine,” he said, “if our worst problem was whether a Chief’s girlfriend objected to him having a girlfriend.”
Anti-poverty organization Oxfam released a report, Working for the Few: Political Capture and Economic Inequality, documenting that the 85 richest people in the world own as much property as half of all humanity. “The free market is telling us,” marveled Cousin Ray, “that each of those billionaires is as productive as about 85,300,000 ordinary people?”
The Grammy awards broadcast Sunday night was a strange trip for old guys. I was not offended by the strong language but by zapping out the strong language. I guess it’s hard to bleep on key. “But did you notice,” Cousin Ray pointed out, “that all those edgy kids
were singing along with Okie From Muskogee?”
Eseos Igiebor, 43, got in a fight with a Dallas cab driver over $40. According to the Dallas Morning News, the police followed him to his hotel room, where they “found piles of money and stacks of papers with stolen Social Security numbers in open view.” Dallas police notified the fibbies, who unraveled a massive identity theft ring and sent Igiebor and several of his family to the Club Fed. “Cab rides,” Cousin Ray observed, “are getting more expensive all the time, but are still cheaper than a police car.”
The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that this year we will see ads advertising the Super Bowl ads. The next football scandal, Cousin Ray predicted, will be fake injuries—not for a time out but for jamming in another 30-second ad at $4 million.
Tuesday was supposed to be about the State of the Union address, but in my universe it was about the death of Pete Seeger. Cousin Ray spent the day with his guitar and his memories.
Jimmy Kimmel Live! sent camera crews to the street to get citizen reactions to the speech…before it was given. Mike Shields of the Republican National Committee sent out an email blast almost half an hour before the President started speaking: “After listening to President Obama’s State of the Union address, I’m fed up. I’m fed up with his empty promises, I’m fed up with his lies and I’m fed up with his liberal agenda.” Cousin Ray gave a general salute to American creativity, but noted that it used to be a big deal to call the President a liar “and you at least had to wait until he said something.”
Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY) threatened a reporter after the speech for asking about his campaign finances: “I’ll throw you off this (expletive) balcony….break you in half…” Cousin Ray wondered if Rep. Grimm was seeking to improve his campaign finances by selling tickets to his interviews?
According to the Washington Post, the Arizona Republican Party has passed a resolution of censure against Sen. John McCain for being “too liberal.” Cousin Ray claimed “those guys were last seen rowing a boat in circles under the London Bridge in Lake Havasu—because they only had a starboard oar.”
Prof. Dan Cassino, of the Political Science Department at Fairleigh Dickinson University, tested people with questions about current events and then asked their primary source of news. The best score was National Public Radio with 1.51. The Daily Show scored 1.42; CNN and MSNBC 1.26. Fox viewers scored 1.04, substantially below people who watched no news at all, who scored 1.22. We hope to see "How Did I Miss That?" in the next study.
Forbes reported this week that a North Dakota farmer has become the first American citizen convicted of a crime by evidence gathered from a Predator drone, one of approximately 700 law enforcement missions by drones so far. Cousin Ray wondered if the occupation of Wounded Knee in 1973 would have gone differently if the government had deployed drones in addition to tanks and automatic weapons? “Can Hellfire missiles be far behind?”