The big news on January 31 was Jason Harrington’s piece in Politico about his time as a TSA officer: “As I saw it, $40 million in taxpayer dollars had been wasted on ineffective anti-terrorism security measures at the expense of the public’s health, privacy and dignity.” He referred to the now-abandoned full body scanners that, it turns out, could produce images of breasts and penises but not pistols, if the pistols were placed at a certain angle. The male officers had a code, “hotel papa,” so they would not be overheard passing along “hot pussy.” My Cousin Ray Sixkiller spoke though gritted teeth: “Your tax dollars at work, but not very hard.”
The New York Daily News reported the same day that Glenn Taylor, 45, one of two (now ex-) Boy Scout leaders facing five years in the pokey for pushing over a 200 million year old rock formation in a Goblin Valley, Utah state park filed a lawsuit just weeks before the incident claiming he was “debilitated” by injuries from a 2009 auto accident. The “leaders” were caught when they posted video of their exploit on YouTube. Cousin Ray ventured, “I guess we don’t know how strong the guy was before he got debilitated….and I can’t help wondering if he hit his head?”
Breitbart.com kicked off a wacko-bird feeding frenzy in the comments under a story headed “Pope Francis Blesses Former Male Stripper's Parrot.” “Everybody should know,” Cousin Ray snickered, “that if somebody hands you a talking bird to be blessed, you need to cross-examine the bird.”
There was a minor kerfuffle when the NFL engaged an opera singer, Renée Fleming, to sing the national anthem at the Super Bowl. Cousin Ray thought it was a good idea to “finally have somebody who can handle the rockets’ red glare.” Both of us, understanding American Indians don’t get a voice, favor an anthem singable by ordinary folks, Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land.” Cousin Ray added an extra point for Woody: “You can remember the words to several verses!”
According to the Toronto Sun, Mayor Rob Ford has floated a “boys will be boys” defense for Justin Beiber. Cousin Ray took that under advisement, but declared that Mayor Ford “looks a little too old to use it for himself.”
In other Rob Ford news, the February 1 Toronto Star reported that Mayor Ford flew to Vancouver for the funeral of a friend’s mother and got ticketed for jaywalking outside a pub, where he claimed to have been imbibing only diet soda and speculated that he had been targeted for openly rooting for the Broncos in Seahawks territory. “Did Toronto know,” Cousin Ray asked, “that they elected a Broncos fan?”
Indians will love a piece A.J. Jacobs published in the February 2 New York Times, “Are You My Cousin?”, where he reports on the state of his family tree, now up to 75 million. Cousin Ray suggested Mr. Jacobs “only needs one relative per rez to annex the whole place.”
The same paper reported that the “reforms” to stop the revolving door between government jobs and lobbying have been ineffective. Cousin Ray snorted “Call it all nepotism!”
I’ve been irony-bombed. I was reading an article about the drinking water getting as scarce in California as it already is in West Texas and the radio started playing Bob Dylan’s “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall.” Dylan’s metaphor got turned around, and Cousin Ray wondered if it would be legal to give climate change deniers shorter water rations?
Bloomberg Businnessweek filed a report on the human persons behind the corporate person, Freedom Industries, that contaminated the drinking water of 300,000 people. I lost count of the number of federal crimes, as Bloomberg violated the West Virginia law against using the words “crime” and “coal” in the same sentence. Cliff Forest, who apparently bought Freedom Industries a few days before the spill was reported, leads the charge against President Obama’s alleged “war on coal.” Freedom Industries distributes chemicals made by Georgia-Pacific Chemicals, owned by the billionaires Charles and David Koch, who keep claiming not to be the money behind several Astroturf Tea Party groups. Ironically, the only thing that kept Freedom Industries out of bankruptcy in 2009 was $400,000 in federal stimulus money, which the Tea Party opposed. When Cousin Ray was able to take his head out of his hands, he pointed out that the water has been cleared to drink for everybody except pregnant women, “consistent with the modern GOP position that a human is more important before birth than after.”
The New York Times reported that the embalming agent formaldehyde has been found in West Virginia tap water declared safe for the non-pregnant. Cousin Ray called the formaldehyde “a cost-cutting measure” in case anybody died from the contaminated water.
The Washington Post reported numbers of abortions dropped in 2011 to the lowest rate since Roe v. Wade legalized the procedure. The downward trend was robust before Republicans took over more state houses in 2010 and enacted more abortion restrictions between 2011 and 2013 than in the entire previous decade. The other major GOP initiative was voter suppression, justified by an empty claim of “voter fraud.” Cousin Ray likened the wacko-bird GOP agenda to “strolling to the battlefield and shooting the survivors.”
North Carolina is one of the GOP takeover states, where both voter suppression and abortion restrictions have been on the front burner and Congressional seats have been redistricted to assure Republican control even with a minority of votes. Singer Clay Aiken is running against this as a Democrat in a district that voted 58 percent Romney and has a Tea Party incumbent, Renee Ellmers. According to The New York Times, Rep. Ellmers has remarked that Mr. Aiken can’t beat her because he couldn’t win American Idol. He wants to talk about education, particularly for special needs kids. Cousin Ray predicts Rep. Ellmer will make it about Mr. Aiken’s sexual orientation “and if that doesn’t work, she’ll question his relationship with that giraffe.”
The Daily Beast reported that a coroner in the United Kingdom has recorded the first death from Cannibis sativa intoxication. Upon reading the article, it appeared that a woman was found dead, THC was in her blood, and they found no other cause of death. If that’s the standard for causation, Cousin Ray pointed out, “drinking water is deadly.” He thought better of that wisecrack when I mentioned West Virginia.
Phillip Seymour Hoffman, at 46 one of the finest actors of his generation, was found dead with a needle in his arm and bags of heroin close by, the latest victim of a heroin epidemic that has killed hundreds in the last six months. Cousin Ray pointed out that our kids are dying to keep the Karzai government in Afghanistan, which is involved in the opium trade, which keeps heroin costs down and enables more deaths from heroin overdose. “Your tax dollars working for death rather than to death.”
According to the Center for Disease Control, deaths related to prescription pain medicines are more numerous than deaths from heroin and cocaine combined. “Paying attention to stuff like that,” Cousin Ray said, “would mess up this splendid war on drugs that keeps so many brown people off the voting rolls by not arresting white people for the same thing.”
On February 2, Janet Yellen became the first woman to head the Federal Reserve Bank, the most important economic post in US government. Cousin Ray once more showed himself a Republican heretic by claiming that our daughters can grow up to do anything our sons can grow up to do. The stock market celebrated her swearing in by tanking.
Global Research reports that government agencies either make reassuring noises or dodge questions about whether radiation from the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan threatens the West Coast of North America, but nobody really knows because no government agency is tracking radiation levels in the Pacific. “Your tax dollars not at work,” snarked Cousin Ray.
The major controversy among Super Bowl ads was Coca-Cola featuring “America the Beautiful” sung in multiple languages, which stirred up the “English only” crowd. Cousin Ray pointed out the entire thing could have been done in indigenous languages in addition to Keres. Glenn Beck’s listeners heard boycott threats because the ad was an “in your face” attempt to “divide people.” All that in addition to the anti-gay complaints, which led Stephen Colbert to remark “if the woman who wrote the song, Katharine Lee Bates saw this ad, she would be disgusted, and so would have life partner Katharine Coman.”
A Cheerios ad posed on YouTube caused a major outpouring of what Bloomberg Businessweek called “racist bile” over the depictions of an interracial family. General Mills doubled down by shooting another commercial with the same family and ponying up big bucks to show it during the Super Bowl. I asked Cousin Ray for a comment, but his mouth was full…of Cheerios.