restlessknights

The knights are restless and for good reason.

Hobby Lobby Vs The Bris – Religion on the Cutting Edge

As if Toronto Mayor Rob Ford didn’t make this knight restless enough, with a tackle that could have earned him a spot in the Canadian Football League, now we have religion mongers on the march, yet again.

Actually, they never really stopped marching, and if we start with Egyptian mythology (upon which much of modern Western religion is based), we can see just how much power they have been (and still are) able to amass.

My latest bout of restlessness is attributable to the Hobby Lobby. Despite what they claim in their ads (and you can expect newspapers to be flooded with them come Christmas), the Founding Fathers did not establish the United States as a Christian Nation. To the contrary: those wise men made  a point of separating Church and State.

Some members of the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) are either unfamiliar with the Separation Clause (A.K.A. Establishment Clause) or are deliberately obfuscating it. That acronym “SCROTUS” is often confused with a portion of the male anatomy. Perhaps that wouldn’t happen if those Bush/Reagan appointees didn’t act as if they were.  They can’t use the excuse that the clause is buried too far down in the Constitution to find, because it’s part of the First Amendment.

This came up recently when SCOTUS was asked to render a decision on whether or not a corporation must provide contraception coverage for its employees.  This provision is guaranteed by the Affordable Care Act, which, to the surprise of many progressives, was also approved by SCOTUS.  Hobby Lobby claims that since, in another session of that august body, it was decided that corporations are people, it’s not much of a stretch to allow that “corporperson” to declare its religion.

So Hobby Lobby is now a convert to Catholicism. I say, “convert” because Hobby wasn’t born into that religion and was not forced to attend parochial school.  I’m trying to picture a lady in a penguin costume striking little Hobby with a ruler to effect discipline, or worse, his being violated by some sex-starved man of the cloth, between choir sessions.  I’m having trouble conjuring up those images in my mind. I doubt that the new Pope would condone those notorious practices, as he has demonstrated a genuine concern for the well being of people. Rush Limbaugh has criticized Pope Francis, calling him a Marxist, and Rush is probably a big fan of Hobby Lobby, if I had to guess. I reached that conclusion upon learning that one of Limbaugh’s favorite hobbies was calling women seeking birth control, sluts.

If this request is approved, relieving Hobby Lobby of the God-frowned-upon burden of providing the coverage that allows a female employee to decide if and when she wants to have a child, other companies could be tempted to adopt this principle.

Katz's_BarmitzvahKatz’s Delicatessen, on the lower East Side of Manhattan, would now be able to get that Bris (it already has the brisket) that it was denied a week after it was founded back in 1888. That’s the conclusion I drew after reading its autobiography.  Well, actually, it can’t really be an autobiography, because Katz’s Delicatessen had to leave school early, and never learned to write. Cook, yes; write, NO.

Pictured – Katz’s Delicatessen posing for its Bar Mitzvah Picture.

There are cases now pending before the Court on a pharmacist’s right to choose (remember that term?) whether or not to fill a prescription for birth control pills, sell a diaphragm, or heaven forbid, the Morning After Pill, based on religious beliefs. I doubt if religious corporations would welcome vasectomy coverage for their male employees either.

You can see where this is heading.  Christian Scientists (oxymoronic?) and Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t believe in certain life-saving medical procedures. If God wants you to go, who the hell are we to say otherwise?

Those founders, many of whom were Deists (which I believe is the 18th century equivalent of atheist, agnostic or secular humanist), were smart enough to leave a mythological Being out of the Constitution. They didn’t go far enough. Freedom FROM religion should have been included.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion … ,” just does not go far enough.

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Well, Shut Me Down

Maybe my nights shouldn’t be restless, just because our do-zilch Congress has decided to shut down the government.

Some of the esteemed members of that august body are asking their constituents if they have felt the effects of the closure. At least my Congressman, Vernon Buchanan wanted to know in his latest “InstaPoll.” impact

I usually respond to his polls, only so that my lonely voice can be heard amidst the din of his “learned” electorate.

I decided not to answer the question, because he might get the impression that closing the U.S. Government is a perfectly splendid idea, as long as most of his constituency has not yet felt any impact. There is no impact on me, personally, for the maltreatment of women, minorities and gays, but it doesn’t mean that those are also splendid ideas.

The Koch Bros are spending some of the money they “earn” from honest folks and use it to help kill the Affordable Healthcare Act. Because Congress’ 42 failed attempts to kill the bill, approved by an earlier legislative session (whose members had not gone completely berserk), and confirmed in a Supreme Court ruling, the Kochs are doing their patriotic duty.

So, many government agencies, such as non-essential ones like the EPA (We don’t need no stinkin’ environmental protection), certain Veterans Services (What? They need services?), and National Parks are closed, among many *others.

Here are some images taken directly from those closed venues:Rushmore10-2013

OldFaithfulTexted10-2013

liberty10-2013 copy

*The NIH has stopped taking on new patients, while the Centers for Disease and Prevention will halt its seasonal anti-flu program. Non-essential, indeed.

While this situation exists, Homeland Security will not provide employers verification as to the legal status of potential employees.

The Justice Department will have to curtail their policy of arresting bankers and others who were responsible for the financial collapse of 2007-08. Oh, wait. They weren’t doing that, anyway. The DEA will have to stop invading legal cannabis clinics. What will they do for fun?

Labor law violators can have a field day. There will be no agency to crack down on labor abuses. At last: We can now catch up with Bangladesh. OSHA will have no O to SHA.

If you’re looking to apply for a passport, or renew your current one, you may have a problem, such as the building housing the passport office can’t pay their rent.

Say argghh, for the Ag Department, who have cut off support for the Women, Infants and Children Program, whose purpose is to provide healthy food guidelines for pregnant women. And we all know how those pro-life Republicans care about children (at least during the fetal stage).

And Washington DC – not to worry. You will be able to keep police and firefighters working, but don’t expect your trash to be picked up. Maybe we can have some Tea-Party congressmen volunteer as garbage collectors. At least then they would finally be accomplishing something.

Literally thousands of federal employees will be furloughed if the shutdown continues.

Restless nights, anyone?

Reason – R.I.P.

The Death of Reason

tombstone2

Reason is defined in the Catholic Encyclopedia as “The name given to that period of human life at which persons are deemed to begin to be morally responsible.”  Too bad the leaders of that Church didn’t exactly subscribe to that code of morality. Also beginning to behave responsibly is only a small first step. Example: stepping out of your house to protest some evil thing a corporation (like a bank) or your government is doing is the first step. But when you don’t actually go to the protest rally, and choose to have a latte at Starbucks instead, you can’t exactly claim credit for activism.

Legislators are not the only forces stomping on reason. As reported by NPR, Tennessee magistrate, Lu Ann Ballew refused to allow the parent of a child to name it “Messiah.” And her reason was quite sound. “The word Messiah is a title and it’s a title that has only been earned by one person and that one person is Jesus Christ,” she said in an interview. Not only was she not reasonable, but worse: she used a run-on sentence. So, you folks out there named “Jesus” (and there are probably hundreds of thousands of you) or “Mohamed,” prepare to be called Jim or Moe, especially if you live in the Sippin’ Whiskey State.

Webster’s defines Reason quite differently. In one of several variations of the noun form, it‘s “the power of comprehending, inferring, or thinking especially in orderly rational ways.” What a unique concept: Making decisions actually based on logic. Who’d a thunk it? But based on the actions of some state legislators and all of the U.S. Congress, logic has become a dirty word. This could explain our march back to the 19th century, in which we seem to be goosestepping.

CommonSenseThomas Paine, wrote a two-part book on the subject (The Age of Reason), the first of which was published in 1794. If you would like to examine its contents, you’ll find it here. The book focuses on religion, and Paine’s take on it (you could say it was a painstaking effort). He defined himself as a Deist, translating as: Belief that a creator god does exist, but that after the motions of the universe were set in place he retreated, having no further interaction with the created universe or the beings within it. Who can blame him? When God saw the mess he created he decided to bear no responsibility for it.  Paine was not the sole Deist of his era. In the cadre of Founding Fathers, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and George Washington were Deists as well. So the notion that we are a Christian Nation, and must be ruled by the word of God is simply the result of using drugs that are illegal in most states.

Let us begin:  Friends, family and former beneficiaries of Reason

We are gathered together to celebrate the life of an idea that had lived for several centuries and has now disappeared. Though it did live, it was never fully accepted by the majority of world populations, who would rather have believed in bullshit then examine it for telltale odor.  For those of you that have come to this hall for the funeral for Journalism, it’s the next room on your left – and many of you will wish to attend both ceremonies.

Reason as defined by candidates and elected officials and political appointees:

Ignore the parts of the Constitution that are contrary to your point of view, and completely change the intention of the Founding Fathers. An example might be that many Americans accept the NRA definition of gun rights, and not the original wording: “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” That is what is written in the Second Amendment. I don’t see anything about AK47s and Ar15s, do you? Hey you with that Glock 19. Where’s your militia uniform?

Another is the selectivity in the interpretation of the Fourth Amendment, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” I know, those 18th century folks were too stupid to include emails, phone conversations and Social Media.  Paraphrasing President Obama (not Bush), in a recent speech. “We have a court that will protect Americans against those kinds of invasions of your private information.” FISA stands for Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. See FISA Court. Rubber Stamp. The judges on this “court” are all appointed by Chief Justice Roberts. I hope you can appreciate how much fairness we can expect from that.

Some elected officials ignore reason in favor of biological urges. There are too many to count. But making it into the news recently was the re-emergence of Weiner (so to speak).  After losing his seat in Congress following a “revealing” discovery, he swore off junk texting (Junk Male).  But memory did not serve him in that as a Mayoral Candidate HE DID IT AGAIN? So he loined from past experience, as we Brooklynites would say. And if that is not unreasonable enough, check out the Parliamentarian for Queensland, who texted a picture of his John Thomas, suspended in a glass of red wine. Now anyone with the bad taste to pair his schlong with a red wine doesn’t deserve the trust of the people, even the Aussies. Isn’t it common knowledge that only a Penile Noir should be used on these occasions?

Many elected officials are using reason to try, for the fortieth time, to repeal the Affordable Healthcare Act, pejoratively known throughout the moronesphere as Obamacare. Instead of wasting our tax money on legislation that has as much chance to pass as Michelle Bachmann suddenly acquiring a brain or Dick Cheney acquiring a soul, why not work with the President on a jobs-creation bill? Putting people back to work, or moving folks off those temporary, part time, healthcare-free jobs (does not mean free health care) into dignified work would be a win-win.

The Supreme Court, the majority of whom were named by Republican Presidents, contributed to the death of reason by rejecting key portions of the Voting Rights Act, a landmark civil rights achievement by President LBJ dating back to 1965. They seem to prefer 1865, or better yet, to a time pre-dating the Emancipation Proclamation.

This august body has also reasoned that Corporations are people, in the notorious Constitution-defying Citizens United ruling. And why not? Corporations write the laws, thoroughly confusing and lengthy to make their understanding virtually impossible.

GettysburgAddressTo account for this sad reality, let us address Abraham Lincoln’s memorable document: We need to make a word replacement. This quote from the last paragraph of that historical speech, “- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” Let’s substitute the word “corporation” for the word “people.” Because, in the words of Walter Cronkite (Funeral next door), “That’s the way it is.”

Phobia Phobia

The only thing we have to fear is the mis- pronunciation of the word "fear"

FDR at his
first inaugural address

FDR coined the phrase, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” This is listed in the Official Psycho-therapists’ Dictionary as phobia-phobia. But according to the current President, following in the footsteps of that great protector of the Constitution, George W. Bush, we have lots of things to fear besides fear (speaking about things that cause restless nights).

But W was not the first President to ignore some of the rights granted by that great document.

Our 2nd President -photo courtesy of the ACLU

Our 2nd President -photo courtesy of the ACLU

John Adams was the first, with the Alien and Sedition Act of 1798. The only thing we had to fear then, were the French, as the law was enacted as a result of an undeclared conflict with France (No, the Freedom Fry was not the first time), known then as the Quasi-war. And all this time, I thought we had been engaged in a struggle with those nasty Quasies. It was the Federalists who pushed that legislation, while the Democratic-Republicans (yes, you heard right) counseled against it. The Federalists were concerned that the revolution in France might encourage the citizens of the new American Republic to follow in France’s footsteps. Adams was not receptive to the possibility of the punishment meted out to Louis and Marie by disgruntled (and restless) citizens.

Our 16th President. Photo courtesy of Mobilize.org

Honesty, Abe?

Next it was the Great Emancipator, who, during the Civil War, suspended the writ of Habeas Corpus. There were those who didn’t believe Abe had acted constitutionally. But in a war, Presidents have to worry more about the enemy than they do public relations..

Our current situation is the result of a policy that does not endear us to many members of the Muslim Faith. They seem to object to having their countries attacked, in some cases without provocation.  They get antsy when drone aircraft, directed by experts in the CIA (forgive the oxy-moron), decide on killing anyone who fits the profile. This designation appears to be any male within the so-called terrorist age range. Guilt or innocence seems to play no part in the decision process. So unlike most wars in our past, where the warring factions eventually sign an armistice, there is no one with whom to sit down – no Palace of Versailles, no USS Missouri, and no Appomatox Courthouse. Although the Korean War was never officially ended, we are not at war with any nation. We have, in effect, a war in Perpetuitistan.

So thanks to Herr Cheney, his lackey, Bush and now Mr. Obama, the USA Patriot Act rules the day. You can go to the link to see a summary, but in essence it means that it’s fine to flout the Fourth Amendment. I find it amazing that our brothers are willing to forgo that unambiguous amendment, the intent of which is to protect our rights, but will defend the Second Amendment to the death (literally).

I know there are bad guys out there who are so frustrated they are willing to commit violent acts against innocent people. Their Mullahs promise them a heavenly reward of up to 72 virgins for carrying out the will of Allah. They will not listen to my advice, which is to have sex before considering blowing oneself up, and take a little pleasure while they are still breathing. If they could relieve their natural frustrations here on Earth, as any healthy young male is wont to do, maybe there would be no such thing as an Underwear Bomber. Some “enlightened” Americans do everything they can to seek revenge for that violence, including shooting Sikhs because they wear turbans.

The government is protecting its ass (if not your rights) by garnering about 886 million emails. That’s more than I get in my spam folder in a week. Could you imagine going through close to a billion emails? Christian Mingle alone is accountable for more than half – just kidding; Canadian pharmacies actually hold the record. NSA claims they are only looking at metadata (data about the data) and not the emails themselves. This is also said to be true of phone calls and text messages. Now we are not talking about social media such as Twitter, Facebook and all the others, where folks have voluntarily chosen to give up their rights of privacy.  The FISA Court (established in 1978) is supposed to protect us from intelligence agency snooping, by authorizing only those attempts to spy on citizens that are suspected of crimes against the United States. Do we trust this court to be judicious in its decisions to allow or disallow that kind of privacy invasion? So far, their record is perfect. They’ve never said “no.”

I don’t blame us for wanting protection against things or people that could potentially harm us. This includes candidates for mental institutions who have been excluded from gun competency checks by our dedicated members of the U.S. Senate (despite a majority having voted for those checks). How about parents who do nothing to prevent their children from grabbing an unsecured AR-15?  And what about food supplies unchecked by an FDA that is seriously underfunded? May I mention toxic pollution in violation of the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Acts  (Oh, you want clean water and air – picky, picky)? I would like the “Intelligence” agencies to live up to their names, and actually do something intelligent, like talking to one another BEFORE an act is committed. I think that might be far more effective than having our shoes removed before each flight.

I don’t feel safe, not because the government is or is not spying on me. I don’t feel safe because the food I eat from the Gulf of Mexico is contaminated by chemicals BP used to allegedly clean up their oil spill (see Corexit). I don’t feel safe because Nuclear power plants licenses are renewed years after their assumed life expectancy. I don’t feel safe because we allow China to send us any product regardless of its safety (lead bibs for kids, tainted pet food, toothpaste you could put into you radiator to cool your engine).

So, to keep me from being any more restless, PLEASE protect me from the protectors.

Media Madness

Well, there’s always something keeping the Restless Knight restless. This time it’s the sudden surge in attacks on the Administration by the folks of Fair and Balanced, AKA Fox News. One of my favorite broadcasters, Harry Shearer, calls them “Fox Noise,” but that gives ‘noise’ a bad name. Garbage trucks make noise, but at least we have been warned about just what they carry.

The latest onslaught began when national polls started indicating the popularity of Hillary Clinton for President in ’16. Obama’s current term is only a little over 100 days old, and we couldn’t wait for the last election to be over. But people are talking about the 20 freaken 16! I guess they just can’t wait to have Billary back in the White House, because something interesting always happens when Billary is in the Presidential Palace. According to most experts, the Clintons have been rated Most Favored Couple, easily out-scoring Brangalina.

So there have been unceasing attacks against the State Department for its failure to prevent the Benghazi debacle; not just from Fox, but from the other alleged news sources, such as NBC’s Get Depressed, and CBS’s Disgrace the Nation. Let me not forget to mention ABC’s Sunday alleged attempt at journalism, This Week with a Chaney or a McCain.

Representative Darrell Issa, (R) of California

Representative Darrell Issa, (R) of California

Here’s what is so restless making: You can’t get much done if you don’t provide funding to government agencies to do the work they were mandated to accomplish. For example, you cannot P much E if the EPA don’t get no pay. You can’t police food suppliers for health violations if any excuse will do to deny funding the FDA. This also holds true for the IRS. Take away their budget and the only culprits they can afford to go after are the little schmucks. The well-resourced mega-corporations are too insulated by legal staffs, rivaling Attila’s hordes, to have any thought of paying their fair share.

Some of the biggest critics of the Administration’s handling of security at the Libyan site are the very ones voting to defund the department responsible for that security. It’s like hiring police officers to quell rioters that carry AK47s while armed with peashooters, and then blaming the cops for their failure to stop the riot. Thank you GOP Congressman Issa for your defunding efforts, but for some reason you get re-elected in one of the bluest of American States. Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz also voted to cut security finding, but he’s from Utah, where nobody believes in bullshit.

I find this criticism of Obama’s security weaknesses by right wing politicians, and their backers on television networks most interesting. Where were they when GWB oversaw some of the greatest fiascoes in American history? The first was ignoring quality information that Ben Laden was planning to attack the U.S. The second was not overseeing our most powerful security agencies such as the CIA and FBI to ensure that they were on the same page. Well, in order to do that, you have to talk to one another. And what about terrorist, Mohamed Atta, who steered that commandeered jet into the World Trade Center, having been on a watch list, and then receiving his pilot’s license posthumously. Nothing curious about a guy learning to fly a plane at pilot school in the U.S.A. and choosing to skip the optional “landing” courses?

Then there was that little skirmish in Iraq, for no other reason than Cheney having it earmarked as one of the richest sources of

He's the Decider

He’s the Decider

petroleum in the world, and ripe for the taking. Guaranteed, that if olive oil were Iraq’s main export, there wouldn’t have been a war in the first place. But George sure looked good, landing on that carrier deck to announce victory (slightly prematurely).

The media having been taken over by less than objective management is probably causing Edward R. Murrow and his boss, William S. Paley to turn over in their graves. When Mr. Paley ran Columbia Broadcasting, he declared the delivery of the news to be a loss leader for the network. He would provide real journalism to the public in exchange for their loyalty. That business model is now as extinct as the dodo bird, and that’s not the only similarity media news shares with that unfortunate creature.

There were failures in the protection of embassy staff leading to the tragic death of Chris Stevens and others. The facts surrounding the event need to be brought to the fore, because we have a right to know how our government conducts itself, and protects our civil servants. But shouldn’t that be done by true journalists, getting all the facts, and not just media organizations staking the “we were first” claim.

It’s especially disturbing that the event is being muckraked chiefly by a network whose favoritism toward right-wing policies is no secret.

Jabba and the character on which he was based

Jabba and the character on which he was based – image by juanitajean.com

In fact, Roger Ailes, Der Fuehrer of Fox News was exposed on tape, in an attempt to promote General David Patraeus for President, going so far as to offer to finance his campaign. Now that would have made news objective. And if that doesn’t make your nights restless, that delightful pair of brothers, the Koch’s are seeking to buy up media organizations on the cheap. They don’t control enough at present, and news media would be icing on their cake. No, things don’t always go better with Koch.

So Hillary, I don’t know if you are planning a White House run, and Bill, if you are planning to be the First Gentleman, but you now have an early glimpse at what the campaign will be like.

Game of Moans

The very popular and highly improbable TV series, Game of Thrones, shares several things in common with the so-called

Nice guys don't always finish last

Nice guys don’t always finish last

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. In both cases, a callous douche bag, whose motives and practices cannot be called into question, rules the land. In the HBO version, we saw Joffrey rise above the competition to become ruler of the Seven Kingdoms. And not unlike the young snot nose from that country living deep in the past, Joffrey also removes any obstacles to his continued sovereignty.

The young king has his choice of any comely female he chooses, just as Kim can choose from a variety of American former basketball stars, and selecting the prettiest one.

Unlike his Dad, Kim Jong Il, who kept his rhetoric to a minimum, Kim Jong-un loves standing adjacent to some of his country’s behemoth weaponry threatening to destroy the rest of the planet. But he does believe in family values – especially the Nuclear Family.

Un's Nuclear delivery system

Un’s Nuclear delivery system

This Restless Knight, having been made even more restless when that little man started waving potentially nuclear ICBMs around, thought he had settled upon this month’s theme. The new Great Leader, having risen in the North Korean meritocracy had emerged as the world’s chief pain in the ass.

How can you compare the Game of Thrones to the absurdity of North Korea, you may well ask?

In both instances, weaponry from a much earlier time is displayed ubiquitously. And given the meteoric speed of technology development, you might compare the crossbow with the 1950’s era tanks that Kim is confident will instill fear in his neighbor to the south. By the way, South Korea currently has a GDP around 20 times larger than his. The two countries had very similar per capita GDP until the late 70’s, when most of Grandpa Kim Il sung’s supporters decided that gambling on that dictator was a recipe for failure.

Today, only one ally remains faithful, although China may actually be awakening to the possibility of their having made a few wrong choices.  An example might be the obliteration of some of China’s most lucrative trade relationships.

But Little Kim has caught a break. The news media, following the dictates of if it bleeds, it leads, have found subjects much more exciting from which to show endless footage than the possibility of the leveling of Seoul, and sending the region into chaos.

Lest he forget

Lest he forget

Let’s see, which is worse? The Boston Marathon bombing, and its incessant reportage by the major media, regardless of the lack of any new information available, or the Senate’s violation of the Constitution.

What violation, I hear you wondering.  On a rare moment that I was paying attention to my civics teacher, I learned that in either of our federal legislatures, a simple majority vote (51%) carries, with certain exceptions, such as impeachment, or the expulsion of a member of congress, which requires a super-majority (2/3) vote.  I know, I know, Article 1 Section 5 states that the legislature may determine the rules for its proceedings, leading to the so-called filibuster rule.

So let’s talk about the importance of each of these events that drew attention away from North Korea’s Great Leader.

After the marathon bombings, the media, following the bleeds/leads rule, preempted my favorite shows with a continuous loop of film footage, with one network report, claiming to have an exclusive on the capture of the perpetrator. Well, exclusivity should not be the only reason to file a news report; facts should actually play some role. CNN was particularly guilty of violating that principal, with newsman(?) John King stating unequivocally that a suspect had been arrested.

Reporting non-facts has become a tradition with CNN, as their coverage of the Supreme Court Affordable Health Care Act ruling can attest. They and rival Fox Noise reported that the Supreme’s killed Obama Care.

What’s a news junkie to do?

The New York Post, another in the Murdock truth-reporting empire, misidentified a suspect, tainting him with a very serious charge.

And coming out of this story is a rumor, which I state is unconfirmed, that there is a move afoot to require background checks for the purchasers of pressure cookers at garage sales. This would be a clear violation of America’s right to slow-cook.

The Filibuster Rule, adopted by the Senate, permits a single member of that august body to stand before his congressional colleagues for as long as his or her bladder will permit, and blather on and on until everyone in the chamber is asleep, delaying the vote. It is the threat of a filibuster that has changed the original constitutional mandate of simple majority rule, to one which requires at least 60% for a legislative proposal to carry. The party in power – in this case the Democrats, can change this rule if they so chose. But in order to do this, Harry Reid, Senate Majority leader, demonstrating a clear case of nontesticularity, fears the time when the other party will become the majority, and so, refuses to even consider dealing with this issue.

There have been few actual filibusters, and you can’t count Jimmy Stewart’s. Most of them lasted minutes, and not hours with a few exceptions. Strom Thurmond gave his Depends a true test, filibustering for over 24 hours.

This results in a major conflict: Defend the Second Amendment, allegedly granting the right for any American, nut-job or otherwise, to bear arms, or let a minority of Senate votes deny what 90% of American citizens want, i.e. background checks for gun-purchasers at gun shows (or garage sales). I say ‘allegedly’ because the Second Amendment is quite clear, and despite a huge decline in musket and ball sales since the early nineteenth century, that amendment does not legitimize citizens to arm themselves with weapons of ass destruction. It talks specifically about state militias, a means of obviating the need for a standing army.

Embrace me, my sweet embraceable Un

Embrace me, my sweet embraceable Un

So, I think we need to resurrect Kim again. Nothing  gives the Restless Knight more pleasure than the photographic capture of the Un-Rodman embrace.

In My Time

I know, Cheney’s book came out in late August, and I’m just getting around to reviewing it. Reason: I thought I’d take the time to read it before issuing what I knew would be my condemnation. But then things came up; such as I didn’t want to throw up, so I put the reading on hold. Another factor holding me back was actually laying down the cash to make the book part of my collection. It would have been like spending money to purchase a bottle of hemlock when simply eating my mother’s cooking would have easily done the trick.

Cheney, has been responsible for more restless nights than just about any other politician. As he said during an interview with NBC’s Jamie Gangel, well before the book was on the shelves, “There are gonna be heads exploding all over Washington.”

It seems, there were not enough of these exploding throughout the Middle East, thanks to his efforts, so he didn’t want Americans to be left out of all the fun.

According to the New York Times, “In My Time”, which was co-written with his straight daughter, Liz, turns out to be mostly a predictable mix of spin, stonewalling, score settling and highly selective reminiscences. By that, he remembers only those ‘facts’ that fit his agenda, conveniently forgetting the majority that did not.

Cheney demonstrated his interest in athletics by defending a sport called Water Boarding. This is where someone suspected of having information vital to the security of the United States is taken from his boring existence in a 4×6 cell, and given a chance to enjoy a refreshing little splash or two. This is, no-doubt, greeted, by the prisoner, as an opportunity to escape the tropical heat of that Cuba based American Hotel by the Bay.

The so-called suspect simply would have had to be accused of ties to the enemies of America by anyone he might have displeased in the past. It has been argued that no useful information can be obtained by using the technique that has been euphemized as enhanced interrogation. A person receiving this, or any other kind of torture would be willing to tell his interrogators just about anything they want to hear, whether or not it bears any truth.

CheneyTheFinger

Oh, you didn’t like my book?

He boasted that he would strongly support using it again if it were the only way to get a “high value” detainee to talk. Rumor has it that he would use it on his many critics, if that were the only way to get them to shut up.

Besides having several Interpol (International Criminal Police organization) arrest warrants out for him, he has lost some popularity with several former political allies, such as Colin Powel, who finally gained consciousness after helping sell Cheney’s Iraq plan to bring peace to the Middle East.

It’s interesting that Nigeria, of all nations, had tasked Interpol to issue the warrant for Mr. Cheney, as their own government has not been known for straight-shooting, unless you refer to their excellent firing squad program. And straight shooting is what Dick does best, as his lawyer and a few quail can attest. The Nigerians want a full investigation into a bribery scandal, alleged to have happened in 2004. In that instance, KBR, that infamous subsidiary of Halliburton, is accused of bribing government officials for lucrative gas contracts. This has put Cheney’s plan to vacation on the Niger Delta on hold for the foreseeable future – frustrating for him, because of the Delta’s huge quail and lawyer population.

This was not the first Interpol arrest warrant issued for Cheney. There was one as far back as 2006, when it spelled out that the Vice President at the time be seized as he approached the Nixon Library (Wow, two Dicks in the same room?). Fortunately for the VP, but not for the rest of the world, Interpol has no governmental authority to arrest anyone. They can only recommend that it be done by local authorities.

Similar criminal warrants, by the World Court have been issued for both Bush Presidents, Donald Rumsfeld, Tony Blair, Henry Kissinger, Condi Rice and others for war crimes. Officers of the World Court don’t have jurisdiction to enter the USA or Great Britain to apprehend these folks. But the travels in Europe and Southeast Asia, by the accused, are limited because they are subject to immediate detainment and extradition to Belgium. And nobody, with the possible exception of Gerard Depardieu, want to go there. Even Gerard ultimately thought that Russia was a far better choice.

Cheney continues to prove the lyrics of “Only the Good Die Young” by constantly surviving coronary episodes that would kill most in his condition. He’s alleged to have had a heart transplant, but according to most doctors, you must first have a heart in order to qualify for a transplant.

But at least Cheney is not a Republican who clings to the anti-gay sentiments, shared by most of his party. His other daughter, Mary, having come out, had persuaded him that it’s not okay to pick on someone from his family. He was recently joined by several conservative Republican legislators who seem to be “evolving” on this issue, despite the fact that they don’t believe in Evolution.

Mea Culpa. Mea REALLY Culpa

I don’t know if the former Cardinal Ratzinger (or the about to be former Pope, Benedict) has seen the recent HBO documentary, MEA Maxima Culpa, but I know what I’d do if I were Pope (only a very slim chance of THAT happening).

The infallible one (or as his friends in Cosa Nostra know him, Joey the Ratz), would be having many restless knights after the word got out (and not for the first time), that the Church has been less than forthcoming in its treatment of exposed (pardon the pun) pedophile clerics.

What did the Pope know, and when did he know it? Answer: Everything, and from his time as chief enforcement officer at the Vatican.

There are many who will mourn his loss to the Church. Not included in that group, are women, who, for their own personal and private reasons – in countries where abortion is legal (i.e. Civilized Countries), no longer wish to be pregnant. The flouting of the wishes of the Holy Father is not condoned (and Father knows best) But which Father?  It depends upon the branch of superstition you subscribe to. For the Vatican, it refers to the Pontiff, but in other equally absurd interpretations, the Holy Father is the Big Guy in the sky. I can see where the confusion comes in. I mean, they are both like so totally Holy .

In the Pope’s former role as Prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, he campaigned vigorously against political office seekers who were pro a woman’s right to determine her own reproductive future. The Doctrine, translated from the Latin Congregatio pro Doctrina Fidei (also the signature dish at the Vatican Commissary), was established in 1542. So reassuring to know that an organization, founded during such a time of enlightenment, still holds sway in the modern world.

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From Nazi Youth
to Eternal Truth

In a former-former role, Joseph, before getting a coat of many colors, served in a fun group called “Hitler Youth.” I know, it’s easy to criticize, and he probably didn’t have a whole lot of choice in the decision to join the Cub Scouts of National Socialism, but it stands as part of his past.

Another group that won’t be joining the mourners are members of Survivors of Sexual Abuse by Catholic Priests (catchy name). In 2011, these folks, a little antsy with some of the less-than-holy priestly practices and the toleration of them by none other than Joey the Ratz, have filed a petition with the Criminal Court in The Hague. Maybe the College of Cardinals should not be rushing to build Benedict’s retirement home, just yet, as a more suitable place may await him.

CNN has a video called “Predators in Plain Sight.” You don’t have to guess what the name implies. Here’s a link.

PopeInAfrica

Don’t be afraid. We won’t hurt you….

Now this little goody from The International Tribunal into Crimes of Church and State (ITCCS): A yet-to-be-named European nation will be issuing an arrest warrant for crimes against humanity and ordering a criminal conspiracy.

Until ITCCS reports just which country is alleged to be issuing this warrant, we should reserve judgment. But if this turns out to be more than just anti-Church propaganda, it explains the sudden resignation, unprecedented since those heady days of the 15th century, when Pope Gregory XII decided to get out of town. The action could lead to the seizing of Church assets that could be in the billions. I wouldn’t get my hopes up.

A history of pedophilia plagues the Church. It could explain the tailing off of the influence of the Vatican. In the United States, the Church has just announced the permanent closing of many schools, 24 in New York State alone, according to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal. 37 had already been closed, between 2000 and 2009. This was attributed to reduction in enrollment. I wonder why parents would be hesitant about exposing their children to these trusted stewards.

The result of these closings has allowed for the coinage of a new term: Nunemployment.

An article appearing in the London Evening Standard, from 2006, begins with:  “The Pope played a leading role in a systematic cover-up of child sex abuse by Roman Catholic priests, according to a shocking documentary to be screened by the BBC tonight.”

The Church is having a tough time recruiting new priests. Have they considered how devotion to the priesthood runs counter to a man’s natural urges (that God, Himself bestowed upon them). So is it any wonder that many who are drawn to the service of Jesus would not come from your average male stock?

Does the Church realize that they are stuck in dogma that lost its validity centuries ago? If they did, they might permit priests to be married, or not be bridled by celibacy, or could actually have female genitalia. As is currently the rule, married priests in the Anglican Church, are encouraged to convert to Catholicism, become Catholic clergy and REMAIN MARRIED. So if it’s right for a converted cleric then why not a plain vanilla one?

I do not hide my disdain for organized religion, and this organization is probably responsible for more human suffering than any institution I can think of. From the Crusades, to the Spanish Inquisition, to Pope Pius XII’s cooperation with Hitler (yes he saved a few Jews, and 5 people out of six million ain’t bad), the violation of thousands of helpless children and subsequent cover-up, their atrocities are legion. The encouragement of the poorest to procreate beyond their affordable limits is criminal unto itself.

So it looks like Benedict will not be pontificating for Easter. Too bad. I had been looking forward to saying “Good Yontif, Pontiff.

Jumpsuits For Wall Street

You may need this card if you're someone other than a Wall Street banker

You may need this card if you’re someone other than a Wall Street banker

So, what’s the Restless Knight getting worked up about this time? It’s actually something I’ve been consistently restless with since the beginning of the financial melt-down.

While the banking industry played monopoly with the people’s money, many of them received coveted “Get Out of Jail Free” cards. At least, that’s the way it appears. Too bad, because the people they screwed did not get that compensating “Get Out of Bankruptcy” card, or any other chance but ‘fat’, for that matter.

The Obama administration seems to lack the temerity do anything about this, as no banker has seen the inside of Club Fed. If it was good enough for Martha Stewart, than why not these stalwarts of financial insatiability? When running for President in 2008, Mr. Obama turned down public financing so his campaign wouldn’t be hamstrung by a lack of funds. Unfortunately, some of his main backers were Wall Street firms. In fact, Barry collected twice the money that his opponent did from the finance industry. This was reversed in the 2012 election, with Romney grabbing the lion’s share from these institutions.

Then Mr. Obama appointed deer-in-the-headlights Timothy Geithner as his first Secretary of the Treasury, who saved the banking industry, but told the rest of the world where to stick it. Now the President has nominated Jacob Lew to fill that soon-to-be-vacated post. Lew has been known to ‘hang out’ with Lloyd Blankfein (more about that lovely chap below).

Larry Sommers (who was paid a measly $135,000 for a single appearance before Goldman), and Robert Rubin, had both been Clinton’s Secretaries of Treasury and might possibly have had some influence on the decision to repeal the 1933 Glass-Stegall Act. It had been enacted after the Great Depression in order to prevent banks from over-extending themselves, and to avoid a repetition of that crash. It was meant to keep banks from becoming too big to fail. We know what resulted when that safety net was removed. Gee, what a surprise.

Let’s talk about my favorite bank, Goldman Sachs, which had been lead by Robert Rubin, a twenty-six year veteran of the company, and CEO, prior to his stint in the Clinton cabinet. Lew was a hedge fund manager at Citi, another of God’s worthy institutions.

As you might have read, Goldman’s CEO since 2006, Lloyd Blankfein, has boasted that what his company was doing, with transactions that would precipitate the most horrific financial debacle since the Great Depression, was God’s work. I spoke to God about this, and He denied it, in no uncertain terms, “Not me. Never told him to do it.”

But God also mentioned that all labor is God’s work, including the enterprise of making license plates. In this vocation, Mr. Blankfein could actually produce something not just billionaires could use.

Here is my analogy of the Credit Default Swap fiasco in layperson’s terms
Let’s say I’m a car manufacturer. I construct an automobile with a built-in design flaw. Let’s call this car the Bummer (rhymes with another automotive obscenity). It looks shiny and beautiful, boasts a fine EPA mileage rating and is reasonably priced. I stake my company’s reputation on this car, aggressively campaigning for my clients to get it while it’s hot. But what I conveniently forget to tell these buyers is that I have taken out an insurance policy on this vehicle, knowing that the engine will explode very soon after the Bummer hits the road, BECAUSE I DESIGNED IT THAT WAY. I also encouraged thousands of others to purchase insurance on the Bummer, for which my company received a sizable commission. What helped make the sale of the Bummer so successful was the blessing given it by trusted rating agencies, such as S&P (Yes, the same folks who downgraded U.S. credit in 2011).

So, I sell my Bummers, with high expectations to my friends (analogous to the trust Madoff had with Mets owner, Fred Wilpon). But unlike the banking industry mafia, Bernie M. had exchanged his Get Out of Jail Free card for a shot at owning Board Walk and Park Place. Now I let the financial world in on a hot insurance deal. And unlike typical insurance contracts, where the policyholder is also the owner of the insured property, Mr. Blankfein’s deal allows anyone to buy into this policy. It’s no different from planting an incendiary device in the basement of some unsuspecting jerk, and then getting all the neighbors to take out fire insurance on it.

New Sheriff in Town

New Sheriff in Town

We hear there’s a new sheriff in town. Name’s Mary Jo White. Obama has tapped her to chair the SEC, allegedly the watchdog for the finance industry. If their efforts, just before the ‘08 crash are any evidence, it’s a dog that can easily be bought off for a Liver Snap. Hopefully, Mary Jo will be the missing teeth for the Securities and Exchange Commission. Some have doubted her as the best choice for the job, having defended Wall Streeters in her previous role at Debevoise & Plimpton, a white-shoe law firm. Others believe she can use the knowledge gained protecting these miscreants, sort of like the way the most successful lobbyists come from the hallowed halls of Congress, and certainly know their way about.

Suited and Suited Up for God's Work

Suited and Suited Up for God’s Work

So, to serve justice, these men without honor need to be fitted with the proper attire, and pursue God’s work from the inside.

We Shale Overcome

As a Restless Knight, lying awake, thinking about our food and water safety, I wish I could be sitting around the fire with a bunch of old hippies, singing that song. But evidence gives me no confidence that that will soon happen. We are not overcoming shale; it is overcoming us.

In a recent story in the The Nation Magazine entitled, Fracking Our Food Supply, Elizabeth Royte painfully points out just what’s wrong with the energy industry’s methodology for extracting natural gas from shale deposits.

Don’t get me wrong. Despite my preference for renewable energy (Gas is far from being a clean green energy source. As the World Wildlife Fund energy team points out: “The idea that gas is the solution to climate change is a myth put out by vested interests.”), I am not dismissing natural gas as a temporary alternative to the dreaded coal — it is the way it’s being done that makes me restless. And if you happen to be a farmer near land that has been leased to hydraulic fracturing interests, you’ve got real reasons to be restless, and even scared manureless. I’m also restless over the distinct possibility that Americans will believe that shale gas is the answer to all of our problems, and the need to develop sane, clean, renewable energy sources will no longer be an imperative.

Some time in the not-too-distant-past, our nation lost the political will to guaranty the delivery of safe food to its population. By defunding judiciary agencies like the FDA and EPA, congress has made it inevitable that the vested interests will win out over food safety. In the case of corn, we shut our eyes to an agra industry becoming an energy industry, whose desire for profit dictates that we fill gas tanks, not hungry stomachs. Well, thanks, but no tanks. Can we please find another fuel for our cars and trucks other than what was once the product of the “Great American Bread Basket?”

But it’s all politics. It was suggested (I’m sure by a disinterested party) that corn-based ethanol could replace gasoline or at least become part of the mix that is now mandated to go into your fuel tank (Can we still call it a gas tank?). Which of out 50 states always begins the Presidential selection process? Hint: It is neither the political nor the financial capital. And don’t get me wrong. Some of my best friends are Iowans. In ten years, corn price per bushel rose from $1.97 to over $7.00, a jump of over 75%. I couldn’t find another food commodity having that rate of inflation.

But I digress. I switched to a related subject of food degeneration from my original topic, Shale and its impact on the food supply.

healthyCattle

Healthy cattle – before hydraulic fracturing

Tails of Woe

What caught my attention to this story was the reporting of farm animals, located near a fracking site, having their tails fall off. I guess we humans have nothing to fear from that alarm bell, as our ancestors lost theirs eons ago.

But perhaps we men should be concerned about what other of our body parts could meet the same fate.

Elsie, as shown in this undoctored photo, has become one of the casualties from a hydraulic fracking blow out, on a parcel of land a half mile upwind from where she and her sisters graze.

noTailOfWoe

Here is Elsie, after a good fracking.

In addition to the non-standard rear appendage, she and some of her fellow bovines began limping, with swollen legs and infections. Some lost over sixty pounds in a single week, preventing them from lactating. Calves take umbrage when their moms fail to deliver milk. Bulls did not escape the wrath of fracking. One $5,000 breeding bull had to be put to death after veterinarians were unable to treat him.

After testing the water, it was learned that it contained sulfate levels of up to 4,000 parts per million (ppm). The Illinois Department of Health (and they should know) states that 30 to 40 ppm of this additive is safe for drinking. High levels of sulfate can cause polio in cattle. But if you feel you’re not ingesting enough sulfides from your water, come to Schilke’s Farm in North Dakota (Elsie’s home), and enjoy a long soothing sip. Don’t let it bother you that other animals around the farm, such as cats and dogs had elevated levels of selenium. They drink from the same water supply as the rest of the farm population (including the humans). Incidentally, toxicity from this chemical is cumulative in the body.

snarlingDick

Cheney tells the U.S. to go frack itself

And speaking of water, a commodity in short supply in many places in the world, including the U.S., fracking a single well can require up to 7 million gallons of potable water. If that’s not enough, thanks to former VP Cheney, fracking interests are not required to report every nasty chemical they intend to use to accomplish their task. Ah, good old Dick Cheney. He was the first to receive a heart transplant when there was no evidence that he ever had one in the first place. I don’t suppose his connection to Halliburton (a major player in the hydraulic fracturing business) had anything to do with this industry secret, do you? By the way, that same great American got fracking excluded from violations of the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air and Safe Drinking Water Acts, the Toxics Release Inventory, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, and the National Environmental Policy Act. So shooting a lawyer as quails are released from their cages is not the only act he can take credit for.

But that is only the beginning. The World Wildlife Fund has documented the many organs, including the kidney and liver that have been affected by the 632 chemicals used in natural gas production.

The Catskill Mountainkeeper lists on its website some of the chemicals found in water after hydraulic fracturing. Have you enjoyed some fine barium lately? How about cadmium, chromium, lead and mercury? This resource is on the alert, possibly because NY State Gov. Cuomo is under pressure and is yet to make his decision on permitting fracking on the state’s vast Marcellus shale deposits.

I stated in the beginning of this piece that I am troubled by the possibility, and even the probability that our citizens will become complacent about fracking and all of its evils. Yes, shale gas will bring us a certain amount of energy independence – but at what price? Is it worth having cheap fossil fuel in exchange for endangering the safety of our food supply?

Are the earthquakes that have been reported throughout areas in which hydraulic fracturing is taking place acceptable? As of this writing, fracking-suspected quakes have occurred many areas, including the following:
Dallas, Texas
Basel Switzerland
Colorado
Oklahoma
Youngstown, Ohio

I don’t know about you, but the possibility of an earthquake can make me pretty restless.

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