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Category Archives: History Rhymes

Crimea River

To: Dear Commissariat Vlad Impaler
Date: 16 March 2014
Re: Crimea River

After the Put-in, your currency Russian down rapidly past international banks where you missed your Chinese takeout.  Better to practice in the kiddy Simferopool.  No one likes usury; neither a USSRer nor borrower be.  With whom are you in streambed with anyway?  We have tried to brook our differences and open up diplomatic channels, but your runoff from the mouth is constrainer.  A ledge ally, you think we are keeper you from this sticky business?  That’s a dam lie!  But let us broach diplomacy, lest we sandbar each other from the water table; our communiqués have eroded enough, wouldn’t you say?  For far too long have we been bogged down in cold shoulder politics.  This said, do not think for one moment we will merely roller over like bump on logjam, even during this your watershed moment on the wave of so much popularity.  If Ukraine your neck high enough to the sky you will see we have the Kiev to your lock.  Like your Lada to our Ford, Leda to a swan, your Mother Russia-of-pearl before swine purloined is beyond riparian.  Do you have any eddy how bad you look?  First your attack on our gay brothers and sisters.  (How do you expect to harness hydroelectricity without dykes anyhow?)  Now you’re back in the land grab saddle like a Cossack on horseback.  Then again, why buy the Moscow oligarchs, when you get bilk for free?  Paddle do, you might say.  But Huron the wrong side of history, my friend.  Let’s let bygones be, and our past troubled water under the bridge, no?  True, you drove me nearly drove me out of my head when you said you told me love was too plea bargain.  I assumed the interpreter meant to say proletariat.  And now you say you love me again, and ask me to dance the hedgehog and fox Trotsky.  That’s your come-on: Crimea River.  I cried driver, how you say shotgun in your country.  In Putin Empire, Helen of Troika comes to you.

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Free the Felines!

Free the Felines!

It was one of those warm summer evenings in July 2010, on a Sunday around 6:00 pm, when a pipeline quietly ruptured and over 1 million gallons of diluted bitumen — aka tar sands or heavy crude oil — spilled into Talmadge Creek, a tributary of the Kalamazoo River in southwestern Michigan.  It took 17 hours for Enbridge, the company responsible for the pipeline, to react — that’s three separate shifts of workers who failed to notice a massive problem.  Meanwhile, despite multiple 911 calls by residents who reported unusual petroleum smells, local authorities were clueless; they hadn’t even known there was an oil pipeline in the area.  It was not until a worker from a gas utility company noticed the spill and reported it that Enbridge did anything.  Contaminating some 38 miles of the Kalamazoo River, this disaster resulted in the largest and most expensive inland oil spill in U.S. history (costing over $1 billion to clean up).  Three years later and three days before the anniversary of the spill, three protesters peacefully engaging in non-violent direct action chained themselves to Enbridge machinery in hopes of halting progress of more installed pipelines (to the same line that ruptured earlier), an act of civil disobedience for which they were arrested as felons — a federal crime tantamount to murder or arson, even though all they were found guilty of was trespassing and obstruction.  They were recently convicted and are currently being held in jail without bond until their sentencing on Wednesday, March 5th.  They stand to be imprisoned for three years.  They should be exonerated.  You can help.
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What’s In a Name?

What’s In a Name?

“Who gave you that numb?”
James Joyce, Finnegans Wake

 

 When you think about it, most sports mascots are intrinsically silly.  Cardinals and Orioles are songbirds, not even raptors.  I don’t even know what on earth a seahawk is, but perhaps the “Seattle Ospreys” doesn’t quite convey the punch.  Penguins playing hockey – is that supposed to distract your opponent by giving them the giggles?  Would anybody know that a Bruin is a bear?  Is there any coincidence that the most tragic team in baseball is named after a baby animal – the Cubs?  Why not the Kansas City Kittens or Poughkeepsie Puppies?  And while Miami might have the most perfect season in the history of the NFL, its mascot is the indisputably gay dolphin, with cute turquoise, aqua, and corral colors. Read the rest of this entry »

 

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April Fools March Forth

April Fools March Forth

I think the Jews got it right, the marking of the new year in autumn.  Leaving aside any debate about whether life begins at conception or at birth,* there’s something intuitive and irrepressibly hopeful, poetic even, about the seeds of some future beginning taking hold in autumn, lying dormant and warm beneath the earth over the cold, dark, hard winter, to nudge their vernally green buddy heads above the surface of snow-scruff and the pungent mud of spring.  Certainly more intuitive than beginning the year on January 1st – only a week or so after the longest night of the entire year; hell, only a week or so after the season of winter has technically begun – when all the world (well, the northern hemisphere) is dead, still, and frozen.  That’s supposed to represent a new beginning, then?!?  What calendrical maniac hoodwinked a whole culture to swallow hook, line, and all that the new year should begin smack dab in the chapter of death and darkness?  It just doesn’t feel right.  Read the rest of this entry »

 

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And the VAWA Award goes to…

And the VAWA Award goes to…

Making sure our state remains proud, our intrepid Senator Ron Johnson has done his dang darnedest to ally the upper Midwest values of “where the women are strong and the men are good looking” with those of Texas and Kentucky, Utah and Wyoming, where ladies’ night is ladies first in the back of the pickup truck all git-‘r-done and don’t holler none now y’hear?  Yes, our champion of democracy who is living proof that anybody can be elected to Congress – no, seriously: any body – joined the upper crust of such conservative colleagues as Tom Coburn, Orrin Hatch, Rand Paul, Mitch McConnell, Pat Roberts, Jeff Sessions, and Marco Rubio by voting against renewing the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) last week.  And when I say last week, let me be more precise: voted against violence against women two days before Valentine’s Day.  Once again reminding us that liberals might have the bleeding hearts, but it’s conservatives who are the real romantics.

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Operation Red Scare Map

Operation Red Scare Map

Here’s a scene: a solemn Tuesday evening in the chamber of the House of Representatives, a cold and bitter February in the capital city, and everyone who is anyone in Washington politics is there: the Chief Justice next to the Joint Chiefs, freshman congresswoman from Mesa, Arizona, seated beside the senior senator from Missoula, Montana, as an old hand of the Cabinet from Biscayne Bay walks past the puckish House Clerk from Bayonne, NJ.  Conservatives on the floor are abuzz with anticipation, glad-handing and back-slapping one another for a job well done.  Scattered stand isolated liberals stoically cross-armed with lips still bit from simmering resentment.  The Sergeant at Arms suddenly announces, his voice booming, “Mister Speaker, the President of the United States!”  A thunderous whoop resounds like a crashing wave, and there strides Mitt Romney – President Romney, the 45th President of the United States – on his way to deliver what will be his first State of the Union address.  Somewhere else, unseen from public eye, perhaps keeping the designated survivor company, Republican operatives light a cigar and toast their tumblers of Scotch for having successfully stolen another election.

Such a scenario would be happening tonight if the Republican plan called “Red Map” (technically “the REDistricting MAjority Project,” or REDMAP) had been in effect for the 2012 election.  President Obama, having handsomely won the majority vote, would have nonetheless lost the electoral vote due to a deliberately divisive revisionism by conservatives in an effort to demonstrate that parts of the country are greater than the whole.  Which we know thanks to the post-Beatles offshoots of The Wings or Plastic Ono Band simply is preposterous – the whole is always better than the individual parts.  Maybe I’m amazed, but power to the people – so let it be.

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Undermining Credibility

Undermining Credibility

With only three weeks to go til Valentine’s Day, the Republicans in the State Legislature of Wisconsin are doing what no men ever do: shopping for their beloved before the last minute.  Indeed, in what can only be called a sweetheart deal to both Gogebic Taconite and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation – the former an out-of-state mining company, the latter a much-flawed private entity (that used to be a public one before Scott Walker took over) – the Republican juggernaut essentially promises what any sugarcoated candy on February 14th does: “be mine.”  Only in this sense it’s not just a command in the possessive sense; it’s also the Republican diktat that the Gogebic mine be.  Corporate profit and bought-off lawmakers, true love if there ever was.
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