Friday, May 29, 2009

Monkeys Be Losin' They Minds

First it was monkeypox and now this.I noticed a news headline not long ago that read "Australian Zoo Evacuated After Orangutan Escape." The ape showed no aggression, but the newsworthy part of the story was the 27 year old primate breached an electric fence by using a branch to scale its' way to freedom and avoid being shocked. Coming so close on the heels of the recent, hideous chimp mauling in Los Angeles, I saw a pattern and decided to do some research so you wouldn't have to. What I found is jaw-droppingly shocking. We are in the midst of no less than a covert, global monkey jihad. Especially among so-called pets or otherwise kept monkeys. Consider this:

5/17/08, Los Angeles News"An orangutan named Bruno escaped from his enclosure at the Los Angeles Zoo and went on a 25-minute jaunt...Bruno got out through a hole in his wire mesh enclosure...Zoo officials were not sure whether Bruno made the hole..or if the wire broke some other way"
1/30/09,"Using only a stretched green T-shirt and powerful upper body strength, a Sumatran orangutan named Berani escaped from his Audubon Zoo enclosure..Employing a level of cunning that could come from a prison movie, the primate stretched the shirt, scaled a 10 1/2-foot wall to the top of the moat, wrapped the shirt around the "hot" electrical wires surrounding the exhibit and swung out."
5/11/09"An orangutan in Heidelberg Zoo has attracted attention after teaching himself to whistle. Now the 14-year-old ape has recorded his first CD. Entitled "Ich Bin Ujian," The CD single by Ujian will go on sale in June. The song, a jaunty pop-rock number with reggae elements, features Ujian's melodic whistling..and a chorus including the lines: 'I am Ujian the orangutan, I am so cool, man, I am a star.'"

Obviously, the captive orangutans are up to something. They escape their Escarpments with ease, causing chaos but never harming anyone, but just to brazenly show us they can do it at will. Some are learning skills involving the disarmament of locked gates and electric barriers, while others are learning to whistle "(Sittin' on)the Dock of the Bay," and releasing CD singles to distract us from what's really going down and have us believe that they are cool with our values. This orangutan song-and-dance is really a smokescreen to cover-up what is happening at the tip of the spear of the monkey revolt; the angry, malicious, and revengeful violence of the world's chimpanzees. In this battle against their human captors, they are the guerrilla warriors of the simian movement; "The Simianese Liberation Army."

The Kolkata zoo in India reported that a mother and her six-year-old daughter were injured by rocks thrown from Babu, a male chimpanzee, who became "furious and retaliated" when visitors threw pieces of bricks at him. Zoo officials confirmed that Babu escaped his enclosure last year by breaking the lock. The victims were treated in the hospital and released. More ominous were the plans of the chimp named Santino in Sweden's Furuvik Zoo, who was observed "chipping at concrete to create discs to throw at visitors. He even made weapons at night to the morning." Santino impressed Swedish scientists who believe "this is the first evidence of a non-human animal being capable of making plans for the future." Thousands of miles away in Thailand, the monkey murders have already begun. Nature and Conservation reported in March that Leilit Janchoon purchased a monkey for $180 dollars to climb trees and fetch coconuts, but when the exhausted beast tried to take a break, Janchoon beat the monkey until he returned to his task. The primate, named Brother Kwan, promptly re-climbed the tree and "hurled a coconut straight down on Janchoon's head, killing him instantly."

Most pet chimp stories end badly, including Elvis' monkey, "Scatter," who amused the boys for awhile before becoming too aggressive. People who can't find human contact and acquire a monkey instead, often treat chimps like children, until they discover their pets are feral beasts with great strength and not a lot of conscience. The latest gruesome mauling of a woman in Los Angeles by Travis the Chimp is an example. We discovered to our immense discomfort that Travis' female owner bathed and slept with the chimp. (Isn't that how AIDS got started?). But might she not have imagined that giving drugs to the animal could cause problems? Did she not think that the simian brain reacts differently to Xanax than humans and, just possibly, her pet may become confused? She may as well have given the monkey LSD and turned on a strobe light.

Travis' owner might have consulted with St. James and LaDonna Davis, who put their pet chimp, Moe, in a California primate sanctuary in 1999 after he bit off someone's finger. The couple went to visit Moe on his birthday in 2005, bringing a cake to celebrate the occasion, when two chimps in an adjoining cage went berserk, broke free and viciously attacked the Davis's. St. James took the full measure of the apes' fury, who bit off a foot, chewed off his nose, and ripped off his balls, while his pet Moe merely sat back and watched. Something sinister is going on around the ape grapevine, and it doesn't seem to be good, but there's a lesson in this for humans. Remember when our government invaded Iraq and disbanded the army, the police, and the Ba'ath party, in effect disenfranchising tens of thousands of Sunnis? The result was an unforeseen and bloody insurrection. The moral being; When you go to a primate party, you better bring enough cake for all the monkeys or they'll be having your testicles for canapes and your face for an entree.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Thing That Wouldn't Leave

If Warner Brothers is ever interested in a remake of "The Man Who Came to Dinner," the Monty Wooley role of the irascible, housebound, curmudgeonly critic could be perfectly filled by Dick Cheney. His continuing media appearances have become an irritant like a rash that just won't heal. As badly as I'd like to forget these guys, the former Vice President, sometimes known by his regal name, "Richard the Chickenhearted," refuses to go away. Every day there's another Cheney sighting and another microphone to assist Dirty Dick in sewing his discord. And now that he's linked arms with Rush Limbaugh, his white noise concerning "enhanced interrogation techniques" will always have an outlet.

It has to be a tough gig defending torture under any circumstances, but Cheney tries to justify his special methods because, "They worked." So does armed robbery, but the criminals are usually brought to justice after they confess. Now, separate reports have surfaced saying the Office of the Vice President personally suggested "harsh techniques" to be used on certain captives in Iraq, and not because of some Keifer Sutherland, ticking dirty bomb fantasy. Col. Lawrence B. Wilkerson, Colin Powell's former chief of staff, recently wrote in the Washington Note that Cheney's suggested "enhanced" methods used in April of 2002, before the President's legal council had spoken on the matter, were entirely for the purpose of "discovering a smoking gun linking Iraq and Al Qaeda." Wilkerson continues to state that the reason the country has been free of a terrorist attack since 9/11, "is due almost entirely to the nation's having deployed over 200,000 troops in Iraq and Afghanistan," and not as the result of Cheney's interrogation methods. So why does Cheney continue to parrot that the country is more vulnerable under Obama's non-torturing directives?

There is certainly no downside to Cheney predicting another terrorist attack on American soil. Most Middle East analysts agree with him, so if or when an attack is attempted, Cheney can say "I told you so," and be seen as a visionary. If another sneak attack should never come, he can say that he erred on the side of national security. Either way, Cheney can't lose and he believes history will absolve him of his crimes in the name of "vigilance." Of course, if you go above or around the law and, say, attack a sovereign nation without provocation, then you're merely a "vigilante." The fog of talk-show war that Cheney is churning out is for one purpose only; if he can get everyone to focus on the use of harsh questioning of perceived terrorists in defense of the country, attention is diverted from the larger issue of the initial decision to invade Iraq and the consequent sales pitch that preceded the bombing of Baghdad. Interrogating bad guys is an argument that Cheney can win, but busting him for torture is like arresting a man for speeding when he's been caught in a stolen car. Sending the armed forces into combat under false pretences is the real crime. The torture of prisoners was used to justify it.

There's a fierce storm a'comin. It's going to be more furious than Katrina, worse than the Clinton impeachment, and uglier than Watergate. In fact, you'll have to go back to the Grant administration and the trials of Jefferson Davis and the hierarchy of the Confederacy to find a parallel. But it is as inevitable as justice itself and the people will demand it. We've always known there would be a reckoning someday for all the destruction and death resulting from this misbegotten war; a war spawned by a political philosophy encapsulated in the "Statement of Principles" of the Project For the New American Century. (Click on title). Among the signers of that document, three years before Bush was appointed president by the Supreme Court, were Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Scooter Libby, and Dick Cheney. Their imperialist desires were pretty much spelled out in advance, and Cheney, by necessity, had to emerge from his undisclosed location to defend what has become the indefensible; starting a war. And to think that if Karl Rove had achieved his goal of a "permanent Republican majority," through voter fraud and gerrymandering, this gang would have gotten away clean. All this clamor over harsh interrogations being spewed by Dick Cheney is the sound of a drowning man who realizes he's going under, but is treading water just as fast as he can to delay the inevitable; sort of like someone being waterboarded.

Monday, May 04, 2009

The Nouvelle Neo-Cons

When I walked in on the evening news and heard them say that Specter had become a Democrat, I figured Phil Spector was looking for a pardon. But the prospect of Penn. Senator Arlen Specter voting with the Democrats is equally chilling. Arlen Specter was already a registered Democrat when he made his bones as Junior Council to the Warren Commission investigating the Kennedy assassination. His eternal contribution was the concoction of the "single bullet theory," which claimed that the same bullet passed through the throat of the president, then through the car seat and into Texas Governor John Connelly, through the Governor's body, striking his wrist, and ending up on the floor of the presidential limousine in near pristine condition. Specter sold his theory to the Warren Commission, but couldn't sell it to the American people, or even Governor Connelly for that matter; the point being that Arlen Spector has been shovelling the same shit for nearly fifty years. A Republican since 1965, Specter's defection deprives the GOP of their last moderate senator in the Northeast and the infamous inquisitor of Anita Hill. His multi-party reversals are like a man who undergoes a sex change, then returns to the doctor forty years later asking for his penis back.

To drive a weasel like Specter from their ranks, the Republican Party must be seriously off the rails. Last week, members of the conservative wing of the Republican National Committee drafted a resolution to officially change the way they refer to the opposing party. It states:
RESOLVED, that we the members of the Republican National Committee call on the Democratic Party to be truthful and honest with the American people by acknowledging that they have evolved from a party of tax and spend to a party of tax and nationalize and, therefore, should agree to rename themselves the Democrat Socialist Party.
This week, a new initiative called The National Council for a New America hit the road with such fresh faces as Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush holding town meetings to "re-brand" the Republican party. The architect of the Council is Virginia Congressman Eric Cantor, who has been called the GOP's "rising star" and undoubtedly has ambitions of his own. Cantor hopes that trotting out John McCain to talk about the future, or Rep. Michelle Bachman telling Chairman Michael Steele that, "You be the man," will energise the teaparty-goers and give a focus to their anger. But re-branding this Republican party is about as useful as changing the wrapping on a can of Spam.

I think we should no longer deny the dead elephant in the room, and that the real name change should be considered by the Republicans. GOP makes a nice acronym for "Greedy Old Pigs," but they all got washed out in the banking collapse and are now on the government teat, and not in a position to complain too loudly. All that's left of the old party are the religious conservatives, gun zealots, and Old Dixie: the remnants of Richard Nixon's "Southern Strategy." After Lyndon Johnson signed civil rights legislation in 1964, he said to an aide that the Democrats had probably lost the South for a generation, but not even LBJ would have thought a Southern governor would suggest secession. And all along, when I heard the term "neo-con," I thought they meant neo-conservatives. Now, I understand that the term actually means neo-Confederates: the party of states' rights, only with a few constitutional amendments prohibiting certain behaviors they deem offensive. So why not just re-name the Republican Party the "New Confederacy?" It sounds a little better than Strom Thurmond's Dixiecrats in 1948, or George Wallace's American Independent Party in 1968, but it appeals to the same group; the red-faced mob screaming about taxes when, most likely, they just got a refund.

The lack of historical reference is palpable among the current batch of Republican legislators. If they had any sense, they'd reverse course now, but because they don't, they are doomed to repeat the past. In this case, the example is the Democrats. At the Chicago convention of 1968, the Democrats tore themselves apart over the issues of war abroad and equality at home. Beaten and bloodied by the overeager Chicago police, the chaos in the streets shocked the nation and helped elect the law-and-order candidate, Nixon. Rather than lick their wounds and take a centrist approach, the party lurched to the left, into the doomed candidacy of George McGovern, and became known as the party of political correctness rather than the party of inclusion. Now that the roles are reversed and the Republicans have had their heads handed to them in the last two elections, they will instinctively follow their gun-toting, frustrated, base on a march to the far right, and into the arms of Governor Sarah Palin, or someone like her, who will lead them to crushing defeat.

The GOP has become the party of the angry Southern white man, led by talk radio into ugly sloganeering against the current government, without offering any solutions other than tax cuts and torture. The Boehner obstructionists need to either adjust or start learning the lyrics to James Taylor's "Steamroller Blues." Senators Arlen Specter and Al Franken will give the Democrats their filibuster-proof majority, and the Republicans, like the old Confederacy, become the defenders of yet another "Lost Cause." With no moderates remaining in the party, I only hope there is someone left who can discourage the Palin voters and the hysterical cultural crusaders from armed rebellion.