Monday, August 26, 2013

Green Flag! Green Flag!




We are two races out from the Chase, which is NASCAR's versions of the play-offs. Twelve drivers will make it and race for the championship. Some are sure bets but there is a battle royal going on among teams for the last several positions. Who is in and who is out changes from one week to the next so it is a tense and stressful time for several drivers and their fans.

Luckily for me, my driver, Jimmie Johnson, has been locked in for a couple of weeks now. Lucky for him too, since he's had two disastrous weeks. At Michigan, where he seems to be cursed, he had an engine fail and didn't finish. At Bristol, last weekend, he was wrecked and limped around to come home, I'm not sure exactly where, 36th, I think - I turned off the t.v. as soon as the race was over.

Here are some questions I have that NASCAR reporters never seem to ask:

* Where are all those fans who clamor every year for the reigning points leader at the end of the season to get a bonus? When it is anyone but Jimmie, their cries fill the airwaves on the Sirius radio NASCAR channel. This year, crickets. Will we start hearing them again if someone overtakes Jimmie for the top spot in the last two races?

* What is it with the reverence for Mark Martin? Okay, I get that he is old and respected and that he's been around forever and that he's a good driver, even a great one in his day, but is he really the person you would have chosen to fill the seat in the 14 for Tony Stewart? He's started 17 races so far in 2012 and has zero wins, one pole, 1 top five, 4 top tens, led 98 laps. His average starting position is 15th; his average finishing position is 20th. What am I missing here?

* Why are the ones who bitch about all the coverage of Danica always the ones who bring up Danica? I can read an article that doesn't mention her name and eventually, someone will interject a comment about her totally apropos of nothing. They especially love it if they can think of a vile new nickname to call her. Are there more 7th and 8th grade fans of NASCAR than I'm aware of? It's as if her very existence rubs them raw.

Of course, one excuse is that she "taking a seat from a deserving driver" and that's not fair. She got where she is with sex appeal. So what? Not everyone is lucky enough to be Austen or Ty Dillon. Not everyone has a Grandpa who owns a team and has had the benefit of the best equipment and the best advice and the best contacts their entire lives. If people are dedicated to a goal, they follow whatever road they have to follow. Some have a much smoother way than others but they all have to prove themselves in the end. I probably admire the ones who had to cut a trail through the wilderness a little more than those who have been on a glide path from the git-go.

* Why do I so often hear about Kyle Busch that he is "arguably the most talented driver in NASCAR"? I'd certainly argue with that designation. Doesn't "most talented" come with achievement? Kyle is an excellent driver, I'm not disputing that. But he has yet to win a Sprint Cup championship. He still lacks a Daytona 500 or a Brickyard 400. Until any or all of those things happen, I'll hold off on honoring him as the "most talented". Yes, he swarps'em in Nationwide and Trucks but only the races in which you challenge your peers count for full credit.

* Wow, doesn't anyone else think that Tony Stewart lacks something in the loyalty department? Two years ago, it was Darian Grubb. Okay, I realize the first part of their season didn't set the world on fire but is a few months together a fair test of their potential? They did go ahead and win a championship. Did Tony jump the gun on Darian?

Then this year, he kicked his supposedly super-close friend, Ryan Newman, to the curb despite a fairly decent record, especially considering that none of the Stewart-Haas car were up to speed. Well, all right, I realize NASCAR is a business and revolves around sponsorship, etc, etc. I've heard that a million times. But now we find out that SHR has offered a ride to Kurt Busch. They don't have a sponsor for him either but Gene Haas is willing to sponsor Kurt himself. So what does that say about why they told Ryan that he was out of a job? Obviously, it wasn't true. If I was Ryan, I'd be hurt and pissed and he probably is although he most likely  won't say so. For their sins, I hope the Kurt/SHR combination (if it happens) ends up with the same mediocre statistics the Tony Stewart Steve/Addington match up has had so far.



Thursday, August 22, 2013

So, Secede, Already!

I've ridden a lot of political pendulums in my day. I've lived through assassinations and impeachment and resignation and scandals and recessions and wars and various movements of one kind or another. But, no matter what, I believed that America was on an ascending path. Sometimes the incline was so gradual, you could barely feel it,  while other times we bounded forward. Always though, the progress was upward. We became more tolerant of others who were different whether in race, gender or sexual orientation, more conscious of our environment, more compassionate toward the vulnerable.

Of course, Americans never agreed completely and we fought some battles royal in Congress and state legislatures about individual policies. What are the fairest tax rates and what about the budget and what restrictions should there be on abortion and what about guns and how regulated should corporations be? But, over all, it seemed we had more or less the same vision for America as the "shining beacon on the hill. The standard, most of us agreed, was an America that was was just to all its citizens, an America that was founded on, and lived by, principles of honor, an America that took its stewardship of its land and air and water seriously. We didn't always live up to it, or agree on how to accomplish it, but that was the collective ideal.

Now, for the first time in my life (I'm 67), I see us going backward instead of forward. I see one of the two major political parties nominate ignorant men who have sheer contempt for science to the legislative science committees. They pooh-pooh the vast majority of experts who warn about climate change even as the polar caps melt and the seas rise and the storms become ever more deadly. They spout the most ridiculous theories about conception, especially as it pertains to rape. They teach our children backward theories from the Bible that will only sabotage American students' ability to get the professional jobs of the future.

I see racism come flooding back like a tidal wave of ugliness. The Supreme Court abolishes an important part of the Civil Rights Act and red states don't even wait 24 hours before rushing bills to the floor to pass ever more repressive voter suppression laws, even ones that had been adjudged discriminatory before the court made its decision. I see them trying to stop college students from voting. I see them cut early voting hours and forcing 9,500 voters into a polling place designed for 1,500. I see them labeling a teenage boy innocently walking down the street a "thug" as a justification for why a pretend cop had to shoot him and why we need "Stand Your Ground" laws. And Congress, which reauthorized the Voting Rights Act just a few short years ago with huge majorities, sits on its hands, knowing the House Republicans would never allow legislation to come to the floor.

I am amazed at where we've found ourselves in so many of the red states where governors have passed arbitrary laws closing women's health clinics (where many poor women go, not just for abortions but also mammograms and cancer screenings and family planning supplies). I see that women have once again become the property of men, not our husbands, but our politicians, who mandate that if we want an abortion we must agree to have an invasive tool shoved into our vaginas and that our doctors must lie to us, by law!

The same right-wingers who rant and rave against President Obama, whom they accuse of trampling our rights and taking our freedom and shredding the Constitution, are the ones who take away rights that have already been deemed constitutional - the right to an abortion, the right of college students to vote on their campus, the right to have access to healthcare (which was duly passed by Congress and declared certified by the Supreme Court), the right of gays to marry, the right of workers to collectively bargain. They refuse to honor the laws they don't agree with. North Carolina considered a bill naming Christianity the state religion, in direct opposition to one of our basic founding principles. And don't even get me started on the various moronic bills that have passed in red states regarding guns (such as making it a felony for federal agents to confiscate guns based on a law that doesn't exist). How respectful of the Constitution is all of that?

It appears that the ultra-conservatives have simply given up on democracy in the states where they have super-majorities (and they've re-districted their precincts in such a way that those majorities are likely to persist). Michigan, for instance, has done away with democracy altogether. The governor of that state can arbitrarily appoint town managers to take over from elected officials. The Manager is essentially a dictator who can tear up contracts and close schools and sell off assets that belong to the people. The voters of Michigan disagreed with giving the governor this power and repealed the law. What did the Republicans do? Why they simply passed it again, making it recall-proof the second time. Take that, Michigan voters!

In Ohio, the Republicans stuffed all their new abortion restrictions into their budget, something that had never been done before. It more or less happened in secret and can't be repealed. (Too add insult to injury, Governor Kasich signed the budget with only men surrounding him and invited a little boy, about four, to help him sign it. See, Ohio women, you don't have as much standing in your government as even the youngest male child is case you had any doubts).

Power has gone to the heads of giddy North Carolina Republicans. They've passed a positive plethora of new laws regarding voter suppression and abortion (despite the new governor, McCrory promising that he would sign no new abortion restrictions). They've proposed closing polling places on NC campuses and passed legislation that will shut down most women's health clinics in the state. Alabama is in the process of shuttering it's last clinic. Ditto other red states. They pass these abominations in the middle of the night or in special session or they hook them on to other types of bills (in NC, it was a motorcycle safety bill!) They make protesting their actions so onerous as to be all but impossible. When Wendy Davis filibustered Texas' new abortion bill, she had to stand for 11 hours without sitting down, without leaning on the podium, without eating, without drinking, without going to the bathroom, without letting anyone taking her place for even a moment, In Texas, they refuse health care funding from the federal government and throw tens of thousands of women off of Medicaid. And many of these states are doing the same with Obamacare even though it is a clear financial benefit to their state. They prefer to see their citizens uninsured.

Several states, including Texas have begun grinding down their asphalt roads in favor of going back to gravel, claiming they can no longer afford paved roads. Are we kidding? Other countries, like China, for God's sake, are investing in new dams and high speed rail and alternative energy sources and in America, we can no longer even afford to pave our freaking roads? Seriously?

And on a national level, I've seen things I've never seen before in my lifetime from a party so obstructionist, it appears they are willing to bring down their country if it means bringing down the president they loathe. Over and over, they plunge our economy into uncertainty and crisis - debt ceilings and sequester and a new record for filibusters and refusing to confirm a president's appointments and a downgraded credit rating and a possible shutdown. They refuse to pass a jobs bill, an infrastructure bill, a farm bill, an immigration bill. When Putin complains about Obama, they sympathize with Putin! They evidently can't even bring themselves to be loyal to an America led by Barack Obama!

And not only has the right-wing of the Republican party gone completely off the rails, the right-wing segment of the Supreme Court has followed them over the cliff. It used to be that the Supreme Court justices went to great lengths to appear non-political. Of course, we knew from how they voted which way they leaned but they weren't advocates for their beliefs off the bench. No more. Now Justice Thomas' wife works openly for a conservative organization. Now Antonin Scalia proudly gives speeches touting his radical credentials. So, it doesn't appear that we can count on them to try to bring the scales of justice back into sync. But we probably figured as much after Bush v Gore, didn't we?

And I keep hearing impeachment talk. The Republicans impeached Bill Clinton and now they'd like to impeach Obama (although I haven't been able to ascertain on what grounds) so it appears that they truly believe that they should always get their way and if the voters disagree, then they are justified to overturn the people's will because, don't you know, they have all the right answers and the rest of us are, obviously morons, incapable of making momentous decisions such as who should be president.

So, you know what? I'm sick of them. I'm ready to let them secede. Let the red states form the Conservative States of America. Let them elect Ted Cruz as their president. Let them make a certain form of religious Christian fundamentalism their "official" national religion. Let them ban abortions and be governed by only one party (is that the same as fascism?) and give every baby a gun on its first birthday. I hate to see a gorgeous state like Louisiana sell its wetlands and gulf coast to the highest bidder, be it oil company or chemical company, but heck, they've pretty much already done that anyway. Let all their schools be fundamentalist Christian schools producing masses of misinformed graduates. Let their poor go hungry and uninsured. Let them go back to the halcyon days when only white male property owners could vote. Let them form their own army (I mean, if they all have guns, it shouldn't be too hard to raise a militia, should it?) Let them decide for themselves whether people should pay any taxes at all (as it is, most of them collect more from the feds than they pay in, unlike most blue states, and of course, they'd have to give that up. And, heck, if they think gravel roads are hunky-dory, I guess it should be their decision. Let them outlaw unions and privatize Medicare and Medicaid. Let them do their own scientific research about how dinosaur farts caused global warming in an earlier time and how pregnant victims of rape should be stoned because conception proves they are lying about the sex not being consensual. Let them build a giant electrical fence and then add a moat full of crocodiles around their boundaries to keep out anyone not deemed welcome in their society.

Meanwhile, here in the good old USA, we'll build a progressive nation that cares about its environment and its poor and believes that every citizen should have the same civil rights and the same access to healthcare and we'll be willing to pay for it, as we always have been. We'll continue to try to develop exciting new sources of energy and high speed rail and cures for diseases. We'll continue to try to improve our schools. We'll raise the minimum wage and the salaries of teachers and bring back collective bargaining rights. We'll let gays marry and give the Dreamers a path to citizenship. We'll try to equalize prison sentences between whites and blacks and throw fewer people behind bars for non-violent drug crimes. We'll allow women to make their own family planning decisions.

We'll let the CSA have Alito and Scalia and Thomas and we'll take the rest (well, Kennedy can decide for himself) and fill the empty slots with enlightened judges. We'll wash our hands of Guantanamo and either let the inmates go or put them in prisons on American soil. I guess if the conservative states want to keep it, they'll have to be willing to fund it. We'll make our voting rules and regulations uniform among all our states and encourage everyone who is eligible to vote.

When areas of the USA suffer catastrophe, we'll provide funds to help them rebuild. We'll regulate insurance companies and banks and oil companies so that they have to treat their customers fairly.

You might think this would mean we'd want and expect all the Republicans to decamp to the new country but that's not true. Most of us progressives prefer a strong two-party system. We believe the ideal government consists of checks and balances and the two parties contribute to that. We'd happily welcome the Republican party of Eisenhower and even Reagan and many of the old statesmen the party used to send to Washington. I truly believe many mainstream Republicans would welcome this as well. I think many of them would love nothing more than to break the stranglehold the right-wingers have on their party.

Of course, there would have to be a interim period so all the conservatives in blue state America can relocate to red state America and vice versa. Let's see, they'll lose lots of women, young people, Latinos, Blacks, gays and the elderly. We'll lose, um, well, I guess people who idolize guns and hate abortion, along with a lot of NASCAR fans. Can't think who else. Maybe Ted Nugent can write a new national anthem for their brand new country.

Then we'll just sit back and watch to see who prospers.  






 

Monday, August 12, 2013

Priest Appears From Nowhere - Real or Fantasy?

There has recently been a video being posted and re-posted on Facebook regarding a priest who appears out of nowhere during a terrible accident in which a woman was entrapped in her car. (Click link for video: Priest Appears.) The priest comforts the victim and first responders, telling them they will succeed in freeing her. By the time, she is extricated and they turn to thank him, he has disappeared.

There seem to be two contrasting schools of thought on this video and not much in between. In the first case, viewers are convinced the priest was an angel sent by God to perform a miracle. In the second, skeptics scorn the very idea of God and angels and miracles as fantasies of the ignorant.

I am squarely in the middle on this issue. I am often called an atheist by the devout who lump anyone whose beliefs aren't in lock-step with their own into one dismissive category. The fact is that as an agnostic, I don't deny that there is an all-powerful God (though I do doubt that he/she/it belongs to any particular religion or denomination ), I just say I don't know and I don't believe anyone else does either.

I've often read that humans only use the merest part of their brain capacity, about 10 to 15 percent, max. So what could we accomplish if we could utilize that other massive percentage? Hard to know but considering what man has accomplished with only 15 percent, it seems that 85 percent would result in spectacular achievements, doesn't it?

In modern times, the area humans have allowed to wither away most is the spiritual. In earlier eras, metaphysical capabilities were taken for granted in many cultures - communing with dead loved ones, receiving knowledge in ways other than books or schools (while asleep, for instance), pre-warning of future events, acceptance of what appeared to be miracles, (such as calling forth a comforting being in times of need). Organized religion is probably most at fault for tamping down these abilities, because of wanting to be the only "gateway" to the spiritual people had. Miracles were still acknowledged but only those that stemmed from within religious parameters. My own previous church, the Catholic Church, for instance, says essentially, "it is only a miracle if WE say it's a miracle."

And so, we burned witches and called those who had psychic powers lunatics. We discouraged our children from telling us they saw things we knew weren't there, describing them as over-imaginative. Until, that part of our brains mostly just atrophied from disuse.

My own father was psychic and he wasn't the only one in our family. (Unfortunately, it skipped me altogether). I would defy anyone to live with him and deny that some people have the power and consciousness to pass through the spiritual curtain to at least some degree and to refuse to acknowledge that there is another world beyond our world.

I have always detested the way many religious people deny anyone's beliefs but their own. I think the idea that a God who created everything then limits The Chosen to a particular religion or denomination is ridiculous on its face. To Christians, even good Muslims will burn in hell; to Muslims, all infidels will burn in hell. That is us creating God in our own tiny, narrow-minded image.

Likewise, atheists who pooh-pooh anything that can't be proven by science are equally as arrogant and small-minded. As a matter of fact, there is reams of evidence that there is a world of the spirit and that it can be tapped into. (I would recommend they begin with the works of Edgar Cayce, then get back with me about where they believe his gifts came from).

So, either way people trap their minds in cages of their own making. Humans have progressed exponentially in technology. Perhaps, our next great break-through will come when we explore the spiritual world without prejudice or preconceived opinions.

So, do I believe a priest appeared from nowhere called forth by the faith of a frightened victim? Of course, why not? Miracles happen all the time. They don't belong to certain religions or no religion. They don't even belong to humans exclusively as they can happen in nature as well. They are ecumenical. You don't get to claim them for your own. They belong to all of us.



 

Friday, August 9, 2013

Do They Just Love To Hate?

I've almost completely stopped interacting on Facebook about politics. The right has beaten me. I admit that I'm a wuss when it comes to matching their irrational hatred of Obama and all things even remotely liberal with equal hatred of my own.

One of my friends posted gleefully about the closing of the embassies in the Middle East, seeing it as a sign of Obama's "weakness". Would she be gratified if there actually was an attack? A few deaths would be icing on the cake. Think of how they could pile on the president for that!

This same woman states without any self-awareness of her contradiction that Barack Hussein Obama is a Muslim who has seeded his administration with members of the Muslim Brotherhood. He's on the side of the Muslims with a secret plan to turn America into a Muslim nation, which begs the question of why Al Qaida is doing what they are doing in the Middle East since Obama is their secret co-conspirator. Wouldn't it be smarter to simply give him time to accomplish his mission instead of trying to undermine him?

I asked my friend what she would have Obama do? Are drone strikes that have taken out hundreds of Muslim jihadists not enough? Does she want to go to war with almost the entirety of the Middle East?

And I guess this would be even as we have a revolution here at home, of which she's in total favor. Obviously, the majority of Americans are too stupid to accept that the president should be impeached so the only way to "take our country back" is to start shooting. She will gladly join in, she says. I will join in too (not so gladly). That should be interesting - a Shoot-out at the OK Corral between two old, fat, white women. She will do it because she believes Obama and we liberals are bringing about the downfall of America. I would do it because I think she and her crowd are threatening the very same thing.

Another Facebook friend posted a picture of Vladimir Putin making a negative comment about the president and incredibly, when she compared the two men, Putin came out on top! She thinks the savagely authoritarian ex-KGB officer is less of a dictator than Obama! How can that be? Russia is currently embroiled in a controversy over the Olympics and its systematic beatings and repression of gays. Russians who so much as express sympathy for homosexuals can be arrested and thrown in prison.

I know my friend is opposed to gay marriage but still, is this how she would see gays treated in America? The president who encourages such brutal discrimination is the one you prefer over Barack Obama? Really?

What I find most shocking is that, when not in their political incarnations, I would consider most of my conservative friends to be average Americans. They are hard workers, loving parents, supportive friends, faithful Christians. They adore their pets and flea markets and baseball games and the beach. Who knew that they had this unsuspected side that allows them to post vile pictures of our president as Adolph Hitler or his wife as a baboon. And don't tell me I did the same when George Bush was president because I didn't. I thought he was wrong; I didn't consider him evil incarnate.

Over and over, I hear from these folks that Obama is taking our freedoms. Over and over, I ask them what freedom they have lost since the president was elected. Over and over, all I get is resounding silence. Or sometimes, they mention Obamacare. They have no clue what Obamacare will or won't do (in fact, none of us do until the entire program is fully implemented.

I can't figure out exactly what it is they loathe so much. Is is the part that prevents insurance companies from denying coverage for a pre-existing condition? Is it the part that forbids insurance companies from instituting lifetime caps? Is it the part that mandates that insurance companies must spend a high percentage of their earnings on actual health care....and if they don't, refunding the rest back to their insureds? Is it the part that allows uninsured kids to stay on their parent's health policy until they are 26? Is it the part that guarantees free preventative procedures, such as mammograms, cancer screenings and diabetes testing? Is it the part that mandates free contraceptive (especially considering that the same people who hate Obamacare also resent welfare recipients)? Is it the part that encourages healthy young people to purchase healthcare so the rest of us don't get stuck paying for their motorcycle wreck or unexpected illness? Is Obamacare so different from from Social Security and Medicare? Do they want to repeal those programs too for taking away our "freedoms"?

How much of this has to do with racism? Although, my right-wing friends howl indignantly if you suggest that racism plays even the smallest part in their raging case of Obama Derangement Syndrome, I have, regretfully, come to the sad conclusion that they are fooling themselves. I had felt that way for a while but the Trayvon Martin case simply cemented my opinion. I believe they view black and brown skin through a different filter.

Oddly, I run into this same attitude on the NASCAR websites. (Is that because so many NASCAR fans lean right-ward?) It isn't enough to root for your favorite driver, you must despise his competition. He must be a fag, a cheater, an asshole, a whiner. Like Obama, you can't give him credit for anything but you must give him criticism for everything, even the most innocuous things, like vacations.

Do conservative right-wingers simply get off on hate? Are they exhilarated by the thought of chaos and dissension and revolution? Do they enjoy seeing the government caught up in the turmoil of gridlock? Do they truly want their representatives to shut down the government over Obamacare or the debt ceiling? Do they want us to tumble over a fiscal cliff or not pay our bills so that we're humiliated in the world? Do they want to see the bombing of U.S. embassies? Because all of that would prove them right about Barack Obama? Do they want to be able to say, "see, we told you so" about disasters they brought on us themselves?

I remember back in the day, Before Facebook, you'd see lots of signs and bumper stickers that said, "America, Love It or Leave It". Well, I feel that way now. If you folks are so unhappy with the decisions the majority of us have made, maybe you should go some place you like better. I mean if Vladimir Putin is your new BFF......

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Thinking Out Loud

Random Thoughts -

* Do only fat women have bladder leakage? The gal who talks on the Tena Twist commercial is normal sized but all the supposed sufferers of leakage, who dance around ecstatically due to having found Tena Twist, are large to obese. Is that just a contemptuous assumption on the part of the commercial's developers?

* I'm going to be 67 in a few days. I don't have to time to vet the books of first-time e-publishers. That's why the various sites that promote e-books, even with free giveways, rarely tempt me into responding. I stick with the tried and true unless I receive an especially enthusiastic endorsement from someone I know and trust. That's not fair, I know, because I am also dependent on readers who are willing to take a flyer on an unknown author. I'm gratified they aren't all like me.

* I still haven't totally made up my mind about Edward Snowden. Is he a traitor or a whistle-blower? Since the beginning, I've leaned toward whistle-blower and that continues to be my position. In the same vein, I think Bradley Manning got shafted and the way the government handled his trial was shameful. I have a bit of a soft spot fir Julian Assange of WikiLeaks too. Over all, I would say I have more bone-deep paranoia about a too-powerful and secretive government than I do of the people who reveal their secrets.

* I was around during the Sixties. It was a time of protests, when African-Americans and women and returning soldiers were finding their voices. It was a time of revelation when people realized they could force the government to change...and when they discovered to their shock that that same government wasn't above shooting them. I was only a cheerleader in these events. I was a young, poor mother, mostly more concerned about cranky teething babies and finding enough money to pay the rent than civil rights and  ending wars. And, of course, there were many Woodstock types who were into drugs and rock and roll and sex rather than bringing about world peace. We were a mixed bag, just as large groups of people always are. But, still, things got done. Civil rights and women's rights and Vietnam.

I feel that same kind of energy now. Thousands of Texans shouting and holding signs in the Capitol over the the patronizing treatment of women at the hands of mostly male politicians; hundreds of kids taking over the Florida governor's office for days wanting changes to Stand Your Ground laws; crowds of North Carolinians coming together for Moral Mondays; hundreds of thousands of Americans determined to vote despite all the efforts to suppress them; fast food employees striking for better wages from their record-profit-earning employers. Take the all that tinder, and light it with the flame of the George Zimmerman verdict and I don't believe the Republican "establishment" is large or powerful enough to put out that fire. Again, I won't be personally involved. I'm too old this time and I have the responsibility of a mother with Alzheimers, but once again, even from the sidelines I'm with them. So far, most of the passion has been on the other side but that is changing. Burn, Baby, burn.

* Keystone canned meats are my best recent discovery. They are wonderful. I even love them enough to go through the dreaded doors of Walmart to buy them (I've been told that it was the survivalists who convinced Walmart to carry them. I rarely agree with, or feel grateful to the American militia movement but if they are responsible for Keystone in Walmart, I thank them.) Keystone's canned chicken and beef are lean and flavorful. You can have a scrumptious beef and noodle or chicken and noodle dinner in 15 minutes. You can put them in casseroles or soups or salads or stews. I hope they aren't processed in China; I hope they aren't really horsemeat. If they are, I don't want to know. I'd rather remain happy in my ignorance.

* We, the white authority, treat wild horses the same way we treated Native Americans. We take their habitat and put them on reservations, land that is mostly undesirable for anything else. We pay lip service to their place in the heritage of the Old West but really, we see them as predators...stealing forage from other animals we approve of. Cows, most of all, of course, but also large game animals that draw high-paying hunters. And as the mustangs' natural habitat grows smaller because of our decisions, we complain that they are too prolific and have round-ups, "zeroing out" some herds altogether, fencing in others. We say we don't butcher them but we do, simply letting a third-party do it for us so our hands are clean.

* Ariel Castro is the most chilling embodiment of a psychopath I've ever seen in justifying his horrific actions. And I can't help seeing an uncomfortable similiarity between his behavior and that of America and Guantanamo.