Category Archives: Clarence Thomas

Hot Air

Chicken Checkin’

One of our town’s most talented copywriters spends her time outside the corporate cubicle raising chickens. Jana Wilson lives with her family on a nice 20-acre spread nearby. She writes about Gallus gallus domesticus husbandry in her blog, The Armchair Homesteader.

Tons o’folks these days are growing the birds, mainly to be able to eat fresh eggs and even for the fresh meat to liven up their cacciatore. (Hey, wait a minute: Do peeps eat alla cacciatore around here?) Anyway, the City of Bloomington, for instance, allows residents to raise chicken flocks, although said flocks can’t number more than five birds and none may be roosters. Apparently, that crowing rooster next door might cause some little friction in the n’hood. That and chicken coops often stink.

The chickens-in-the-city trend got a huge jump start about five years ago when author Susan Orlean wrote about it in the pages of The New Yorker. “[R]ight now,” she wrote, “across the country and beyond, there’s a surging passion for raising the birds.”

Chicken

“A Surging Passion”

When my grandmother, Anna Lazzara, lived in Chi., she was quite put out because the city wouldn’t allow her to keep chickens in the backyard. But back in the 1930’s people could still turn fresh chickens into dinner that night by buying the birds live at the butcher shop. Anna would tell my mother, Sue, to go get a chicken on a given weekday, a chore Ma loathed. She’d have to squeeze the bird between her arm and her chest in order to prevent it from fleeing, the critter pecking and clawing at her all the way home. Then Anna would grab the chicken from my mother, wrap her two fists around its neck and yank. Within minutes, the chicken’d lie still and be ready for plucking, singeing, and washing.

Ma always said those weekly walks from the butcher shop produced in her a phobia of all birds.

Yesterday, Wilson wrote about the problem of newbie chicken-raisers who purchase a passel of chicks and soon discover that one of the purported hens is actually a guy. She writes:

You anticipate these adorable little chicks growing into egg-producing hens and the speed at which they grow is just amazing.  They’re growing more feathers every day, their little combs beginning to develop, their legs lengthening. It’s all very fun and exciting. Fun until the day when little Sue emits the strangest sound. It sounds like a strangled screech. Could it be… oh no, surely not. But yes, its a crow!

Oh dear, little Sue is really little Stan.

Remember, cities that allow residents to keep chickens usually frown on or outright ban the keeping of males. “And for good reason: they are quite noisy and don’t crow just at daybreak,” Wilson writes. “Trust me on this one… they can crow just about any time of the day or night.”

In any case, check out Jana’s blog. You’ll even learn what a Sicilian Buttercup is. (And, no, it’s not me.)

Après Ce, Le Déluge

It turns out those who’ve been wringing their hands over the Supreme Court’s recent Hobby Lobby decision, predicting that all manner of Christianists would start suing to get out of certain laws and responsibilities because their “sincerely-held beliefs” preclude them from doing so, really aren’t just being Chicken Littles. Any number of “sincere believers” have made moves to get out of things like not firing employees because they’re gay and other expressions of deep spirituality.

It would be hard to top this one, though: Pro-life activist attorneys in Florida have filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of a nurse who applied for a job with the Tampa Family Health Centers. The attorneys claim the medical center refused to consider her for employment because she is Christian.

How horrible, right? What’s this crazy land coming to?

Christians/Lion

Persecution?

Natch, the case isn’t that simple. The nurse made a point to tell the clinic’s HR director that her Christian beliefs forbid her from prescribing certain contraceptives, which just happens to be one of the primary tasks of the place. I suppose it’d be be rather like a newly graduated cartographer applying for a job at the local globe factory and saying he would not be able to draw maps on the co.’s product because he’s a member of the Flat Earth Society. The wags at Wonkette explain the impasse thusly:

Let’s play a game. It is sort of a choose-your-own-adventure make-believe game. Costumes optional.

You are about to graduate from Thing-Doing School and apply for a job as a professional Thing-Doer, as one does after attending Thing-Doing School. You inform your potential employer that you are interested in the Thing-Doing job but will be unable to perform Thing-Doing duties because of your religious beliefs. Your potential employer tells you, “LOL, that’s hilarious, but we are actually looking for a real Thing-Doer who is willing to perform Thing-Doing duties, because that is the job. Thanks but no thanks.”

For this, nurse Sara Hellwege and her handlers, the Alliance Defending Freedom, will be taking up time and space on the federal district court’s docket to right what they see as a horrible wrong — although the sane among us see it as pretty much a cheap stunt.

Thanks Justice Alito and the rest of the straight, male, white, Catholic majority of SCOTUS. (And don’t write to correct me that Clarence Thomas is not white; he’s whiter than an albino wearing a lab coat in a snowstorm.)

Stoned, Again

Speaking of regressive fundamentalist extremists, Al Jazeera tells the tale of The Islamic State‘s latest contribution to civilization. The erstwhile ISIS (the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria), fresh off its successful campaign to capture and control a significant swath of Iraq and bits of Syria, is now turning its attention to the behavior of women, AKA sluts.

The Izzy State is bringing back that fave from yesteryear, public stoning for women who dig sex. Acc’d’g to AJ’s report, members of the gang that scares even al Qaeda stoned a woman to death in the public square in the town of Tabaqa, in Syria, because she’d committed adultery.

R. Crumb

Flashback

An important corollary to the story is the fact that the man with whom she sullied all of Islam was charged with no crime at all because, well…, because he’s a man, you dope.

 

(Golly Gee, It’s Almost) Hot (Out!) Air

That Racial Nirvana — Georgia In The ’60s

And now we know for certain one of the top two reasons Clarence Thomas was selected by George H.W. Bush to replace Thurgood Marshall on the US Supreme Court.

Thomas

Click Pic To Find Out Why

The other is Justice Thomas’s status as spokestool for the plutocracy.

The Bushes; the gift that keeps on giving.

Your Daily Hot Air

Opinions Of Difference

From Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s dissent to the US Supreme Court’s opinion striking down the key portion of the Voting Rights Act:

Throwing out the Voting Rights Act when it has worked and is continuing to work to stop discriminatory changes is like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet.

Ginsburg

One Tough Old Bird

It’s been said enough that sometimes I even buy it: the differences between the Democrats and the Republican can be measured by the thimbleful.

Well, you can take that stale canard and shove it right up your Supreme Court.

You Can’t Tell The Justices Without A Scorecard

Here are your Reagan/Bush/Bush US Supreme Court justices:

  • Antonin Scalia

  • Anthony Kennedy

  • Clarence Thomas

  • John Roberts

  • Samuel Alito

And here are the justices nominated by presidents Clinton and Obama:

  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg

  • Stephen Breyer

  • Sonia Sotomayor

  • Elena Kagan

I ask you, who would you rather spend a summer evening drinking shots and beers with: Ginsburg or Clarence Thomas?

Thomas

Eek!

Sex In Tex. Etc.

The Loved One will brain me if I don’t mention last night’s eruption in the Texas Senate. State Senator Wendy Davis earned herself  gobs of political points with her filibuster against the state’s proposed abortion-killing bill.

Live vid of Davis’ pals and supporters hooting and hollering over the Senate president’s attempts to squeeze a vote in before the midnight deadline actually drove The Loved One out of bed whereupon she dashed into my garage office, shouting “Are you watching? Are you watching? This is historic! Turn it on!”

I hate to be the buzzkiller here, but there is history and there is Texas history. Leave it to Molly Ivins to educate us:

Dig, man, the plaster-saint theocrats of the Texas state legislature flat out don’t want women to feel pleasure. Go ahead; argue with me. You’ll lose.

FYI, in case you live in a cloister: a dildo is a dick-shaped implement that many females use for personal reasons. Here is an actual dick:

You’re welcome.

[This just in: Texas men have already declared war on Davis. Or maybe this is just a side battle in their ongoing War on Women. Anyway, Davis’ Fort Worth office was firebombed overnight. Nothin’ sez “pro-life” like throwing a firebomb.]

Your Daily Hot Air

The Right Way To Kill

Here is the second (natch) of the 10 Commandments of the Holy American Empire, Inc.:

Thou shalt not kill, unless it is with bullets or factory-made bombs, then kill away.

Our Pontiff…, er, President, Barack Obama yesterday issued a bull from the Domus Alba (hehe, I’m getting all Catholic-y and Latin-y on you) saying that those nasty Syrian thugs under Bashar al-Assad have just gone too far, what with whacking their own citizens with sarin gas.

We, the faithful, won’t stand for this!

See, we’re a very moral people. We have faith in mass-produced piercing projectiles and explosive compounds (once again, made only in free market-, 2nd Amendment-anointed enterprise facilities). They are sacred and can be used for any purpose their purchasers desire (although most pious Americans use them to free their fellow human beings from the chains of this Earthly realm.)

Machine Gun Factory

Holy Killing Machines

Whew.

Glad we’ve got that all cleared up. The Syrian civil war has thus far claimed upwards of 100,000 people. Most have been killed, of course, by bullets and bombs. And although their premature leave-takings are somewhat regrettable (they are, after all, only brown people), we Americans have always found a way to excuse the air-conditioning of human bodies by means of ammo.

But sarin gas? My god, man! What kind of animals are these Syrians?

We’ll stand for a hundred thousand or even a million bodies being blown to kingdom come by high speed hunks of metal but any madmen who dare to take 150 lives by dropping pellets of poison gas near them must be stopped before the whole of the human race is wiped out.

That’s it for today’s sermon. Go in peace.

Credit Where Credit Is Due

The Reagan/Bush/Bush Supreme Court, which usually swoons and bats its eyelashes at big corporations, dealt Myriad Genetics a huge blow yesterday when the justices ruled unanimously that human DNA cannot be patented.

Human DNA

Not So Fast

Imagine. Myriad and several other mad scientist outfits wanted to put patents on the human genes they’d isolated and identified, forcing other researchers to pay them hefty royalty fees should they decide to delve into those genes themselves. Clarence Thomas, whose utterances I generally take as seriously as those of a ranting street corner preacher, wrote the decision. “Myriad did not create anything,” he wrote, exhibiting a wisdom I’ve found lacking in him since his elevation to the Court by George H.W. Bush in 1991.

Let’s be frank, this decision is a shocker. SCOTUS just last month ruled that Monsanto had the right to squeeze every penny it could out of family farmers who dare to harvest a second generation of soybeans originally planted with the evil agribusiness empire’s pesticide-resistant seeds. In other words, that same unanimous court had ruled that Monsanto will own the rights to all the soybean plantings on Earth within a few years, considering the fact that pretty much every farmer who wants to make a buck on soybeans will use the company’s Frankenseeds.

The Monsanto decision coupled with the work of the company’s legislation-writing lobbyists are prima facie evidence that Big Business is the real government of this holy land.

So, what’s with Myriad? All it wanted to do was own the genetic encoding of every human being on Earth. What could be more entrepreneurial than that? Ayn Rand would have had a string of spontaneous orgasms just thinking about it.

Rand

Own Me, Myriad, Make Me Your Slave!

So here’s the latest scoreboard of the Age of Reagan Supreme Court:

1 — The Good, Decent, and Friendly People of the Earth

998 — Corporate pirates, banksters, war profiteers, polluters, etc.

Well, it’s a start.

The Business Of Piece

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“Democrats always like to brag that their guys are smarter than the opponents and Republicans always like to brag that their guys are more moral than the opponents. But if you’re looking for morals in politics you’re looking for bananas in the cheese department.” — Harry Shearer

DEMOCRACY

I generally rake Republicans over the coals in these precincts.

You may ask why I don’t extend the same courtesy to the Democrats. They are, in many ways, nearly indistinguishable from the Republicans these days.

The last two Democratic presidents have been what used to be referred to as Rockefeller Republicans. Despite hysterical pronouncements by Fox News faces and talk radio squealers, neither Bill Clinton nor Barack Obama are wild-eyed radicals.

Sheesh, quite the contrary. Like the Rocky Reps of yore, Bill and Barry are staunch defenders of those that have it even as they pay lip service to those that don’t.

Oh sure, Clinton and Obama were and are light years ahead of the GOP on things like the environment, race relations, and Supreme Court nominees whose resumes do not include tutelage under “Ilsa: She Wolf of the SS.”

Oh, and I’m not equating the likes of Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas with the Nazis. I find this whole people-I-disagree-with-are-Hitler trend of the last decade or so downright infantile. But the Ilsa reference is too delicious to pass up.

Anyway, the Dems who attain high office these days are not quite as crocodillian as their Republican counterparts. But they’re getting there.

If Barack Obama is such an airplane-hijacking, rock-throwing, Islamic terrorist mole, then why has he surrounded himself with so many Goldman Sachs unindicted co-conspirators?

I lay off the Dems because, gee, they’re so pitiful.

I was raised in a Democratic family in a Democratic city in a Democratic state in a Democratic nation. That’s right: when I was just learning who was who in this holy land back in the mid-1960s, my president was Lyndon Baines Johnson, my governor was Otto Kerner, and my mayor was Richard J. Daley. All Democrats.

Richard J. Daley & Teddy Kennedy

Heck, the Democratic precinct captain in my childhood neighborhood, Barney Potenzo, a cigar-chomping, fedora-sporting party hack who visited our house at least once a month just to make sure our loyalty wasn’t wavering in the slightest, even convinced my mother to have the polling place in our basement a couple of times.

Those were exciting days. Some patronage stooges would dolly in the voting machines as well as boxes of supplies and canvasing sheets the day before the election. Then the next day the entire house would be awash in the aromas of coffee, hamburgers, and Barney’s cigar until late at night when the election judges and poll-watchers would be concluding their final negotiations to produce the obligatory local landslide for the Daley Machine.

On Election Day, I’d be sitting at the top of the basement stairs, listening and trying to see as much as I could. I was rapt by the process and the coffee-cum-cigar bouquet intoxicated me.

The first day we hosted the polling place, one of our neighbors, a little old Italian woman who’d finally been naturalized and was voting for the first time in her life tottered into the basement and told the judge she didn’t know what to do.

Barney Potenzo almost swallowed his cigar when he heard that. He dashed to the old woman’s side as fast as a shark who smells chum.

“Doan worry, Nonna*. I’ll take care a’ya,” he said as he put a vise-like grip on her elbow and whisked her toward a voting machine.

(*Nonna: affectionate Italian for Grandma, a familiar term of respect for a superannuated woman.)

In those days, the standard voting machine was an enormous green contraption that must have weighed a thousand pounds. The top half of the face of the machine contained a board with a list of the candidates for the various offices next to little levers that would make metallic plinks when they were flipped.

Plink

To vote, one would enter the booth and pull a big handle that automatically drew a red curtain, affording the voter a measure of privacy.

You might expect that I’d hear thousands of plink, plink, plinks throughout the day but we lived in one of the most dependable Democratic wards in the city so most voters plinked once, for a straight-ticket vote, and then went on their way, assured that any reasonable favor they’d ask of Barney Potenzo would be granted until the next election.

Barney would listen intently as each voter entered the booth. If he heard a single, straight-ticket plink and then see the curtain open up, he’d grin at the voter. “T’anks a lot,” he’d say, his cigar bobbing with each syllable. “Gimme a call, y’need anyt’ing, okay now?”

Woe unto the voter, though, whose moment in the booth produced multiple plinks. That meant she or he was wasting precious votes on Republicans. When those few voters exited the booth, Barney would eye them grimly, his jaw clenched.

And if they had the temerity to say goodbye to Barney, the precinct captain might deign to throw a cold, “Yeah, okay,” at them.

So, on this particular day, Barney led the frail old lady to a vacant booth and said, “Now, here’s whatcha do.”

He proceeded to show her the big handle that would draw the red curtains and then he pointed at the little levers next to the candidates’ names.

“Look up d’ere,” he instructed. “Y’see d’at little lever next to Democrat? Yeah, d’at’s it. Y’pull d’at one and d’at’s all y’gotta do. Yer done, see?”

The little old lady hardly had a chance to say thank you when a young, conscientious cop (each polling place had a cop to stand guard) dashed up and put his hand on Barney’s shoulder.

“I’m sorry,” the cop said, “but you can’t do that.”

The cop clearly was new to the force and from a station outside our ward. He didn’t know who he was messing with.

“What the goddamn hell are you talkin’ about?” Barney roared. “Donchyou tell me what the hell to do!”

“Watch your language, sir,” the cop demanded.

“Hey, sonny boy, whaddya, some kind reformer or somethin’? Mind yer own goddamn business,” Barney said.

With that, the cop whipped out his bracelets and cuffed Barney right there in my family’s basement. It was thrilling.

“I’ll be a son of a bitch,” Barney hollered.

“You’re under arrest,” the cop said.

I couldn’t wait to see the news that night, certain this little drama would be the lead story. (To my great disappointment, Barney’s arrest wasn’t even mentioned; I hadn’t fully realized yet what a huge city I lived in and how many times this scenario was probably played out in a hundred polling places that day.)

The rest of the voters and poll-watchers and election judges froze. No one could speak. It was as if they were watching a natural disaster slowly unfold before their eyes, a tornado maybe, or an earthquake. My mother wrung her hands.

As the cop led Barney out of the basement, the precinct captain shouted over his shoulder toward the Democratic election judge, “Call Louie!”

Louie Garippo was the Democratic Committeeman of the 36th Ward. The committeeman was the real power in the ward. The alderman usually answered to him. The 50 ward committeemen met every year with the Big Potato himself, Mayor Daley, to choose a slate for the upcoming election. They seemed to have an innate sense of what the Mayor wanted and would act accordingly.

In return, the Mayor allowed them a pro-rated number of patronage jobs to disburse, based on their relative loyalty and their most recent voter turnout. In the 36th Ward, Louie Garippo was so powerful he could have snapped his fingers and ordered the firing of every cop in the Austin District police station and replaced them with elementary school patrol boys.

The Democratic election judge asked Ma if he could use the phone and then raced upstairs to call Louie. “Y’better get over here quick,” he said into the receiver.

Louie arrived in a matter of minutes. He listened as the judge told him what’d happened. “I’ll be goddamned,” Louie said. Then he asked Ma for the phone.

“Hiya, Commander, this is Mr. Garippo of the 36th. I want you to do something for me,” he said into the receiver.

Louie was only on the phone for a scant few moments. After he hung up, he passed me and tussled my hair. “Hey, you’re gettin’ to be a big boy now,” he said. “I bet you can’t wait until you’re old enough to vote.”

“No sir,” I said.

My mother smiled even though she was still wringing her hands.

And before I knew it, there was Barney Potenzo, sauntering back into our basement, looking for all the world like a cat with feathers sticking out of his mouth.

He’d been chauffeured back to our home in a squad car driven, of course, by a different cop than the one who’d arrested him.

Barney’s Limousine

When he saw Louie, he gushed. “T’anks a lot, Mr. Garippo,” he said. “Some kinda punk kid, that police officer, huh?”

Louie Garippo only grunted. He hustled Barney to a corner of the basement and lit into him in a muffled voice. I couldn’t make out much of what he said beyond, “What’s the matter with you? Don’t you know any better than to….”

The new police officer on duty locked the door at six o’clock. The judges and poll watchers counted, negotiated, and drank coffee until two in the morning. Not that there was much to count other than an overwhelming number of straight Democratic votes. But Mayor Daley had a policy of holding back vote counts until after the Republican precincts in suburban DuPage County had reported.

Once he knew the Republican totals, then he could release a sufficiently higher number of votes from the city. The incumbent President Johnson destroyed Barry Goldwater in our precinct, as he did around the country that day. It was one of the greatest landslides in American history.

Who knows, maybe the Republicans learned something that day. The next presidential election year, 1968, saw Richard Nixon, utilizing the Southern Strategy, grab the White House.

The Republicans probably were tired of having elections stolen from them. The Dems, they knew, had ballot box-stuffing and jiggered vote counts down pat. The Republicans could never beat them at that game.

So, they pulled the scary black man out of their hat. Over the years, the GOP has utilized any number of scary bogeymen to counterbalance Democratic prestidigitation. There’ve been the commies, the fags, liberated women, atheists who won’t allow our kids to pray in school, brown terrorists, Manchurian Candidates, and socialists.

It’s a hell of a lot more efficient strategy than depending on cigar-chomping party hacks to turn in manufactured vote counts. In fact, the Dems probably don’t even know how to steal a vote anymore.

But the Republicans never run out of bogeymen to scare the electorate with.

That’s why I go easy on the party of my childhood.

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