Friday, June 28, 2013

That was the week that was

What a week! So much news made and, for once, not all of it was bad.

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I can't let the week pass without adding my voice in praise of Sen. Wendy Davis of Texas, as well as Texas Democrats and all the Texas women (and men) who showed up in Austin this week to support efforts to kill the Republicans' attempt to further strip women's rights. It was a magnificent effort and is not at all diminished by the fact that Rick Perry immediately called a second special session of the state legislature to consider nothing but the draconian abortion bills. The legislature will have thirty days to pass the bills and it is likely the Democrats will not be able to stop them this time, although they will try. Republicans are determined to do the tea party's bidding on this, in spite of the fact that these restrictions on abortion are blatantly unconstitutional by any reading of Roe v. Wade and all the challenges to it and subsequent court decisions over the years. And who knows? With the personnel that are currently on the Supreme Court, it is entirely possible that they will overturn Roe v. Wade and make all of this legal.

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In an ironic confluence of the week's news, the Supreme Court's egregious decision on the Voting Rights Act relates directly to the story of Wendy Davis and Texas Democrats, because now the Republicans are free to implement their voter suppression laws that the Justice Department had refused to allow to go forward and they gleefully began to do so the day after the court's decision. They are free to gerrymander to their heart's content and they will do their best to ensure that Wendy Davis and other pesky Democrats cannot be reelected. Moreover, the Voter ID law which was clearly (to anybody not named John Roberts) designed to restrict the ability of black and brown people in Texas to vote and to ensure the continuation of redneck white rule in the state, regardless of what the population looks like, now goes into effect.

These are people who do not care about democracy. They are only concerned with holding onto their power, the state and its people's welfare be damned!

It's a popular thing in some circles of Texas Republicanism to say that we need another revolution. They may be on to something. Yes, we need to revolt and throw these Stone Age bastards out!

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While it doesn't qualify as earth-shaking news, I went to the movies yesterday. We searched around for something that we might enjoy seeing and found the pickings slim. We finally settled on Star Trek Into Darkness

As one of the original fans of the original television series back in the Dark Ages when it began, my first reaction to the new movie was, "Boy, was that loud!"

My second reaction was that special effects have come a long, long way since that original series, and that's not necessarily a good thing. This movie was essentially all special effects. Not five minutes went by without something exploding or someone doing something humanly impossible, even in the twenty-third or twenty-fourth century.

Of the acting, probably the less said the better. Benedict Cumberbatch, who played Khan, was suitably malevolent and invincible. I liked Karl Urban as Bones, but then I like Karl Urban as most characters he plays. Simon Pegg as Scotty was pretty entertaining. As for the rest of those guys - well, Chris Pine as Kirk chewed up the scenery in a way that even William Shatner never would have dared. He out-Shatnered Shatner. Zachary Quinto as Spock is no Leonard Nimoy, but then, who is?

The movie was two hours and five minutes long. It seemed about five hours. Its main effect on me was to make me want to go back and watch Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan again.

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President Obama made a major speech about climate change this week and, given the abundance of other stories in the news, it was almost completely ignored by the news media. Actually, that may be a good thing. At least it may keep the science deniers from having a platform on which to spout their nonsense.

President Obama has wisely chosen to take steps that he can do without our dysfunctional Congress's approval or participation, and that offers hope for those of us who have been gnashing our teeth over the inaction on this issue for years that something may actually get done this time, something that will finally begin to inhibit the spewing of greenhouse gases into our fragile atmosphere.

When future historians look back on 2013, this might actually turn out to be the most consequential story of the year.

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We learned this week that the IRS "scandal" was manufactured, which, frankly didn't surprise me in the least. The inspector general only reported on the targeting of conservative organizations because that is all Darrell Issa and the Republican leadership asked him to do and he was bound by those parameters. In fact, the IRS had targeted probably more liberal and progressive organizations for extra scrutiny. They did this, essentially, because they were trying to enforce a difficult law, which is made difficult by the fact that the agency has apparently misinterpreted it over the years.

Will Issa and his hooligans drop their "investigation" of the IRS now that their scheme has been exposed? Who knows? But they always have Benghazi, another manufactured "scandal" to fall back on.

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Nelson Mandela. Invictus.

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June 27 was our thirty-eighth wedding anniversary. It's been a short thirty-eight years.

On Wednesday night, as a kind of pre-anniversary gift, our sweet son-in-law treated the whole family to tickets to the Astros game. It was the first game I had attended this year and one of the few of their games that I've been able to see. Due to a massive cock-up by the team's business management, the games are not on most people's televisions this year, including mine. This is a major irritant to me, since, in most years, I watch every game on TV, unless I happen to be at the ball park.

Anyway, back to Wednesday's game. It was a gross mismatch on paper.

The Astros played their old foes from the National League, the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cardinals entered the game with the best record in the National League and having squashed the Astros like an annoying bug, 13-5, the night before. The Astros had the worst record in the American League. So, yes, a mismatch on paper.

But they don't play the games on paper!

THE ASTROS WON!!! 

It didn't look promising at first. After two pitches the Astros were down 2-0. But the pitcher maintained his composure and got the side out without further damage.

Meantime, Astros hitters were having no luck. Through three innings, they had no hits. But then came the fourth. Jose Altuve (You gotta love that little guy!) broke up the no-hitter with a single, and before the inning was over, it was the St. Louis pitcher who had lost his composure and the underdog Astros were up 4-2.

The Cards scored one more run but the Astros held on and won it, 4-3.

It was a great evening for this Astros fan. Maybe I brought them luck. Maybe I should attend more games!    

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