Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan announced a ban on undies that contain less than six percent cotton

How Did I Miss That? Russians Drop Panties; Chinese Takeout

Steve Russell

Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly surprised some observers by vetoing the Healthy Diné Nation Act, which would have taxed junk food sold on Navajo land, and associated legislation to exempt fresh food from tribal sales tax. My Cousin Ray Sixkiller, who loves his frybread, suggested that the Tribal Council should merge the two bills and call the result the “Frybread Protection Act.”

“Shelly wouldn’t dare veto that.”

Rev. Jamie Coots, who used to appear on the reality TV show Snake Salvation, was bitten by a rattlesnake during services Saturday night. He refused medical aid and died. “I guess,” Cousin Ray said, “his preaching did not convert the snake.”

In a speech at the General Electric Plant in Milwaukee, President Obama made some remarks about trade schools at the expense of four-year art history degrees, drawing a rebuke posted on by Professor Ann Collins Johns of the University of Texas at Austin. The POTUS replied with a personal handwritten note of apology, saying that his art history classes brought “a great deal of joy in my life that I might otherwise have missed.” Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) announced hearings into “artgate” and promised to “get to the bottom of the cover-up.”

The Justice Department issued guidelines this week for banks in the twenty states and the District of Columbia that want to serve marijuana dealers who are legal under state law without getting charged with banking for “organized crime.” Most banks were still reluctant, meaning you can’t charge Mary Jane on a credit card and legal marijuana establishments are robbery magnets because of the amounts of cash they have to hold. Cousin Ray had the answer. “How does ‘High Times Federal Credit Union’ sound?”

I was watching CNN when the verdict came in on the Michael Dunn case, the man who claimed that he needed to kill a black teenager in Florida in a dispute over loud music. He was found guilty of attempted murder and of shooting at a vehicle, convicted of every shot except the kill shot. A reporter was doing a stand up outside the courthouse and there were cars circling the block, honking horns, and people screaming “Not guilty!” “The only thing that keeps Florida marginally safe,” observed Cousin Ray, “is poor marksmanship.”

An ex-downhill skier was explaining on an Olympic broadcast that he would be going so fast that he had to make a decision at one point that would not affect him until much farther down and if he chose wrong “I’d be in a spot of bother.” “On the rez,” Cousin Ray claimed, “we’d call that a ‘sticky wicket.’”

Sunday Review of February 16 carried an op-ed by Kenan Malik about Queen Elizabeth II’s finances under the clever title “Britain’s Welfare Queen.” Among other tidbits, we learn that Her Majesty applied to a government fund normally reserved for low income families to help cover Buckingham Palace’s heating bills. Cousin Ray was skeptical that “Liz was in any danger of winding up like Debbie Dogskin.”

The New York Times carried a story cautioning President Obama that the scientific consensus is insufficient to show that climate change “caused” the drought in California, although there’s no question that climate change “made the effects of drought worse.” Cousin Ray deadpanned “Sure glad they cleared that up.”

Predictably noting that Russia has its “knickers in a twist,” the Associated Press chronicled a “Free the Panties” movement when Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan announced a ban on undies that contain less than six percent cotton. “Bad news for Victoria’s Secret,” commented Cousin Ray, who also observed, “Some guys who used to scream ‘down with panties’ are now screaming ‘up with panties.’ Context is everything.”

On a more serious women’s rights front, the person Maureen Dowd called “our runaway fruitcake puppet Hamid Karzai” of Afghanistan promised to fix a new criminal procedure code that would ban testimony by family members about domestic violence, rendering prosecutions for private woman-beating impossible.

On the same issue, the Austin American-Statesman reported that Aidan Cruz attacked his girlfriend in the Flower Street Market in Bakersfield, California. Store employees called the police, who arrived in time to stop four men who were store customers from doing more serious damage to Mr. Cruz. Their pummeling stopped and Cruz went to jail. Cousin Ray speculated the four men misunderstood when Cruz asked for “desserts.”

Chris Matthews, on February 17’s Hardball: “The question is, if Hillary runs, is Bill fair game?’ Cousin Ray Sixkiller: “The question is, what does ‘fair’ have to do with it?”

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights issued a comprehensive report on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea that documents systematic tortures not fit for a family publication. North Korea remains protected from Security Council action by China. Cousin Ray was puzzled. “I thought Dennis Rodman had this covered?”

The Washington Post reports that the new generation of Chinese soldiers are too big to get in their tanks and have arms too long for the design of their rifles as a result of better nutrition. Cousin Ray suggested that the People’s Liberation Army recruit in North Korea, where people are several inches shorter than in South Korea because of poor nutrition. “The North Koreans should work for free,” Cousin Ray said, “since without China protecting them they would get bigger.’

The rapper Drake set a record for self-important jackassity when he pronounced himself “disgusted” that Rolling Stone “took my cover from me” to memorialize the untimely death of Philip Seymour Hoffman. Cousin Ray pointed out that the rapper’s stage name is the word for a male duck. “If he can’t handle ‘Jack,’ I think ‘Gander’ would be more apt than ‘Drake.’”

The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal reported that Cammy White, 42, was shoplifting a can of beer worth about a buck, making a theft punishable by fine only. A clerk confronted her, and when she threatened the clerk with a knife, the shoplifting turned into aggravated robbery, five to 99 years. “She doesn’t always steal beer,” Cousin Ray cracked, “but when she does, ella prefiere Cinco Años.”

Mika Brzezinski on Morning Joe: “Let’s not pretend that we don’t raise the minimum wage to benefit poor people.” She was replying to those who were floating the predicted job loss in the CBO report as a reason to stand pat. The report predicts a possible loss of 500,000 jobs by 2016, balanced against 900,000 workers lifted out of poverty and a net $2 billion gain within the working economy where money moves around. Cousin Ray, an old fashioned Republican, pointed out that the President wants $10.10 when the minimum wage adjusted for inflation was $10.60 in 1968. “What have we come to when Republicans can’t do simple arithmetic? That’s why we’re Republicans. We don’t fall for what feels good but doesn’t add up. Explain again why a full time worker should qualify for poverty programs?”

The minimum wage for tipped employees is $2.13, which President Obama proposes to raise to $4.90. “We could solve this by indexing the minimum wage to Congressional salaries,” Cousin Ray suggested, “as long as we don’t pay Congress what they’re worth.”

Some TV stations played outtake video from Kate Upton’s Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue shoot in zero gravity. She was calm and graceful floating in the air surrounded by a mob of less calm men, only some of whom appeared to have cameras “but all the men,” said Cousin Ray, “had clothes on.”

The New York Times reports Roger Goodell’s pay of $44.2 million a year may make him the highest paid CEO of a non-profit in the country. The “non-profit” NFL brings in about $10 billion a year. The same week brought a public report of the racist and sexist harassment permeating the Miami Dolphins locker room. “The NFL will try to put it all off on Richie Incognito,” complained Cousin Ray, adding that the NFL “is about as non-profit as the name of the Washington team is non-racist.”

India’s status as the world’s biggest democracy took a hit this week when a book got forced off the shelves because religious fundamentalists didn’t like the content. The Hindus: An Alternative History was an academic book by a professor and Penguin Books was the outfit that caved. Earlier this year, according to The New York Times, Bloomsbury India withdrew The Descent of Air India over the allegations of corruption in contained. Cousin Ray cautioned that only American Indians whose tribal newspaper is free to criticize the tribal government get to snicker. Our paper, the Cherokee Phoenix, claims that freedom, “but we’ll never know until they try to use it.”

Charles Blow in the February 20 New York Times channeled Gyasi Ross on when he claimed that men of color must “behave nobly in an ignoble—and unjust—context.” I said that sounds hard, and Cousin Ray asked me if I had a better idea? I don’t.

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