Michael and Neil Fletcher
These two dudes did a really good thing.

How Did I Miss That? Fly Like an Eagle; Pander Like a Pol

Steve Russell
12/4/15

As you leave Albuquerque, west on I-40, if the light is just right and you glance in your rearview mirror, you will understand why the Sandia Mountains are sacred to the people of the Sandia Pueblo.

Hiking on Sandia Peak, I turned a bend in the trail and came nose to beak with a golden eagle. We were both surprised.

The eagle did not fly away as I slowly raised my camera. All I could see in the viewfinder was eagle. The eagle turned away and then looked back, as if over his shoulder, right at me.

The eagle took flight, circled once, and was gone. This is indeed, I thought, a sacred place.

I remembered that golden eagle when I read about Michael and Neil Fletcher of Sudbury, Ontario, out hunting grouse, when they happened upon a bald eagle with its leg caught in a trap.

Putting a sweatshirt over the eagle to calm it, they took almost four minutes to pry the trap open. Watching the video they posted on Facebook, it appeared the hardest part was getting their dog to agree. While they were working, the eagle settled down before the dog did. When they freed the bird, nothing appeared to be broken.

Since the animal was no longer panicked, they paused just briefly for the selfie of a lifetime: the two smiling hunters with the eagle offering neither beak nor talon, although at that point it could have sliced and diced them. After posing for the photo, the eagle took flight and was gone, leaving a snowy wood in Ontario, like Sandia Peak, a sacred place.

My cousin Ray Sixkiller smiled. “Great story. But the eagle was lucky to get found by subsistence hunters rather than trophy hunters.”

Sen. Ted Cruz, campaigning in New Hampshire, claimed he’s never met a conservative opposed to birth control. Since he’s met Rick Santorum, he must be claiming Santorum is not a conservative.

In fairness to Santorum, birth control is not an issue he made up. As Time reported, an 1873 federal law made it punishable by five years in prison to mail birth control information. That assault on a free press remained on the books until 1971, in spite of the SCOTUS legalizing birth control for married couples in 1965.

Birth control did not become a right for unmarried persons until 1972, just a year before Roe v. Wade legalized abortion.

Birth control is a modern front in the war on women because of attempts to define “personhood” in the law from the moment of conception. The target is abortion, but some birth control methods keep fertilized eggs from implanting in the uterus. Presto!—birth control becomes murder.

Laws to establish the link between birth control and murder are introduced in Congress every session, including one sponsored by the current Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan. They have been defeated in at least 25 states, sometimes by referendum, sometimes in legislatures, and sometimes by courts hold them unconstitutional.

Ted Cruz is a smart man and he knows this. He also is advancing in the polling to number two, behind only The Donald.

Solving the birth control problem, The New York Daily News reported that Heisman trophy winner Tim Tebow, famous for believing that God brings him touchdowns, has been dumped by his former Miss USA supermodel girlfriend Olivia Culpo because “she just can’t deal with the sex thing.” As in, Tebow wouldn’t do it until she rolled the matrimonial dice.

The News, of course, has a reputation like the Daily Mail in the UK, and this appears to be a made up story. The News suggested in the same story that Culpo was culpable in singer Nick Jonas giving up his “purity ring.”

Speaking to Elle, Jonas seemed to be saying the ring became inoperable B.C., before Culpo. He offered no apology for escaping virginity, but did have an interesting answer when asked what he would change about his first time:

I think I would change the song. I don't want to say what song it was, but it was depressing. My iPod was on shuffle. It was a bad draw.

There are two morals to this story, neither directly about sex: Don’t take celebrity “news” seriously and be careful what’s on your iPod playlist. 

Cousin Ray was impressed. “You got all the way though that without cracking wise about Tebow’s scoring issues."

Lots of terrorism news this week.

The November 13 Daily Mail reported—with surveillance video—that Yoshiyuki Shinohara, 81, came up behind a woman waiting “in the Picadilly Circus tube station,” which my daughter assures me is how Brits talk about a train station. The woman was plainly guilty of wearing a hijab in a public place, so Shinohara pushed her onto the tracks, but she hit the train, which knocked her back on the platform with only minor injuries.

KARE11 in Minneapolis-St. Paul reported that Jodie Marie Burchard-Risch, 43, became annoyed at a Coon Rapids Applebee’s because a woman in the next booth was speaking in a language other than English. She smashed the woman in the face with a beer mug and left the restaurant, but a manager followed her and identified her to responding police.

Minnesota Indians should be aware that speaking your language in public might be hazardous to your health.

The terrorism news you probably did not miss was Robert Dear, 57, attacking a Colorado Planned Parenthood Clinic, killing three people and wounding nine. Among the dead were University of Colorado police officer Garret Swasey, father of two, and Iraq veteran Ke’Arre Stewart, also a father of two. Ted Cruz, apparently aware of right wing blogosphere reports that Dear was listed as female on a voter registration record, suggested Dear may be “a transgendered leftist activist” rather than somebody influenced by the lie Cruz and fellow candidates Donald Trump and Carly Fiorina keep repeating about what was on the selectively edited Planned Parenthood videos.

You could be forgiven if you didn’t consider the Colorado shootings news. Since 1977, Planned Parenthood clinics have attracted eight murders, 17 attempted murders, and 42 bombings.

Before I could put this column to bed, along came San Bernadino. The numbers keep changing, but what I have now is 14 dead and 21 wounded, not counting the husband and wife shooters, who had apparently parked their baby with grandma while they went on a homicidal rampage.

The gunfight that ended the San Bernadino murders was still going on when the NRA’s propaganda arm in the Republican Party began the usual chorus that laws cannot help. Only more guns will help.

The folks in the Guy Fawkes masks are at it again. Yahoo! Finance reported that Ghost Security Group (Ghost Sec), a hacktivist group supporting the cyberwar Anonymous has declared on ISIS, took over an ISIS website on the dark web, posting:

Please gaze upon this lovely ad so we can upgrade our infrastructure to give you ISIS content you all so desperately crave…

The “lovely ad” was for Viagra and—before ISIS unplugged the site—it was actually possible to buy Viagra with bitcoins from the link inserted on the ISIS website. Ghost Sec suggested that ISIS needed chemical assistance to “enhance your calm.”

Meanwhile, Anonymous has been Rickrolling and launching DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks on sites they identify with ISIS or ISIS funders.

“Rick Astley must be living right,” Cousin Ray commented, referring to uses of the Internet meme represented by the verb, “to Rickroll,” in which the Rickroller replaces expected content with Rick Astley’s song, “Never Gonna Give You Up.” 

Earlier this year, Rolling Stone reported that the Foo Fighters Rickrolled the Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas City, where the WBC was peddling their anti-gay swill.

Speaking of jackasses, the Associated Press reported that Norman, Oklahoma police officer Kyle Canaan responded to a call of a loose donkey. The woman who turned in the animal said she had a pen for the donkey—named Squishy—but no way to get it there. Officer Canaan proceeded to contact the four-legged subject and persuade him to have a seat in the back of the police cruiser. The complainant said that if nobody appeared to claim Squishy, she would keep him.

“Just one question,” Cousin Ray raised an eyebrow, “how did they know the donkey’s name?”

Cousin Ray kept chuckling until I bit and asked him what was funny?

“I can’t get a scene from Jaws out of my head. If Oklahoma cops are going to pick up jackasses—particularly in the Oklahoma City area---they are going to need bigger cars.” 

The Washington Post reported The Donald Trump, after ruminating publicly that he would not appear at the December 15 Republican debate unless CNN paid him $5 million, changed his mind when CNN announced it would not cough up an appearance fee for a politician.

“Never mind that last question,” Cousin Ray snickered. “I know the donkey’s name and it’s not Squishy.”

Dr. Ben Carson, carefully reading somebody else’s words in front of the Republican Jewish Coalition, verbally confabulated “Hamas” with “hummus.”

The candidates tried to enter full pander mode but were hampered by inability to say much to the audience without relying on Jewish stereotypes. Jim Gilmore just happened to have caught Schindler’s List on his way over. John Kasich learned Jewish stereotypes at the knee of his sainted mother—only the positive ones, of course---but The Donald really got out there, claiming there were more “deal makers” in the room, “perhaps more than any room I’ve spoken to.”

Cousin Ray and I were unable to agree on how an Indian organization would react to a parade of pols wearing turquoise and ribbon shirts, but we were both pretty sure about beginning a speech with “Hau, Kola!”

“On the other hand,” Cousin Ray suggested, “it might work fine with a German audience.”

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