Canned Pleasure: The Thrill of the Kill

by Walter Brasch

     Would you like to go to Zimbabwe, kill and behead a lion, just like that dentist from Minnesota or the physician from Pittsburgh recently did? They paid about $50,000 each for that experience.

     How about a black rhino, an endangered species? A professional hunter from Dallas, Texas, won a $350,000 lottery to stalk and kill that animal in southern Namibia. In the 1950s, there were about 70,000 black rhinos. There are now fewer than 2,400, most of them killed off by the human predators.

     If giraffes are your thing, you can go to South Africa and, like a woman from Idaho, kill the world’s tallest animal, pose with it, and post it onto your Facebook page.

     But, let’s say your anemic bank account can’t provide you with the funds for a two-week safari, because that rebel flag you just bought to mount on your broken-down pick-up cost too much.

     For a few thousand dollars, Great White Hunters-complete with rented guides, dogs, and guns or bows-can go into a fenced-in area and shoot an exotic species. In most canned hunts, the animals have been bred to be killed, have little fear of humans, and are often lured to a feeding station or herded toward the hunter to allow a close-range kill. In some of the preserves, animals are drugged or tied to stakes. Some of the “big cats,” recorded in investigative undercover videos by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Fund for Animals were declawed, placed in cages, and then released; the terrified and non-aggressive animals were then killed within a few yards of their prisons; some were killed while in their cages.

     For less than $3,000 you can go to Snyder County, Pa., and kill an elk, a deer, or a wild boar. You don’t even need a hunting license or worry about hunting out of season. The animals are fenced in on a private preserve.

     The club recently placed full-page ads in local newspapers, and promises that for your $1,000 to $3,000 thrill, you get a guaranteed success, lodging, meals, and even a color photo of you and what is euphemistically known as a trophy.

     If pheasants are your thing, you can head out to the Rolling Rock Club in Ligonier, Pa. This is where Dick Cheney and some of his shooting buddies stood and killed more than 400 just-released birds, which they blasted onto their dinner plates for a lead-scented meal. In the afternoon, having hardly raised a bead of sweat, the good ole boys slaughtered dozens of equally tame mallards that had been hand-raised and shoved in front of waiting shotguns for the massacre. By the time Cheney flew out of the area, the mallards were plucked and vacuum-packed, ready for flight aboard the taxpayer-funded Air Force 2.

     The pheasant hunt was a year after the Mighty Dick sent shotgun pellets into the face of a 78-year-old hunting companion, whom he thought was a quail.

     Prefer pigeons? Although they’re not a “canned hunt,” there are still a half-dozen target shoots in southeastern Pennsylvania, where club officials release the birds within 20 yards of contestants, making a kill even easier than hitting metal ducks at a carnival’s shooting gallery. You can’t even eat the pigeons-by the time you pick the shotgun pellets from the bird, there’s no meat left.

     Many of the animals on canned hunts are surplus animals bought from dealers who buy cast-off animals from zoos and circuses; the animals sold to the preserves are often aged and arthritic. Dozens of preserves have bought black bears, zebras, giraffes, lions, boars, and just about any species of animal the client could want, solely to be killed, photographed, and then skinned, stuffed, and mounted.

     Most “kills” on the “farms” are from animals bleeding out. Animals suffer from minutes to hours, says Heidi Prescott, senior vice-president of the Humane Society of the United States. Canned hunting, says Prescott, “is about as sporting as shooting a puppy in pet store window.” Most sportsmen agree with her.

     The concept of the “fair chase” is embedded into hunter culture. The Boone & Crockett Club and the Pope and Young Club (bowhunters), two of the three primary organizations that rate trophy kills, refuse to accept applications from persons who bagged their “trophy” on a canned hunt. The Safari Club does allow persons to seek recognition, but only under limitations that most preserves can’t meet.

     These pretend-hunters have dozens of reasons why they do what they do. The word “conservation” often appears dripping from their meat-filled lips. Some claim they are doing it to conserve wildlife by eliminating the weakest among the species. But, since animals have done rather well at preserving the balance of nature, why would humans want to alter it?

     The big-game safari killers, who can afford a southern African hunt that costs more than the yearly wages of most Americans, say that the fees go to conservation efforts to save the animals. If that’s the reason, why not just take that huge roll of 100s, donate it to the preserves, take a tax deduction and get a suitable-for-framing color photo of a living animal?

     Whatever their reasons to mask their recreation, there is only one reason why they do what they do. They enjoy massaging a phallic symbol and taking a life.

     [Walter Brasch, an award-winning journalist, is the author of 20 books; the most recent one is Fracking Pennsylvania. He also believes in shooting only inanimate objects, especially clay pigeons, which he misses more than he hits.]


The Mandela Legacy

I was watching the news last week when word came that Nelson Mandela had passed away.  A giant of a man and leader he changed the way people think and he changed South Africa.  Once a repressive state ruled by a tyrannical white minority under a system of segregation called Apartheid, Mandela led the African National Congress’ opposition and he spent 27 years as a political prisoner.

Influenced by the non -violent philosophy of Ghandi he successfully led the movement to dismantle Apartheid peacefully and then courageously established a Truth and Reconciliation Commission whose mission was not to punish or take vengeance.

I’m old enough to remember the movements here for divestiture.  This was a way to put pressure on South Africa by forcing investors, pension plans and endowments to sell their investments in South Africa.  Students on college campuses led sit-ins and demonstrations to convince their Boards of Trustees and others to divest themselves of stock, bonds and other South African related investments.  When legislation was passed in Congress enacting trade sanctions the bill was vetoed by President Reagan and leading American racists like Jesse Helms and Dick Cheney led the fight for the white government of South Africa.

Justice prevailed however and Nelson Mandela was elected President of that nation after it reorganized.  He passed away after a long and very distinguished life having touched souls all around the globe.  Rest well Mandiba, you’ve earned it.

Bush/Cheney Made 9/11 Political

The killing of Osama Bin Laden Friday and announced last night is political.  Though it is a victory for America George W Bush and Dick Cheney also made it a victory for Obama and Democrats.  They did it by politicizing 9/11.  Their 2004 presidential campaign was all about making 9/11 political and in one infamous campaign stop VP Cheney told the nation that the election of Democrat John Kerry would endanger us all.

“If we make the wrong choice, then the danger is that we’ll get hit again — that we’ll be hit in a way that will be devastating from the standpoint of the United States,” Cheney said.

Even today Karl Rove took credit for the kill for Bush claiming that he gave the kill order.  His faulty logic is based on the assumption that President Obama simply “reaffirmed” the order.  Obviously George W Bush wasn’t in the Oval Office last week to give the command order to launch the Navy Seals operation which killed Bin Laden aka “Geronimo.”  The message “Geronimo KIA” went to Obama, not Bush.  If you use Rove’s insane logic then one must credit Bill Clinton with the kill since he first gave an order to kill OBL.

Democrats didn’t politicize 9/11 Bush and Cheney did.

Bush didn’t prioritize getting Bin laden after allowing his escape in Tora Bora.  “I don’t spend much time on him” was this quote in 2002:

Bush was mostly interested in creating endless war to provide as total a control package for himself as Commander in Chief, enrich his rich campaign donors in the defense industry and funnel those profits back to GOP campaigns.  killing Bin Laden was counter to his agenda so it didn’t happen.  Barack Obama made getting the Al Qaeda leader the foremost priority of the war in Afghanistan.  In doing so he proved Cheney’s lie.  It took a Democratic President to get Osama.  He’s no longer Bin Forgotten.

News & Notes January 19, 2011

Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords will be moved to a rehabilitation facility in Houston this week.  Her husband is an astronaut and trains in Houston so this makes sense.

Dick Cheney is deciding whether or not to continue with his mechanical heart or go on a transplant list.  How horrible would it be to die suddenly then have your heart go into Darth Cheney?  Its enough to make one change their mind about being an organ donor!  I know the man never really had a real heart and I certainly wouldn’t want him getting mine.

Republicans in Congress, covered by government health care, will vote this week to deny you your health care coverage.  This is folly because polls show jobs remain the foremost concern of voters.  As the GOP imitates Nero jobs continue to burn.

Alabama’s new Governor Robert Bentley said if you’re not christian you are not his brother or sister.  I sure am glad I’m not related to him!

A Reading woman became infamous this week after falling into a fountain at Berkshire Mall while texting.  Has anyone not watched the video on YouTube?  Aside from being cluelessly unable to walk and text at the same time she has found no humor in her misfortune.

Jean Claude Duvalier returned from exile to his native Haiti inexplicably this week.  He was promptly arrested.  A tyrant who plundered his country after his father died “Baby Doc” terrorized the poor people of his homeland before being overthrown and fleeing in exile to France.  The problem with living in exile is that you can never go home again without risking prosecution.  Is this man this stupid?  Yes.

Sargent Shriver died yesterday at age 95.  Founder of the Peace Corps under his brother-in-law John F. Kennedy’s Administration he was one of the last of that generation of Kennedys.  We need more dedicated families like the Kennedys in America.

Senators Kent Conrad and Joe Lieberman both announced they won’t run for re-election in 2012.  Both are owned by Corporate America and won’t be missed.  Lieberman dug his political grave for supporting the war in Iraq and John McCain.

News & Notes February 23, 2010

I was dealing with an insurance adjustor this morning at my sister’s house and then had a Planned Parenthood PAC Board call so I’m a bit late getting to the blog today.  I’m working on a major story about the DNC/OFA too and that is expending a good deal of time.

Dick Cheney had his fifth heart attack.  I suppose this puts the lie to that old “three time’s a charm” cliche.  He didn’t have an actual heart attack, that requires having one.  It was actually a bleeding heart which attacked him for being a heartless bastard.

BonusGate continues in Harrisburg.  The poor souls having to cover this endless trial must feel as if they are trapped in purgatory.  Several interesting revelations:  two of Mike Veon’s staffers flew to Utah to drive his motorcycles to South Dakota (Sturgis is my guess) before flying on to Boston for the Democratic convention.  Also, when the news media broke the story of the bonuses and legislative staffers working on campaigns panic broke out in the House Democratic caucus.  Fear of criminal charges and trials somehow belies the notion these idiots didn’t know that what they were doing was illegal.  Also, testimony keeps revealing there wasn’t anywhere nearly enough work for as many staffers as were employed.  Many did nothing but campaign work.  Before we begin laying off more state workers perhaps we should eliminate some of the legislative staff first.

Joe Hoeffel has a new web ad today:

Five Republican Senators broke with their Party to vote to end debate (end the filibuster) on the jobs bill.  The bill is quite small, just $15 billion, because that is all Harry Reid feels he can get through, and even at that most GOP Senators decided jobs for Americans are a bad thing.  Talk about being tone deaf…

Commerce Secretary Gary Locke came to Pittsburgh last week to announce a grant for expanding broadband access.  Access to faster internet speeds is crucial for productivity, educational opportunities and the enormous information now available for those online.  Unfortunately I’m not sure Pennsylvania is the best place to invest for this as so many here won’t spend the extra $5/month to save tons of time.  Too many of our people are so tightfisted they won’t spend a dime more than they absolutely necessary.

State Sen. Anthony Williams formally announced he is a candidate for Governor and says he has raised $2 million already.  That would make him a serious contender.

Dick Cheney Admits to War Crimes

Former VP Dick Cheney went on Sunday talk shows this week and boasted about his war crimes.  What message does this send when America is reduced to the same barbarity as our enemies?  What does it say when esteemed Senators like Arlen Specter say we should deny defendants their constitutional rights?  This nation used to be a bright shining beacon of hope for the world and now we have the likes of Cheney bragging about how he signed off on the torture of human beings?  What does it say about the American people that we aren’t demanding the prosecution of our own war criminals?

CIA Lies to Pelosi Being Investigated

The National Journal reports that a House Committee is investigating charges the CIA lied to Speaker Nancy Pelosi about waterboarding and other torture.  The law requires that the intelligence agency brief Congressional leaders.  Following disclosures that the Bush team was torturing prisoners Republicans attacked Pelosi for knowing about the procedures and doing nothing.  Now we are discovering she didn’t know and, indeed, was lied to about the law breaking by BushCo.

The House Intelligence Committee says five cases are being investigated to determine if CIA officials broke the law.  I realize it is shocking to think the CIA broke the law.  After all they broke it in torturing prisoners, in rendering them to countries for the sole purpose of torture, and again when wiretapping Americans.  Shock of shocks they’d also lie to cover their asses!!!  I say I’m shocked and appalled to discover there is gambling going in here in Rick’s Cafe!

Indict Cheney

Information that other covert spying programs were being conducted by the CIA and kept from Congress is not new or shocking.  Alberto Gonzales slipped during Congressional testimony and inadvertantly revealed that other programs existed.  We simply knew nothing about them until now. The fact Dick Cheney was running all these extralegal operations from his office is shocking.  How many rogue spying programs did Darth Vader perform?  Because his office even controlled who was informed within a very tight circle he even, conceivably, could have kept them from the President.

We do not give Vice President this kind of power.  We don’t give it, legally, even to Presidents.  The CIA has a long, inglorious history of going off the deep end when no oversight is provided to their rogue operations.  This is why the Frank Church commission was needed and the reforms emanating from those revelations are important.  Frankly the CIA cannot be trusted.  The sissy fit performed recently when Nancy Pelosi protested that the Agency lies to Congress has now been exposed as a serious attempt to cover up more wrongdoing.

We know the CIA was run from Cheney’s office along with his own rogue outfit manufacturing “intelligence” justifying the invasion of Iraq.  Dick Cheney violated serious national security laws and he must be investigated, indicted and prosecuted.  We are a nation of laws above all else and accountability for extreme conduct is warranted.  Conservatives love to base their ideology partly on “personal responsibility.”  As such Cheney, Bush, Rumsfeld and George Tenet all must be held accountable personally.  What is to deter someone else in the future from doing similar or worse actions if there is no accountability now?

Cheney’s Real Agenda

Dick Cheney has disappeared from our television screen since word leaked that photos exist of Americans torturing Iraqi prisoners using sexual assault and rape as instruments of control.  President Obama has reversed his position on openness and transparency and decreed the photographs remain unavailable to the public.  His rationale is that they would incite great violence in Iraq against the U.S.

Of course they would.  This is precisely why one of our arguments against torture and abuse of prisoners was morally wrong:  news of such inhumane treatment would incite anyone.  Anyone except Dick Cheney, George Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, John Yoo, or John Ashcroft that is.  The cabal of war criminals should be rightly frightened.  If a sole anti abortion protester can assassinate a doctor in a church what is to keep these mass murderers safe?

Dick Cheney attempted to blanket the airwaves in an assault on our sensibilities in an effort to revise his own personal history.  Torture was the cornerstone of his foreign policy apparatus.  It almost seemed to be his cause for being VP.  He is as closely associated with torture, rape and sexual assault now as he was with Halliburton.  It is his public persona and as a court in Spain begins investigating the abuse of prisoners by the Bush Administration Cheney has attempted to defend the indefensible.

How does he explain these new revelations?  How did raping men, women and children keep America safe?  Was the an episode of “24” where Jack Bauer did this?  I never watched the show so I don’t know.  That does seem to be where too many Americans warped their senses of decency and humanity however.

Since the world learned we did more than waterboard, in fact that we committed sexual crimes against Iraqis outrage against us has intensified.  Obama does not need to release the actual pictures because the damage is done.  The victims cannot be silenced as some of our detainees were when they were tortured to death under Cheney’s warped sense of duty.  His real agenda was to restore some of his tortured reputation.  That was torn asunder by these new revelations.  Perhaps that was the President’s real agenda in leaking the information.  It sure got Dick Cheney to shut up.  I’d love to ask him how raping these people gave us useful intelligence.

Richard B. Cheney is destined to be remembered in history as one of the great torturers of all time.  That is not good company.