Posts filed under ‘Politics’
Do you look around and think life is starting to look like the distorted images reflected in the amusement park House of Mirrors? If so, you’re not alone. Virtually none of these observations are original — hell, lots of people and pundits are talking about them — but I wanted to get them documented for the record.
Ted Cruz in Need of Remedial Reading
During his 21 hour filibuster on the floor of the Senate, Ted Cruz of Texas read “Green Eggs and Ham” by Dr. Seuss. I think I read somewhere that he was really reading it to his kids who he thought were watching him on C-SPAN, as a bed time story. The great irony is that in the middle of a filibuster about rejecting Obamacare before it has even taken effect, he read a story about a creature who refuses to try green eggs and ham but in the end DOES TRY THEM AND LIKES THEM. Could the moral really be that Obama is “Sam I am” and Obamacare is Green Eggs and Ham?
Russia and America Allies (Sort of)
Regardless of how much you might distrust Vladimir Putin’s motives, the bottom line is that both Russia and the United States are getting what they want by Putin poking his nose into the Syria chemical weapons thing. Now, if Putin would just deport Edward Snowden, things might really be cozy.
Detente with Iran
Regardless of how much you might distrust Hassan Rouhani, the new President of Iran, the optimist in me says it is good that he is at least talking a good game. After years of Ahmadinejad talking like a madman, Rouhani is a bit of fresh air. Quite frankly, Netenyahu’s immediate rejection of him, calling him a wolf in sheep’s clothing, only further enforces my suspicion that Bebe is not the least bit interested in peace. Wouldn’t it take the wind right out of Benjamin’s sails if Iran finally decided that a vibrant economy was more important to it than nukes? One can only hope.
Is the Pope Catholic?
In recent weeks Pope Francis has said that the church over-obsesses about abortion and homosexuality. He has suggested that God loves homosexuals much as He loves others. He has even gone so far as to suggest that atheists who “follow their conscience” will be in God’s good graces. All this is not quite enough to make me convert but it sure makes it harder for me to be critical. This Pope serves the purpose that I believe religion should serve in every day life — as consolation to the downtrodden and spiritual nourishment to those faltering. 34 years ago my college roommate asked me “do you love?” I replied “yes”. He shot back at me “then you believe in God.” What a beautiful notion of faith — that it is overwhelmed by love of self and others. This Pope seems to be on that trip, and my hat is off to him.
Why Don’t We Care About Each Other Anymore?
A few weeks ago a woman called me on my job very upset that her dog was locked in her car. Assuming that some public agency could get help to her faster than I could, I put her on hold and called the police, the fire department and even animal control. NO ONE WOULD HELP. That’s right, not a single public agency representative gave a flying fig that this woman’s dog might die in her car from the heat. The good news is that while I searched in vain for help, she was able to get help on her own. As an aside, she assumed the worst about me and reported me as negligent despite the fact I had done everything I could to help her. The public agencies thought she was worthless and she in turn thought I was worthless.
A couple of weeks ago, a man walked into the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C. and shot the place up. The top two questions that the media focused on were “how did someone with his psychological profile get security clearance to work at the Navy Yard?” and “how did someone with his profile get a gun?” While both were reasonable questions, the most important question was asked almost as an afterthought. This man told authorities he heard voices in his head. He did not receive help. Were folks just too busy? This man essentially asked for help because he knew that he was a danger to himself or others. Why didn’t anyone care enough about him to get him the help he needed? That was the fundamental question that should have been asked. Why didn’t someone intervene in this man’s life to help him?
On the flip side was the story of Antoinette Tuff, a school book-keeper who calmed down a mentally ill man who had entered her school with an AK-47. In her short encounter with the man, caught on a 911 tape, she probably showed him more respect than he had received from anyone in a long time. When he agreed to give himself up she said, “I want you to know I love you and I’m proud of you, It’s a good thing you’re just giving up. Don’t worry about it. We all go through something in life.”
This true hero met danger head on with compassion. In that moment, she convinced that man that someone cared about him. That made a difference and I believe it makes a difference in everyone’s life. I have had the good fortune of always having someone in my corner, whether it was my parents, or a teacher, or my wife and precious daughter. I’ve always known that at least someone cared about me.
There is so much anger in this country right now. Why don’t we take a page from Miss Tuff? She is right. We all go through something in life. Why don’t we help each other get through it?
On the twelfth anniversary of the devastating attacks of 9/11 Russian President Vladimir Putin penned an OP-ED in the New York Times discussing the ongoing crisis in Syria. The irony of Putin writing about a peaceful world is as thick as pea soup.
Yet the part of the piece that has drawn much criticism from both right and left was his closing paragraph.
My working and personal relationship with President Obama is marked by growing trust. I appreciate this. I carefully studied his address to the nation on Tuesday. And I would rather disagree with a case he made on American exceptionalism, stating that the United States’ policy is “what makes America different. It’s what makes us exceptional.” It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation. There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy. Their policies differ, too. We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.
Clearly Putin did not need to go there to make his point about Syria but I am so glad he did.
Finally someone has told us in public to get some humility and stop the holier than thou crap we’ve been spewing for decades now. Our arrogance as a country knows no bounds. We have sufficient problems in this country from self inflicted economic depression to social unrest that we should not be lecturing anyone about anything. We have our own house to clean up big time.
The editorial should not have been titled “A Plea for Caution”. It should have been titled “America, Get Over Yourself”. I salute Comrade Putin for saying in public what so many countries must be saying about us in private.
Ok, now that I’ve gotten over the juvenile urge to tip my hat to the disaster movie spoof “Airplane”, let’s break down this Syria thing.
Let’s get this one out of the way immediately. Please don’t pee on my leg and tell me it’s raining. The folks killed by chemical weapons are a drop in the bucket compared to the total number of folks killed in Syria in the past two years. Where was our humanitarian urge for the past two years?
Basically our policy has been “you can keep killing your people by the hundreds so long as you don’t do it in a way we deem too nasty.” If that is humanitarianism then it defies logic. But then the entire global sanction against chemical weapons makes no real sense. Either we condemn countries for senseless slaughter or we don’t.
A limited targeted strike against Bashar al-Assad will punish him for killing people in a really nasty way (as opposed to the nicer ways to kill people). Really? We are going to kill innocent people while punishing Assad. Why don’t we send in a mercenary to kill Assad? Isn’t that the real punishment we want to deliver? Assad is dealing with a civil war. He is managing daily chaos whether we like his methods or not. Do we really think a slap on the wrist will really keep him up at night? Please, we’ll be a minor distraction. Unless of course we sign up for …
Obama said “Assad must go”. Assad’s natural response is “who’s gonna make me? You and what army?” And in steps John McCain and his merry band of war mongers who never saw a war they didn’t like. That combined with Obama’s secret delight at defying the wimpy liberal stereotype almost guarantees “boots on the ground” despite the President’s claims to the contrary.
This brings us to another totally baffling side of this story …
The Element of Surprise
As in, there is none. I find it profoundly embarrassing that we are having a public discussion about how big a badass we are going to be. I’m not alone in this. Retired Major General Robert Scales writes in the Washington Post
So far, at least, this path to war violates every principle of war, including the element of surprise, achieving mass and having a clearly defined and obtainable objective.
My only solace is we are not alone in our public hand wringing as Great Britain has already made a spectacle of itself with Parliament telling David Cameron “bloody hell no!”
How ’bout Minding Our Own Business?
Remember back in 1963 when we turned fire hoses and dogs on innocent Americans including minors? Remember how Khrushchev sent ships to our Southern shores and warned Kennedy that if we didn’t stop abusing our own people he would attack the US?
Me neither. In fact when Khrushchev had the balls to put missiles in Cuba we threw a hissy fit that brought us to the brink of nuclear war. So where do we get off putting our ships within striking distance of Syria when they have presented no direct threat to us? How might this story evolve if Assad said “Barack, you’ve got 48 hours to get your ships away from my country or I’ll blow them out of the water.”
He won’t do that because he and everyone else has gotten used to America patrolling the globe as the self-righteous guardian of all that is decent and good. It’s one reason why a handful of nations hate our guts.
To me with each passing day this Syria thing becomes a no-brainer. It’s way too late to play humanitarian; we can’t really punish Assad without overcommitting; we look incompetent and ham-fisted in our public debate about what should be confidential military strategy; and finally, a sovereign country’s civil war is none of our business no matter how nasty it gets.
A no from Congress will humiliate Obama. Tough. There is no reason for us to lose a single American life to protect the street cred of a President.
A few years ago I went ballistic when I found out my daughter’s school district in Connecticut was allowing students to opt out of viewing a recorded academic pep talk by relatively new President Barack Obama. The satirical and very angry piece that this situation inspired sent thousands of visitors to Best of the Blogs where my piece had been re-published from my blog.
Well it’s four years later and Obama hasn’t won over too many adversaries (and has probably disappointed a good number of supporters). As the lunatic fringe Tea Party US Representatives went home for summer break, they entertained questions at town halls about Obama’s potential for impeachment. Even the mostly sensible Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn said recently that Obama was skirting close to high crimes and misdemeanors.
So rather than go on another rant like I did in 2009, I ask you dear reader to cast your vote on this impeachment thing. Add a comment below to elaborate on your vote if you like. I must tip my hat to the great New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd for the third option in the ballot below.
As I watch the coverage of Anthony Weiner’s bid for nomination as candidate for New York City Mayor I am frankly fed up with the politically correct nonsense that just about everyone is spewing. Let’s engage in some straight talk.
The Hypocrisy of Liberals
What do we hear about Anthony Weiner now from liberals? He was never all that much. He only introduced legislation that helped one of his constituents. To listen to the current chatter, you’d think they always thought of him as a total loser. Let’s take a trip in the way-back machine to 2009 when one of Weiner’s loudest current critics treated him like an intellectual genius on MSNBC’s “Hardball”.
Chris Matthews wasn’t alone in his admiration for Weiner back then. The fact is in 2009 to 2011 Weiner was the liberal media darling. He was outspoken, brash and more intellectually sharp than his fellow loudmouth Congressman Alan Grayson. Liberals like me delighted in Weiner taking on Joe Scarborough on “Morning Joe”. He was the go-to guy on health care reform for every political talk show. When his penis got the better of him in 2011 I wasn’t angry with him. I was horribly disappointed and mournful that a passionate articulate voice from the left had been silenced by his own foolishness. Many liberals felt the same way I did. But today they are fair-weather friends and hypocrites and honestly, that disgusts me far more than a bunch of dick-pics.
The Victimization of Women Part 1
Sydney Leathers is some kind of victim? Are we serious? She exchanged, let me repeat, exchanged lewd content with Weiner. Again, I have to point to the idiocy of Chris Matthews who asks “do women do this stuff on the Internet?” Yeah, Chris they do. Women can be every bit as horny and twisted as men and it’s wild to me that Ms. Leathers is seen as some sort of innocent victim by some in the media. She’s a female perv. End of story.
The Victimization of Women Part 2
Oh poor Huma Abedin, the put upon wife of Anthony Weiner. Sorry folks I’m not buying it. I’ve watched the face of the “good wife” as she stands by her sleaze bag husband (roll the tape of David Vitter please) and the face screams “get me out of here — my husband is a jerk”. Some wives like Jenny Sanford tell their cheating husbands to go to hell quite publicly. Huma has done neither of these. She took to the microphone to defend her husband and promote his candidacy for Mayor. And while she may be right that her recent press conference was her first, she has hardly been in the background in this campaign. She has been front and center trying to repair her husband’s reputation. Huma, in my opinion, is not much different from her mentor Hillary Clinton. Both of these women know they are married to kinky men and it’s a price they are willing to pay for the political spotlight. I’m not suggesting that Huma and Hillary don’t genuinely love their husbands. Marriages are complicated. But I don’t sign on to this notion that either woman is a victim. They both have made choices that I think make them far more calculating than their foolish impulsive husbands.
Let She Who is Without Sin Throw the First Stone
What I am about to say is going to get me in trouble with a lot of people so let me preface my comments with two facts. First, I believe gay people should be left the hell alone to live as they please and to marry who they love. Second, I have a real problem when traditional victims of oppression get all judgmental about other people. I cannot abide it when blacks and Jews don’t support each other because they should have a visceral understanding of the other person’s pain.
With that out of the way — where the hell does Anthony Weiner’s opponent Christine Quinn get off being high and mighty about him? Christine Quinn is the first openly gay City Council Speaker in the history of New York. Please let me remind Ms. Quinn that if we rewind only five or six years, she would not have a Popsicle’s chance in hell of running for Mayor of New York. The fact is a sizable silent minority of folks consider Ms. Quinn a deviant. She knows that or at least she should if she’s not stupid. So maybe the sexual practices of others should be off-limits to Ms. Quinn? Most sexual behavior is driven by deep-rooted urges. No one sends pictures of his penis over the Internet on a whim. No, I am not drawing a complete equivalency between being gay and being an exhibitionist but of all aspects of human behavior, I would think sexual behavior would be the one area that gay folks are most empathetic about.
To put it bluntly, we know we have reached a new civil rights plateau when gay folks go on TV and call the other guy a pervert.
The Last Bastion of Civil Rights
And that brings me to my final observation regarding Weiner’s own behavior. Just as gay has become the new black, I predict that pervert will become the new gay. Weiner’s latest tactic on the campaign trail is to say that if he can withstand the scrutiny and criticism he is currently undergoing, just think what a strong Mayor he will make. He is essentially saying “I was a pervert and if you don’t like that, don’t vote for me but I’m much more than that”. You have got to give him credit for chutzpah. The only thing really getting in his way right now are the clearly insincere apologies for his past (?) behavior. Once he declares his sexting a life style choice and tells folks that if his wife can live with it then everyone else should mind their own business, he will truly be liberated. He can emerge as the persecuted pervert, declare his position as another victimized minority and forge a new civil rights path.
All joking aside, we live in a strange country where Silvio Berlusconi’s “bunga-bunga” parties brought a smile to our faces but Anthony Weiner’s brand of kink gives us the willies. I’m annoyed Weiner resigned back in 2011 and I’m actually glad he’s sticking around this time. If you don’t want a kinky guy who behaves like an adolescent on the Internet as your Mayor then don’t vote for him. But please, stop all the politically correct posturing, revisionist history and hypocrisy.
Image: Pixelated Twitter by XanderGC
Never have I been more embarrassed to be a black man than in the immediate aftermath of the George Zimmerman verdict in the shooting of Trayvon Martin. Particularly if you watched liberal news outlets like MSNBC you were treated to a parade of intelligent successful, dare I say articulate, black men and women bemoaning how awful mean old whitey has made things for them and theirs. In my opinion it cheapens all their great successes and the hard work they have put in to get where they are.
Chief among the offended is the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People). From the emails I get from them, it appears that the organization is really interested in “Advancement of Colored People by White People”. Most every communication I get involves getting the government to stop mean old whitey from taking advantage of poor black folk You know what gang? It gets old. What happened to people owning their own destiny? What struck me about the Zimmerman/Martin dust-up was black’s refusal to take any ownership for what happened to Trayvon Martin. If you listened to the black narrative, echoed by well-meaning but badly deluded liberal white journalists, you would think that George Zimmerman saw Trayvon and shot him right off the bat — or worse, shot him in the back as Trayvon was running away. You would think Trayvon was a small child about the age of 13 with a bag of Skittles. To listen to the popular liberal narrative, you would never know that Trayvon was a kid suspended twice from school, a full 17 years of age with a height and weight appropriate for that age, who punched George Zimmerman in the face. The narrative that is not spoken is that George deserved an ass-whupping for hassling the kid. Trayvon represented decades of collective pent-up black oppression that burst forth on George Zimmerman. George was getting a righteous beat-down and had no right to shoot in self-defense.
I have a suggestion for Ben Jealous, head of the NAACP. Invite Bill Cosby over for lunch and have a nice long talk. You see, Cosby has long advocated blacks cleaning up their own act before crying foul. Instead of inspiring a movement of self-motivation and ownership, Cosby has gotten heat for his comments. The following is a spliced and diced version of Cosby’s remarks to the NAACP in 2004 on the anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, that has circulated on the Internet for some time:
They’re standing on the corner and they can’t speak English. I can’t even talk the way these people talk…
Why you ain’t
Where you is
What he drive
Where he stay
Where he work
Who you be…
And I blamed the kid until I heard the mother talk.
And then I heard the father talk.
Everybody knows it’s important to speak English except these knuckleheads. You can’t be a doctor with that kind of crap coming out of your mouth.
In fact, you will never get any kind of job making a decent living. People marched and were hit in the face with rocks to get an education, and now we’ve got these knuckleheads walking around.
The lower economic people are not holding up their end in this deal.
These people are not parenting. They are buying things for kids. $500 sneakers for what??
And they won’t spend $200 for Hooked on Phonics.
I am talking about these people who cry when their son is standing there in an orange suit.
Where were you when he was 2??
Where were you when he was 12??
Where were you when he was 18 and how come you didn’t know that he had a pistol??
And where is the father?? Or, who is his father?
People putting their clothes on backward, isn’t that a sign of something gone wrong?
People with their hats on backward, pants down around the crack, isn’t that a sign of something?
Or, are you waiting for Jesus to pull his pants up?
Isn’t it a sign of something when she has her dress all the way up and got all type of needles [piercing] going through her body?
What part of Africa did this come from??
We are not Africans. Those people are not Africans. They don’t know a thing about Africa .
With names like Shaniqua, Taliqua and Mohammed and all of that crap, and all of them are in jail.
Brown or black versus the Board of Education is no longer the white person’s problem.
We have got to take the neighborhood back.
People used to be ashamed. Today, a woman has eight children with eight different ‘husbands’ — or men or whatever you call them now.
We have millionaire football players who cannot read.
We have million-dollar basketball players who can’t write two paragraphs.
We, as black folks have to do a better job. Someone working at Wal- Mart with seven kids… you are hurting us.
We have to start holding each other to a higher standard.
We cannot blame the white people any longer.
The full text of Cosby’s speech can be found here.
Whenever I’ve taken this tack, I am reminded that it is wrong to single out blacks for this. There are plenty of whites behaving ignorantly as well. But it isn’t a winning strategy to defend one’s ignorance with the excuse “white people do it too”.
So here is the bottom line for Ben Jealous. Start spreading Cosby’s message. Start telling parents that if your kid uses the N word in his Twitter handle there is something wrong. Tell parents that if your kid is caught with jewelry from an unknown source and a screw driver in his backpack, there is something wrong. Tell them that for as long as pot is illegal, getting caught with it at school ain’t cool.
There is a photo hitting the Internet now courtesy of the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
The NAACP can help make sure that this child’s life does matter by advocating a good education and proper behavioral role models for the kid. Blacks kill each other in urban centers throughout the country on a daily basis. Do we demonstrate through this behavior that black life matters to us? Everyone from the outraged MSNBC commentator to the President himself has tried to turn Trayvon Martin into a hero. The best way the NAACP can make a hero out of Trayvon Martin is to dedicate itself to creating fewer of him.
The Race Speech Part Deux
Last Friday Barack Obama made an impromptu 17 minute speech on race in America vis-a-vis Trayvon Martin and the Zimmerman verdict. Two things struck out at me:
Another way of saying that is Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago.
Really? Let’s put aside the young Obama’s fondness for pot. Yes he and Trayvon had that in common (oh God — I’m echoing Sean Hannity, there is some nasty karma coming my way). But please tell me — if Twitter had existed 35 years ago would Obama really have been No_Limit_Nigga? Would Obama have been suspended twice from school for serious infractions? Would Obama have been involved in striking a bus driver? To put it another way, do we really think Trayvon was headed for President one day? Not without a serious course correction, that’s for damn sure. So who are we fooling here? Are we really making Trayvon the yardstick by which we judge our outstanding young black men?
There are very few African American men who haven’t had the experience of walking across the street and hearing the locks click on the doors of cars. That happens to me — at least before I was a senator. There are very few African Americans who haven’t had the experience of getting on an elevator and a woman clutching her purse nervously and holding her breath until she had a chance to get off.
Time to queue Maya Wiley on an MSNBC special:
i have had the woman clutch their purses. and i do want to say that what he didn’t say, white women clutch their purses. i mean, we’re not talking about black women getting in an elevator. that’s what’s so racialized about it.
Maya is President and Founder of the ironically named Center for Social Inclusion. I have seen Maya on several different shows in the past week and I get the distinct impression she has a certain dislike for white people. So what kind of inclusion is she interested in? Maya wants to make clear that Obama is referring to white women in his “elevator” comment. Allow me to let Maya in on a little secret.
Obama’s car locks clicking reference resonated with me. You know why? It was not because it has ever happened to me while walking across the street. Granted I am light enough to pass for white and physically disabled so that might be unlikely. It resonated with me because as a boy, when my Dad was driving through Harlem, my Mom — my very black Mom — would urge my father to roll up the windows and make sure the car doors were locked. It resonated with me because my Dad — my very black Dad — would arrive to work in a ghetto school extra early so he could park close to the building to avoid being mugged — again — by a black hoodlum. It resonated with me because in high school when I was sitting next to a girl I wanted to impress, I became mortified when some jive talking fool swaggered into the room and I was afraid of guilt by racial association.
This is the little dirty secret that Maya doesn’t want you to know. Black women clutch their purse a bit tighter and hold their breath when a brother enters the elevator, unless of course the dude is dressed professionally and doesn’t appear threatening. Black people with the capacity and the will, get the hell out of all black neighborhoods for fear of crime like my grandparents did in the 1970′s. Many black people are mortified by the behavior of some of their brothers and sisters. Not many of us have the guts to say it publicly because our honesty gives fodder to virulent bigots who use our comments to come to the wrong conclusions.
They say that the first step to fixing a problem is admitting you have one. Blacks have a public relations problem in large part due to our own behavior and what we tolerate from our own people. We white-wash Trayvon Martin instead of admitting what a terribly flawed young man he was. We get defensive about “star witness” Rachel Jeantel instead of mourning the fact that the young woman cannot write or read cursive handwriting and is at least one year behind in school.
Barack’s second speech on race since he became a public figure puts his first speech (defending Reverend Jeremiah Wright) into a new perspective. Liberals loved both speeches. But both speeches basically come down to “white people, you just don’t understand”. Both speeches either defend or ignore ignorant and inflammatory behavior.
What saddens me most about the aftermath of the Zimmerman verdict and President Obama’s speech is that it didn’t inspire the “conversation about race” that really needs to occur, the conversation among black people to take control of our reputation, clean up our act, and be a shining beacon of victory over oppression — not because white folks changed but because WE changed and made our lives better.
On most matters political I come down pretty firmly on one side or the other. One exception is abortion where I am a man without a country. Liberals hate me because I abhor abortion on demand and conservatives hate me because I can’t condone the government violating the sovereignty of a woman over her body.
Now another entry in my straddle list. The immigration debate has me in a muddle. On the one hand I understand the offensive nature of the phrase “illegal immigrant”. People are themselves not illegal. Their acts are. “Illegal immigrant” objectifies these people.
I also understand that many of the 11 million here illegally have raised families here and love this country for its opportunities. I hesitate to engage in any dialog that demonizes them.
I also get that the GOP has created a bit of a straw man by trying to solve at great expense a problem we really don’t have right now. Because of our economy net illegal immigration is about zero. Obama has deported a record number of undocumented folks.
But there are still two things that bother me about this debate:
Why Do Minorities Defend Their Criminal Element?
Republicans believe that promoting comprehensive immigration reform will win them Hispanic votes, essentially a shameless pander. My question is why would law-abiding Hispanics who have paid their dues be offended by a crackdown on illegal immigration? Why would law-abiding Hispanics be seduced by a party “sympathetic” to undocumented workers who are by definitions criminals? Why are Hispanics not the most outraged at their brethren taking shortcuts to get the rewards that non-criminal Hispanics have worked hard for? It reminds me of blacks turning Trayvon Martin into a civil rights hero when he was at best a very foolish child and at worst a thug-in-training (more on that later). It reminds me of moderate Muslims who stand by silent while their nutjob radical brethren wreak havoc all over the world. I know from experience that when we condemn our own we open the door to bigots who will take our condemnation one step too far. That still shouldn’t keep us silent. That still should not make us accept the lowest common denominator. Law abiding Hispanics should be as interested in secure borders and fair labor practices as everyone else.
Who Needs Immigrants Right Now?
While watching “Face the Nation” last week, I saw Dan Stein, President of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) discuss the Senate comprehensive immigration reform bill. If you get past his gripes about special interests and his skepticism about increased border security there remains one resonating point. Why do we want to increase job competition in a country with almost 8% unemployment (not including those who have dropped out of the workforce out of despair and those working part-time who want full-time jobs)? Just today I heard an argument about folks coming here to get an education and then taking their skills back home. Our solution? Encourage then to stay here! No, no, no.
We need to be training OUR citizens for the jobs available in this country right now. We need to be employing our citizens. We don’t need to be bringing more folks on board to compete for jobs. We have plenty of Americans for the jobs available. We don’t necessarily have the skills and that is what needs fixing. And once again — I’m a broken record on this subject and I don’t care — we need corporations and even small employers to start treating workers with dignity. That means not only hiring but paying them a decent living wage. We can beat unemployment in this country by training people and then making the jobs worth having. Many of the folks currently on food stamps are gainfully employed and can’t make enough money to pay for food. That’s a disgrace in the richest country in the world.
If anything, we should be restricting immigration right now across the board and getting our house in order with the folks who are already here.
A Final Few Words on Trayvon Martin
Last night the jury in the George Zimmerman trial declared Mr. Zimmerman not guilty of 2nd degree murder in the killing of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin. A few observations come to mind:
Amazing What Happens When You Ignore Race
Despite a lead up to the trial that was extremely racially polarized, the prosecution chose not to focus on racism. Yes, profiling was mentioned but there was very little focus on the notion that Trayvon ended up dead because he was a black man.The predominant focus of both the defense and the prosecution was the scuffle itself and not much on what lead up to it. When you just focus on one man beating the crap out of another and whether the dude getting beaten up might be afraid of great bodily injury it becomes a bit easier to say “yeah I would have shot him too.” For those, mostly conservatives, who were angry at the race baiters, the prosecution was pretty restrained it its use of race as an emotional tactic. When you take racial motivation out of the equation, it’s just a matter of a man wanting the beating to stop.
The Worst Prosecution Evah
I admittedly watched more trial analysis than the trial itself but damn that was one sad prosecution. Nearly every prosecution witness was transformed into a witness for the defense. The coroner, Dr. Bao, was so slick and shifty I wouldn’t trust him with the dead much less the living. The expert on use of force, Dennis Root was allowed to testify on state of mind, outside his area of expertise, without any objection from the prosecution. And most damning of all, the prosecution never made an issue of the position of Zimmerman’s gun (behind him out of view of Martin) until closing arguments. I had to wonder as I watched analysis of the trial whether the state really wanted to win this case or not.
The Sickening Canonization of Trayvon Martin
I actually heard Travyon Martin compared to Medgar Evers last night. I threw up in my mouth a little. Are we serious? Medgar Evers devoted his life to racial equality and was killed by a white supremacist. Trayvon Martin devoted his last months to smoking dope, possibly stealing jewelry, calling himself No-Limit-Nigga on Twitter, being suspended twice from school and was killed by a half white half Hispanic Barney Fife. Trayvon Martin is no hero. He is a cautionary tale of what a child should do when confronted by a crazy stranger. You don’t respond with gangsta attitude. You run the hell away and tell your parents.
Last night MSNBC’s Joy Reid implied Trayvon was accosted by a gun wielding George Zimmerman. The facts as revealed in the case do not support that. Trayvon didn’t know George had a gun until after a scuffle had already ensued. She should be ashamed of herself for making up facts. Melissa Harris-Perry said all black families are holding their kids a bit closer after the verdict. Well damn right Melissa. Maybe if Trayvon was held a bit closer, as in properly counseled on his life choices, he might be alive today. I am reading folks on Facebook say they fear for their black children’s safety because big bad whitey may kill them and not go to jail. Have we lost our minds? The lesson in this verdict is not that a white (or half white) man can shoot you in the back and get away with it. The lesson is that a white man can shoot you if you punch him in the face and jump on top of him and try to beat the crap out of him. Was giving an ass whupping to George Zimmerman the only choice Trayvon had that night?
Look, I am not happy that George Zimmerman brought a gun to a fist fight. I also don’t doubt the terrible loss felt by Trayvon’s family. But despite the media’s insistence on showing photos of a 13-year-old angelic child (they’re still showing those photos today), if we are honest we know better. Trayvon was developing into an ignorant punk who was headed for trouble. He needed intervention, just not in the form that he got from George Zimmerman. Trayvon is no hero, civil rights or otherwise. He is another sad statistic in a culture that favors confrontation and bravado over common sense. It’s a damn shame.
The three major SCOTUS decisions last week trigger three thoughts of mine, some admittedly tenuously related to the matters at hand.
The court ruling that advanced the ball a little on gay rights made me think about how we will know we’ve reached the promised land: when we ALL go back in the closet, gay and straight.
In polite society we don’t discuss our sexual practices. When folks get on TV and declare themselves gay that is shorthand for “I engage in oral sex and/or sodomy and/or mutual masturbation with someone of my own gender.” When a straight person declares himself straight on TV he is using the same shorthand with respect to the opposite sex. And you know what folks? It just ain’t polite. We need to get to a point in this country where folks no longer feel the need to make this declaration.
And let’s get one thing clear since we’ve muddled up this argument with stupid rhetoric. The opposition to gay marriage in this country hasn’t a damn thing to do with “who we love”. It has to do with some people’s disgust with the sex act being shared between same gender couples. It has nothing to do with marriage as an environment for procreation. It has to do with marriage as an environment for sexual intercourse. No one bats an eye at heterosexual childless couples. We don’t care that they don’t procreate–we’re just glad they fuck “as God intended”.
Once we get over homosexuality as perversion we will be fine with gay marriage and then we can all stop talking about it and put our sex back where it belongs for all of us: back in the privacy of our bedroom.
Voting Rights Act
OK this one stung for several reasons. First it highlights Antonin Scalia’s hypocrisy as he bemoans judicial activism in the CA prop 8 decision (that was released with the DOMA decision) but has no problem tossing out the will of Congress on voting rights.
Putting that aside, we need to respond to this decision by playing the game on the State’s terms and stop whining. They want you to have a photo ID? Then if you REALLY want to vote, get the damn ID. Do what you have to do and beat them at their own game. Folks stood in line for hours in 2012 to vote. They weren’t taking no for an answer. That is the determination we must bring to every election. When they can’t beat down our will they will cross the line of illegality and then the Voting Rights Act will still be there for us to prosecute them.
U of Texas
The Court essentially kicked this can down the road by sending it back to the lower court for further review. But it does give me a chance to state my own preference: EO not AA.
I believe that institutions intent on diversity need to maximize outreach. They should actively recruit minority applications. However, the application evaluation process should be color blind. Paul Ryan was right when he said last year that we don’t guarantee equal outcomes. We shouldn’t. But he was dead wrong in implying we have equal opportunity. We don’t. To the extent that college admission programs can give the talented underclass a fair hearing, so much the better. However it goes too far if race trumps qualifications.
An Aside in Defense of Rick Perry
The liberal media and progressives in general had a conniption when TX Governor Rick Perry suggested that state Senator Wendy Davis had not learned from her own life the value of every human life. Davis famously engaged in an 11 hour filibuster to block anti-abortion measures in Texas. Davis, it turns out, not only was born out of wedlock but had her first born unmarried at age 19. Perry cited Davis’ successful life as evidence of the potential that exists in every zygote and fetus.
People say Rick shouldn’t have made it personal but folks what else is the abortion debate if not personal? The decision whether or not to allow a pregnancy to go to term is probably the most personal decision a woman will make. It is for that reason that Rick’s comment was completely appropriate in that it got the matter down to brass tacks. It is also the reason why government needs to play a minimal role in this matter.
Rick said out loud what any self respecting pro-life person was thinking. Rick’s only mistake was in assuming that Davis’ mother’s very personal decision is right for every woman.
Abortion, Life and the Law
A few months ago the folks at Healthcare-administration-degree.net reached out to me to share an infographic on our attitudes about abortion. Too busy to pay proper attention I allowed the note to sink under a pile of other e-mail. As luck would have it, they gave me a poke this week at a very good time. The House just voted in support of a bill making abortion illegal after 20 weeks, in direct contradiction to current law and Supreme Court rulings. We won’t go into what a waste of time this vote was. The bill will never get through the Senate and if it did it would be vetoed by Obama. It was a symbolic gesture at a time when we need Congress to focus on doing what it can to improve a limping economy.
What jumps out from the infographic is the difference between what people think about life vs what they think about the law. Most folks consider themselves pro-life. Most folks think abortion should be legal in at least some cases. I think these findings illustrate something the most strident “pro-life” people tend to distort about those who differ with them. Precious few people are “pro-abortion”. The most opinionated pro-life folks call pro-choice folks “baby killers”. The truth I think, is that 99% of folks think the ideal world is a world where every couple greets the news of an impending birth with great anticipation and joy. We don’t live in an ideal world so what do we do about those couples who, for whatever reason, do not welcome a pregnancy? The graphic below shows that most of us want pregnancies to go to term but we are at best ambivalent about the legal remedy when they don’t.
Clearly there is a difference in asking “do you support life” as opposed to “do you want to put women who get abortions in jail”. Examine the graphic below and tell me what you glean from it.
Image source: www.healthcare-administration-degree.net
I should note that from my general perusal of the Healthcare Administration Degree web site, they do not appear to have a political axe to grind. The graphic, as far as I can see, simply tries to illustrate a truth about semantics and our attitudes toward abortion.
Random Thoughts about Edward Snowden
Hero or Traitor
I tend to agree with those who say Snowden is neither hero nor traitor. He clearly did us a service by putting a spotlight on a government technically capable of invading our privacy on a grand scale. For that we owe him some thanks. On the other hand, he is acting like a fugitive fleeing first to Hong Kong and now to Moscow. It’s a bit hard to admire the man when he is unwilling to “face the music”.
Oh, How Thick the Irony
A week or so ago I heard an NBC correspondent guessing at a psychological profile of Snowden from … wait for it … his old Twitter and Facebook feeds. The correspondent seemed oblivious to the fact she was using his Internet trail to report on his whistle blowing a government who uses OUR Internet trail to create profiles of us. In fact, the very same media stoking the outrage at NSA overreach has been using Twitter feeds to analyze folks from Trayvon Martin to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Methinks the media doth protest too much.
In “sealed” papers, we have charged Snowden with espionage. I asked my readers in the comment thread of my last article what kind of sense this could make. Who was Snowden spying for? One of my readers hit it on the head, quite sadly, when he replied “He was spying for the American people.” We are at a point where we need our own spies to keep an eye on the Obama administration which has turned out to be anything but transparent.
Just cos You’re Paranoid Doesn’t Mean the Bastards Aren’t Out to Get You
Obama’s abysmal record in prosecuting and intimidating whistle blowers made what should have been a sad story of a fatal car accident into fodder for conspiracy theorists. Rolling Stone and BuzzFeed writer Michael Hastings died last week in a fiery automobile crash. Hastings was instrumental in getting General Stanley McChrystal fired from his post as Commander of our forces in Afghanistan. As recently as a few weeks ago he appeared on MSNBC calling Obama a liar regarding our drone program. I’m not a tin foil hat wearing kinda guy but when I heard about Hastings’ death I immediately wondered aloud if he had been killed.
Michael Hastings may have died driving recklessly in the middle of the Los Angeles night but I’d bet dollars to donuts that Glenn Greenwald and Jeremy Scahill are looking over their shoulders right now.
Thanks to NSA contractor Edward Snowden, we now know, even if we suspect some exaggeration on his part, that the NSA has way more access to our private e-communications than most of us thought they did. As with every issue of the day, folks have lined up on either side of the controversy. Some say this breach of our privacy is the reasonable price we pay to keep ourselves safe. Some say this falls in the category of unlawful search and seizure, treating the innocent citizen like a criminal suspect. Up until now, the NSA has been the focus of public defense or prosecution. I haven’t heard much discussion about two other complicit partners in this emergence of Big Brother.
Verizon et al.
In May of 2012 a New York state court asked the social media micro-blogging site Twitter to hand over the tweets of one of its members. Twitter refused, backed by the ACLU. The NSA cannot amass phone and email records without the cooperation of the carriers such as Verizon. Where is the corporate loyalty to its customers? Where is the concern among these providers that they are violating an implicit trust placed in them by their patrons?
Folks, this smells to me like more than government overreach. This is a nefarious partnership of government and corporate where the little guy, once again, gets screwed. I have commented previously on my disgust at corporate America sitting on trillions of dollars and shipping jobs overseas when they could invest in America and bring down the unemployment rate. This latest development with the NSA is just another nail in the corporate coffin as far as I’m concerned.
The Fault is in Ourselves
Yes my friends, if you want to find another complicit player in this privacy crisis just look in the mirror. Never before has the public embraced a technology so ripe for misuse as we have embraced the Internet over the past 30 years. Has anyone noticed that no one is talking about the NSA opening postal mail, copying it, and then resealing it and sending it on? That’s because it isn’t happening. (Unless of course we are talking about mail sent to the President for example.) The most technically ignorant among us believes that our e-mail goes directly from us to our intended recipient. We don’t even get the notion of downloading mail from a server. Those of us more familiar with the technology don’t seem to care about our correspondence residing on servers that we don’t own or control.
I honestly don’t know what to do about the situation we find ourselves in. We have the perfect storm of a government “doing bad things for good reasons” with the compliance of a corporate infrastructure that doesn’t appear to give a damn about the privacy of its customers with the final ingredient of a populace that is so ensnared in the technology that is now betraying it that it can’t get loose.
I don’t know how we get this genie back in the bottle. I’m open to ideas.