Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Friday, December 26, 2008
Lesbians and gays say that without gay marriage, they cannot fully express themselves as they really are. But what about bisexuals? I ask this not to poke fun or to hurt anyone's feelings, but in all seriousness. How does gay marriage help a bisexual? I assume that if you are bisexual, you believe that you need to have sexual relationships with both men and women. If you are a bisexual man married to a woman, don't you need to break the marriage bond to express your bisexuality? If you choose to express just the homosexual side of your bisexuality, then aren't you gay? Likewise, if you choose to express only the heterosexual side, how are you a bisexual? Why is bisexuality not a recipe for infidelity?As I commented on Townhall, it does not follow that because someone is attracted to members of both genders that that person is incapable of maintaining a monogamous relationship with one or the other. As a heterosexual man, I am attracted to women--not woman, women. That said, I am perfectly capable of a monogamous relationship. Just because I am attracted to my girlfriend/wife "X" does not mean that I no longer find another woman attractive in similar or somewhat different ways, but my commitment is strong enough to "X" that I remain faithful, and can be perfectly happy doing so.
Screwing around with such straight-forward terms is disingenuous and is so fallacious it cannot be reasonably referred to as "debate."
H/T: Julian Sanchez
Monday, December 15, 2008
That said--and probably because this song wasn't among those torturing tunes when I worked in retail--I heard this on the way in to work this morning and even my cold, Grinch-like heart enjoys it:
I'm going on vacation after today so posting will be sparse, if at all existent. Merry Christmas, Happy Channukah, etc.
Monday, December 8, 2008
Anyway, I enjoyed reading this today in the NYT, describing why "Joe the Plumber" shouldn't be published:
In fact the world is unfair, but his point is well-taken.
Most of the writers I know work every day, in obscurity and close to poverty, trying to say one thing well and true. Day in, day out, they labor to find their voice, to learn their trade, to understand nuance and pace. And then, facing a sea of rejections, they hear about something like Barbara Bush’s dog getting a book deal.
Writing is hard, even for the best wordsmiths. Ernest Hemingway said the most frightening thing he ever encountered was “a blank sheet of paper.” And Winston Churchill called the act of writing a book “a horrible, exhaustive struggle, like a long bout of painful illness.”
When I heard J.T.P. had a book, I thought of that Chris Farley skit from “Saturday Night Live.” He’s a motivational counselor, trying to keep some slacker youths from living in a van down by the river, just like him. One kid tells him he wants to write.
“La-di-frickin’-da!” Farley says. “We got ourselves a writer here!”
If Joe really wants to write, he should keep his day job and spend his evenings reading Rick Reilly’s sports columns, Peggy Noonan’s speeches, or Jess Walter’s fiction. He should open Dostoevsky or Norman Maclean — for osmosis, if nothing else. He should study Frank McCourt on teaching or Annie Dillard on writing.
The idea that someone who stumbled into a sound bite can be published, and charge $24.95 for said words, makes so many real writers think the world is unfair.
However, I think my favorite part of the piece was the last line: Maureen Dowd is off today.
Saturday, December 6, 2008
Seriously though, my old Chevy Corsica started smoking--coincidentally right after I quit smoking myself (it'll be a solid month without a cigarette tomorrow!) and really screwed up my transportation routine. I took it to a shop and they told me for me to attempt to fix it would be throwing good money after bad...and I took this as a metaphor for the situation GM and the other U.S. automakers generally find themselves in now. It also made me think that perhaps my mechanic* should be picked to replace Hank Paulson.
Anyway, I got another car, so my schedule should be flexible enough again so I can blog and work without one cutting into the responsibilities of the other.
And I did manage to put a piece together on Plax's fiasco up in NYC for reason. It's about time I published again. Check it out here.
See you soon!
*Upon recommendation from the Agitatrix--the Agitator's fairer half--I took the car to Wiygul Automotive Clinic. These guys are great and honest. If you're in NoVa or the DC area, I recommend them whole-heartedly.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
I'm not going to write some long-winded post about what I'm grateful for, not because I'm not thankful, but rather because I don't want to bore you with the details. Just a word of advice: thank someone who means something to you over the holiday.
Be safe. Have fun. See you next week.
Monday, November 17, 2008
Barack Obama’s election as America’s first black president has unleashed a wave of hate crimes across the nation, according to police and monitoring organisations.
Far from heralding a new age of tolerance, Mr Obama’s victory in the November 4 poll has highlighted the stubborn racism that lingers within some elements of American society as opponents pour their frustration into vandalism, harassment, threats and even physical attacks.
The article lists a number of crimes, but many of the instances don't exactly measure up to a reasonable standard of "hate crime." Of course all of these incidents are revolting, but some bigot writing "nigger" on a wall isn't worthy of federal law enforcement intervention, which is often the rhetorical reaction to so-called "hate crimes."
The Dems have been pushing to get tougher hate crimes legislation through but have thus far failed. It remains to be seen whether the hunkered-down Republicans in the Senate would be willing to stand-up to a new bill which will probably be making its way through the committees sooner rather than later--especially if incidents such as these continue to happen or, God forbid, escalate. I don't think the GOP is going to rediscover their federalist roots overnight and, I would guess, they will be unlikely to use the filibuster on such a sensitive issue--even though it would probably be the right thing to do.
Anti-lynching legislation made a lot of sense in the mid-20th century because, very often, lynchings had the tacit or even explicit support of local law enforcement officials. In spite of the still existent Good ol' Boy networks in police departments across the country, the notion of police collusion with lynch mobs is--happily--a thing of the past. Today, even in the most recent federal hate crime bill hearings on the Hill, local law enforcement was time and again proven sufficient in dealing with the vicious attacks on minorities. The guilty were caught and, quite rightly, punished severely. (Sitting in one of the pre-'Jena 6' hearings, I had trouble understanding why they were holding them to begin with, given that the perpetrators discussed were all caught and brought to justice.)
I don't take a definite position on enhanced local sentencing for "hate crimes"--I'm inclined to agree with it, provided they don't include mandatory minimums and the offenders clearly violate hate crimes laws. Problems arise, however, when these laws federalize assault charges and local governments rent-seek to get federal money to prosecute suspected hate crimes as prosecutors tack on a "hate crime" tag to a simple assault and battery cases.
For example, I would agree that a group of skinheads attacking a kid for being gay qualifies them for enhanced (local) sentencing. However, I would not condone upping a sentence for someone who got in a fight with a gay man at a bar just because he had used the term "fag" on previous occasions. If you can clearly tie the bigotry directly to the crime as the primary factor, then I'd be hard pressed to argue against it. Yet, very often, it's more a matter of fairness of application and trying to determine what someone had in mind, especially in rent-seeking situations as I described. The wider the door is opened for subjective assessments of motive that are tied to federal incentives, the greater the risk for abuse of the system and further injustice.
Friday, November 14, 2008
I don't often watch the late night talk shows anymore. If I do happen to have them on, as I did the other night, I watch Letterman.
I happened to be watching this week when Don Rickles was on and he made a joke that bombed:
[Rickles] was absolutely killing the audience on David Letterman's show the other night with his trademark scorched-earth put-downs. Rickles seemed at the top of his game -- until he tried to tell a joke about the new president-elect. Not even a well-timed rimshot from the band could have saved him.It was just a quick bit in which he imagined Obama, faced with his first international crisis, telling his advisers he couldn't be interrupted because he was busy playing basketball.
Apparently, people got uncomfortable when an old white guy mentions our first black president in the same sentence as "basketball."
I don't read entertainment news because, well, its vapid and soul-sucking, so I don't know what kind of attention this seeming faux pas has been getting. But it certainly was enough to get an op-ed in the Washington Post today.
If President-elect Obama had not campaigned as a basketball player, or put up videos of him playing basketball on his campaign's YouTube site, or talked about basketball being his "first love", I could see a certain amount of "Oh no he didn't just say that" directed at Rickles. But Obama repeatedly played up his b-ball skillz as a reason to vote for him--especially in places like Indiana. (The night before the election, ESPN played this interview where Obama talks about the wisdom of his coach whom he favorably compares to Bobby Knight. This is my best guess as to how he won the once unquestionably red Hoosier state.*)
I can understand the sensitivity of the Letterman audience that led them to think that the boundary-pushing comic may have gone too far, but he didn't. Funny? Perhaps not. But Rickles is not a racist and his joke wasn't either.
Lighten up, America. It is still ok to poke fun at people--even if they're black.
*And just in case you're wondering, that's a joke too.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
On the campaign trail, Mr. Obama criticized many of President George W. Bush's counterterrorism policies. He condemned Mr. Bush for promoting "excessive secrecy, indefinite detention, warrantless wiretapping and 'enhanced interrogation techniques' like simulated drowning that qualify as torture through any careful measure of the law or appeal to human decency."
Amen. Unfortunately, that was later in the column. The column begins like this:
President-elect Barack Obama is unlikely to radically overhaul controversial Bush administration intelligence policies, advisers say, an approach that is almost certain to create tension within the Democratic Party.So much for "condemnation" and "appeal[s] to human decency."
Civil-liberties groups were among those outraged that the White House sanctioned the use of harsh intelligence techniques -- which some consider torture -- by the Central Intelligence Agency, and expanded domestic spy powers. These groups are demanding quick action to reverse these policies.
Mr. Obama is being advised largely by a group of intelligence professionals, including some who have supported Republicans, and centrist former officials in the Clinton administration. They say he is likely to fill key intelligence posts with pragmatists.
"He's going to take a very centrist approach to these issues," said Roger Cressey, a former counterterrorism official in the Clinton and Bush administrations. "Whenever an administration swings too far on the spectrum left or right, we end up getting ourselves in big trouble."
Maybe he'll still break a fiver for me?
Already, we hear the ascendant Obama talking about bailing out Detroit--by extending federal money to U.S. automakers. This does not benefit America--this only benefits some Americans whose livelihoods depend on the auto industry. This, of course, is already at the cost of the taxpayers to support apparently flawed business models which, in the long run, will cost American consumers of our automakers even more money.
Econ 101: Diffuse costs and concentrated benefits.
If the economy is really headed into the tank, if you'll pardon the expression, there will be no shortage of people with their hands out asking for government help. Those companies who get federal assistance will be better off than those who don't, thereby providing a perverse incentive to fail--or, at the very least, lessening the fear of failure--in order to receive an advantage over more successful competitors. This distorts the market and hurts consumers across the board as better products are priced-out by inferior subsidized goods, thus further damaging the economy by punishing good businesses.
I feel bad that Detroit is suffering. American manufacturing has been taking a hit for awhile now, and the trend doesn't seem to be lessening. Whether you blame unions, corporate taxes, globalization, or the explosion of the information age--or some combination of them-- the manufacturing sector is in deep trouble, perhaps fatally in some cases. This, however, is no reason to throw more money at bad industry.
We all suffer if we continue to reward bad businesses. The U.S. will fall further behind the world in production and innovation as we struggle to save old corporate dinosaurs instead of paving the way for new and better companies.
If anything, such a wrong-headed policy indicates "We fear change."
I'm going to leave for speculation my thoughts on all those topics. I can't very well address everyone's concerns or questions without dedicating the rest of this blog in perpetuity to making one moment make sense for everybody on the planet. However, I find it necessary to perhaps clear up one widely commented assumption that is simply not true: I am not moved by the Obama Administration and what it has in store for the nation.
I thought I had made it abundantly clear in my prefatory paragraph, but I can only guess that because I had a visceral reaction to an election, people assumed that emotion would then transfer to the resulting government put in place by that election. Not at all.
While I think Obama was marginally preferable to McCain overall, I fully expected the resulting presidency of either party to be largely a disappointment, if not an unmitigated disaster. What the vote on Tuesday said was something very positive about America, albeit with a complete and utter disregard for economics--though, neither nominee offered anything resembling economic sanity, admittedly. Basically, it was the election--not the presidency--that touched me.
So please, commenters on other blogs, stop assuming I'm an Obamaphile. Thanks.
Monday, November 10, 2008
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
I have no illusions about an Obama presidency. I dislike the bulk of his policies. I cringe at the thought of a united Democrat-controlled government. I think the already impossible expectations of any president have been amplified for him and he is thus almost guaranteed to fail--perhaps miserably. I will be unrelenting in my criticism of his administration and its allies in Congress when they attempt to go beyond their constitutional bounds--and they almost certainly will.All that said, when he approached the podium last night to give his victory speech, I wept.
I wept because I've heard countless blatantly racist diatribes, jokes, comments, and sub-human comparisons over the course of my life. I wept because of the pain my older family members endured and all the struggles they faced that I can't even fathom. I wept because, on several occasions, I've been told I can't date someone because her parents wouldn't approve of my race; that in spite of my intelligence, my responsibility, my diction, my future prospects, my talents and my everything else that makes me a good person--and even the fact that I look white--I'm different. It didn't matter whether the parents were liberal or conservative; or whether they were college educated or not: being black made me not good enough.
I wept because the America I just described--even my home state of Indiana which hasn't gone for a Democrat since Lyndon Johnson--voted for a black man to be President of the United States. And, nationally, it wasn't even close.
I could not be prouder of Barack Obama. And I am so very proud of my country.
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Mathematically speaking, the first objection is a solid one. The second objection I don't really subscribe to, though I am somewhat sympathetic to it in theory.
What trumps these, however, is all-too-simple for me:
My great-grandfather was born to a slave. My grandfather was born in Meridian, Mississippi in 1883. My father in Fort Wayne, Indiana in 1928. None of these men were born with the expectation of voting rights at any point in their lives. I am of the first familial generation that was granted that right by people who never lived to exercise it.
So, while my friends have their rights to deny themselves a right
Call me sentimental.
Monday, November 3, 2008
So a canvasser goes to a woman’s door in Washington, Pennsylvania. Knocks. Woman answers. Knocker asks who she’s planning to vote for. She isn’t sure, has to ask her husband who she’s voting for. Husband is off in another room watching some game. Canvasser hears him yell back, “We’re votin’ for the n***er!”
Woman turns back to canvasser, and says brightly and matter of factly: “We’re voting for the n***er.”
Made me think of this gem from Blazing Saddles:
H/T: Amber Bryer-Wotte
Monday, October 27, 2008
WASHINGTON (AP) - The ATF says it has broken up a plot to assassinate Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama and shoot or decapitate 102 black people in a Tennessee murder spree.
In court records unsealed Monday, agents said they disrupted plans to rob a gun store and target an unnamed predominantly African-American high school by two neo-Nazi skinheads.
I don't know how competent these idiots were or how close they could have gotten, but I expect that more of the same is coming. The backlash against a black President may be both dramatic and bloody -- and not just for the (presumable) president.
Obviously, I don't think any violence will be widespread in the sense that states are going to secede again, but there are enough hate groups that may test the patience of the US security apparatus-- probably to the point that a Democratic majority Congress would go to extraordinary (and extra-constitutional) lengths to attempt to bring them under control. I certainly hope we won't have a spate of domestic terror cells, but I'd be lying if I said that it wasn't a small fear of mine.
Unconstitutional impediments to assembly, speech, and--of course--firearms, will only fuel the fire of the hate groups and perhaps cause them to grow, albeit to rather limited (thankfully) extent. The problem with this is not that terror-minded hate groups will be stopped before killing or otherwise harming people--I'm all for that. But perfectly legal yet marginal fringe groups might be targeted in anti-racist crackdowns just because some group of white boys with guns decides to name themselves "militia." It isn't as if the government doesn't already cast too wide of net for terror suspects. (You know, like the environmentalists who ended up on terror lists in Maryland.)
If and when that happens, the same Democrats and other liberals who are (correctly) arguing against domestic wiretapping and treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo may be calling for similar measures--at least as they apply to surveillance and suspicion-- to be used against our own citizens who may or may not be associated with domestic racial terror.
The problem with fighting for liberty is that often you're stuck protecting the rights of bastards. But being a bastard does not equate being a terrorist--even if you're a racist bastard with guns. I have a feeling that the political dynamics of the personal liberties debate may change once the targeted people under suspicion aren't named Khalid and Abdul, but rather Kenny and Cletus.
Let's hope we don't find out.
Hat tip: NJ Ray
I have an "Atomic Alarm Clock" that automatically sets itself, which is convenient when the power goes out or I take it on a trip. However, twice a year -- it's a pain in the ass. Today was one of those two days.
You see, when Congress muddled with the established Daylight Savings Time schedule a couple years ago, preexisting devices--such as my atomic clock--were programmed to "Fall back" or "Spring forward" on certain days. These days are now different--but nobody bothered to tell my alarm clock.
This is something I should plan for/be aware of--except that I'm from Indiana and am still a relative newcomer to this whole changing clocks thing. /annoyed.
Anyway, as my day went to crap the moment I looked at my cell phone, realizing it was an hour later than I expected, I submit "Blue Monday" by Fats Domino:
For you younger/less blues inclined readers, another "Blue Monday" that is nothing like the above:
Friday, October 24, 2008
No, this isn't me endorsing Obama. For varying reasons, not least of which is that I work at a 501(c)(3), I'm withholding public endorsement of any candidate. I'll expound on this later, but the point of this is, of course, humor.
Monday, October 20, 2008
While I'm not thrilled at the prospect of an Obama administration (especially with a friendly Congress), the Republicans still need to get their clocks cleaned in two weeks, for a couple of reasons.
First, they had their shot at holding power, and they failed. They've failed in staying true to their principals of limited government and free markets. They've failed in preventing elected leaders of their party from becoming corrupted by the trappings of power, and they've failed to hold those leaders accountable after the fact. Congressional Republicans failed to rein in the Bush administration's naked bid to vastly expand the power of the presidency (a failure they're going to come to regret should Obama take office in January). They failed to apply due scrutiny and skepticism to the administration's claims before undertaking Congress' most solemn task — sending the nation to war. I could go on.
As for the Bush administration, the only consistent principle we've seen from the White House over the last eight years is that of elevating the American president (and, I guess, the vice president) to that of an elected dictator. That isn't hyperbole. This administration believes that on any issue that can remotely be tied to foreign policy or national security (and on quite a few other issues as well), the president has boundless, limitless, unchecked power to do anything he wants. They believe that on these matters, neither Congress nor the courts can restrain him.
That's the second reason the GOP needs to lose. American voters need to send a clear, convincing repudiation of these dangerous ideas.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Good luck to the Rays. See you next year.
WASHINGTON—Former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell endorsed Senator Barack Obama for president on Sunday morning as a candidate who was reaching out in a “more diverse and inclusive way across our society” and offering a “calm, patient, intellectual, steady approach” to the nation’s problems.
Mr. Powell’s endorsement exposed a fundamental policy rift in the fractious Republican party foreign policy establishment between the so-called pragmatists, a number of whom have come to view the Iraq war or its execution as a mistake, and a competing camp, the neoconservatives, whose thinking dominated President Bush’s first term and played a pivotal role in building the case for war.
Mr. Powell, who is of the pragmatist camp and has been critical of the Bush administration’s conduct of the war, was said by friends in recent months to be disturbed by some of the neoconservatives who have surrounded Mr. McCain as foreign policy advisers in his presidential campaign. The McCain campaign’s top foreign policy aide is Randy Scheunemann, who was a foreign policy adviser to former Senators Trent Lott and Bob Dole and who has longtime ties to neoconservatives. In 2002, Mr. Scheunemann was a founder of the hawkish Committee for the Liberation of Iraq and was an enthusiastic supporter of the Iraqi exile and Pentagon favorite, Ahmad Chalabi, who was viewed with suspicion and distaste at the State Department when Mr. Powell was secretary of state.
I was hoping someday for a Powell presidency, but his appearance before the UN selling the Iraq War pretty much killed that. It appears that throwing him under the bus like that has come back to haunt the GOP--as well it should.
The Republican party will undoubtedly react poorly to this, distancing themselves from Powell while not being too critical for fear of racism allegations. It's very possible some lower level operatives and emerging hacks will blame this on some sort of race thing, but it won't be official line. Regardless, however, I expect the party big-wigs to be personally--if only privately--offended as some sort of grand disloyalty. They are missing the larger point that not only McCain, but the larger GOP itself has lost its bearings and has offended a large number of us in the name of Christian populism.
Friday, October 17, 2008
One of my favorite songs from the Four Tops:
DETROIT -- Four Tops lead singer Levi Stubbs, who possessed one of the most dynamic and emotive voices of all the Motown singers, died Friday at 72.He had been ill recently and died in his sleep at the Detroit house he shared with his wife, said Dana Meah, the wife of Stubbs' grandson.
And one of the classic group battles:
Levi Stubbs, RIP
Thursday, October 16, 2008
[Vicious, expletive-laden rant here]
The October newsletter by the Chaffey Community Republican Women, Federated says if Obama is elected his image will appear on food stamps -- instead of dollar bills like other presidents. The statement is followed by an illustration of "Obama Bucks" -- a phony $10 bill featuring Obama's face on a donkey's body, labeled "United States Food Stamps."
The group's president, Diane Fedele, said she plans to send an apology letter to her members and to apologize at the club's meeting next week. She said she simply wanted to deride a comment Obama made over the summer about how as an African-American he "doesn't look like all those other presidents on the dollar bills."...
"I didn't see it the way that it's being taken. I never connected," she said. "It was just food to me. It didn't mean anything else."
She said she also wasn't trying to make a statement linking Obama and food stamps, although her introductory text to the illustration connects the two: "Obama talks about all those presidents that got their names on bills. If elected, what bill would he be on????? Food Stamps, what else!"
Hat Tip: NJ Ray
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
I am absolutely fed up with the GOP.
I've been distancing myself from them for awhile now, but I'm just over it. The current Republican hierarchy--both within the party structure and the power players in the media-- remind me a lot of this guy:
That is, so out of touch that they are in need of a serious and unrelenting ass-kicking.
As we recovering-Republicans watch the GOP sink like the H.M.S. Titanic--hubris and all--I can't help but feel that a certain amount of justice will be served as the defeats roll-in: precinct after precinct, office after office, state after state. The oncoming Blue Period will not be one that I relish at all--I will be as angry and vociferous in my opposition to their plans as I have always been. The pseudo-socialist nanny state types will deliver what they've been promising to do for years, and we shall all reap the rewards of the sown seeds of nearly unlimited executive power--this time, in the hands of a Progressive--backed by a Congress waiting to do his do-gooder bidding with money they don't have. (In fairness, Congress should be pushing their own similarly feel-good agenda, but the current leadership is entirely feckless and couldn't lead their way out of a paper bag.)
The Republican party thought it could throw out its philosophical groundings and that, somehow, they would stay in power.
Buckley summed it up well:
So, to paraphrase a real conservative, Ronald Reagan: I haven’t left the Republican Party. It left me.
Indeed it has left many of us, and the price shall be paid come November.
Sic semper tyrannis.
Monday, October 13, 2008
On writing after winning the Nobel Prize: “I haven’t noticed [Nobel laureate Joe Stiglitz] getting an easy time. People just say, ‘Sure, he’s a great Nobel laureate and he’s very smart, but he still doesn’t know what he’s talking about in this situation.’ I’m sure I’ll get the same thing.”-Newly awarded Nobel laureate Paul Krugman
Indeed you will, Mr. Krugman. Indeed you will.
Thursday, October 9, 2008
Oh wait, there's more:
And in my adopted home state, this loveliness (click on image for clarity):
It's people like this that make me fear for Obama's safety. I always thought that the first black president would have to be a Republican, and even then, he wouldn't be safe. I fear for my country.
Via Dave and Radley
Monday, October 6, 2008
I know Ron is a decent guy and doesn't mean anything by posting what he did and agreeing with the findings; nor do I assume that the researchers had anything but good intentions in going through with the study. Nevertheless, I can't help but feel annoyance with studies like this and the very predictable reactions to them. I don't appreciate analyzing every aspect of human behavior--particularly as it pertains to the social construct known as "race"--as if there is a) some sort of universal (or nearly so) "black" behavior or perception that can be broken down in an artificially controlled environment; b) any evidence that whatever pool they used was indeed representative of black people generally; c) anything of consequence, save new tools for an even more insulting "diversity" workshop, that will come of this. Science is a uniquely valuable tool for humans to understand the world around them--but social "science" such as this is strictly masturbatory mind fodder for panels, papers, and faculty room discussions. (And, of course, the inescapably ignorant, often insulting, yet rarely provocative comment pages of libertarian blogs.)
Let's assume that this study is correct: white people don't want (read: are afraid) to be seen as racist, but nevertheless appear so as they tiptoe around the race issue. This is not surprising, given that black people tend to be (quite understandably) more sensitive to racial bias, discrimination, and prejudice. Yet, what qualifies as each of these varies from region to region and even--gasp!--person to person. (You'd think libertarians, of all people, could distinguish between individuals and assigned collective characterizations, but I digress.)
Some people say "black." Older folks say "colored." The ubiquitous term today is "African-American"--though you rarely see that on this forum for reasons I'll get into at another time. "Negro" and "Afro-American" were used interchangeably (at least, where I went to school) when I was growing up in the 80s. It is not at all surprising, then, that a lot of whites are hesitant to bring up race: many have had their heads bitten off by some well-meaning but less-than-compassionate brotha or sista who got offended when they called them "black." (Which is usually followed up by the innocent but very poorly worded question: "Then what are you people supposed to be called?")
This speaks to a larger problem as we tackle race relations in America: so many of us want blackness to be recognized and celebrated but still hold onto this Utopian "ideal" of a "colorblind" society. These ideas, of course, cannot coexist--let alone the fact that most black people look very different from your typical white person (this author notwithstanding) and such well-intended drivel crashes horribly when one contemplates reality. So many of the PC set just want to wish such inconvenient (for their purposes) differences like pigment and hair texture away for the sake of some unattainable and self-delusional harmony.
Put simply, if white people want to know how to deal with black people, they should talk to black people. In doing so, however, it should be with the explicit understanding that not one of us can speak for the rest of the race. Because, frankly, thinking like that often gets you people into trouble later.
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
But I wanted to address the few friends of mine who actually support the bailout--specifically a self-proclaimed anarcho-capitalist/anarchist friend of mine who works in the finance sector. We'll call him "Jim."
Jim tells me yesterday that while the bailout may not work, it may slow the domino effect of "runs on the bank" that we're seeing as Wachovia, WaMu, Merrill Lynch, etc. all fall. Apparently, Jim explained, they all lent money to each other while hiding the riskier sides of their holdings and now when that risk bites them in the ass it's the least the government can do to infuse $700 billion into proven bad investments. And, he argues, because of their holdings, all these failures could collapse the economy because, well, the banks don't trust each other anymore. So, in short, we should limit the consequences of those hidden shady investments by giving them more money so they can...do more of the same again?
Um, excuse me for not being sympathetic.
Broke people borrow and lend money all the time. The difference being is that they don't have the federal government backing their bad loans/defaulters in case things go wrong. Often, the loans are illegal and thus not enforceable by law; often resulting in--shall we say?--alternative punitive techniques.
People will be ok, bailout or no. (But a bailout is coming in all likelihood.) We're not going to see breadlines and 30% unemployment--but if we, as libertarians, back "shock therapy" for other economies when they need to get their houses in order, I see no moral reason we should expect any different for our own ( lest we only support creative destruction for brown people). If we are opposed to bailouts and government intervention on principle, then we must face the consequences of shady trading and lending which shouldn't have been going on in the first place. The proverb that you shouldn't rob Peter to pay Paul applies--the fact that (apparently) so much of our economy is based on such practices is disturbing and those involved should get what's coming to them.
Such is the destructive power of the market.
Effectively, the debate comes down to the consequentialists versus the natural rights folks within the broader "movement" and illustrates my problem with the former: it's the principle, stupid. (Small "l")Libertarians disregarding their long-held and strident principled opposition to redistribution is just as bad as the hypocrites on Capitol Hill who only espouse limited government when it suits them and chuck it out the window when it benefits them. I thought we were better than that.
And forgive me, Jim, for saying this: but an anarchist supporting government bailouts is akin to a praying atheist. There's nothing wrong with it, per se, but it doesn't make a whole lot of sense.
Monday, September 29, 2008
Joan Jett is a legendary rocker in her own right--not just "pretty good for a girl." So, to get Faith Hill's rather annoying rip-off out of my head from last night (Go Bears!) I submit this gem of rock n' roll for your enjoyment:
Monday, September 22, 2008
The video isn't the best, but you get the idea.
I am certainly among the minority of my friends insomuch as I hail from the Midwest and I am a Yankees fan. People ask why--most think it is because of their ridiculous run in the late 90s and that I, like so many of the people sporting the spankin' new blue hats with the red "B" emblazoned on their ignorant domes, was some sort of bandwagon jumper. Au contraire. Strat-o-matic baseball and Don Mattingly are to blame for this Indiana boy's love of the pinstripes. But I digress.
Anyway, so last night was our final farewell to the House that Ruth built 85 years ago. As a Yankees fan, there was certainly something missing as there is only a slim mathematical (i.e., no) chance of the Yankees making the playoffs this year. But, it was good to watch it anyway.
But for those of you who, like so many of my friends, are Yankee haters--envy, it seems, becomes most baseball fans--I found this little gem this morning over at Volokh:
Yankee Stadium, R.I.P. Today is, of course, the final game for “the Yankee Stadium,” as it used to be called, and the Sunday NY Times has a terrific 2-page spread with reminiscences of their “Stadium moments” by Paul Simon, Jill Abramson, Robert Creamer, Keith Olbermann, Michiko Kakutani, and several others. They’re quite moving. I’m a Brooklyn boy, and I was six years old when our Dodgers left town, never to return, and to say I never got over it is an understatement. I couldn’t root for them anymore, needless to say – damn you, Walter O’Malley, damn you to hell! – but at least we still had the Yankees . . . to continue to loathe and despise. It was a hard time to be a Yankee-loather – from 1957 to 1964, the Yankees of Mantle, Berra, Ford, et al. won 7 American League pennants in 8 years (though, blessedly, they only won the Series three times in that span). But in my candid moments, I have to concede: at least they were the kind of team worth hating. That was always the thing (and still is) about the Yankees; I guess there are people who “hate” the Atlanta Braves, or the Colorado Rockies, or the Houston Astros – but you can’t hate one of them like you can hate the Yankees, which is a purifying, soul-affirming, life-enhancing kind of hate.I had the chance to see the Yankees at the Stadium twice this year. (both losses, but whatever.) The second time was with two of my best friends--one Cards and one Cubs fan--and even they got a little misty when they showed the video of Yankee Stadium highlights.
Love 'em. Hate 'em. You have to respect them.
There's always next year. LET'S GO YAN-KEES!
Yankee Stadium 1923-2008, R.I.P.
Friday, September 12, 2008
I wish I had time to comment on this...
The arrival of the famous Alvin Ailey dance troupe in Jerusalem has resulted in a growing controversy over the treatment of a black dancer with a Muslim name. Abdur-Rahim Jackson was told twice to dance before security personnel before he was eventually released. When he successfully danced for his freedom, one security agent reportedly suggested that he might want to change his name.
He told security that he was a professional dancer –which led to demands that he prove it. When he was asked to dance, Jackson seemed to take it with remarkable understanding:
“I stood up. I asked what type of dance?” He said, “Just do anything.’ I just moved around.” That would not be have been my answer and I probably would still be sitting in the holding cell.
A little while later another officer told him to dance again. It appears that terrorists cannot dance.
I suppose that he should consider himself lucky that he did not claim to be a taxidermist or proctologist.
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
It seems odd to me that the people who live by the motto "to protect and serve" use tactics more useful to "seek and destroy."
Should No-Knock Police Raids be Rare-or Routine?
Thursday, September 11, 2008
4:00 PM (Reception To Follow)
Featuring Cheye Calvo, Mayor, Berwyn Heights, Maryland, Radley Balko, Senior Writer, Reason and author of Overkill: The Rise of Paramilitary Police Raids in America, Peter Christ, Co-founder, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. Moderated by Tim Lynch, Director, Project on Criminal Justice, Cato Institute.
The Prince George’s County police department is under fire for a recent drug raid on the home of Berwyn Heights mayor Cheye Calvo. Unbeknownst to Calvo, a box containing marijuana was delivered to his home. Shortly thereafter, police officers kicked in the front door and shot both of Calvo’s pet Labrador retrievers. The police have subsequently cleared Calvo of any wrongdoing but are unapologetic about their raid tactics. Are no-knock, paramilitary raids an appropriate tactic for drug investigations? Or do sudden, unannounced entries bring unnecessary violence to police investigations? Join us for a discussion of the Prince George’s incident and, more broadly, the militarization of police work in America.
Oh yeah, and FREE BEER.
You can register at the hot link above. Hope to see you there.
Monday, September 8, 2008
The bartender-client interaction is a sacrosanct relationship in American culture, but having seen both sides I must say it is terribly overrated. Pouring beer and feeding fried fare to car salesmen, construction managers, and custodial workers puts you in touch with a slice of life that you can’t get in the ivory towers, or even at your first office job. But in so doing, you’re typically not forming real relationships with those people, so much as helping them to substitute alcohol for friendship, love and ambition.Granted, at my last bartending gig, my clientèle was usually of the professional variety--marketing folks, lawyers, professors, military contractors, and business owners in addition to older undergrads (such as myself) and grad students--but the relationship aspect is pretty dead-on. Sure, I made a few good friends from slinging America's legal drug of choice, but mostly my regulars were just lonely people trying to drink the stink of their own day away.
But for the most part, they were relatively successful people who felt comfortable at my bar and with me--and their relationships with the staff were mutually understood. I don't worry about them now that I'm gone and moved so many miles away--and I think most of them are probably doing just fine.
The thing about being a bartender in a college town is that, basically, you become a low-rent rock star. People know you all over town; you get free drinks and food from restaurants; cash is aplenty and temptations (i.e., drugs and the opposite sex) abound. While it sounds like a perfect recipe for a crazy summer, it can become a lifestyle that traps people.
College towns are known for their transient nature. Kids file in, kids file out. A few stay behind because they like the community--that great mix of big city culture and small town familiarity is attractive to a lot of people. So, too, is "the industry."
In the industry, nearly everyone goes out every night to drink: drink because you had a great night and made $300; drink because you had a shit night and made $45 on a 10-hour shift; drink because we were all busy as hell; drink because the bar was dead and it was a waste of time; drink because it's your buddy's birthday; drink because we need to get to know the new server; drink because its karaoke night; drink because it's Tuesday...it doesn't matter. There is always a reason.
It is fine for awhile, but for those few that stay behind for any number of years, what seemed like a short crazy summer turns into a short crazy life.
One of my more painful memories about bar life involves a man named James. James was a bartender at one of my former establishments for many years. He was affable, charming, and almost always had something nice to say. He came to Bloomington in 1977 to go to college--and he never left. Everyone who came into that bar with any regularity knew James, or knew of him--the guy who looked like an old-school Irish bartender complete with mutton chops and a giant smile.
There was a change in management, during which a lot of the established bartenders and servers made their exodus--and I came in. He went to another restaurant/bar in town, and while he was gone, people continued to ask about him--where he was, how he was doing, etc.
His hours were cut at the second bar, so he came back to what was now my* bar, for a little while. It was clear, working on the same side of the bar with him, that James wasn't a happy-go-lucky guy who liked to drink--he was a full-blown alcoholic. His work suffered; our productivity suffered; and indeed, he was suffering. He left (my) restaurant again, and later he came back--under the conditions that he would always show up and would never drink on his shift (in the face of a rather established practice at my bar and many others). He agreed, and while he was slow, it seemed to work out well for a time.
*Bartenders are a territorial sort.
But, of course, eventually he failed to show up after a night of drinking and was fired.
I saw him one other time after that--he was at the bar next door. He was drunk, and not in a good place. He was broke and, by the looks of it, almost broken himself. He hid it well--but you could see the wretched sadness in his eyes.
On a Friday night a few weeks later, the hostess came up to me and asked if I knew how to get a hold of James. I asked her why and she said that James's mother was in the hospital and they needed to get a hold of him--and this was the only contact information that they had for him. I told her to talk to the manager. It was a busy night and I really didn't have the time to deal with it myself...although I felt bad for him.
As with any game of telephone, the message was screwed up--as I came to find out later. When I came into work Saturday night, I learned that it was James who was in the hospital--in a coma--and the hospital was trying to get a hold of his mother. We really didn't have to ask what was wrong with him--his rather large stomach was hard as a rock in a very unnatural way, and it only took a man of well over 200 pounds one drink to show signs of heavy inebriation. It was his liver, and we knew it.
When I came into work on Sunday afternoon, a bunch of old regulars who rarely came into the place anymore were at the bar crying. James was dead. He was 46.
The funeral was lovely, although sparsely attended: a (markedly) few former co-workers, a couple regulars-turned-friends, and family. Those of us who worked with him sat way in the back, huddled together and far away from most of the mourners--as if we were admitting some sort of guilt through dissociation.
James was a special man who made people feel better, through the chemicals we slung and, more impressively and importantly, through his ebullient personality. But, in the end, he was just a bartender--a man who served 1000s of people, whom hundreds knew by name or face, whom some lucky few of us will miss as a gentle human being, but whom most will just remember as that one really cool guy with the mutton chops-- if they remember him at all.
I have friends still in the business, and most seem to be doing fine, from what I can tell from 600 miles away. I'm actually going back to Bloomington soon to celebrate the wedding of two of my friends whom I met at my first bar gig--and most of the attendees whom I know met there too. But most of us--now 5+ years removed from that job-- are out of the business now, or at least the rougher side of it.
But the dark side of the business takes its toll, and I've known a few more than James that have been killed by it--and a couple more that are probably not too far away.
I'm just glad I got out when I did.
Thursday, September 4, 2008
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
Saturday, August 30, 2008
"Black, white, yellow, green, or brown— we can all be callously summed up in a trite statement of unity."
The people of America need to put aside their differences and come together on common ground. Especially at this crucial moment in our history. How better, I ask, to achieve this goal than to engage in an inconclusive, protracted, ignorant, and superficial examination of the issue of race?
The time for vagueness is now.
Over the past 20 years, our country has become intensely polarized. The gap between rich and poor has grown ever more vast. Voters on both sides are desperate for alternatives. If we ever hope to move into a new era of enlightened multicultural exchange, we must foster, on a national scale, a second-grade-level look into the most painful and difficult issue in America's cultural history.
Black, white, yellow, green, or brown— we can all be callously summed up in a trite statement of unity.
Like it or not, the U.S. needs a stupid conversation on the issue of race relations. Perhaps more importantly, we need this stupid dialogue to be couched in the most self-righteous, know-it-all attitudes on the part of those involved, as if they have no idea whatsoever of how much more complicated the issue is, and how little their one-dimensional approach to it brings to the table.
It's our duty to put aside the complexities of cross-cultural communication and focus on the first idea that comes to mind. Then, after we've wasted 20 minutes discussing whether the term black is offensive, we can repeat the first idea over and over until we have alienated all listeners who did not already agree with us at the beginning.
Is that so very hard?
I'm talking about ill-informed citation of unconfirmed statistics on affirmative action programs. I'm talking about patronizing notions of ethnic identity. I'm talking about multisyllabic, intellectual-sounding terms like "victimization" and "social responsibility" and "self-actualization."
The time has come to start saying foolish, foolish things about the O.J. trial once again.
It's been too long since we sat down and shared long-discredited arguments about welfare mothers eating steak with each other. Terms like "reverse discrimination" should be put back in the spotlight. And while we're being open and honest, why not trot out that old chestnut about the unfairness of black-only usage of "the N-word."
I dare one of our presidential candidates to blanket the media with buzzwords like "Americanism," without ever examining the underlying implications of what they might mean. That would be the day.
Liberals and conservatives alike, hear my plea: We can all say incredibly silly things about who does or does not have the "right" to "act" either black or white, or both.
The Information Age has opened the gates to free and unfettered communication. If we take advantage of that incredible opportunity and technology, we could, in theory, get every single political comment posted on the Internet to relate an embarrassingly simple-minded opinion on some aspect of race in America. We could have every political video clip greeted with literally hundreds of foolish and inane comments from citizens who appear never to have thought about the issue of race beyond their first naïve presumptions, or caricatures they've seen in the media. We could generate blogs—not just hundreds, not just thousands, but hundreds of thousands of blogs—all saying one version or other of the same basic three to five ill-informed viewpoints on this nuanced cultural issue.
Imagine it, if you can!
Since the civil rights movement, race has been our nation's "dirty little secret"—an ugly, shameful reality swept under the rug of polite discourse, emerging only in isolated, angry outbursts about airport profiling, police brutality cases, and gangsta rap. Let's take that issue out from under the rug—keeping that initial phase of ignorance, lack of mutual understanding, and fear—and make sure it dominates American politics for the next century.
Only by opening an embarrassingly one- dimensional dialogue on the most simple and wholly ignorant level can we ensure that we, as a nation, never get down to the deeper issues about race and identity that truly threaten to tear this country apart.Who's with me?
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Monday, August 25, 2008
But there was one, and only one, gold medal I cared about...
And they earned it. Congratulations to the "Redeem Team" for sticking together, playing hard, and representing our country proudly and honorably--oh yeah, and that lovely new bling:
I picked three songs I want to play for MMM, and they are ALL owned by Universal Music Group (meaning I can't embed them to put them up for your enjoyment.)
So, here's one from my YouTube stash that I hope you enjoy:
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Monday, August 18, 2008
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, mentioned as a possible running mate for presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain, yesterday said he feels safer in Israel than in American cities.Uh huh. And how do you know that, governor? Oh yes, when black and brown people are standing outside....
"I have no fear to go to Israel," Huckabee said before boarding a plane at Kennedy Airport.
"I felt more fear in American cities. I can walk down the streets of Tel Aviv at night without a problem. But I, of course, have the knowledge of which places not to go at night, just like any other city in America."
Make no mistake, America has some very terrible neighborhoods (most of which are heavily dependent on the government dole, might I add). But poor and black (or Hispanic) does not mean dangerous.
I'm not saying Huckabee is a racist, but what he said is certainly more likely to be construed as such than the now notorious "Celeb" ad. (That said, coming from a Baptist good ol' boy it strikes me as entirely plausible that it is.) Statistically speaking, he may very well be right to say he's safer in Tel Aviv than he is in New York City or Washington,DC, but the added "where not to go at night" comment was questionable, at best.
It will be interesting to see what kind of attention the media gives the comments.
UPDATE: A friend emailed me to disagree with what I wrote in this post. I think her criticisms are fair, although I stand by what I wrote. In response to her, however, I wrote the following which I probably should have included in the original:
Euphemisms and political correctness have replaced overt racism in the broader American lexicon...The language is benign, often masking a more malicious or callous intent. He would never say "I know better than to go into poor black neighborhoods" -- but in fact, he just did.
UPDATE II: It should also be noted that I don't mean to pick on Israel as a particularly dangerous country. It was the characterization of US cities and the implications of certain sections of them which offended me, not the comparison to Israel. My headline is admittedly overstated, but in no way to dispute that there are places more dangerous in the US to live than Israel.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
All of these articles about his boyhood in Indonesia and his life in Hawaii are geared towards showing his background is diverse, multicultural and putting that in a new light.Wow. I must give HRC a little credit here: she didn't take the advice to paint Obama as essentially non-American. Granted, in any other profession such a move would not be a compliment--but this is electoral politics.
Save it for 2050.
Let’s explicitly own ‘American’ in our programs, the speeches and the values. He doesn’t. Make this a new American Century, the American Strategic Energy Fund. Let’s use our logo to make some flags we can give out. Let’s add flag symbols to the backgrounds.
Read the remarkably revealing details of the Clinton campaign meltdown at the Atlantic here.
Monday, August 11, 2008
Bernie Mac was been a staple of black comedy for over 30 years, only relatively recently receiving his due appreciation from the mainstream (read: white) audiences. His status within the world of black comedy can be noted in his placement as the closing act in Spike Lee's 2000 Original Kings of Comedy--a more prominent placement than three other more commercially successful comics Cedric the Entertainer, Steve Harvey, and D.L. Hughley. Mac's talent was his vivid tell-it-like-it-is, no bullshit storytelling. This probably hindered his career as far as the wider audiences, but no doubt endeared himself all the more to his fans.
Here is his opening bit from Kings. Needless to say, the audio is NSFW:
Thursday, August 7, 2008
And I really can't stand Jets fans. (Yes, I am aware of the minor overlap with Yankees fans. I. Don't. Care.)
But, so long as the Jets aren't playing the Saints or the Colts, I'll be pulling for them because Brett Favre is what football is all about. He loves the game and plays it with the passion of a kid; he's got one of the most amazing arms you'll ever see; and he plays through all sorts of pain. He is my all-time favorite QB.
Arguably, and I tend to agree, there have been better QBs. But none have the full appeal that Favre does -- and he deserves better than what he got.
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
In a web-only column, The New York Times editorial page charged that the ad [comparing Obama to Britney Spears and Paris Hilton] was a “racially tinged attack” like the one that “ran against Harold Ford, a black candidate for Senate in Tennessee in 2006. That assault, too, began with videos juxtaposing Mr. Ford with young, white women." The American Prospect’s Ezra Klein huffed that the McCain campaign is “running crypto-racist ads.” Bill Press, former co-host of CNN's Crossfire, proclaimed that the “Celeb” spot was "deliberately and deceptively racist." Polk Award-winning blogger Josh Marshall wrote that “the McCain campaign is now pushing the caricature of Obama as a uppity young black man whose presumptuousness is displayed not only in taking on airs above his station but also in a taste for young white women."Deceptively racist? What, pray tell, does that even mean? To establish such a claim would be to say that while the ad itself wasn't racist, it was intended to be, but so slick as to not appear so. (Thus defeating the purpose of expressing a racist sentiment.) Er, comparing Sen. Obama to two vapid pop stars is about as racist as comparing him to Charlton Heston's Moses from "The Ten Commandments."
But it wasn’t just the Britney-Paris ad that channeled voters’ inner Orval Faubus. McCain’s follow-up video joked that the star-struck press corps had anointed him “The One,” a man that could not only “do no wrong” but could also probably, with powers bestowed by the media, part the Red Sea. Cue the clip of Charlton Heston in The Ten Commandments.What????
Here, too, was the specter of racism. “When you see this Charlton Heston ad, ‘The One,’ that’s code for, ‘He’s uppity; he ought to stay in his place,'” political consultant David Gergen told his mystified co-panelists on “This Week.” “It’s the subtext of this campaign. Everybody knows that.” To no one’s surprise, Brazile agreed.
I know more than a few people who don't recognize legitimate prejudice, race-baiting, and racism. Genuine racism, however, isn't something that forces reasonable people into mental contortions to see.
If Democratic strategists are thinking all these things when they see the ad, perhaps they are the ones who need to reevaluate their thoughts on race.
This is in no way an endorsement of McCain, but just view the ads for yourself:
I don't see it.
Monday, August 4, 2008
Anyway. I wish them both the best.
Headline reference, to put you in a better mood (Not particularly safe for work):