Stephen A. Smith isn’t saying he supports assholes who beat up women. He’s just saying that there’s probably another side to this whole issue. Like, y’know, the bitch burned the roast…
Of course when people came out against his idiocy, Stephen A. Smith had to announce that Stephen A. Smith is “ANNOYED” because Stephen A. Smith has said “repeatedly” that Stephen A. Smith doesn’t support people who beat the shit out of women.
He’s just saying that we need to look at both sides here and not just assume that she didn’t have it coming. Stephen A. Smith just really wants us to look into something before we just fly off the handle. Or, just how he handled an Onion article about him having “the sex argument” with his 9-year-old kid...
The only real reason to watch Stephen A. Smith and his partner, Skip Bayless, do “First Take,” is if you want to join a concussion study and you don’t have time to repeatedly bash your head into a wall. Thus, taking what these idiots say worth really digging into and retorting is worth as much breath as arguing with your racist uncle at Thanksgiving. Still, when you have a public persona, you need to be aware of the stupid shit that’s going to come out of your mouth and stop it before it does.
Case in point, the only man on earth who is probably happy that Stephen A. Smith stepped up on the domestic violence issue, TONY DUNGY, EVERYBODY!
“I wouldn’t have taken him,’’ said former Bucs and Colts coach Tony Dungy, now an analyst for NBC. “Not because I don’t believe Michael Sam should have a chance to play, but I wouldn’t want to deal with all of it.
“It’s not going to be totally smooth … things will happen.’’
Dungy was at Shithole's Ground Zero for these comments until Smith out-dumbed him. Of course, Dungy is still in the running for least-aware NFL commentary, thanks to his follow-up statement.
Again, Dungy wasn’t saying that Michael Sam shouldn’t have the right to play in the league. He was just saying that he wouldn’t draft him because having a gay guy out there was likely too much of a distraction, much in the way having Jackie Robinson out there in Brooklyn should have never happened. He’s just saying that it’s rough when you’re the only one of your kind in a league because normal people aren’t comfortable with you, it’s something to consider when picking a seventh-rounder. He’s also just saying that he doesn’t have anything against Michael Sam, just “those people” in general and that his support of anti-gay marriage groups and legislation isn’t any sort of indictment of anything.
I have told people for years that the first rule of holes is that when you find yourself in one, you need to stop digging. Unfortunately, the people who serve as talking heads on all these shows seem to fail to understand this concept. Even more, I think that in a lot of cases, that sense of “People want to know what I have to say” has morphed into “I am infallible and my statements will all be taken clearly as true and right.”
Both Dungy and Stephen A. Smith (patent pending) are wading into that odd area that’s a lot like when a white guy says something stupid about race and then starts off with the “but I have a black friend” defense. Ask Dungy about the Tampa Two defense or how Peyton Manning kept guys guessing at the line, he’s aces. Ask Stephen A. Smith to talk about himself, he’s golden. However, social issues have never been within their social graces.
However, these guys feel like they’re paid to give opinions, regardless of how smart they actually are on an issue. Even more, they managed to delude themselves into thinking that they ARE smart enough to talk at length on these issues and that the rest of us idiots should just hear what they have to say (or better yet what they meant) and shut up about it. Unfortunately, that’s not the case here and it only gets worse when you keep talking.
In 2007 Hank Aaron refused to get involved in the whole “Barry Bonds is going to break your record, but he grew four helmet sizes while pursuing the record and if it were any more clear that he was on steroids, he’d have to be shooting up at the press conference” thing. The comment he gave at the time was one that people griped about and laughed at, but it’s one we should translate into Latin and stencil on the doors about Dungy’s office, Stephen A. Smith’s house and ESPN studios:
"I don't have any advice whatsoever, no advice to anybody," Aaron said.
In a video posted this week by the NRA, one of the organization's commentators said competency with a gun should be a "necessary skill" for children to be able to advance to the next grade in school, just like reading and writing.
In the video titled “Everyone Gets A Gun,” commentator Billy Johnson argued U.S. gun policy should be driven by the "need" people have to use guns.
“Gun policy driven by our need for guns would insist that we introduce young people to guns early and that we'd give them the skills to use firearms safely,” Johnson said. “Just like we teach them reading and writing, necessary skills. We would teach shooting and firearm competency."
"It wouldn't matter if they didn't want to learn," he added. "We would make it necessary to advance to the next grade."
Johnson linked gun policy to education, healthcare, food and retirement, saying the U.S. "subsidize[s] things we value," and said gun policy should be no different.
“Gun policy, driven by our need for guns would protect equal access to guns, just like we protect equal access to voting, and due process, and free speech. Our Founding Fathers believed that we did need guns. That's why they codified our access to guns into the Constitution,” he said.
Just when you think they cannot get any crazier, someone passes you a bowlful of crazy for breakfast. There are certain segments of society that would think this is a great idea and I'm talking about gangbangers and crazed gunmen. Thanks, NRA.
Even groups that come to protest here in Sin City feel compelled to post a picture of Bourbon Street. In this instance, it's Operation Rescue who are apparently out to save America. Their target is, of course, death/abortion mills. The only mills on Bourbon Street are Gin and T-Shirt mills. Operation Save America, or whatever the hell you want to call them, has, of course, not restricted its protests to so-called "death mills" and that is why it/they is/are malaka of the week.
I was originally going to focus on the group's malakatudinous protests outside a doctor's home in Uptown New Orleans. It was the talk of NOLA twitter the other day as one of my friends lives nearby. Here's the Uptown Messenger's account of the harassment neighbors faced at the hands of these fanatics:
In addition to protesting Planned Parenthood sites, Operation Save America is also holding demonstrations outside the homes of providers. A neighbor to one of those homes — who asked that his name be withheld out of concern that the group would target him — said his family has already endured two sessions of protests, with dozens of people holding signs on the sidewalk near his house featuring graphic images that he has done his best to hide from his young children.
“My kids are scared,” the resident said in an interview Monday afternoon. “It’s all these ugly pictures. They’re talking on the loudspeaker. I try to speak to them civilly, and it’s very difficult to do, because they’re looking for a confrontation.”
His requests that they turn down the volume, he said, were met with invective about the abortion provider instead. Ultimately, he said, he simply closed the blinds and turned up the music in the house until the demonstrators left, but the entire street is ready for the ordeal to end.
“It’s not necessarily the issue of abortion that’s frustrating to us,” he said. “It’s just their method of coming and taking over, and forcing us to deal with it.”
As far as these cretins are concerned, invading people's privacy and insulting them is a part of God's work and if you disagree with them, you are a baby killer or some such nonsense. Very Christian of them isn't it?
It would be bad enough if the story ended there but it gets even worse as the Operation Rescue pukes protested at a Unitarian Universalist Church *during* Sunday services:
...on Sunday, they took a different turn when members showed up inside the First Unitarian Universalist Church at Claiborne and Jefferson. The disturbance took place as the congregation was holding a moment of silence for a member of the church who had died the week before, said the Rev. Deanna Vandiver.
“Into that sacred silence, a voice began to speak, and it began to speak about ‘abominations,’ ” Vandiver said. The protesters were shouting that the church was not a true faith, she said. “Literally in our most tender and vulnerable space, religious terrorism began.”
The congregation was stunned at first, unsure what was happening, Vandiver said. She then invited the protesters to stay if they could join or observe the worship service respectfully, and if not, to take their protest outside the building. The congregation began to sing, and church leaders then began to lead the most vocal protesters outside, though a few chose to stay quietly through the remainder of the service.
In an account on their website, Operation Save America trumpeted the act as a victory for their mission in a “synagogue of Satan:”
At the Unitarian Universalist “church” in New Orleans, Deanna Waller, Jay Rogers, Mary Claire, Ken Scott, Russell Hunter, Toby Harman and others presented the truth of the Gospel in this synagogue of Satan. As God would have it, the “church” was filled with students from a “social justice” training school. According to Rev. Flip Benham, OSA National Director, the team presented a “dynamic witness.”
During an open “meditation” time, Deanna shared the Word of the Lord. When the female “pastor” took issue, Deanna reminded her that, “It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones” (Luke 17:2). In violation of their “sacred tenants” of peace and tolerance, Deanna and others were summarily escorted out of the service.
Other saints stayed and dialoged until the conclusion of the service. It created no small stir. The “social justice” candidates ran to the Christians and asked them many questions. Our brethren gave them the reason for the hope that lies within them and defended the faith. Seeds of truth were sown. may the Lord water them in Jesus’ name.
Vandiver said she does not know specifically why the church was targeted. The denomination has a history of supporting pro-choice efforts, gay rights and other causes that Operation Save America opposes, she said, and the church on South Claiborne has specifically been supportive of Planned Parenthood in New Orleans.
“I think we were an easy target, because we’re literally just a few blocks down the road from where they’re building this clinic,” Vandiver said. “But we are not interested in being terrorized. Freedom of speech does not trump freedom of religion.”
That was an epic quote but I wanted to make sure that y'all read as much of this great story by Robert Morris as possible. The local MSM has been leery of tackling this group head on and I hope the Uptown Messenger's stellar work will force their hand. That's one reason I have desconstructed Robert's post. It also makes me feel like a French intellectual; pity it's too damn hot to wear my beret...
Back to the malakatude of OSA. Notice how they refer to a UU church as a "syngogue of Satan" and their own protesters as Saints? Are they Mormons now? They call themselves Saints too. I have a hunch that they are not: fundamentalists such as the people behind OSA are religious bigots who regard the LDS church as a cult. They're also confused. I was not aware that a UU Church was a synagogue let alone a Satanic one. I'm not going to delve into their theological positions, I came to mock them, not to study them.
It gets worse. I had a major TFC (This Fucking City) moment when I saw that Mayor Landrieu's administration had issued a proclamation honoring OSA's mission to New Orleans. I am not making this up y'all. Here's another extended quote from the Uptown Messenger story:
The certificate, which is dated July 20, extends Mayor Landrieu’s official recognition to Flip Benham of Operation Save America for “outstanding service to the city of New Orleans,” according to an image of the certificate being shared by the group on members’ Facebook pages. Supporters of the group were enthusiastic about Landrieu’s welcome, with one noting that “This is a first!”
Benham, director of Operation Save America, was found guilty of stalking in North Carolina in 2011 for distributing “Wanted” posters featuring the name and photo of a Charlotte abortion doctor, and sentenced to 18 months probation. A local organizer for the group, Pastor Dale Sochia of King Jesus Ministries in Boutte, told the New Orleans Advocate that they would be holding a funeral procession in Jackson Square on Tuesday featuring an open casket containing a “a real aborted baby.”
The mayor’s office on Monday downplayed the significance of the certificate.
“It is routine for the City to provide standard proclamations to visiting non-profits, faith-based organizations and conventions that request them,” according to an email from Tyler Gamble, a spokesman for Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s office. “As this group exercises its constitutional rights, the NOPD is executing a robust security plan to keep the peace.”
That's bull shit. Additionally, the last time the word robust was publicly deployed in New Orleans, it was by Editor Jim Amoss describing the born again Times-Picayune/NOLA.com/TP Street. And that didn't go down very well either as you may recall. The entire thing is guaranteed to infuriate a wide range of the citizenry. I guess they're pandering to the Catholic Church as well as the heavily Protestant malakas who are here to both rescue and save us as well as Murica. How nice of them.
The flying monkeys of OSA were unleashed on us, of course, by the TRAP anti-abortion measure passed by the state Lege and signed into law by our idiot Governor. I was, however, under the impression that Mitch Landrieu and his Senator sister were at least mildly pro-choice. Why then has the city administration honored a group that the Southern Poverty Law Center has described as a terrorist organization? Change.Org is gathering signatures urging Hizzoner to rescind the proclamation. Click here if you'd like to sign.
I usually like to close this feature with a joke or a music clip. I won't do so this time. These people are capable of almost anything, and violence against people and property is emphatically not funny. Groups like Operation Rescue/Save American are a pox on the political landscape and that is why they/it are/is malaka of the week.
New Yorker honcho David Remnick wrote a post this morning about that described the commander of the Ukrainian separatist group that intially took credit for shooting down the Malaysian Air jetliner thusly:
A wildly messianic nationalist who cultivates an air of lumpy intrigue, [Igor] Strelkov has found his way to the battlefields of Chechnya, Serbia, and Transnistria. He is now helping to run the separatist operation in Donetsk. Like the radical nationalists and neo-imperialists in Moscow, who have easy access to the airwaves these days, Strelkov has a singular point of disagreement with Putin: the Russian President hasn’t gone nearly far enough; he has failed to invade and annex “Novorossiya,” the separatist term for eastern Ukraine. Pavlovsky said that people like Strelkov and his Moscow allies are as delusional as they are dangerous, somehow believing that they are taking part in grand historical dramas, like the Battle of Borodino, in 1812, or “the novels of Tolkien.”
“Strelkov is well known for leading historical reënactments of Russian military battles, like you have in the States with the Civil War reënactors,” Pavlovsky said. “It used to be a fantasy world for people like him, but now they have a realm for their imaginations.”
Just imagine the leader of your local tea party group armed with rockets and absolutely no sense whatsoever. These are the people the Russian government has unleashed on the world: morons with modern weapons. Visualize the open carry malakas or Cliven Bundy militia types armed with missiles. This is some scary shit, y'all.
Georgia wingnut Phil Gingrey is leaving Congress after a failed attempt to secure the GOP nomination for the Senate. He was too extreme even for Georgia Republicans. I am scared shitless that this mook will continue to be licensed to practice medicine. He's an anti-choice Oby-Gyn, put that in your pipe and smoke it, y'all
Gingrey pulled a classic wingnut stunt this week, but it's one that should be beneath contempt for a physician. He wrote a letter to the CDC about the looming humanitarian crisis on the border. Here's how Charlie Pierce described this despicable letter:
The other day—Congressman Phil Gingrey who, with Paul Broun, makes up half of the Georgia-based legislative vaudeville act, Two Docs And A Crock—sent a letter to the Centers For Disease Control, which happen to be in the general area of his district, warning that the children who have been coming through eight kinds of hell to get to this country might be little walking petri dishes, and that we better should watch out for that.As such, reports of illegal migrants carrying deadly diseases such as swine flu, dengue fever, Ebola virus and tuberculosis are particularly concerning.
Wait. Whoa there, dear and glorious physician. How did we manage to crowbar Ebola onto that list? Unless some of these kids are swimming here from Sierra Leone, that's one problem about which we don't have to worry, since there never has been a case of Ebola's breaking out anywhere but in Africa. But you can see what Gingrey's doing here. He shoehorning Ebola onto his list of concerns about the Little Brown Ones (tm GHW Bush Enterprises, LLC) because a) he knows Americans are more aware of it than they are of, say, dengue fever, and b) because, alas, Ebola's in the news because it's running wild at the moment in west Africa, where it's never broken out before. So congratulations to Phil Gingrey—excuse me. DOCTOR Phil Gingrey—has decided to use a medical crisis overseas to gin up politically expedient xenophobia over here. Extremely well-played, sir.
Even for a right winger, this is appalling. He's ginning up hysteria with his dubious "diagnosis" and using his medical degree to give this claim credibility. It's totally reprehensible. I'm not sure if this is something that could cause him to lose his license to practice medicine in the state of Georgia, but I hope someone reports this cretin to the appropriate regulatory body.
The worst thing about an episode like this is that other extremists will use it and, thanks to the interweb, this story will live forever. I called Gingrey a Doctor earlier when, in fact, he's a quack. He ought to be ashamed of himself, but teabaggers are shameless and believe that one can lie in service of a "just cause." There's a special place in hell for quacks like this and before going there, he should stick his stethoscope up his ass.
It took a while, but I finally get it.
Four years ago, I wrote about the epic betrayal of your leaving. A year later, I took delight in your loss in the NBA finals. Each win you earned seemed like an indictment of the team I loved and a validation of the move you made to South Beach.
I was one of the millions who had cheered you, who bought your jersey and who spent ungodly sums trying to make it to your games. As you noted many times, you were “our son,” like we all raised you or something.
If that’s true, and I believe you when you say it, then I was a shitty parent.
I was selfish and angry and sad all at the same time. I didn’t put myself in your position the way I probably should have. After all, as they say in the movies, “We are not so different, you and I.”
We are both lifers of a single state. We grew up and prospered in that state. We made our lives about family and the comfort that comes with knowing your surroundings.
When the time came to make our first big move out from under that pressure cooker known as familiarity, it wasn’t easy. When I was 24, I left the state to pursue a job at Mizzou, pretty much the “South Beach” of Journalism.
If you are anything like me, the decision to leave your comfort zone wasn’t easy. In both of our cases, we could have done the easy and simple thing: Stayed home, worked in a less-ideal environment and never once worried about what was over the hill. The questions came fast and furious from family and friends: “Why don’t you just stay here?” “Can’t you get a job at a newspaper or something?” “What’s wrong with Wisconsin?”
If your family was anything like mine, it wasn’t easy on them either. Mom cried a lot that year. Dad did his “dad-thing” which vacillated between anger and distance. Friends wondered if I’d ever see them again. At least your friends could visit and you had enough money to do what you wanted. Still, there are things that money can’t buy and home is one of those things.
Still, I felt I HAD TO GO. It was a chance to figure out who I was and what I could be. Sure, it hurt like hell some times, but what good doesn’t.
After years of improving jobs, I found myself at a crossroads, too. I could either stay where I was with a chance to keep making better money and gaining more status or I could go home.
Home was a worse job with less pay, a weaker team and more than a few personnel problems. You have a guy who writes diatribes that personally attacked you in comic sans. I have a guy who told a faculty that for the kind of money they were paying for me, “We could have gotten someone good.”
Still, I made what, on paper, was the lesser choice. Still, in my heart, it was the larger portion.
People will criticize you for this, especially if things don’t work out perfectly. You will find moments of doubt, even as you know what you did was right. People looked at me like I was crazy. I’ve had to answer the “What the hell are you doing there?” question a lot of times at national conventions. People have even asked if I got booted out of my old job and that’s why I showed up here.
My answer was simple, “I didn’t want to move home just in time to watch my parents die. I wanted to enjoy my time with them.”
That was mostly true, in that, yes, that was a big part of it. However, I missed the simple things that you can’t just “import” to another part of the world, regardless of your riches.
Knowing what side streets go through and which ones don’t.
Listening to the radio stations you grew up listening to.
The odd culture that, around here at least, is all about cheese, beer, summer festivals and the Friday fish fry. (I’m sure Akron has a similar set of oddities you miss.)
I missed out on a lot when I moved away, but I gained a lot as well. In watching you from afar, I know you probably feel the same.
It took me a long time to realize that I should have seen this a while back. That you were like a kid who never got to go to college and thus needed to get out of the house. That you never had that exploratory phase. That you needed to get out there and, for lack of a better term, play with your friends.
I reacted like an angry parent. I felt rejected and abandoned. I didn’t think about what you thought.
Realizing that makes me also realize that you’re a more mature man than you were when you left. It also makes me realize that I’m lucky as a fan to cheer for you twice in one lifetime.
I don’t know if you’ll win a championship for Cleveland. I do know that you’ll make the game more exciting to watch. And I also know that you’ll be glad you made this move when you did.
Welcome home. And thanks.
See you in the fall,
Isaiah Thomas of the Detroit Pistons took part in a recent “30 for 30” film on his 1980s “Bad Boys” championship teams. To the detractors who said the team was thuggish or that they got lucky in spots, Thomas responded with his standard line:
“The film don’t lie.”
Watching film can provide you with an amazing amount of detail on that team. The violence it perpetrated on defense and the grace with which it ran fast breaks. The time Rick Mahorn decided to punch out the entire Chicago Bulls team and the feathery shot that Vinnie “The Microwave” Johnson took to sweep the finals.
It’s all in the film. And the film don’t lie.
Of course, it actually does.
And that’s our fault.
We see what we want to see and we hear what we want to hear. If you hated those teams, you saw the way that Bill Laimbeer clothes-lined Larry Bird in the playoffs. If you loved those teams, hey, that was just the cost of doing business.
When Magic Johnson body-checked Thomas in the 1988 NBA finals, it was like Bryan Burwell said: “People would say, ‘Oh that Magic… What a competitor.’” When Mahorn flattened Jordan, it was thuggery.
The film lies all the time because we add layers of interpretation to it and color its view through our own lenses.
ASU Assistant Professor Ersula Ore was arrested May 20 after a run-in with police. Ore said she was crossing the street to avoid construction when a police officer confronted her, violated her civil rights and then physically assaulted her while attempting to arrest her.
ASU police said Officer Stewart Ferrin contacted Ore, who was walking down the middle of the street, and directed her to move to the sidewalk. Ore, police said, became argumentative and belligerent, escalating the situation. She chastised the police for being disrespectful, refused to provide ID when asked and then physically resisted arrest. She also cursed at and kicked the officers involved, police said.
The entire incident is available on audio/video and has made its rounds online.
Theoretically, this should be easy to figure out. It’s all on film.
However, thick lenses and festering wounds make it hard to see exactly how this will play out.
Several groups have claimed this is a case of racial profiling and over-zealous police work. Ore is black. Ferrin is white. Ore herself notes in the video that she had been on the campus for three year and never saw one person arrested for jaywalking, the original reason Ore was stopped. Driving While Black has morphed into Walking While Black on the ASU campus, according to one of the groups involved in this discussion.
A police review has found nothing improper about the stop, despite putting Ferrin on paid leave until an FBI review of the situation is completed. (A paid leave during an outside investigation is common and does not connote innocence or guilt in these situations.) From the police vantage point, an officer contacted someone who was doing something out of the ordinary and probably unsafe. Everything was fine until Ore became arrogant and unreasonable, refused to respond to officer requests/commands and then really lost it on the cops. White, black, green, whatever. It was a case of someone resisting a peace officer.
My own view of the situation was colored by a recent airline flight with my family. We ended up on Southwest, which has “open seating” (a.k.a. The Hunger Games with less legroom) so people can pick whatever seats they want based on when they get on the plane. When Dad and I ended up on the plane, most of the seats were full, but strangely enough, there were two seats open in the exit row. The flight attendant was standing there and when we asked him if those were open, he said, “They are now.”
When we sat down, we ended up next to a guy who had his two teen daughters in front of him. All three were cursing about something. After five minutes, an airline official came on the plane and said, “The lady who just left the plane wants you to join her.” They got up, cursing, and left.
The story we got from the people who were on the plane was that the lady was sitting in the exit row when the flight attendant noticed she had a brace on. When he informed her that airline rules stated no one with a brace could sit in that row for safety reasons, she said, “Fine. I’ll take it off.” When he said that wouldn’t work, she became combative and started yelling at him. After about six “Ma’am, I’m sorry” statements from the steward, the lady told him that this was “bullshit.” He then said he’d been as nice as he could for as long as he could and she was being pulled off the flight.
(If you must know, the family was white. The flight attendant was black.)
The way I saw it, things didn’t need to get that out of hand. When the guy noticed the brace, there were plenty of nearby seats of equal value. She could have moved easily. Conversely, if the brace were really something she could take off, was it worth the squeeze to try to enforce this rule? Kind of ticky-tacky if you think about it.
However, the whole thing in my mind came down to arrogance and a superiority struggle.
Who the hell are you to talk to me this way? Both people thought it, although neither of them said it. To the flight attendant, this was his realm and he was enforcing the rules. To the lady, it was some third-rate “rent-a-cop” guy throwing his weight around.
When my wife watched the video of Ore’s arrest, she saw the connection as well: “This is like that thing on the plane.”
Ore’s initial complaint was that the officer spoke to her disrespectfully and she wasn’t going to let that slide. The officer’s initial complaint was that something was happening that shouldn’t have been and he needed to correct it. As both situations wore on, neither party would give and eventually the people with the real power in the dynamic played their trump cards.
Ore was in court Thursday, fighting the charges against her as the FBI continues its investigation into the incident. Although the dashcam video will be paramount in what gets decided in both cases, it doesn’t show everything, both sides argue. The local newspaper is arguing for individual officer cameras to create more detailed video of stops like these and to eliminate some of these concerns.
Because, after all, the film don’t lie.
It is often said that one person's terrorist is another person's freedom fighter. That eternal argument rages on in Sarajevo where the Bosnian Serbs have erected a statute of Gavrilo Princip. Yes, *that* Gavrilo Princip; the man who assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand. Reaction to that event, of course, spiraled out of control and led to the Great War.
The shots that changed the world occurred 100 years ago today: June 28, 1914. The Bosnian Serbs regard Princip as a hero, which is not an analysis that I agree with. He was a fanatic with a gun whose actions unleashed a blood bath and led eventually to most of the worst European events of the 20th Century: the rise of Nazism, Soviet style Communism, World War II, the Cold War and the ethnic cleansing that swept through the former Yugoslavia in the 1990's.
I have no nostalgia for the ancien regimes of Russia, Austria-Hungary and Germany. They would have fallen eventually and maybe even violently but to celebrate the man who set all of this in motion is obscene. I could even add a 21st Century event to the Princip list: the second Iraq War. The neo-cons may have had petro-imperialism at the top of their agenda but many liberal supporters of the war saw it as a humanitarian intervention a la Kosovo. They were, of course, delusional and we're still paying for Tony Blair's delusions and Dick Cheney's hubris.
Does any of this make Gavrilo Princip sound like someone who should be honored as a hero? I should hope not, but the Serbs have a persecution complex, which could be dubbed the Princip principle.
I'll have more about the centennial of the Great War in the weeks to come. That is all.
The news out of Nevada about the wackadoodle couple who murdered three people, and some news out of Europe has me pondering the concept of neo-Nazism. I almost called this post "I don't get it " but I do: what could be more outrageous than styling yourself after the most despicable, violent political movement in history? The more puzzling part is why anyone would style themselves after the biggest loser of all time: Adolph Hitler. That, I don't get, or guys wandering about in SS uniforms. They should get their asses kicked on sight but attention is what they want so perhaps their asses should remain unkicked.
Speaking of Euro Fascists, EU elections are always good for extreme right wing groups. The European Parliament is essentially powerless so it's the ultimate protest election. The most pernicious manifestation of this tedious trend took place in Greece where the Golden Dawn seems to be coming out of the closet as a hardcore Neo-Nazi party:
Last Wednesday Greece got that jolt when Nikos Michaloliakos, Golden Dawn's imprisoned leader – who stands accused of murder and assault – made his first public appearance in almost nine months. The politics of hate took over Athens as the 58-year-old was hauled before parliament, ahead of a vote to lift his immunity from prosecution, on further charges of illegal weapons possession.
Emboldened by its recent success in European and local elections – in which the party emerged as the country's third biggest political force, thanks to a softening of image that has attracted ever-growing numbers of the middle class – the extremists drove home the message that they were not only on the rebound but here to stay. And as they ran roughshod through the house of democracy, hurling abuse at other MPs in an unprecedented display of violence and vulgarity, there was no mistaking what Golden Dawn is: a party of neo-Nazi creed determined to overturn the democratic order. For, far from being contrite, the handcuffed Michaloliakos was in unusually aggressive mood, giving Nazi salutes, telling the house speaker to "shut up", and instructing guards to take their hands off him.
Outside, black-shirted Golden Dawn supporters, lined up in military formation in Syntagma Square, gave a hearty rendition of the Nazi Horst Wessel song – albeit with Greek lyrics. All this was a far cry from the party's recent efforts to distance itself from the thuggery and racist rhetoric from which it was born.
"That day democracy felt a bit weak," said Pavlos Tzimas, a political commentator who has watched the party's rise from its fringe group beginnings in the early 1980s. "After all the revelations [about criminal activity], after all the prosecutions against its MPs, it still has the nerve to act in such a way, in scenes of hate that, frankly, I cannot recall ever being seen inside the parliament," he sighed. "Golden Dawn is not a passing phase, it will not disappear with the end of the crisis, it feels untouchable, it fears nothing, and what we saw this week is its real face. It is not like other extremist parties inEurope. It is a true neo-Nazi force whose aim is to use democracy to destroy democracy."
There has always been an extreme right wing in Greece. It used to manifest itself in royalism, militarism, anti-communism, and nostalgia for the military junta that ruled Greece from 1967 to 1975. This turn towards neo-Nazism is much more disturbing: Greece was brutally occupied by the Nazis during World War II. The Greeks were seen by the Nazis as unruly sub-humans. They got the unruly part right.
I spent about a year living in Greece as a kid during the junta days. Not even extreme right wingers had any words of praise for the Nazis or Italian Fascists. In fact, Greeks *hated* the Germans while liking the Brits and non-Greek-American Americans. The uber-malakas in the Golden Dawn don't make the connection between Merkel's Germany, which they hate, and the German scum they now aspire to emulate. It's creepy beyond belief, and I know it's turning the stomachs of older Greeks but bad times cause a lot of ugliness to ooze to the surface.
The rebound of the extreme right in the US seems inevitable in retrospect. Times are bad, the NRA is ascendant, and we have a black President who is also a Democrat. That last bit is a big part of it: the Clinton years saw the last explosion of right wing extremism here. This current group makes me *almost* nostalgic for the conservatives who were mindlessly pro-police. The Nevada nut jobs drank the Posse Comitatus kool aid, which led to the death of 2 cops in Las Vegas. The fact that they were "performance artists" gives me a whole new reason to hate them...
The whole thing has given me a nasty flashback to the back-to-back Gret Stetwide elections wherein David Duke was on the ballot. Duke scared the beejesus out of Blue Dog Democratic Senator J Bennett Johnston in 1990 before scaring the shit out of everyone else before losing to Edwin Edwards in 1991. At the time, people tended to focus on Duke's past as a KKK Imperial Wizard, but anti-African-American racism was subsidiary to his rabid anti-semitism. That's right, David Duke is a hardcore neo-Nazi. It wouldn't surprise me if he popped up in Greece, he's spent much of the last 8 years rabble rousing in Eastern Europe. Of course, Greeks are probably too swarthy for the Gret Stet Fuhrer wannabe's taste.
One more quote from Lisa Smith's fine Golden Dawn article in the Guardian about a disturbing conversation she had in an Athens cafe:
Dissmissing charges that Golden Dawn is a criminal gang masquerading as a political group, the second – a self-described government employee – said the far right was the best response yet to the great Jewish conspiracy of an interconnected banking system that has come with globalisation. "Let's not forget all the faggots and the Jews, the wankers who control the banks, the foreigners who are behind them, who came in and fucked Greece," he insisted. "The criminals who have governed us, who have robbed us of our future, of our dreams, need a big thwack."
You may notice that I bold faced a phrase because it's a literal translation of a Greek word familiar to First Draft readers: malakas. The Golden Dawn, however, have gone beyond malakatude to become a genuine threat to democracy. Like the character in this Peter Tosh song, they're dangerous, so dangerous:
It's the 70th Anniversary of the D-Day landings at Normandy. New Orleans' primary contribution to the war effort was made by shipbuilder Andrew Higgins. He designed and manufactured the landing crafts that made amphibious landings somewhat less insane than previously. Here's a short film about the Higgins boat:
I opened “The Bar of the Blamed” this week, in hopes of creating a world safe for all people. My co-owner, Jodie Foster, will be there until the end offering suggestions on how best to impress her.
We’ve got all the causes of all the psychotic things in this country: Norman Bates’ mom is running the bingo game in the corner while Slenderman is entertaining the crew by bending balloons into the shapes of various animals.
Speaking animals, we have a strict “Some Dogs Allowed” policy, which helped when Sam Carr’s black Lab, Harvey, showed up a while back.
If you’re up for music, Marilyn Manson is playing here nightly, and runs a nice karaoke operation on Wednesdays for our long timers. Speaking of a Manson, the jukebox is stuffed with the classics: The Beatles’ White Album. To be fair, though, we do have a DJ who comes in and spins Ozzy’s “Suicide Solution,” and Judas Priest’s “Better by You, Better than Me” on occasion.
Of course, he only plays them backwards.
The buffet is nice, filled with Twinkies and Twinkie-related products. Just don’t eat too much. It might go to your head.
Stop on by any time and see all that ails the country. You can leave with a feeling of relief, knowing that nothing bad will ever happen again because I’ve got it trapped in one place.
Until, of course, we have to add another song to the jukebox, a movie to our playlist or a star to our “Wall of Fame.”
More updates from the front lines of Fond du Lac and the censorship machine that is the high school administration…
ONLY MOSTLY DEAD: The update from the kids today has them trying to punch down the changes requested/demanded/suggested/whatever by the administration. They’re determined not to let this issue die, even if a little of their freedom has to die this one time. If I knew I could get away with it, I’d send them pizza tonight. Something tells me that the administration would enact “prior review” on my Papa John’s order if it showed up at the school. If I hear anything else about the life and death of the final issue, I’ll keep you posted.
TOSS MY SALAD: Found out through wisoapbox and a few kids that one of the things that was forced to be “reworked” was the headline “DeMarco Tosses Out ‘Salad Days,’” a reference to Mac DeMarco’s new “Salad Days” album. According to a couple sources, Assistant Principal Peter Snyder demanded that this inappropriate “street slang” be removed from the headline. The kids were clueless as to exactly what he meant, only to be told that they had to cut it.
If I’m a parent of a Fond du Lac student, I’m immediately concerned that an authority figure (either Snyder or Superintendent James Sebert) had this Chris Rock routine in mind when forcing the students to kill the headline:
The reference is from 1996, or before most of the students in the school were born. It lives on in the urban dictionary, but it’s pretty clear that the reference is about as dated as “Whoomp! There it is!” It also makes it clear that if I ever go to dinner with either of these guys, I’ll be asking for the soup…
The second A&E headline to bite the dust was “Freddie Gibbs Busts open Pinata,” a reference to Freddie Gibbs’ new album, “Pinata.” Again, busting a piñata apparently was a euphemism for “something naughty” according to what the students were told. Even as the resident “12-year-old boy” around here who can turn ANYTHING into a sexual reference, I had to look that up.
These lyrics of the song below are the best I can do:
Even urbandictionary.com doesn’t have a “bust a piñata” reference. The closest thing is about banging a rich fat chick. At least the rap reference would be from this century, as opposed to the salad issue.
Look, I get that people try to “trick” administrators and that there needs to be some level of vigilance. That’s how we avoid quotes from “Chuck U. Farley” and “Heywoode Jablome” in your paper. However, constantly being on a “seek and destroy” mission has you seeing enemies around every corner. You need to step back a bit.
Of course, the best way I’ve always found to avoid that “sneaky stuff” was to give the kids the right to run whatever they want, but then hold them responsible for their actions. Seems way too easy for FDL HS…
VAGINA MONOLOGUES: The male administration in Fond du Lac has apparently been spending a lot of time worrying about what the Cardinal Columns thinks about women and their bodies. Of course the “Rape Joke” article is what started all of this, but in this issue the boys were once again in a dither about “lady bits” and what can be said in relation to them.
Perhaps one of the more interesting stories in this issue was on teen pregnancy (see the cover shot above) and how it impacts a student’s life. The students talked honestly about how they had to give things up, what life was like with a child and how hard they had to persist to get to graduation. One young woman, who was drugged, raped and kept the child spoke bravely about her experiences and then provided some important advice to her fellow students:
“The best way to not have an unplanned pregnancy is to stay abstinent,” Rose said, “but life is always going to happen. You will at some point in your life have sex, so keep it safe. Get on birth control, don’t be appalled if a male or female has a condom. In those unexpected situations where it happens and it wasn’t safe, seek medical attention right away, go online, do whatever it takes to find out your options and what is the best choice for you. You can get opinions until you’re blue in the face, but you must understand it’s your choice.”
The administration demanded this quote be cut, because it was about birth control and “apparently we tell people to get it,” a student explained.
I went back through that quote about six times, looking for a) advocacy by the paper and b) something that wasn’t true and I couldn’t find either. The quote primarily advocates abstinence, but notes that sometime life happens and you need to be aware of that. In the case of this student, some drugged her and it led to her being raped. All she was saying was that you need to be careful and that you need to take care of yourself. This isn’t mind-shattering commentary that is radically different from what people would see from any health class on the issue or “student assembly” on sex and VD.
It wasn’t as if she said, “Men are all out there hoping to rape you, so carry a switch blade and de-nut everything male you see…”
In addition, the students were told to cut a reference to Planned Parenthood and a paragraph that outlined what abortion is and how it works because both were apparently advocating abortion and the school doesn’t approve of it.
There are about 927 things wrong with this situation, so trying to cover all of them would just wear my fingers to nubs. So here are the three I’m going to touch on:
To avoid burying the lead:
The final issue of Cardinal Columns for the year has been killed by censorship. An administrator “suggested” several changes, refused to say if the suggestions could be ignored and then pushed it off onto another administrator who won’t be in until Monday. Based on the current printing schedule, submitting the issue next week will guarantee it won’t be ready until after graduation, effectively killing the whole thing.
And now the back story…
About two weeks ago, I got a note that the Fond du Lac school district appeared to finally start acting right. A source told me that shortly after Memorial Day, a six-person committee was going to meet to review some sample student media policies. The committee would include two members of the Cardinal Columns staff, the paper’s adviser, the director of pupil services, a member of the English faculty and an assistant principal. The idea would be to create a policy for the FDL school district that would better reflect free-speech protection while still providing that coveted “adult oversight” that administrators appear to crave. The idea would be that the district could look “official,” the kids could get back to journalism and everyone would save face.
People I talked to said they felt optimistic. I didn’t.
The arrogance of the superintendent, the general lack of knowledge present in the administration and the inability for all the shame in the world to not even dent their shell of cluelessness had me figuring this to be a sham.
As Steve Buscemi said in “Armageddeon,” I hate knowing everything.
Today, shortly before the discussions were to begin on the drafting of this policy, Assistant Principal Peter Snyder handed over the draft copy of the final edition of Cardinal Columns for the semester. On it, he had written several comments and decreed several changes “should be made.”
Snyder was pinch-hitting for Principal Jon Wiltzius, who was out of school all week and wouldn’t return until Monday. It’s unclear if these were the feelings of Snyder or his administrative doppleganger Jim Sebert. Apparently Sebert’s name was uttered more times in the discussion of what has to be done than Donald Trump uses the word “I” while dictating his autobiography during a meth jag.
Things that needed to be cut, according to Tanvi Kumar’s Twitter account were:
This and several other things were required to be cut because writing about them, “reflects negatively on Fond du Lac High School.”
Of course, Snyder quickly found out that you can stop the press, but you can’t stop the news. Before the end of the day, he was fielding phone calls from the media and emails from others, based on a social media explosion on the topic. Apparently, he told the students he was “trying to do us a favor by stepping in while Wiltzius was out.” He then declined to tell the kids if they had to actually change stuff or if these suggestions could be discussed or ignored. He then exacerbated the stupidity of the situation by telling the kids to take it up with Wiltzius on Monday.
If the paper doesn’t get out to the printer until next week, it won’t be back in time for graduation. If that happens, it’s worthless, so it probably won’t be printed. In short, by demanding unreasonable changes to this issue, the administration has effectively prohibited publication. Thus, the textbook definition of censorship.
When this policy first came about, several school board members tried to play it off as being much ado about nothing. One even noted that he didn’t imagine that anything would really change and that no real impact would be felt.
Quick question for Mr. Sunshine: Has the paper ever FAILED TO COME OUT before? If the answer is “no,” it’s pretty clear this policy IS having an impact and it IS a negative one.
Even worse, this puts a damper on the whole idea of crafting a policy that could lead to peace with honor for everyone. The administration could have said, “We understand people are upset and although we feel we’re within our rights, we want to be good citizens and really discuss the issue.” The kids could have said, “We’re glad they heard us and are willing to work with us toward a mutually beneficial solution.” The superintendent could have even looked like a decent guy with a “ We’re glad this is all behind us and we can get on with the business of this great school district” quote.
Instead, all that Snyder and Sebert have done here is cast doubt and suspicion on the upcoming process. If I’m the Cardinal Columns kids, I have NO REASON to trust ANYTHING that the administration says. (Shit, if Sebert and I were standing outside right now and a rainstorm was soaking us to the bone, he could say, “Man it’s raining out here,” and I’d STILL ask someone else to verify that fact.)
If the Cardinal Column kids are reading this, here’s my advice. During this “Gang of Six” committee meeting, go in there with your chinstrap buckled tight and watch your six.
Trust is something these people have yet to earn from you.
I didn't see this until this morning but it sums up my feelings quite well:
Thank you to the courageous men & women who serve in our military and fuck you to the cowards who send them to stupid wars.— Frank Conniff (@FrankConniff) May 26, 2014
The trends are not encouraging. In 1978, 42 per cent of Americans reported that they had read 11 or more books in the past year. In 2014, just 28 per cent can say the same, while 23 per cent proudly admit to not having read even one, up from eight per cent in 1978. Newspaper and magazine circulation continues to decline sharply, as does viewership for cable news. The three big network supper-hour shows drew a combined average audience of 22.6 million in 2013, down from 52 million in 1980. While 82 per cent of Americans now say they seek out news digitally, the quality of the information they’re getting is suspect. Among current affairs websites, Buzzfeed logs almost as many monthly hits as the Washington Post.
Buzzfeed is hardly just a current affairs website, and last I checked did not swallow whole the contention that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq that justified going to war, so maybe let up on the home of quizzes about what kind of kitten you are.
Newspapers, magazines and cable news are largely responsible for aiding and abetting the dumbing down the rest of the article laments. Giving time and ink to climate change deniers, gun nuts, anti-evolution whackjobs, outright white supremacists and pundits who last had an original thought in 1987 (and killed it in its cradle immediately) is what got us into this mess. Newspapers, magazines and cable news are prime conduits for the kind of "both sides do it" cynical equivalence that leads people who'd otherwise discern the difference between idiocy and intelligence to just throw up their hands in frustration. When the New York Times is peddling he said she said who can really tell anyway, pardon me if I decide that everyone sucks, but most especially the paper of record.
But hey, it must be the Internet's fault:
The digital revolution, which has brought boundless access to information and entertainment choices, has somehow only enhanced the lowest common denominators—LOL cat videos and the Kardashians. Instead of educating themselves via the Internet, most people simply use it to validate what they already suspect, wish or believe to be true. It creates an online environment where Jenny McCarthy, a former Playboy model with a high school education, can become a worldwide leader of the anti-vaccination movement, naysaying the advice of medical professionals.
The Internet did not make Jenny McCarthy a leader of the anti-vaccination movement. The anti-vaccination movement did that. Nor did the Internet pay Jenny McCarthy tens of thousands of dollars to write a column in -- you guessed it! -- a major metropolitan newspaper. You'll pardon me if I stick with Buzzfeed.
This gets closer to the heart of things:
A study by two Princeton University researchers, Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page, released last month, tracked 1,800 U.S. policy changes between 1981 and 2002, and compared the outcome with the expressed preferences of median-income Americans, the affluent, business interests and powerful lobbies. They concluded that average citizens “have little or no independent influence” on policy in the U.S., while the rich and their hired mouthpieces routinely get their way. “The majority does not rule,” they wrote.
But why talk about the money and who's spending it and who's raking it in when you can hate on the Kardashians and LOLcats?
Talk about a dumbing-down.
I have my umpteenth cold of 2014, so instead of writing something brilliant (as if) I decided to share a few articles with y'all that have caught my attention in the last week or so.
Sterling's Fold: This is Bill Simmons' take on the Sterling clusterfuck and includes a *really* interesting account of a commercial flight Simmons took with Sterling and V Stiviano.
Benghazi and the Bombshell: Everyone's been talking about Joe Hagan's piece about Lara Logan, 60 Minutes and her horrendously irresponsible story about Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi. I was a lifelong 60 Minutes viewer but that story was the last straw so I stopped watching. I miss Morley Safer and am glad to hear that he wants Ms. Logan fired.
Look at my Gun: Digby is now writing for Salon and this is her best piece for them yet. This paragraph sent a chill up and down my spine:
For instance, in the wake of the new Georgia law which pretty much makes it legal to carry deadly weapons at all times in all places, parents were alarmed when an armed man showed up at the park where their kids were playing little league baseball and waved his gun around shouting “look at my gun!” and “there’s nothing you can do about it.” The police were called and when they arrived they found the man had broken no laws and was perfectly within his rights to do what he did. That was small consolation to the parents, however. Common sense tells anyone that a man waving a gun around in public is dangerous so the parents had no choice but to leave the park. Freedom for the man with the gun trumps freedom for the parents of kids who feel endangered by him.
The NRA has declared war on America: Speaking of gun nuttery and netroots bloggers gone mainstream, Ana Marie Cox attended the NRA conventon so we didn't have to. Thanks, dawlin. I meant to link to this last week but did not. Better late than never.
Finally, on a lighter note:
Whatever Happened to Music Rivalries?: A funny piece by Steven Hyden wherein he lets go off his Oasis fan boy inspired hated of Damon Albarn and Blur. I'll give Oasis the last word:
As in, "We had 400 copies, and we sold out in about 30 minutes."
The "April" edition, which was delayed to May, thanks to a ham-handed job of censorship, came out today and sources have told me that the kids sold every single copy and they have to print more. This is something that they have NEVER done before and they estimate that before things are said and done, more than a quarter of the students in the school will have purchased a copy.
The support the students have shown this publication is incredible. It's also great to see that the students at Cardinal Columns are feeling that their efforts are worthwhile.
If you want to read the publication, here's a link to the online edition.
Today was a good day.
As expected, the Fond du Lac School District announced the resignation of Principal Jon Wiltzius on Friday. As I expected, a lot of “bullshit bingo buzzwords” were in the release, noting his “future endeavors” and how he was “grateful for the opportunity.” That said, the folks at Wisconsin Soapbox have a pretty good take on Wiltzius, how he got to this point and what kind of guy he really is/was in his time as a pre-Act 10 and post-Act 10 leader.
I stated at the beginning of this that I really believed he was between a rock and a hard place, given that his staff was supporting the kids and his boss couldn’t be more of a tool if he were sold by Sears under the “Craftsman” label. However, in talking with the kids, I keep coming back to his one underlying assumption that just drives me batty:
“You’re not real journalists.”
He said this to several students as part of his open forum on Friday. I also know he said it to the adviser, Matt Smith, as Wiltzius chastised him for his efforts to bring professional standards to Cardinal Columns.
“Not real journalists.”
This was a sentiment echoed by Superintendent Jim Sebert in several interviews and it was the gist of a quote from the school board president, who noted that the paper was really just a school activity.
Unlike other countries, the United States does not license journalists. You don’t need a degree in the field to do what journalists do. You don’t need to pass a test to publish a paper, write a blog, do a webcast or anything else that the “big boys” do. You just need to be interested in a topic and avail yourself of the rights outlined in the First Amendment. That’s what makes you a journalist. Adding the modifier “real” is as pointless as saying “completely unique” or “armed gunman.”
I have always hated this argument and have had to fight it more times than I can count.
There was the time when one of my reporters at the student paper went down to get a mug shot from the police department to go with a story. The student was told there was no such document. When the kid pointed out that the mug shot was clipped to the bulletin board right behind the cop, she noted, “Oh, that’s for the (NAME OF THE CITY PAPER). You can’t have it.” Why not? “It’s only for the real paper.”
When a disaster befell the campus, one of my students skipped a class to cover the breaking news. I’ve always been a fan of breaking news opportunities, as these are the kinds of things I can’t simulate in a classroom. I didn’t like the idea of the kid skipping class for this, but I’ve more than sinned so I’m sure not casting the first stone in this case.
The professor rebuked the student with “when you’re done playing journalist” maybe you can make it to the next class. Had this been a professor in math or sociology, I’d have given the guy a pass. However, this was a broadcast journalism professor. When he barked at me about it, I poked back with, “Well, maybe when you’re done playing professor, you can go back to school and get a doctorate.” It was childish and antithetical to what I really believed, but I knew that would irritate him as much as he had irritated me.
I can’t count the number of times my kids had a tip, called a source about it and got the “never heard about that” that response. The next day, the city paper would have a story on it, citing that exact source. When called on it, the source had a “hey, they’re kids” response and it always pissed me off.
The Fond du Lac situation bothers me for this reason, to be sure. You have interested and engaged people who are doing the hard work we WANT journalists to do, only to be told, “Shut up, sit down and eat your Happy Meal. We’ll tell you when we’re ready for you to grow up.”
Even more, this bugs me because we wouldn’t use this excuse for anything else we do at the high school level. “Mix whatever you want together in that flask. After all, you’re not real chemists.” “Don’t bother learning proper tackling techniques. You guys aren’t real football players.” “5 plus 4? Hell, just say ‘more than we started with.’ You aren’t real mathletes.”
The purpose of education is to train people how to do things right as they sharpen their skills and move toward adulthood. No, not every experience in high school will be exactly what these kids will see in “the real world” but going out of your way to make sure they don’t accidentally bump into reality is a colossally stupid thing to do.
I’ve seen what these kids have done with their publication and I’ve seen what they had to say on TV, in the newspaper and through radio shows. I’ve seen them take tough stands because things matter to them and they’re not going to roll over and play dead.
If that’s not “real,” I don’t know what is.
The soap opera that has been the censorship of Cardinal Columns at Fond du Lac high school took about three weird bootlegger turns Thursday, leading to even more concerns about what the school will see in terms of free press.
The students have been fighting with the administrators since the imposition of censorship criteria by Superintendent Jim Sebert and Principal Jon Wiltzius. The early money was on Wiltzius doing what he was told and not being all that thrilled about being in the middle. Then, the first issue of the paper landed on his desk and he censored several things, including a graphic on censorship.
When the students argued, he stopped talking to them and instead only spoke to the adviser, Matt Smith. A recent school board meeting got testy when several people spoke on behalf of the paper, leading to one person getting cut off due to “time” and another being rebuked via gavel.
What did come out of that meeting, however, was a student announcing that students had used social media to plan a sit-in protest that was slated for Thursday. This wasn’t going to be a few newsroom kids, but rather a larger group of students from high schools throughout the area. According to news reports, at least 50 students showed up.
What happened next is a weird series of events that would leave Kafka and Lemony Snicket scratching their heads.
Wiltzius moved the students inside to the school commons and then later into the Performing Arts Center, according to media reports. As the media attempted to follow this and cover the protest, they were prohibited from entering the school grounds.
When media representatives complained, Sebert said the district has the right to prohibit media access.
(It’s true, but it’s stupid and it only makes the media want in more. It also shows that you have no respect for the media and would censor them if you could as well. Perhaps Sebert wanted to issue some “adult oversight” to the Fond du Lac Reporter and the other media outlets there…)
For good measure, Sebert chastised the media for covering the event.
(Insert sound of a million facepalms occurring all at the same time…)
Once inside, a source told me that the principal seemed utterly disinterested in the entire process. He refused to engage the students at all on this issue, despite earlier statements that the school administrators wanted to “discuss the censorship issue with students.”
Wiltzius then held an “open forum” during the lunch periods, during which time he told at least one set of students that he was resigning at the end of the year. He said it had nothing to do with the Cardinal Columns issue, the controversy, the media coverage or the fact that his boss has been forcing his hand in this issue. No, he and his wife bought a campground and they’re going to focus on that, the source said.
(My take: Whenever someone leaves a job in the middle of a shit storm to take “an exciting new opportunity” that has “nothing whatsoever to do with” said shit storm, it’s basically that person saying, “I’m sick of dealing with this shit.” A press release is slated for tomorrow. Play “bullshit buzzword bingo” with it once we post it here. That is, if the media are allowed to cover it… )
The students are saying this feels like an opportunity to blame the students for him leaving. It’s a sense of “If it weren’t for those meddling kids…” and that if they would have just sat there and taken it nicely, things would be fine.
If the kids really DID force this by wearing him down, I would be proud as hell of them. I don’t want to see anyone lose a job, even it means there’s an “exciting new adventure” over the next hill just waiting to be explored. However, what this shows is that if you’re right and you stand up for what’s right, sometimes you get some movement.
Boxers have a saying: Pound the body and the head will fall. Instead of punching at the head in hopes of a knockout, pound the body and watch everything crumble from the middle down.
The kids have landed a hell of a body blow. What happens next is going to be very interesting.
In a move that surprised no one involved in this idiocy, the Cardinal Columns student newspaper at Fond du Lac High School was officially censored Wednesday. The students had been waiting more than two weeks to hear back from Principal Jon Wiltzius regarding the content of the most recent issue. The paper’s requirement that the principal see and approve of all the content prior to it going to press is likely to delay the publication close to a month. (This figure accounts for the week of spring break and the fact that it’s Friday of the third week and the publication hasn’t made the “necessary changes” that Wiltzius outlined after reading the publication several weeks ago.)
According to sources dealing with this debacle, the students have been cut out of the discussion. Wiltzius, who you might remember talked about wanting to have little Fireside Chats with the kids to make things just feel better, will no longer address these issues with the students. Instead, he has called adviser Matt Smith on the carpet several times.
In at least one of those discussions, he was said to have told Smith that Cardinal Columns is “not a real newspaper” and that there was no need to do “journalism stuff.” Instead, he argued, the paper should just write about cute and fuzzy things and not bring shame upon the school. (Quick! Shield yourself from the irony of that statement, given that Wiltzius’ decisions are the ones that are making people look at Fondy High like it’s run by Cro-Magnon Man.)
Among the things censored include the following elements:
In addition to these censorship issues, Wiltzius is pressing the paper to use courtesy titles for faculty members (Mr., Mrs., Dr. etc.) because using a last name only in secondary references is disrespectful.
Again, not to point out the obvious, almost EVERY professional newspaper (Yes, NY Times, I understand you’re different) uses this approach to attribution. It’s commonplace, something this “adult” who is supposed to be providing “oversight” would probably know if he read a newspaper on occasion.
Here’s something else that Wiltzius might like to know about how newspapers and the law work: WARPING CONTENT TO FIT YOUR PREFERENCES IS NOT THE INTENTION OF THE LAW.
The Hazelwood ruling was meant to allow administrators leeway to change content when it had a strong likelihood of disrupting the school’s day-to-day activities. In addition, it held that the administrators had to show that this was highly likely to occur unless the censorship was allowed to take place.
That’s a pretty high bar. Calling someone “Mr.” on a second reference doesn’t even come close to that threshold.
The problem with situations like this one is that they lead to an ever-escalating version of whatever PC term we now use to define a “Mexican Standoff.” The first pass takes place, the situation continues to get more and more tense and no one wants to look like they’re going to be the one who gives up. When it comes to administration officials, their fears are even worse: They don’t want to be seen as wrong because they fear that EVERY decision they make will be called into question and that can lead to all-out anarchy.
Perhaps, but that’s why people need to THINK before they make decisions so that there are fewer chances for being wrong. It also helps to be right on occasion on general principle, with the idea that when you are actually wrong, you can back out of the situation and people don’t think less of you for it.
School board meets Monday. More to follow.
This showed up on the Facebook feed of my oldest friend. We grew up across the street from one another since the time I moved to the neighborhood at the age of 4. I stood up for his wedding and he stood up for mine. My parents still pick up his parents’ mail when they go on vacation and his parents reciprocate in kind.
When my mom was out of town and my dad didn’t answer the phone for three days, I called his mom and begged her to check in on him. I hadn’t called that number in at least 10 years, but it leapt to the front of my memory with ease.
He’s a “gun guy” and I’m not, but he has no problem posting marriage equality things on his wall. He’s a hell of a parent in ways I never think I will be. He once posted something horribly bullshit about Obama on his wall. When I called him on it, he told me he voted for the guy, he didn’t realize the thing was wrong and he took it down. In other words, not a stereotype but still has leanings.
I saw this thing, a perfect example of how the Internet is allowing bullshit to perpetuate and thus dumb down America, and for some reason, I felt like I got stabbed.
My salary comes from tax dollars. So does my mom’s. Teachers, janitors, garbage collectors, mail carriers and more who are all scraping for a living get paid with our forced contributions to the betterment of society.
Nobody likes it when people take money from them, not even me. However, this warped view of how all these hard-working people just pony up so that some Welfare Queen named Umfufu can pop out another welfare baby is what has led to a general bitterness in our society. It also leads us to elect people who run on nothing more than the idea of “we’ll cut taxes” and thus win in a landslide.
I called him out on it. He deflected it with a joke. I pushed back.
He finally did the “I didn’t mean YOU” thing. I let it go online, but I couldn’t let it go in my heart.
In social psychology, we refer to this as out-group stereotyping with cognitive exception. It’s when your overly broad views of a group are challenged by someone who doesn’t fit the prototype. Thus, instead of changing your views, you note that the person is an exception to the rule.
In other words, “Man, those negroes are lazy, shiftless bastards. Not you, Jenkins. You’re not like the rest of them.”
However, what people fail to see is that the rule is actually the exception.
Instead of pissing and moaning about these people who never pay taxes, look at what you get for your money:
This list is by no means exhaustive, but it illustrates that taxes do some good things, even if you don’t believe that creating a safety net for the least fortunate among us should be one of them.
There’s a reason tuition keeps going up at state schools, making it harder and harder for students to finish their degrees. There’s a reason why faculty pay has stagnated, teacher pay has stagnated and public workers of all stripes are seeing benefits slashed. There’s a reason that public inspection units can’t keep up with demands for safety checks, security watches and even criminal investigations.
The reason is we have less and less money because taxes are viewed as evil and unnecessary. Taxes are seen as the enemy, things that only benefit “the takers” of our society.
A meme doesn’t do all that, but it definitely reflects it.
Sorry to get out of my box here, folks, but Ms. A premitted me to do a special on this breaking news:
Posted on Sunday, April 13, 2014 2:44:32 PM by tcrlaf
DEVELOPING: One person has been killed in shootings at two Jewish centers in Kansas, authorities say.
Overland Park Police told Fox News that the shootings occurred at the Jewish Community Center in Overland Park and the nearby Village Shalom, an assisted living facility. Officials who spoke to Fox 4 said another person was injured in the shootings, but police would not confirm the report.
To: tcrlafWorkplace violence, again?
Let me guess, the perp's name was Abdul, Achmed, Mohammed.
To: M Kehoe
Abdul Abulbul Amir...
To: tcrlafAndres Gutierrez @AFGutierrez OP police arrest man in the parking lot of Valley Park elementary. He yelled "Heil Hitler" at us @41ActionNews pic.twitter.com/KfINKcLNN5
To: Sarah BarracudaHe yelled "Heil Hitler" at us...
Further evidence that he was probably a muzzie since mooselimbs adore Adolph.
Tomorrow is Passover, figures the leftist hating Jews would be coming out of the woodwork now
well,if the guys name is something along the lines of “John Smith”,or Michael Andrews”,wont be a problem finding a Tea-Party associate with the same name.
To: Sarah Barracuda
Muzzies come in all colors nowadays.
It’s been about a month since media outlets from coast to coast started eviscerating the Fond du Lac school system for its treatment of the student press at the high school. Tanvi Kumar’s piece on “The Rape Joke” highlighted the way in which students in her school treat the concept of sexual assault like a running joke. It is a great read that demonstrated what students can do if given the chance to take charge of their own First Amendment rights.
The administration has been playing “Armadillo Defense” to this point, hunkering down, taking the beating and hoping eventually people will tire of this. In some ways, they probably are right. Journalists are taught to chase the story. When the story is no longer running, they find something else to chase. The story arc for this one piece has pretty much ended.
That said, it’s about to gear up again, because the Cardinal Columns publication hit the principal’s desk this week. According to several sources, it’s about 40 pages and “really deep.” I’m assuming that means very few stories the administration would view as “good news” and more of what we would call “reality.”
Principal Jon Wiltzius is in an untenable position right now. Based on what I’ve heard, I get the sense that his boss (James Sebert) was the one who decided this censorship approach was a good idea. That said, Sebert put Wiltzius in place as the censor, which forces him to go against the wishes of his own faculty, many of whom signed a petition asking the school board to rescind the rules on prior review and prior restraint.
If Wiltzius lets the issue go untouched, he pisses off his boss.
If Wiltzius changes things in the issue, he pisses off almost everyone else.
Still, the issue is sitting on his desk and no one knows what will happen next. The school board will next meet on Monday, but there is no sense this will be resolved at this meeting. The best guess is that they might discuss this in June after the school year ends (Part II of the “Armadillo Defense” is wait until no one is looking before trying to do something half-assed).
In the mean time, for a school district that didn’t want a story on the realities of rape floating around the school, things are about to get really real.
That seems to be the underlying theme of the day when it comes to discussing Mets’ second baseman Daniel Murphy and his decision to miss TWO WHOLE GAMES to witness the birth of his child.
The collective bargaining agreement in baseball allows players to take paternity leave, the length of which is three games. Even more, the timing was good: It was early in the season and there wasn’t a pennant race or something else that could make this seem like a contract ploy. Thus, when he decided to miss 1/81st of the season, the Mets were fine and sent him off with their blessing.
Of course, that’s not good enough for the assholes who run talk radio. Mike Francesca, a sports talk radio guy whose playing career spans his time on the high school JV team, ripped the hell out of Murphy for his choice.
“What are you gonna do, sit there and look at your wife in the hospital bed for two days?” Francesa said.
Some of the dumbest stuff ever came out of Francesa’s mouth, including blaming this paternity movement on a “natural child birth movement” where the guys were in the room to witness the birth.
He also noted that, “your wife doesn’t need your help in the first couple days.”
He said he worked up until a half hour before the kid was born, then he went to work.
I’m also assuming he never actually witnessed anything like it as he then noted, “I don’t know why you need three days off… You witness the birth and you get back.”
I know that when The Midget was born, my wife would have been totally fine with me saying, “Hey, great job! Do I need to stick around to watch you get stitched up or can I get back to the newsroom?”
I don’t begrudge the people who can’t stick around after a birth or in some cases who aren’t able to be there. However, if you are afforded that choice and you want to take that choice to be, oh… I don’t know…, a decent and loving human being… you shouldn’t have some asshole ripping you for making that decision.
I wish I had been his boss: “Mike, whaddaya need three days for? You’re a fucking fat ass. Stop eating out of the vending machine. Y’know. Get back to work.”
It’s easy enough to blow off Francesa, as all he does is bitch and moan about things. This is what happens when you get a sports talk show in New York and you have to out-prick the pricks who think the Mets owe them a Snickers bar.
The guy who really bugged me was Boomer Esiason. Boomer argued that Murphy and his wife should have scheduled a Caesarian-section birth before the season, so this could be done with and Murphy could play all of the games.
Don’t worry about Obamacare dictating your health care coverage. We have “Dr. Boomer” now who can set up your birth plan for you!
Let’s skip the moment here where we go past the “Who the fuck are you to tell me how to birth my child?” moment that Murphy’s wife must be having and skip past the “Great idea to create a lot of unnecessary risks so a kid can be born on Boomer’s preferred schedule” issue.
Of all the people who should understand what Murphy’s going through, it should be Esiason.
Boomer’s son Gunnar was born with cystic fibrosis. In 1993, he was diagnosed and the next year Boomer set up a foundation that raised money for the research needed to find a cure. He has spoken often as a parent who was scared and worried about the life of his child and he has done everything in his power to make life better for CF kids and their families. This is a guy who, apparently unlike Francesa, sees his child as more than something you give to your wife when you want to shut her up and you can’t afford decent jewelry. He’s also someone who lives with the issue of how a child is such a fragile thing that even in today’s day and age of medical technology, there’s no such thing as a sure thing.
When The Missus was pregnant, she was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. Despite the doctors telling us that everything was going to be fine, over and over and over again, we were petrified. When the child was born, the tests and the heel pricks and the blood work and more were more than a bit stressful. When everything turned out fine, we were drained.
Who knows what could have happened to Murphy’s child? Even more, how was he supposed to keep his mind on a game (which baseball is, by the way. A fucking game.) worrying that there might be a problem with the delivery and the first day or so?
In the end, the Mets defended Murphy, Murphy spent his time with his child, an 8-pound, 2-ounce little boy named Noah, and life moved on. Interestingly, the Bible’s story of Noah is a pretty good one. People criticized Noah for his actions (building the ark), but in the end he did the right thing for himself and his family, while a flood came through and washed all the assholes away.
There are times when the Louisiana state capitol seems like the world's tallest insane asylum. This week has been one of those times. In fact, there was a surreal Senatorial discussion about, uh, chicken boxing between NOLA city slicker JP Morrell and Elbert Guillory from Opelousas. Only a long quote will suffice to prove that I am not making this up:
State lawmakers spent a portion of Tuesday morning discussing the finer points of a “sport” known as chicken boxing. And no, it wasn’t an April Fools’ joke.
It happened in the Senate Committee for Judiciary C when state Sen. J.P. Morrell, D-New Orleans, began discussing his Senate Bill 523.
The bill is meant to tighten the language in the state’s 2008 cockfighting ban.
The legislation would expand the state’s ban on cockfighting to include all types of chickens. It also would make it a felony to possess paraphernalia, such as razors, spurs, leather spur covers and other items commonly used in the sport that once was prevalent in south Louisiana but is now illegal.
Senators had few questions, except for state Sen. Elbert Guillory, R-Opelousas, who said the legislation would shut down the sport of “chicken boxing,” a nonfatal form of cockfighting in which the birds aren’t outfitted with razors and spurs.
Guillory said he was especially concerned about the part of the law that deals with paraphernalia.
“Leather spur covers and plastic spur covers, um, that are used in the legitimate sport of chicken boxing might be considered paraphernalia,” Guillory said.
“Wait, wait, wait ... chicken boxing?” Morrell said.
“Yes, chicken boxing,” Guillory replied.
At that point, it took Morrell a few stops and starts before he could articulate his point. A moment later, he was able to muster: “I appreciate your passion for your constituents, (but) I have no knowledge whatsoever on chicken boxing, so I cannot speak to that.”
Morrell continued, “If chicken boxing ... I can’t even speak on chicken boxing. Honestly, I have never heard of that. It sounds like something to circumvent cockfighting.”
It was at that point that Guillory explained chicken boxing.
“No, no. Let me explain to you, senator,” Guillory said. “Just as dueling is a blood sport, two men fighting each other with swords is a blood sport that is illegal. Similarly, two men with boxing gloves on can box each other as a sport that is legal. This is the same distinction between chicken boxing and cockfighting.”
The distinction is clear as mud to me. It seems to be a way to get around the ban on cockfighting, but I'm a city boy so what the hell do I know about gamecocks and such?
There are two things about this story that I know for sure. First, Opelousas is one of the coolest town names in the known universe. Second, if I ever form another band, it will be called Chicken Boxing. Why not? Ry Cooder had the Chicken Skin Band. Here's a song from them dedicated to the Roberts Court in the wake of another horrendous campaign finance decision. It was written by a bona fide commie, Woody Guthrie:
(One of the biggest things I tell student journalists is that they have to write for the audience, not for themselves. Unfortunately, when you get into a story after a while, you start wondering if you’re writing for yourself and your audience is just too polite to tell you to shut up. If that’s the case here, tell me. I have the sense that shutting up is just too easy and it gives in to the basest desire of administrators who are playing the “armadillo defense:” Hunker down, take the hits and eventually everyone goes away because they get tired of trying to break you. I don’t tire easily. – Doc)
1) People who enjoy their First Amendment rights are really just a few loud assholes:
School board member Eric Everson said he wasn’t surprised by the widespread attention the article has received in the media.
“This type of thing garners big news because you have a very active and involved minority of people who are very sensitive to the word ‘censorship’,” Everson said.
In other words, if it were any other topic, people wouldn’t be in such a kerfuffle.
News flash #1: Have you SEEN people get irate over gun laws, voter laws, taxes, unions or anything else? Given that the room was packed with what media estimate at more than 70 people, I’m guessing this isn’t just the “active and involved minority” of folks who have taken an interest. This has gotten coverage throughout the state, via newspapers, TV, radio and websites. It’s been in Chicago, D.C., San Francisco and more. It was on national sites like HuffPo and Jezebel. I get the sense that people haven’t been all up in the business of the Fond du Lac school board for anything else like this in quite some time.
News flash #2: You can’t marginalize an issue by referring to it as being the work of a few noisy busybodies when all evidence points to the contrary.
I usually play this feature for laughs but egregious malakatude can be terribly serious. There is no good way to notify people that their loved ones are presumed lost and dead, but Malaysian Airline may have selected one of the worst and most insensitive means possible:
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razar said Monday that a new analysis of electronic data shows that the flight of Malaysia airliner with 239 people aboard "ended" in a remote area of the Indian ocean and indicated there were no survivors.
Just before the prime minister spoke, Malaysian Airlines sent a brief text message to family members of the passengers saying, "(w)e have to assume beyond any reasonable doubt that MH370 has been lost and that none of those on board survived."
If they were going to use an impersonal method, they should have let the Prime Minister's press conference do the job. I think a phone call from the airline would have been less bad but getting a text makes it look as if they were unwilling to listen to bereaved family members and provide direct comfort.
As I said at the beginning of the post, there is no good way to convey such horrible news even if it merely confirms what has been apparent for quite some time. At least they didn't tweet it, but it's remarkable that a national airline didn't retain a PR crisis specialist to help them navigate this highly sensitive matter. If they did, they had no clue as to what the hell they were doing.
Anyone have any thoughts as to how the notification should have been handled?
In part one of a two-part broadcast report from Fond du Lac High School, the "officially approved" video story here outlines the main concerns associated with Cardinal Columns "Rape Joke" story. The principal, Jon Wiltzius, talks briefly about his thoughts pertaining to the new policy, getting the OK from rapists before running rape stories and how rights are rights but that doesn't mean he wants you talking about them.
On why the policy came into play:
"There was clear belief that there needed to be or needs to be some level of guidlines developed for the building principal and superintendent to be able to just provide oversight on what items are being published..."
Here's one of those cases where passive voice saves the day. Notice that there's no sense that he thought it or that the superintendent came down to say, "We need to do this." Instead, passive voice allows for a "it just sort of happened" approach. It also gives him the ability to false-front this one by making it sound like lots of people were clamoring for this and he just kind of gave in.
On the Rape Joke article and how he really doesn't plan to censor:
"I also think there were some potentially questionable pieces of wording in there that maybe didn't have to be and that's where a guideline like this can where if I can see that it before it goes out I can try to help and say can you just tweak this a little so that it's not so edgy or abrasive to some."
First and foremost, if this interview he gave is any indication of his grasp of the English language, he's the last guy on Earth I'd want trying to "just tweak" anything anyone ever writes. Second, and more importantly, he's creating a warped sense of reailty here by portraying the policy as a set of guidelines and suggestions. Read the policy: It gives him (and the superintendent) unfettered rights to read and restrain content they don't like. Thus, it's not a guideline. It's a law. Failing to abide by this new policy leads to penalties. Furthermore, the way he is portraying the enforcement of the policy is disingenuous as well. A suggestion is when my wife says, "I think we should eat out tonight." A policy is, "Pay your property taxes or the state takes your house." If his suggestions lacked the full control provision outlined by that policy, the students would have the right to agree or disagree. They don't have that right, thus whatever he says is not a suggestion, regardless of how he couches it. It's, "Do it or else."
On requiring people to get permission from people accused of crimes to run stories about those crimes:
"My responsibility is yes, both alleged victims ... and alleged perpetrators... they both have rights."
Reason number 912,351 not to let this guy near your publication. NO CREDIBLE NEWS OUTLET GETS THE PERMISSION OF PEOPLE ACCUSED OF CRIMES TO RUN STORIES ON THOSE INCIDENTS. There's an ethical issue that relates to whether journalists are morally obligated to attempt to speak to people accused of crimes. That's different than a right for an accused criminal to tell a news outlet, "No, you can't write about the murder I'm accused of commiting." Failing to understand that is kind of a big deal.
On the article that told students they have the right not to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance:
"Do people have the right that were articulated in the article? Yeah, but we ask that it be done in a professional, respectful manner."
Here's the biggest problem with the entire issue pertaining to this policy in a nutshell. Wiltzius says, point blank, that there was nothing libelous, erroneous or otherwise misleading about the article. In fact, it outlines a pretty simple and well-known rule of law. However, he didn't like the fact that the paper published it because then that information would be out there and that people might actually take advantage of those rights. Instead, he would have probably cut this out of the paper because he didn't like it. THAT'S THE CORE OF CENSORSHIP: I DON'T LIKE IT SO YOU CAN'T SEE IT. With that in mind, I wouldn't trust this guy any farther than I could throw him when it comes to his earlier speech on how he would "just tweak" things here and there, even if I were OK with the principle of said tweaking.
To be fair to Wiltzius, he's a damned sight better than Superintendent James Sebert, who while taking credit for building this fine plan, refused to talk about it and deferred all questions to his fall guy principal.
I'm not quite sure exactly when CNN went from being one of the best news organizations in the world to what it has become today. I know the downhill slide began with the Time-Warner-Turner merger. Whatever his faults, Ted Turner is a visionary and a natural born leader and when he lost the ultimate say so, things got shaky. The other big event in CNN's lifespan was the advent of Fox News, which has had a pernicious impact on teevee news in general and not just because of their horrible politics. Fox also fixates on trivia and makes shit up.
CNN is currently fixated on the missing plane story. It's all they're airing right now but that's no surprise. The only time their ratings spike is when there's a breaking general interest news story. It's probably a good thing that this is overshadowing the Ukraine/Crimea crisis since the media is bringing the big stupid to that story as well. They've over personalized it and keep banging on about Putin when it's about Russia's historic national interests dating from the days of the Tsars. Vlad is a mere arriviste.
That brings me to this week's "honoree," CNN baby anchorman Don Lemon. I've only seen Lemon a few times but he struck me as callow, unprepared and clearly in over his head and out of his depth. Since CNN has air time to fill and a story to inflate, he's been guilty of some bizarre and egregious speculation. Lemon started in a few days ago and brought up every half baked, hair brained and batshit crazy theory bouncing around the internets:
After CNN anchor Don Lemon "went there" and threw out the possibility of a "supernatural"event causing the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, he spent Monday's show inviting Twitter users to send in all their crazy questions and theories about the missing jet for debate.
Among the possibilities Lemon's panel of experts evaluated: that the plane was "stolen" to use in a later terror attack (deemed possible), that the plane was actually in North Korea (not possible) and that pilots could depressurize the plane to cause passengers to pass out (possible).
One Twitter user even asked why CNN anchor Richard Quest filmed a recent story with Malaysia Airlines. Quest said he did fly with the co-pilot of the missing jet -- but ruling out a CNN conspiracy, he said the encounter was "pure coincidence and luck."
Can you imagine Bernie Shaw, Bob Franken, Judy Woodrfuff or Frank Sesno asking folks on twitter for "ideas" about a story such as this? Me neither. Here's the deal: I like the tweeter tube but it's hardly the place to ask for ideas or theories about a tragedy like this. I only hope that relatives of the people on that flight haven't been watching this idiot's show as he speculates wildly about supernatural causes. I keep waiting for Lemon or one of his equally dim colleagues to suggest that Bigfoot hijacked the plane and flew it to the Pacific Northwest to rendezvous with DB Cooper.
We already know that CNN anchor Don Lemon leaves no "preposterous" conspiracy theory unexamined.
But when Lemon Twitter-sourced questions about the missing Malaysian Airlines plane again on Wednesday night he went another step beyond Sunday's "supernatural" event theory: he and his panel discussed the possibility of a "black hole" swallowing the jetliner.
He read out tweets that compared the mystery to "Lost" and "The Twilight Zone" before asking Mary Schiavo, a former U.S. Department of Transportation inspector general, to weigh in on the black hole theory.
"That's what people are saying," Lemon said. "I know it's preposterous — but is it preposterous you think, Mary?"
"Well, it is. A small black hole would suck in our entire universe so we know it's not that," Schiavo said. "The Bermuda Triangle is often weather. And 'Lost' is a TV show. So I think -- I always like things for which there's data history, crunch the numbers. So for me those aren't there."
"But I think it's wonderful that the whole world is trying to help with their theories and I absolutely love their theories," she added.
Australian officials said early Thursday that two large objects which may be debris from the plane were spotted a four-hour flight away from that country's southwestern coast, so perhaps Lemon and his panelists will have some more concrete evidence to pore over on Thursday night's show.
I'd like to thank TPM's Catherine Thompson for watching this maroon so the rest of us don't have to. Her stories have video embeds if you want to watch Lemon make shit up on live teevee. I wonder if Lemon is angling to host some supernatural, cum Bigfoot show if this whole news thing doesn't work out for him. It seems to me that he should send his resume to SyFy or A&E just in case his anchoring career craters, and he needs a gig that will properly deploy his meager "talents."
Every time CNN tries to reinvent/reboot themselves it doesn't go very well. So, I'm not sure if they'll ever get back to where they once belonged. I know one thing for sure; anchors like Don Lemon are part of the problem, not the solution. CNN needs to institute a No Lemon rule and either rein him in or show him the door before he becomes an even bigger laughing stock.
Bernie Shaw and Ted Turner weep. And that is why Don Lemon is malaka of the week.
UPDATE: Being offline for 24 hours meant I missed Athenae's Lemonic post that quoted the RudePundit. Woe is me, bop.
Administrators in the Fond du Lac, Wis. school district this week implemented a policy that guarantees them the right to review all content of school media prior to publication. Any article that the administrators deem “poorly written, inadequately researched, false, defamatory or libelous, vulgar or profane, unsuitable for immature audiences, or biased or prejudiced” will be yanked from the publication or otherwise censored.
The root of this heavy-handed approach to student media? An article written by the Cardinal Columns editor in chief, in which she points out that a lot of people in her school have made and heard rape jokes and that the rape victims in her school don’t find them funny. Senior Tanvi Kumar uses a well-executed survey of her peers to show how people have no problem talking about rape like it’s the funniest thing out there. In addition, she interviews several rape victims about their experiences and victimization.
The piece is better than most coverage I’ve seen in college papers and even some pro publications. It's also interesting that no one is accusing the publication of being libelous or anything else listed above. Instead, couched deeper in this policy is a "we can do what we want if we want to" clause.
The school’s response is one that should make almost everyone cringe. Let’s skip past the whole “First Amendment is still a thing” issue and cut to the specificity of this incident.
The student PUBLICATION is being punished for pointing out that RAPE IS REAL and it SUCKS WHEN IT HAPPENS TO HIGH SCHOOL KIDS.
After I read the article, I had a conversation with another parent in my kid's class about it and the reaction from the parent was, “Well, when your kid gets to high school, would you want her reading about this?”
My answer was pretty simple: That’s not even close to the point. The kid pointed out something real and scary and my hope as a parent is that the school would DO SOMETHING at the school about the issue of rape. Administrators could open more dialogue, look for ways to reinforce the issue that this isn’t OK and joking about it is not cool. That’s what I’d want to happen. Even more, I would hope that my kid would read about it and we could talk about what to do in situations where she felt pressure and what was not acceptable behavior. Information breeds dialogue, which in turn creates opportunities to prevent scary things like this.
Administrators don’t like dialogue for the most part and use a horrible SCOTUS decision in an ass-backward fashion to suppress student speech.
In 1988 the Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier case determined that administrators may inhibit the publication of some content if they believe it has the ability to inhibit education within the school. In other words, if you create an article that can grind the school to a halt, administrators have the right to censor it.
Subsequent decisions at lower courts have tried to refine this, and explain that the bar for this is really pretty high. Still, administrators treat this decision like it came from God and endows them with the power of the Avengers: I CAN HAZ MY CENZORS!
The administration’s reaction in this case is probably the worst one possible:
[Superintendent James Sebert] points to aspects of “The Rape Joke” article — which includes some graphic description of the types of rape a student endured, a letter from the editors called “The Punchline,” and a Pledge of Allegiance editorial that instructs students on their rights to not stand during the Pledge as questionable material for a school publication. Sebert said he and Wiltzius met with Matthew Smith, the print journalism teacher at the high school and adviser to the magazine’s staff, to discuss the issues.
“Cardinal Columns is created as part of the print journalism class at Fond du Lac High School,” Sebert wrote. “District resources are utilized and the publication represents the school and the district. The guidelines created will ensure this publication as well as any school-sponsored publications are reviewed by the principal prior to print and publication. This is a reasonable expectation for a school-sponsored publication.”
So, the superintendent didn’t like the really icky description of rape that the students used because, y’know, it might be uncomfortable for people to hear. The lesson here? Remember, kids, when discussing rape, make sure to use language that accentuates the positivity of the issue and that you don’t make people feel uncomfortable about it. It was also horrible that they pointed out that students still have Constitutional rights and that the students came out against rape culture.
No wonder we need to censor them.
The principal, however, said students don’t really need to worry about this because he’s a cool guy:
High School principal Jon Wiltzius says,"If an article would come to me with a topic that does not meet the expectations or guidelines then yes I will have to deny that."
But Principal Wiltzius says that doesn't mean the story is dead. Instead he says he will work with the journalism students and their teacher to come up with what he deems is an acceptable way to present a topic.
Says Wiltzius, "As we work through that process now of identifying what's appropriate, what's not based on those guidelines I think that's where the communication has to occur as well."
I’m sure there are a number of hyperbolic comparatives we could make here about a leader taking away the rights of others, only to tell them not to worry because he will assure them that he’s acting in their best interest. However, to make any of them would distract from the importance of the message here: I’m censoring you and I have the final say about this, but don’t worry about it because I promise you I’ll be nice about it.
This kind of thing can’t be allowed to stand. The students have created a petition, requesting that the superintendent reverse the policy and restore the rights of the school publications.
I ask that you sign it, but you don’t have to if you don’t want to. Unlike the Fond du Lac administrators, I’m not presuming that I know better than you or that I can force you to bend to my will because I want you to.
Occasionally, I’ll read a story like this one, where a woman was removed from a flight for singing “I Will Always Love You” at the top of her lungs for three hours. Or one like this, where a guy was apparently throwing “gang signs for Jesus” on an aircraft. I often wonder what the hell is wrong with these people.
Now, I have figured it out.
When an extremely rigid set of rules are combined with massive quantities of ineptitude and arrogance, it is possible to feel completely justified in taking a shit in the middle of an airport and flinging it in the general direction of the counter help.
I took a trip to San Diego last week to participate in a student media convention. The group that was bringing me out there had booked my travel and had set me up at the hotel. It was a good gig and a chance to meet with other advisers and kids who seemed to benefit from time away from their newsrooms, working with others of their ilk to improve their publications.
The flight was a split flight, so I took Frontier to California and a U.S. Air/American Air jet home. The flight home was to leave at 4:30 and head to Phoenix, where I’d have an hour to change planes and head to Milwaukee with an 11:57 p.m. arrival. Not ideal, as I had a two-hour ride home and an 8 a.m. to teach the next day, but passable. I’ve done worse.
I got to the airport with three hours to spare. I checked in with the U.S. Air terminal. There was nobody around except a women’s sports team from Ole Miss and one other lady who was checking in. Crowding or time crunches weren’t even a consideration. Keep that in mind.
The lady checking me in was quite nice, but having trouble with her printer. After trying a few computer terminals, she said she managed to “force print” my boarding passes and check my luggage through to Milwaukee. I looked at the passes and there was nothing unusual about them. Had my flights, my seats and my gates. Standard stuff.
Still, for some reason I asked, “Is there anything else I have to do before the flight?”
“No,” she said. “You’re fine. Have a great trip.”
I got through security with no problem and found a seat at the gate. Everything was normal until I tried to get on the plane.
As they called our “zones” (We apparently can’t be trusted to board by rows any more. Now we’re in “groups” or “zones” for some reason.), I looked for my zone and found that I was in the very last one. For once in my extremely impatient life, I decided “the dude abides,” so instead of pushing and cramming my way to the front, I hung back and waited until it was relatively empty. After all, I have a seat. There’s no reason to be a dick.
When the lady scanned my boarding pass, she handed it back and I was two steps away when she said, “Oooh… Wait a minute. We just need to fix a little thing. Please step over to the counter.”
Thus I met The Officious Prick Named Gary.
Gary was in his early 50s and bore a striking resemblance in stature, attitude and behavior to Tim Gunn from Project Runway, especially after Tim is shown a “halter-dress diaper.” His nametag noted that he was a “supervisor,” which is apparently U.S. Air parlance for “I’ve outlasted people who wanted a better life.”
Gary took one look at me and gave me the “up and down” glance before looking at my tickets and sneering, “These are not valid.”
I wondered if a lifetime spent huffing jet exhaust had allowed him to develop a strange sense of humor. “Excuse me?”
“These are for Frontier. You can’t board our plane.”
I looked at the boarding passes again, wondering if the lack of sleep or sheer terror had me misreading something. Nope. The passes said the right airline, the right flight and even had a seat number.
“It says right there that these are for your plane, including the flight number.”
“Well,” he said with a dismissive wave. “These need your original hardcopy tickets from Frontier.”
“They were e-tickets,” I protested, handing over my phone, with the email outlining my trip including the “Please check in with U.S. Air” line highlighted. I also was wondering how the hell they managed to check my bags onto this flight if I didn’t have a ticket. For all the shit they tell you about “Don’t take a package from a stranger,” the airline would have seemed to done just that, if The Officious Prick Named Gary were correct.
By this point, everyone was on the plane, sans a few stragglers who were busting ass to our terminal from a late connection. Gary was placing these people on the airline while his underling took pity on me and was trying to figure out what the hell went wrong.
“I have got to get on this plane,” I pleaded with the both of them. “I have to teach in the morning.”
Gary looked at me the way a mean child with a magnifying glass looks at an ant. He strode slowly and yet purposefully to the jet-way door and closed it smoothly. He then looked at me and said, “This isn’t our fault.”
It was at that point that fear turned to anger, that panic turned to horror and that “We’re all people” turned to “gang signs for Jesus.’”
“Well, it sure as hell isn’t my fault,” I said through gritted teeth.
The woman was still on two phones trying to figure out what had happened. Gary stood there, winding up some baggage claim stickers. The plane pushed away from the gate.
I have yet to experience a sicker feeling than standing there, watching a flight I had tickets for leave, as I could do absolutely nothing about it.
At this point, Gary walked away.
The lady at the terminal was still banging away, trying to figure out how it was I managed to get through the entire security network without an actual ticket. The guy at the TSA even checked me through the “Does Not Need to Take His Laptop Out or Belt Off” line without a blink.
Suddenly she hit pay dirt. The lady at the ticketing counter had failed to notice how the tickets were set up. All she would have had to do was print the extra tickets, staple them to my boarding passes and I would have been on my way to Phoenix. The tickets were paid up, everything was fine, but she had “forced” the pass print, thus giving me only the boarding passes.
Everything was OK.
Y’know… Except for the whole “The Plane You Need Is Gone” thing.
Now it was about 4:45. All of the major flights were gone. The woman was working through about a dozen iterations, including a two-stopper that would land me in Chicago at about 3 a.m. and allow me to rent a car and drive in. In desperation, I agreed. Turns out, that wasn’t going to work, either.
The only way to get me home was to flying me on an overnight flight to Charlotte, N.C. that left at 10:35 p.m. local time. I would then catch an 8:45 connection to Milwaukee and land around 10:30 a.m.
Having no actual option, I took it.
As the lady printed out my tickets, she told me, “You are so lucky this happened to you here instead of in Phoenix. They wouldn’t have been as nice.”
Yeah. That’s me. Luckiest fucking kid on my block.
As she handed me my tickets, I had to ask her, “Look, I know you’re telling me I’m getting on a plane in six hours, but how do I know that for sure? I was supposed to be in Phoenix by now according to what your airline told me earlier.”
She looked at me with an understanding nod, “I will be working the gate over there tonight. You will be getting on the plane.”
Unlike the other airlines that have stranded me, I got no food vouchers. I spent my time editing book chapters and wandering around. I also emailed my first two classes and told them to skip class the next day. I wasn’t going to be there. I still had to make it home for academic advising by 12:45 and a 2 p.m. class that was all test prep. I promised those kids I’d make it in time for their needs.
During all of this, I got a sobbing phone call from The Midget, who was inconsolable.
“You’re never coming home!” she wailed. I almost had to agree.
At 10 p.m., we began boarding. The flight was one of two left in the terminal at that hour and the people waiting had that, “I have been fucked with to the nth degree” look on their faces. The lady who had printed my tickets was around, but she was working with another gate. The person checking tickets had the look of “mid-40s overlord with way too much makeup and perfume” going on.
After she boarded the Super Gold Deluxe Special Carpet members and the Super Extra Frequent Flyer Program members and the Extra Special Doubly Special Special Flyer members, she called Zone 1. I was at the front of the line. I’m getting on this plane.
The lady scanned me, handed back my pass and let me go. I was halfway down the jet way when I heard her calling out a mangled version of my last name.
I turned around as she leaned in the doorway of the jet way.
“We need you to come back.”
“I’m not getting off this plane,” I told her not moving an inch and feeling every muscle fiber in my body tense.
She beckoned me with the finger wave usually reserved for grade school children being called to the front of the room.
“Sir, we just need you to step back here.”
It was at that very instant that I felt the branch I was clinging to start to crack. It was like the old “Incredible Hulk” TV series, when David Banner’s eyes got that pure white color. I held the fort for just one more sentence.
“If you are taking me off this plane, you need to call security.”
The look on her face changed. It was like she realized she was about to deal with a wounded animal.
“I won’t take you off the flight. You’re getting on this flight. I need to have the ticket that’s stapled to your boarding pass.”
“OK. Come and take it.”
She walked purposefully and yet tentatively toward my position, took the ticket and returned to the gate. I was on the plane.
The flight was about 112 hours of me not sleeping, for fear of what might happen next. An optimist would say, “Hey, you’re almost there.” An airline traveler in my shoes would say, “Until my ass is in my recliner back home, I’m nowhere.”
The flight landed with plenty of time to make the connection. The people in Charlotte started lining up early and everything was there: the pilots, the crew, the plane and the staff. Life looked good until about 15 minutes before the flight was getting ready to leave.
A woman and a man who were both in wheelchairs arrived and took advantage of the preboard. No complaint at all on my end. The only problem is we were boarding from the tarmac, not a jet way, and the woman, while telling the airline that she was in a chair failed to inform the good folks at U.S. Air that she was immobile. While her traveling companion could get out of his chair and ride in a smaller chair (or as he did, hop up the steps), she was unable to be moved.
The crew then tried to use something called an LPD or something that put her up the stairs. As she was well over 300 pounds, this thing didn’t work. As I was unable to see from my position in line, I relied on the views of others, one of whom noted that they were apparently bringing “a crane” over to lift her into the plane.
I was furious and doing my best not to direct it at anyone, especially this lady. I’m sure she wasn’t happy that 100 people thought she shouldn’t be on the plane (actual conversation going on behind me) or that people were now late because of her. I’m sure if she had her druthers, she’d be able to run the bases at a church softball game as opposed to having complete strangers view her as a giant, doughy third base.
The lady running the gate appeared exasperated as passengers began to gripe.
“You know,” she said. “This is not our fault.”
Hmm… Where have I heard that before?
After about 92 false starts, they finally got her onto the plane.
We were now about an hour behind schedule.
We landed around 10:45 and via my “O.J. Simpson routine” (in that I mean like him running through the airport quickly, not killing people who pissed him off) I managed to get into my car at exactly 11 a.m. I did the 2 hour drive in 1:40 and walked directly into my office in time for my first appointment.
I was dressed in the same clothes I’d worn for two days, complete with a T-shirt, jeans and a baseball cap. I reeked of recycled airplane air and rage. Still, I did my job, which was more than I could say for U.S. Air.
I told them as much in the complaint I filed, outlining all of this and the general stupidity that led to me writing this post. The response I got was classic:
Don’t worry U.S. Air. I will always love you…
I grew up with the Cold War. Unlike American conservatives, I am not nostalgic for it and hate when they attempt to replicate it as they did during the so-called war on "terror." I should also *not* make a bad pun about such a serious matter but it's Lundi Gras and I'm still in the Carnival bubble. So, sue me.
The Cold War was about the rivalry of two ideologies trying to conquer one another. John Mueller, a professor of political science, famously argued that the Cold War ended as soon as the Soviet Union acknowledged the end of its efforts to spread its ideology. The current conflict, however, is about military and economic power. One of Russia´s most important military bases is located on the Crimean peninsula and the new government in Kiev is likely to annul an existing agreement allowing Russia to base part of its Fleet there. Moscow does not have a real alternative to which it could relocate the affected part of its Black Sea Fleet. None of these considerations point at an ideological conflict that will extend towards other countries or create proxy wars which defined the Cold War.
Secondly, neither Russia, the US nor the EU are capable of, or interested in, initiating a new Cold War. Despite their power rivalries, they are aware that cooperation is necessary to solve some of the most pressing problems. The conflict in Syria, terrorism, climate change, and recent economic and financial crises are just a few examples. The world is not solely dominated by the US and Russia anymore. Actors such as China or India will not show any interest in a war that would threaten their economic output and development, and one that would not constitute any advantage for their developing economies.
The Ukraine, as us old farts call it, was a vital part of the Russian Empire in both its Tsarist and Communist iterations. It was the bread basket of the Empire. It's as if California seceded from the union and was being hostile to US interests. It would have been wiser for folks in Kiev to say that they had no issues with Russian foreign policy but just wanted a freely elected guvmint.
Does this mean that I think the Russian intervention is okay? No, I don't but it's understandable. The situation is MUCH MORE COMPLEX than it is being portrayed in the MSM. Check out this piece by Max Blumenthal about the neo-Nazis and rabid nationalists who were involved in the ouster of Vlad's little friend Yanukovich. Charming, no?
The bottom line is that the US and our allies are wise to proceed with extreme caution. I realize that John McCain is eager to intervene here, there and everywhere but that's one reason he lost the 2008 election. I think we should surround the Crimea with caution tape and not attempt to recreate the Charge of the Light Brigade. It was a disaster, after all.
Back to the bubble.
In April 2010, Michael Best & Friedrich paralegal Kelly Teelin sent Rindfleisch a joke about someone whose dogs supposedly qualified for welfare because they are "mixed in color, unemployed, lazy, can't speak English and have no frigging clue who their Daddys are."
Rindfleisch wrote back: "That is hilarious. And so true."
In another email, sent in July 2010, Thomas Nardelli, chief of staff for Walker at Milwaukee County, forwarded Rindfleisch and undisclosed others a joke about someone who has a "nightmare" about turning into a black, Jewish, disabled gay man. "Oh God, please don't tell me I'm a Democrat," the email concludes.
Media folks have just started poring over the massive throng of emails released this week that make Scott Walker look exactly like the guy most of us thought he was. Like Nixon, Walker’s attempt to throw underlings under the bus when a scandal emerged worked for a short period of time. Also like Nixon, eventually there was enough of a paper trail to tie him directly to the scandal.
In the case of Walker, he had always denied knowing anything about a secret email system set up at the county exec’s office that allowed his staff to do campaign work on county time in an undetected manner. Emails this week revealed he was not only aware of this, but that he was actively linked into what some staffers called the email “inner circle.”
A few other emails, including one to conservative blowhard/talk-show host Charlie Sykes encouraging cooperation between Walker’s office and Sykes, were interesting and possibly damaging to anyone other than Scott Walker. After all, this guy is slicker that buttered snot and he has that “headless chicken” thing going for him: Even after you kill it, it’s too stupid to know it’s dead, so it keeps walking around like an idiot.
The stuff that has drawn the most ire is stuff that matters the least. Emails reveal that Walker’s people hated political noob/former TV anchor/dead ringer for Barbie’s friend Skipper Rebecca Kleefisch. Emails contained general bitching about cats. Emails contained (gasp!) racist jokes that a) took too long to get to the punch line and b) were written in giant blue letters so that the elderly who still believe these stereotypes can read them with their failing eyes.
The sad part? None of this matters in terms of an election within the state. Sure, it might cost Walker a shot at the 2016 White House, but did anyone think we’d put an idiot governor with a penchant for bad ideas into a position of absolute power? Uh… Scratch that…
Still, in the state of Wisconsin, there are people who will “Stand with Scott Walker” until their legs atrophy or the lift system on their Lark 7 scooters give out. It’s not like there were a lot of people who were kind of on the fence about this guy and figured, “If only I knew for sure if he was in on this email thing, maybe I would vote against him…” Either you like him or you hate him and all this piling on won’t do anything but inflame both sides like a hemorrhoid treated with jalapeno juice.
Those who like him will continue to think that all that matters is this series of jobs he has created, even though they can’t actually see the jobs or tie any that exist to Walker.
Those who hate him will have a deeper hatred for him, not because there is more evidence that he’s a liar/douche/idiot/whatever, but because those people “standing” with him will continue to stand there and let him keep screwing up the state.
In the aftermath of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman’s untimely death from an alleged heroin overdose, Daly again indulged an unfortunate tendency to attribute motives, and pass judgments, in the absence of solid evidence—and the Daily Beast again gave him a broad platform on which to do it.
In this case, he wrote a piece on Tuesday alleging Hoffman wouldn’t be an addict if he just more took joy in fatherhood. “Why was he in such abject need of a shoddy, solitary and dangerous chemical high when he knew the pure joy that comes with just being with your kids?” reads the lede. Then the piece proceeds to quote Daly’s sondaughter—yes, his own daughter—on what a good father Hoffman “seemed like” at a public event. From there to the end conclusion that “[w]hatever kick Hoffman got from the envelopes of heroin was just a lie compared to the joy that he, as well as his kids, could’ve shared in the snow on Monday,” the piece shows an appalling lack of understanding of how addiction works, and a lack of empathy for a man who was, by all accounts, always kind and fair to reporters.
I don't care if he set reporters on FIRE, it would still not be okay to say that Hoffman should have gotten high on parenthood. Not only is that not how addiction works, that's not how anything works. Waving a rattle in front of a baby distracts the baby from crying; waving a baby in front of someone who's so far down that he's injecting poison into himself is not likely to be a similarly adequate diversion.
Kids not being diversions, or solutions, or fucking fashion accessories. Kids being people, with their own stuff to do. It is not their job to deal with your problems or make your life better or get you off heroin by the joy of their existing, Jesus Marie.
So spare us this "but he had KIDS" nonsense. Of course that's shitty. People shouldn't shoot up if they have kids. People shouldn't shoot up if they have PETS. People shouldn't shoot up if their only friend is the 700 Club. I don't think anybody's running around saying heroin is fine as long as the only life you're fucking up is your own. I think most people who are not this story's author just recognize that should and shouldn't don't have much to do with it at all.
This month, the semi-biopic “42” is in heavy rotation on HBO, giving people a chance to see the tempest surrounding Jackie Robinson’s integration of major league baseball. A number of things have been “storified” in order to keep the drama of a film and the legend of Robinson. Still, a number of things were spot-on in terms of events and incidents.
Opposing pitchers did throw at Robinson’s head in the pre-headgear days of baseball, and did so with murderous intent. The hate mail did stack up with such regularity that Rickey dedicated several file folders in his office to keeping it all for law-enforcement officials. Robinson was spiked covering first on more than one occasion, and it was always clear that this was no accident.
Even the petition that circulated among the Dodgers themselves was accurate, with Dixie “The People’s Choice” Walker leading the drive. One thing I wish they had added to the movie was the team photo from that year. Walker, in protest to Robinson’s presence, looked away from the camera.
The movie gave an honest and yet painful portrayal of racist Phillies manager Ben Chapman, who rode Robinson mercilessly. Alan Tudyk was damned convincing as the “n-bomb” dropping redneck asshole, to the point that it was hard watching “Dodgeball” later that night and seeing him as Steve the Pirate.
Harrison Ford and Christopher Meloni were great as the Branch Rickey/Leo Durocher pairing. Although Durocher was bounced out of baseball for a year for having an affair, he was instrumental in the early days of getting the guys to understand the reality of Robinson’s presence. Rickey was the glue guy who kept it all together as he implored Robinson to stand tall.
I thought about all of this when my Mizzou friends practically set my Twitter feed on fire, scrambling to congratulate Michael Sam, a 6-foot-2, 256-pound defensive end for our beloved Tigers.
And a football player.
And it’s pretty likely he’s going to be playing in the NFL next year.
Teammates had known for a while and so had many other folks around the city of Columbia. Media reports noted Sam has been an incredible teammate, a great guy and very comfortable in his own skin. A NYT article notes that he frequented local gay bars, talked to teammates about his relationship problems and even told the whole team at the front of the season. Still, nothing leaked and no one outed him.
On the field, he was the SEC’s defensive player of the year, leading the Tigers in sacks. One teammate noted this guy has a “motor that never stops,” which is probably one of the most positive statements people tend to make about players these days.
Comparing Mizzou’s #52 to Brooklyn’s #42 may seem obvious to some and a stretch to others. Perhaps only time will tell as to Sam’s impact while Robinson’s impact is indelible. Still, it is important to understand the reality of both men and what they mean for organized sports
In the case of both men, who they are sits on display for everyone. Historians have often argued if Robinson was truly the first person of color in the game, but whether he was or wasn’t is beside the point. Just like Sam, Robinson’s perceived trait of accursedness is out front and center for all to see. Other players of color might have played as they “passed” for white and other gay men have played football while “closeted” during their careers. However, in the case of Robinson and Sam, hiding wasn’t an option.
In terms of environmental factors, neither man could view his path as easy. The virulent racism outlined in “42” wasn’t a rarity. Sure, not everyone who lived from 1947 to 1956 was racist, but segregation was still the law of the land for much of that time. Until 1954, the Supreme Court was fine with “Separate but Equal,” even though the country seemed to focus more on the “separate” part and less on the “equal.” Even though Robinson wasn’t universally reviled by white America, it wasn’t easy to find a ton of whites lining up to be part of his fan club.
As for Sam, things don’t look any better for gay athletes now than they did for black athletes back then. The Richie Incognito/Jonathan Martin flap has led to the release of more than 1,000 texts between the two former teammates. In the texts, Incognito uses “fag,” “faggot,” “gay” and other slurs throughout his texts, including one in which he tells Martin, “That’s the gayest shit I’ve ever heard. U really are a faggot.”
Even though Incognito’s writings make “Django Unchained” look like “Good Night, Moon,” it’s not just about this one guy. A lot of players have noted that they wouldn’t want a gay teammate and that they frequently question the manhood of others (translation: you’re a woman, a pussy, a weakling, a faggot and all of those insults are basically interchangeable).
Giants cornerback Terrell Thomas has said that the NFL might not be ready for an openly gay player, a massaged and politically correct way of saying, “Keep that (fill in the blank of whatever makes you uncomfortable) away from me and my league.” Last year around this time 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver (what is with these guys in the defensive backfield?) said that although he didn’t have any gay teammates, if he did they ”gotta get up out of here.” He also noted that he “can’t be with that sweet stuff… in the locker room.”
They said it about the black player and now they’re saying it about the gay player.
I don’t know if the support systems are better now than they were. Blacks cheered for Robinson and I know a lot of people (gay and straight) who are cheering for Sam. At least, there’s not a “homos only” entrance on the stadium as there was for the “colored” fans. I do imagine the league is more attuned to keeping an eye on things than it once was. When Chapman uttered his hateful bile, he wasn’t alone and he wasn’t punished swiftly. When the texts in the Incognito thing came out, the league cracked down. Even Culliver got cowed into backtracking from his “sweet stuff” comments.
Perhaps the only parallel I hope that will matter is this one: In both the movie and real life, Durocher noted that the guys had better get used to this change in life because Robinson was “first of many to follow.”
I hope that Sam’s courage will lead this to be true in this time as well.
CVS Caremark is kicking the habit of selling tobacco products at its more than 7,600 drugstores nationwide as it focuses more on providing health care.
The nation's second-largest drugstore chain said Wednesday that it will phase out cigarettes, cigars and chewing tobacco by Oct. 1, a move that will cost about $2 billion in annual revenue but won't affect its 2014 earnings forecast. CVS Caremark leaders say removing tobacco will help them grow the company's business of working with doctors, hospitals and other care providers to improve customers' health.
CVS Caremark Corp. and other major drugstore chains have been adding clinics to their stores for several years now. Their pharmacists deliver flu shots and other immunizations, and those clinics also have been expanding the care they deliver. They now help people manage chronic illnesses like high blood pressure and diabetes.
CEO Larry Merlo noted that conditions like those are made worse by smoking.
"We've come to the conclusion that cigarettes have no place in a setting where health care is being delivered," he said.
The company declined to say what will take tobacco's prominent shelf place behind cash registers at the front of its stores. CVS Caremark will test some items and may expand smoking cessation products that are already sold near cigarettes.
CVS Caremark has been working to team up with hospital groups and doctor practices to help deliver and monitor patient care, and the presence of tobacco in its stores has made for some awkward conversations, CVS Chief Medical Officer Dr. Troyen A. Brennan said.
"One of the first questions they ask us is, 'Well, if you're going to be part of the health care system, how can you continue to sell tobacco products?'" he said. "There's really no good answer to that at all."
Even if it was done for business reasons, this still sends a powerful signal about the extreme dangers of nicotine and tobacco products.
Here's the deal: I smoked for many years and quit many times before quitting for good in the late 1980's. I was never a heavy smoker or a hardcore nicotine junkie, but I'm glad I no longer smell like an ashtray. That's one reason I rarely go to bars any more because the second hand smoke bugs the hell out of me, and Dr. A is allergic to it. That's another reason the UK rocks: smoke free pubs
Am I for prohibition? Absolutely not but I'm for taxing the hell out of cigarettes and keeping them as far away from my space as possible. Prohibition never works, especially with a substance as addictive as nicotine.
I gotta give CVS props for making this move since it's a 2 billion dollar hit. I suspect they'll make up for in customer good will. The docs are gonna love them.
It seems as though we’re constantly writing about kids are getting bullied, battered and otherwise belittled at school. When it’s kid-on-kid crap, it’s not excusable, but it is more understandable, as the students try to press through the Darwinian hellhole known as the social graces of our educational system.
When adults decide it’s time to shit on the kids, that’s when we all really have lost. Enter, Uintah Elementary school in Salt Lake City, where approximately 40 children had their lunches seized by school workers and thrown out in front of everyone.
The crime? They apparently had outstanding balances on their school lunch accounts.
According to news reports, the district’s CHILD-NUTRITION DEPARTMENT (pause there… savor the irony) sent a CHILD-NUTRITION MANAGER (pause again… let it soak right in…) to the school after officials became aware that a number of students owed money on their accounts. The manager, who for some reason is unnamed in the newspaper account, decided to withhold lunches from these kids. (Personally, I think that if the manager was so sure he/she was right about this approach, that person should be out front and be named. Let's see how that person deals with the "humiliation" of having been called out for being an asshole.)
Unfortunately for her, these pita predators had already been served. This left only two solutions:
1) Let the kids eat this lunch, send a note home explaining that tomorrow or the next day lunch will be withheld if the parents don’t make good on their debts
2) Snatch the lunches back from the kids and throw them out, as food that has been served to one student can’t be served to another.
Throwing out the food makes no sense. It’s already out there and the monetary loss has been created, so you can’t get it back. The kids don’t have the money to pony up, so even the threat of this isn’t going to get you any cash. All that’s going to happen is you’re going to point out to everyone in the lunch room that these kids are either poor or allegedly have shitty parents who don’t pay their bills.
Of course, this was the option that district workers took, much to the shock and horror of parents at the school. The school initially didn’t apologize. Instead, district spokesman Jason Olsen said, “If students were humiliated and upset, that’s very unfortunate…”
IF? IF? The hell do you mean “IF?”
What else do you think they were? Proud that they could use this incident in their memoirs or as part of a country song they were developing? Happy because the food the school serves is shitty to begin with?
If Olsen were sitting down to eat with his family and friends at a nice restaurant and suddenly the waitstaff showed up, grabbed back the food and said, “Sorry, but we just ran a credit check and you’re too poor to eat here,” how the hell would he feel?
Then imagine that instead of politely eating their food, patrons at the tables around him pointed at him and laughed. Or chanted “You’re too poor! You’re tooo pooooorrr!” What would he feel like then?
Outraged? Incensed? Mortified?
Take those feelings and multiply them by a factor of ten, and you have the vaguest inkling of what the kids felt. Kids are unsure of themselves. The fear of being ostracized and singled out as different can cripple them. The notion that they have been failed by their parents, mocked in the lunch room and then told “Sorry, but hey…” by the district is a vile and disgusting outcome in a situation that didn’t need to be this way.
In the end, the most humane gesture out of this disaster was that one person was so upset, she went home and made lunches for all the children who had theirs taken.
Of course, that person was 11 years old.
One of the biggest complaints my mother has these days about her eighth-graders is that they don’t know how to look stuff up.
“They put two words into Google and figure if it doesn’t tell them something, the thing can’t exist,” she groused last weekend when we were trading “top this” teaching stories.
I’m wondering how many of her kids are working for Scott Walker…
Gov. Dead Eyes got in trouble (again) for failing to properly vet someone (again) before making a big public display (again).
In his State of the State speech, Walker lauded Christopher Barber as an example of what’s going right with his jobs policies. Barber was unemployed but landed a job at a Brillion welding company on a seasonal basis. He eventually got a full-time job and served as a beacon of the old “welfare to work” model, complete with a nice set of bootstraps by which he pulled himself up.
The problem? Barber’s employment issues likely had something to do with his status as a registered sex offender. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported that he has two felonies and three drunk-driving offenses to boot.
A Walker spokesman noted that the administration wouldn’t have invited Barber if it had been aware of his checkered past.
It’s mindboggling that the folks in Walkerland weren’t “aware” of this guy, given that it’s not that hard to find this kind of information. Hell, Dan Bice (a hell of a journalist, don’t get me wrong) managed to find it and report it within a DAY of the speech. There are also things like CCAP and sex-offenders registry in this state, two pretty easy databases to search. It’s not like you’re trying to get documents from a Russian safe house during the Cold War.
This isn’t the first time Walker fell on his keys in terms of vetting people. In 2011, he planned to sign the state budget at Badger Sheet Metal Works near Green Bay.
“Green Bay, and certainly the company that we’re going to, reflects really what this budget and what Governor Walker’s first term here is all about,” Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch said in a Journal-Sentinel report at the time.
Turns out, the CEO of the company, Gregory DeCaster was convicted of eight counts of income tax evasion in the 1990s. Shortly after Bice got ahold of the administration for a comment, the signing was moved to Fox Valley Metal-Tech.
Spokeman Cullen Werwie said of the incident, “It was something we wish we would have known on the front end.”
Crime records are public documents. Anyone with an interest can take a peek at these things. They’re also digital at this point, so it wasn’t like you had to send an intern down into the bowels of a precinct somewhere to breathe in enough dust to contract black lung disease in order to figure this out.
I can forgive Walker for the Taylor Palmisano incident, because I can’t imagine it is realistic to search through the Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and Google+ accounts of every single person attached to your staff for any rants that might offend people.
However, if journalists can find this stuff in less than a day in an era where budget cuts, staff “culling” and other fatal blows have been struck against their organizations, why can’t you find this stuff out with a staff that is large enough to invade a Third-World country?
Instead of cutting higher education, perhaps the Walker folks should sign up for some courses in reporting at the local JC or UW branch. It might help save them from some more embarrassing situations as they launch their 2016 presidential campaign.
The best known line of the movie adaptation of All The President's Men is, "follow the money." Deep Throat said it in the film but it's not in the book. It's classic Reel History. I do believe, however, that Mark Felt wore a felt fedora on occasion...
Okay, I'm wildly off track, which happens to me every time I contemplate Tricky Dick, Watergate, and the mysteries of Bob Woodward's accent. Anyway, MSNBC's Steve Kornacki has been all over the GW Bridge Too Far story and he knows his stuff. He covered Jersey politics for years and knows the difference between a political boss and The Boss. Steve has added another highly plausible theory to the Fat Fuck file, it's about a billion dollar development project in Fort Lee right near the GWB:
This sordid tale of greedy contractors, scared politicians, payback and retribution made me, of course, think of the Newark Galleria plot line in The Sopranos. The good news for folks in Fort Lee is that Johnny Sack and Ralph Ciffaretto won't be able to wet their fictional beaks on this project. The parallels to my all-time favorite teevee show is one reason why I'm so fascinated by Gov Fat Fuck's potential implosion, but it also has something to do with living in the Gret Stet of Louisiana for over 30 years. Another MSNC host,Chris Hayes, had a "tournament of corruption" between Lousiana, Jersey, Illinois, and Flordia. It was declared a tie by the host:
There's a lot of competition for the corruption crown, which is why, when there's a scandal, don't append a gate to it, instead follow the money. Me, I'd skip meeting Hal Holbrook in a parking garage, they're inherently creepy. Just ask Dr. Melfi.
Welcome to the "compare/contrast" portion of the program. Here's a video in which a child is cursing at adults and being egged on by said adults:
And here's another one...
The first one had people howling with laughter about Will Ferrell's comic genius. The second had the Omaha Police Department showcasing it as an example of a "cycle of violence and thuggery."
The mother of the child noted she wasn't in the room when this video was made and that it was the friends of her brother who had instigated this exchange with the child. She also said her son is well cared for and does not enact this kind of behavior of his own volition. That said, the mom noted that "every kid" curses like this child did, so hey...
This is a case where it's easier to find who's wrong than who's right. The cops were wrong for pumping that video out there. It showed no illegal activity and highlighting a 2-year-old kid for no other reason than to poke at people makes little sense. It's stupid and even if they didn't intend a "racial component" to it, well, too damned bad. It's right there.
The mom was wrong for her defense. "Everyone does it" is a horseshit argument no matter where you go. (If you want to be particularly biting and cruel, I suppose you could argue the "everyone does it" defense is probably how she ended up with a toddler at the age of 16.) Not sure if you can blame her for the high level of stupid associated with her brother's friends, but if you're not sure how decent people are, you tend to keep them away from your kids.
The idiots who were prompting the kid were wrong. Really? This is a good idea? Rub the three brain cells left in your head together and see if trying to rile a toddler with as many n-bombs as possible sounds smart to you. If this is your idea of a good time, find a new hobby.
Take all of that out of the equasion, however, and you're left with two videos of adults using cursing toddlers (who were provoked to say things they couldn't possibly understand) to amuse themselves and others.
It's not the first time adults provoked children to enact crappy behavior. My dad used to encourage me to punch my uncle "in the yikes." Thus, when my uncle came out of his bedroom while getting ready for a date, I ran up and clocked him a good one in the nuts. All the adults laughed. Except my uncle, who tried to kill me before I ran behind my dad. This happened a few more times before dad figured out this wasn't a keen idea. I'm quite certain that this would have been on YouTube had it been around then. Would the State Patrol be posting this as example of family violence? Probably not.
(Also, at the age of 2, I screamed "Son of a bitch! That's what my daddy says" while in an elevator with my parents and a furniture salesman at an upscale shop. My parents never let me forget it. It wasn't a felony, however...)
No one seemed to be crawling up Will Ferrell's ass at the time he put this together. I didn't see CNN talking about how the Hollywood culture of liberalism was ruining America's youth. Hey, Will's a famous comic, so I'm sure it was supposed to be all in good fun... Those Omaha guys? Obviously thugs. And so is that kid. Gotta be, right?
At the end of the day, how people choose to raise kids is their own damned business. The mom clearly wasn't happy about this and I'm with her calling bullshit on this kerfluffle. I don't think I'd be thrilled to have to justify why my kid did X, Y or Z to the rest of the world via CNN. Even more, I'm not sure I like the idea that the cops decided to create a morality play out of a toddler's video.
Perhaps the worst thing, though, is for the people who saw both of these and didn't have equal reactions. What does that say about how they view our culture?
After some initial giddiness on my part, I stopped covering Dennis (The Worm) Rodman's peregrinations to North Korea. Watching Rodman make an ass out of himself is quite entertaining but mocking a stupid, immature manchild for his naivete got a bit old. Today, however, the Worm pitched a fit on teevee with Mario's kid over his latest dipshit "mission" to Commie Crazytown:
Dennis Rodman, former NBA star and recent international provocateur, exploded at a CNN host on Tuesday morning when speaking about his most recent trip to North Korea, implying that an American held prisoner is guilty of whatever crimes the North Korean government says he commited.
Rodman is on his fourth trip to the DPRK since last spring when he developed a surprising friendship with the country’s young leader, Kim Jong Un. Since then, Rodman has sung the praises of Kim in media interviews, while ignoring overtures to speak out about the human rights abuses currently ongoing within the Hermit Kingdom. On Tuesday, CNN host Chris Cuomo asked Rodman and the other former NBA stars assembled whether they would speak to Kim about the imprisonment of American citizen Kenneth Bae. Rodman did not take the question well.
“The one thing about politics, Kenneth Bae did one thing. If you understand — if you understand what Kenneth Bae did,” Rodman started, waving off former New York Knicks player Chris D. Smith who had been serving as spokesman for the group. “Do you understand what he did? In this country?” When Cuomo asked for Rodman to clarify precisely what crime Bae had commit — which the North Korean government has yet to do — Rodman instead chose to speak about the important cultural diplomacy he and his fellows were undertaking.
“I would love to speak on this,” Rodman yelled. “You’ve got ten guys here — ten guys here, that have left their families — left their damn families to help this country as a sports venture. You got all these guys here. Does anyone understand that?”
When Cuomo tried to turn the line of conversation back to Bae, the former Chicago Bull exploded. “I don’t give a [expletive]!” he shouted. “I don’t give a rats ass what the hell you think! I’m saying to you look at these guys! Look at them! They came here!”
The idea that anyone would think that Wormplomacy could be helpful or useful is belied by the fact that Rodman played with Bill Lambeer and Rick Mahorn on the nastiest NBA champions ever, the Detroit Pistons of 1989 and 1990. The Nasty Boys would throw a punch, an elbow, then laugh and brag about it the next day. Those guys didn't give a rat's ass, so why should Rodman now? I understand why the desperate Bae family asked him to intervene but I hope they stop hoping this tattooed narcissist will help.
Back in the red scare days, people referred to so-called fifth columnists and apologists for dictatorships as "useful idiots." (Lenin was the first to use the term but the McCarthyites glommed on to it.) While it's tempting to call Rodman that, he's more of a useless idiot. He has no credibility, doesn't know his ass from a hole in the ground and does this because he misses his PR glory days back in the '90's: the days of drag, Madonna, and marrying a porn star or whatever the hell she was. I still feel some pity for the Worm because of his portrayal by David Halberstam in Playing for Keeps: Michael Jordan and the World He Made. Halberstam depicted Rodman as a guy who was mentally and emotionally fixed at 14 or 15 years old. This clip confirms Halberstam's view of the Worm:
I realize sports retirement can be boring but Dennis Rodman should find something better to do with his time than be a stooge for a dictator who is rumored to have fed his own Uncle to the dogs. Literally. I would hope that he'd rather not hang out with the Mr. Wu of world politics.
The word “improper” always scares me as part of a policy and the new proposal issued by the University of Kansas Board of Regents is no exception to that rule. A few weeks back, the board decided to pass a policy that noted faculty members (including tenured ones) and other employees could be fired for “improper use of social media.” These “improper” tweets and posts can range from inciting violence to putting forth information that “is contrary to the best interest of the university.”
The impetus for this policy was a tweet sent by a tenured journalism professor in the wake of the Navy Yard shootings. David Guth wrote, "#NavyYardShooting The blood is on the hands of the #NRA. Next time, let it be YOUR sons and daughters. Shame on you. May God damn you.” Politicians were calling for Guth’s ouster and others went as far as to suggest that the state legislature smack KU around financially for Guth’s outburst.
In recent days, the regents have noted that they will not kill the policy, but that they are willing to give it another looksee because people had expressed concerns. In other words, “We’re still right and this is still the law of the land, but we’ll listen to you just to prove a point.”
In peeling back the layers of the onion here, several things are at play. First and foremost, Guth’s tweet was stupid and a lot of people have a lot of reasons to be upset about it. Guth’s own views on it kind of boggle the mind a bit, arguing that he “carefully structured the statement to make it conditional” regarding the idea of how the kids of NRA members should be slaughtered in a hail of bullets. Maybe he was right that it was “too much of a nuance for some people,” but I don’t think anyone is going to respond well to “May God damn you,” regardless of the level of nuance.
That said, almost every time I’ve been involved in “making policy” in the wake of something that freaked everyone out, nothing good ever really came of that policy. Usually, the policy fell into the category of a) common sense for everyone except people who were too stupid to understand how policies worked in the first place (e.g. “It is now against company policy to take a crap on the speaker phone during a conference call meeting with our Tokyo office. All defecation is to be done in company restrooms or other more suitable environments.”), b) a violent overreaction to whatever happened that is at least 10 times more draconian than it needs to be and at least 100 times worse than the actual crime (e.g. “Because our publisher’s wife fears reptiles, we are now forbidding all designers from ever running a photo of a snake on the front page. Punishment for this will be to suffer public flogging and then having a body part eaten off by a snake.” ) or c) something with more holes in it than a wheel of Swiss cheese. (“You are now forbidden from doing… um… stuff… Unless you think it’s OK. Carry on.”)
In short, these policies suck.
Even more, the idea behind a university is that free exchange of ideas should be allowed so that people can come to some sort of agreement on what is important and what isn’t. I’m not saying Guth didn’t deserve some form of rebuke, but what I am saying is that 140 characters of “yeesh” shouldn’t create a chilling effect for an entire state’s higher education system. I’m sure the student newspaper, The Daily Kansan, has occasionally written things that are “contrary to the best interests of the university.” If they tweet something promoting an article that notes administrative malfeasance, issues pertaining to racism or other such things, what happens when a professor retweets that? Or what happens when a class discussion begins live and continues on Facebook regarding something along those lines?
Also, who gets to decide what’s “inappropriate?” I might argue that any discussion of politics is inappropriate, but hey… let’s talk about porn! I’m not sure that’s how the folks in Kansas would see it, but I find politics far more disgusting than “Gentlemen Prefer Buffy.” Larger point: it’s arbitrary as hell, regardless of how many specificities they pump into this policy.
The deal with the First Amendment has always been that the government can’t stop you from saying whatever you want before you say it. After you open your mouth, the fallout is what ever it is.
No matter how uncomfortable social media and faculty ideas make them, the regents in Kansas can’t reverse those two pieces.
When I was 4 years old, we moved into the house my parents still occupy, a two-story brick home in a small off-shoot of Milwaukee’s South Side. That winter, heavy snow pounded the area from about late October through the early part of the spring. This included about a foot or more that hit us thanks to the infamous “Blizzard of ’78,” which was crippling Ohio and Michigan that year.
The drifts and piles were so bad that my father liked to remark he only found out we had 6-foot bushes separating us from the neighbors after everything melted in early April.
One of our neighbors was Mrs. Scheffler, a widow in her 80s who had lived in the house for almost her entire adult life. She had a thick German accent that made it hard to converse with her, especially given that I was terrified of her for reasons I still can’t explain.
She drove a late-1960s muscle car (a Chevy Nova, if memory serves) with a bit of reckless abandon that came from a touch of blindness. Her children had placed carpeting along the wooden frame of the garage door, so she wouldn’t scrape the paint off the car when she bounced it from side to side as she parked.
That first winter, however, all I knew about her was that she was our “snow neighbor.”
Dad owned a state-of-the-art Toro snow blower that he used to clear the sidewalks of whatever nature threw at us. During one of his sorties outside, he had seen Mrs. Scheffler trying to push the snow off her steps with a broom that had a warp in it the size of a hairpin curve, so he decided to be a good neighbor. Dad always said once he got out there and the machine was running, he might as well keep going.
He cleared her sidewalk, driveway and the backside of the corner lot. She tried to pay him. He flatly refused. The next day, she presented the family with some sort of sticky cake delicacy, the likes of which I had never seen. Turns out, she was a diabetic, but she loved to cook and bake.
From then on, when the weather got ugly or when the snow got deep, Dad would plow her out and she’d ply us with food. Some sugar-free candy, a loaf of bread or something sweet she just had to make.
Eventually, her children placed her into a nursing home when the car became too dangerous, the stairs became too burdensome and the trials of daily life were too much of a chore. The lady who moved in was “well-to-do” in the parlance of the neighborhood (a polite way to say she felt she was better than the rest of us) and she hired crews of men to shovel her snow. Our snow neighbor was gone.
Still, we had folks who we helped and who helped us from time to time. One year, Dad was away at a convention when about 8 inches or snow hit us on a weekend. (Aside from “wind-chill factor,” the other compound modifier you feared at our house was “lake-effect snow.”) I was about 8 years old and neither Mom nor I could get the Toro running. We struggled with shovels until a neighbor named John, a dour man who would rarely say a kind word to anyone, pushed his snow thrower across the street and did the entire sidewalk for us. He never said a word about it before or after, but I think he knew how grateful we were.
The same was true the year I came home from Missouri to take Mom to the Rose Bowl. We spent the first week or so of 1999 digging out every morning before heading out to help Mom’s mom and Dad’s mom find their own pavement. By about the sixth day, it was so bad at Grandma Syl’s house that we couldn’t pile the snow any higher without it falling back down upon us. Eventually, we had to put the snow into an old wheelbarrow and move it into the backyard.
Back closer to home, the folks who lived across the street were struggling with their own snow. When I was a kid, I was best friends with their son. Now, both he and I had moved away from our folks and they were on their own for snow. The husband had been involved in a workplace accident and the wife was trying to make the snow blower work under his direction. As this kept failing, Dad and I pushed our snow blower across the street. Dad blew the sidewalks and I shoved the porch and steps. We did a couple time that week and each time, it felt really good to help.
When The Missus and I moved to Indiana, we became first-time homeowners and as such, per Wisconsin tradition, we had our own snow blower. It was a hand-me-down from Grandma Syl’s estate, but it still had some good oomph to it.
During that first year, we got hit with what passed for a blizzard in Muncie: 8-10 inches (or a “dusting” in the parlance of my in-laws, who live near the UP).
I can still remember that day because it was so quiet in the neighborhood. Everyone had shovels and they were working diligently to make a small path to the road.
When I fired up the snow blower, the engine’s roar cut through the silence and everyone within earshot stared at me as if I had just invented fire.
I blew out the drive way and then looked next door. A lady named Dorothy who was in her upper 70s stood on her porch with a broom. Her daughter, a woman named Jude who was in her mid-50s, was struggling to clear some space near the front step. Jude was suffering from some sort of bronchial problem, which was being exacerbated by the cold. In addition, she suffered some sort of back injury at work that landed her on disability.
I ramped up the snow blower and cut a path through the street from our house to theirs. I then blew out the snow from the driveway and surrounding area as they looked on in gratitude.
They offered money. I refused. They had become my “snow neighbor.”
Each time it got ugly out there, I’d blow my snow and theirs. When The Midget was born, they repaid us in candy and Christmas presents for her. One year, they snuck a check in the box with a note that told our 1-year-old daughter, “Give this to your Daddy for his snow blower gas.”
To this day, I hate snow. Bing Crosby and whoever else can wax poetic about the glory of a “White Christmas,” but to me snow has the appeal of a giant pile of manure: It’s a ton of shit you have to move.
However, I can say that I loved the days when a giant blizzard would bring the best out of people around me. Dad hated shoveling but he knew Mrs. Scheffler needed the help so he did it and it made him feel good. There were days I finished my driveway and just wanted to go back inside, but I also wanted to surprise Dorothy and Jude with a clean driveway of their own when they came back from church.
You could always argue that people could pay for a service or that they had family or something who should be helping out. However, it was that sense of kinship that came from people who were in the same boat pushing back against the worst nature could offer us at that time. Even more, I have to say there was nothing better than putting some of Dorothy’s homemade apple jelly on a piece of toast once I got back inside to thaw out after a job well done.
It was something we did without complaint, offered without an expectation of recompense and done in hopes of instilling joy in others.
When we moved back to Wisconsin, I went from King of the Jungle to Runt of the Litter in terms of snow-removal devices. Neighbors had ATVs with plows on them, giant Ariens snow throwers and other equipment that looked like it could bulldoze my house. I eventually gamed up and upgraded to a giant orange monstrosity, complete with a three-sided plastic cubby that kept the blowback out of my face.
On Christmas Eve this year, we drove home from Up North late at night. Somewhere north of Appleton, it started snowing. By the time we cleared the city, it was a full-on blizzard that bordered on a whiteout. Three lanes of freeway traffic had been compressed into a row of several cars operating in one set of tire ruts in the middle of the road. No one passed, despite the 45 mph speed we all maintained.
When we got home, we found that on top of this disaster, we had gotten about 5 inches of snow somewhere between when we left and when we returned. By morning, at least 10 inches of white misery coated our driveway, complete with a giant barrier of ice and crud left behind by the city’s street-plowing efforts.
At 2 a.m., it was far too late to go out and deal with this crap. At about 8 a.m., The Midget woke us excitedly noting that Santa had arrived. We opened the presents we had placed under the downstairs tree and enjoyed the cozy camaraderie that comes from seeing people happy with gifts and grateful for family. At 9, I figured it was time to go up and deal with the snow so we could begin our trek to Milwaukee for another family gathering.
As I mounted the steps, I heard a roar getting closer and closer. By the time I reached the landing and looked outside, it was practically deafening.
It was Mary, our neighbor, on a riding snow thrower, cleaning out our driveway.
I went back downstairs with smile and snuggled in for some more family time.
Of all the things I got this year, this was best Christmas present.
Thanks, snow neighbor.
For the past couple weeks, I’ve been more introspective about posts and each time I think, “Man, I should have covered X.” Fortunately for me, Adrastos and A have been on the dime the next day about “affluenza,” the “Duck Dynasty Dumbass” and other fine moments in what happens when the bat decides to shit.
Today, that changes…
If we’ve learned nothing this year, it’s that talking to regular media and playing with social media can be dangerous, especially when you let your guard down and tell people what you really think.
As far as Phil Robertson was concerned, he had to know he was playing with live ammo. It’s not like a rogue “gotcha” journalist showed up and sneak attacked him while he was drunk and muttering at the bar. He’s talking to a reporter from GQ and he comes up with some horrific stereotypes about sinful gays who just have some sort of illness that has them inexplicably craving anus. (And if we really want to get into stereotypes, what in the hell is GQ doing talking to this Duck Dynasty Dimwit? How do those paths cross?)
Malaka? You betcha. Here’s one even better/worse today:
Justine Sacco, a person you probably never heard of, who works for a company you never heard of as the director of PR might never be heard from again after today.
Sacco tweeted from her London stop that she was heading to Africa, before noting: “Hope I don’t get AIDS.”
She’s the HEAD OF PUBLIC RELATIONS for a corporation that oversees a number of online outlets including match.com and the Daily Beast. So you have the public voice of this Internet conglomerate making a horrifically insensitive comment in a way that it can be rapidly shared and criticized by people who don’t think AIDS is a joke. Right now, you’re probably thinking, this can’t get any worse…
“Just kidding,” she added in the tweet. “I’m white!”
Ow. Just. Ow.
Since the “Is we learning yet?” crew has yet to fully grasp how media outlets work and how bipeds manage to survive this cruel world of “political correctness,” allow me to offer a few thoughts:
1) From Gov. PBJ to former Gov. Sarah Palin, there appears to be misunderstanding regarding Robertson’s right to free speech. The First Amendment notes that “Congress shall make no law… abridging the freedom of speech…” The governors (and every other half-wit who reads the Sunday comics with a yellow Hi-Lite pen) have noted that Phil is free to say what he feels in this “free country” of ours. They’re right. Congress hasn’t made a law stopping him from saying anything. However, there are always ramifications for saying whatever you say. Last time I checked, A&E isn’t part of the government. Private companies can do what they want in regard to speech.
2) Despite what you think, you aren’t fucking funny. Moving on…
3) Twitter is a real thing that gets information out to lots and lots of people. It also archives shit. When you find yourself upset by those “illegals” who are making noise on a bus, fearful that a large group of Kenyans will force-feed you an AIDS-riddled zebra burger or enthralled by your coworker’s tits, step away from the keyboard. Chances are, the dumber your thoughts, the more they will be retweeted or found years later. Don’t tweet and drink. Don’t tweet and drive. Don’t tweet and race-bait. It’s a safe bet this will come back to haunt you.
There have been enough media disasters out there in the past few years that have served to reinforce the point that glib or uninformed comments on race, gender, disease, rape and LGBTQ issues never end well for the commenter.
Multiply that by a factor of ten if the person making the comments a) is a straight white guy who doesn’t fully understand how good he has it, b) is a straight white woman who doesn’t fully understand how good she has it, c) is invoking the Bible as some sort of defense of whatever the hell they are saying or d) any combination of a and b with c while factoring in a Twitter account.
I’m wondering if we need to say this to these idiots in some sort of special code that will help fully clarify how goddamned dumb this is.
Then again, we are still having trouble explaining to these folks why they can’t use the “n” word if black people are allowed to say it.
Fox host Megyn Kelly doesn't know a lot but what she knows she knows. You know what I'm saying?
“For all you kids watching at home, Santa just is white.”
Ms. Kelly was replying to a piece by Aisha Harris at Slate and just couldn't resist stating what to her was obvious. Along with Ms. Harris, I beg to differ:
Santa is loosely based on Saint Nicholas, a fourth-century Greek bishop known for secret gift-giving. But while the names “St. Nicholas” and “Santa Claus” are often used interchangeably, modern-day Santa hardly resembles his supposed inspiration, who was depicted as tall and thin and, you know, Greek.
As a Greek-American, I can testify that Greeks tend to be swarthy. The original Saint Nick was probably a brunette with cafe au lait skin and a very hairy back. My mother's Nordic genes are the only reason I escaped the hairy back thing but I do tan nicely. Trust me, I have many relatives who could pass for black if they wanted to. Of course, then they'd have to present their birth certificates to placate the birthers...
It got worse for Megyn with a Y. (Btw, does anyone know anyone who spells that name with a Y? I know only Megan's or Meghan's. Nary a Y or even YMCA in sight.) She elaborated on her, uh, historical knowledge:
Kelly, a Fox franchise player, dug herself in further by saying that Santa couldn’t be anything but Caucasian because he’s like Jesus. “Just because it makes you feel uncomfortable doesn’t mean it has to change,” Kelly said. “You know, I mean, Jesus was a white man, too.”
All this latest flap really illustrates is the abject stupidity of racial classifications. Only elderly white Republicans care if Jesus looked like a blond surfer dude from Orange County. Cowabunga. Of course, those are the people who watch Fox News. It's kind of a pity that Megyn Kelly is the one spouting this nonsense. I've had a soft spot for her ever since her epic smackdown of Karl Rove on election night. I guess it's time for her to enlist in Bill-O's war against the war on Christmas. That would be mighty white of her...
I'll let a certain Irish Catholic crooner have the last word with his legendary rendition of a Christmas classic that was written by a non-swarthy and possibly Republican Jew. Is that diverse enough for y'all?
Okay, I *am* a terrible person, y'all know that already but am I even worse because I think the whole fake translator at the Mandela memorial service thing is funny?
The translation of speeches into sign language at Nelson Mandela's memorial service was seen as a sign of inclusiveness, but it appears the sign language interpreter was a fake, according to several expert organisations.
Braam Jordaan, a deaf South African and board member of the World Deaf Federation, said the interpreter was making up signs as he went along. "The structure of his hand, facial expressions and the body movements did not follow what the speaker was saying," Jordaan said.
The man who signed for a section of the ceremony, including Barack Obama's speech, was simply making up his own signs, he said.
"I was really upset and humiliated," Jordaan told the SBS news website. "He made up his own signs. What happened at the memorial service is truly disgraceful thing to see – it should not happen at all. What happened today will be forever aligned with Nelson Mandela and the deaf community, thanks to this fake interpreter."
Members of South Africa's deaf community have previously raised concerns about the interpreter, who has been used at other African National Congress events. Despite this an ANC spokesman said on Wednesday: "I don't know this guy. He doesn't work for the ANC. It was a government event."
I have a confession: tales of fraud, fakery, and deception have long been catnip for me. I am not now nor have I ever been a con man but I find them fascinating. In this case, nobody was directly hurt and the whole thing has tickled my funny bone. Now that I think of it, that's an odd expression. Bones can't be tickled, at least not directly...
This guy has apparently "signed" at other events featuring scandal plagued President Jacob Zuma so my hunch is that the faker is Zuma's ne'er do well nephew or idiot third cousin twice removed or is that second cousin thrice removed? That would be the most plausible explanation here in the Gret Stet and I suspect it works in South Africa as well.
I'll let Elvis Costello have the last word now that it's time to, uh, sign-off:
Time for some non-Papal posting. I do, however, get a kick out of A's calling him Pope Frank. It reminds me of the late, great Francis Albert Sinatra, sinner and patron saint of saloon singers.
Now where the hell was I? Oh yeah, saboteurs. I'm referring to GOP Governors and how their massive resistance to the ACA is sabotaging it and harming the interests of their own people. The current generation of Gopers is so in thrall to the teabaggers and the Randian/Social-Darwinian 1% that they've forgotten how many Republican voters do not have affordable health insurance. Do they care? Of course not, as my pal Lamar White indicates in his post about the Gret Stet's very own health care refusenik, Bobby Jindal:
In less than thirty days, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal will make a final decision on whether he wants to accept, according to a report published by his own Department of Health and Hospitals, as much as $25 billion from the federal government in order to guarantee and expand health care coverage for as many as 653,000 poor and working class Louisiana families and individuals. By all indications, it appears that Jindal will continue to dig in his heels, arguing that accepting the money would stick Louisiana taxpayers with a worst-case-scenario bill for $1.7 billion over the next ten years. If he does, in fact, decide to pass on receiving billions and billions of dollars in aid to which Louisiana is already entitled, Bobby Jindal will solidify, permanently, his legacy as the worst Governor in the history of the Great State of Louisiana. And he will prove, once and for all, that he never cared about Louisiana, that he always considered his office on the fourth floor of the Capitol Building and his mansion across the street as nothing more than temporary rental property.
Along with Lamar, I would be shocked if PBJ did the right thing and signed on. He's a classic contemporary Republican: more interested in kicking the unholy shit out of this President than in taking care of his constituents. In PBJ's case, it's all about his fantasy that he can be the next GOP nominee for President and prove that a guy with dark skin can be just as white as the Rick Perrys of the world. He'll never meet the gold standard on whiteness however: Willard Mittbot Romney stands alone in that regard.
Speaking of massive resistance and sabotage from Southern Governors, Rachel Maddow had an awesome piece last night that kicked off with a discussion of Mississippi Gov Phil Bryant's takedown of a very promising health care plan that the state Insurance Commish hoped to implement. Bryant undoubtedly was worried that black folks would benefit, ignoring the fact that many of his peckerwood, lilly white woolhat supporters would benefit as well.
It's well past time for the MSM to stop obsessing out over the fucking HealthCare.Gov web site and point a finger of blame at the real saboteurs, Republican state officials who would rather be ideologically pure than allow Barack Obama any sort of victory. It's the modern day equivalent of standing in the schoolhouse door and blocking students from entering. Unlike the David Gregorys of the world, history will not be kind to these saboteurs.
(I’m filing this missive from the North Woods, where we’re recovering from a day of turkey, sleeping and listening to “Is mommy up yet? Can we wake her up so we can have pie?” Even more, I somehow managed to strain something directly across the middle of my back, an oddity even for my spine, and thus I can’t breathe without feeling like I’m being stepped on with golf shoes… God bless us everyone…)
The kids in my intro writing class were finishing up their articles and filing out one by one on Tuesday. I was attempting to be the professor they cursed about the least: I had assigned this to be due over Thanksgiving break, but I gave them enough class time to finish it if they came to lab on Tuesday. Most of the kids walked out with a rundown but positive look on their faces. Thanksgiving came late this year and they were ready for a break.
Say what you want to about “kids these days,” but the kids I have work their asses off. They take more credits than I did per term because everything costs so much more. They also work two or sometimes three jobs to try to hold it together. They don’t come from money, so the Mitt Romney advice of “go ask your parents” isn’t going to fly with them either. Thanksgiving was pretty much the one time they had to recharge their batteries or at least shove the shackles of work away for a couple days.
A couple kids planned to go home and sleep. One kid said hunting was probably in the mix, as he whipped out a cell phone to show me a ridiculously giant buck he nabbed a couple years back. As one of the last kids was making her way to the door, I called out, “Have a great break!”
She kind of snorted and shook her head wistfully. “Uh huh…”
It was a strange reaction, so I put on my reporter hat and pried a bit more. Turns out she worked at one of the stores in the outlet mall nearby. The schedule she was forced to work made it a really poor proposition to drive home Thursday afternoon, scarf down some dinner, drive back for the “Brown Thursday” shift and then work almost the whole rest of the weekend.
This wasn’t her first Thanksgiving shopping rodeo. She’d worked the shifts before, often having to get there at 10 p.m. to set up for the midnight deluge. She’d seen the people fighting over shit they really didn’t even want but, hey, for 80 percent off, I’m getting this! Back off!
This year, however, the store opened late on Thursday, so all hands were on deck early Thursday to prepare for the same stream of screaming idiots, who would now have even more time to bitch about everything to sales associates, who had no control over anything.
The words “holiday pay” or “good money” didn’t slip from her lips once as she explained her five days of insanity. I’d bet a dollar to a dime she’d be much happier once everyone else was done “giving thanks” for everything and she could get back to a ragged and rough school schedule.
Other kids I’ve taught have told me tales of working in places where the insanity reaches a fever pitch. One of my students worked at an Office Max, where she had to help lead the charge during Black Friday. People were nuts, she told me. They knocked over displays, damaged goods, fought with each other and made the staff members’ lives a living hell. All for a good deal on pens, toner and other “festive holiday items.” Because nothing says “Merry Christmas” like a box of printer paper…
One kid told me about a training seminar her store had for Black Friday that involved being super nice to the criminally insane. She was told the people were forced to wait in the cold all night, they were jockeying for positions in line and that supplies were limited, so it was up to the staff to make sure to not upset them any more than they already were.
There is so much wrong with that sentence it could take you a year of therapy to unpack it all. It’s not the staff’s fault that the people were out there all night. That was corporate’s decision to set things up that way and the people who decided that they should give thanks by waiting in line with strangers for a discounted iPad. Even more, the fact people started treating the line like it was the starting blocks for Death Race isn’t the staff’s fault either. Couple that with the scarcity principle, brought on by the corporate assholes, and you’ve got the breakdown of Western Civilization just waiting to happen.
In other words, “Daddy’s coming home and he’s drunk again. Don’t say anything that might upset him.”
A’s point is well taken: The shoppers and the corporate assholes do have a choice. Some places around here, like Mills Fleet Farm, made a point of not opening until 6 on Friday. They even ran ads to accentuate that point, showcasing family photos of the staff members and explaining how it’s important to have that one day off for them. When I first saw one of these commercials, I had that Chris Rock moment: “I ain’t never been to jail!” “What you want a cookie?” The more I saw of the other companies’ ads, the more I realized how outside of the norm this decision was.
However, those who don’t have a choice in this ready-bake disaster are the ones who deal with the brunt of the impacts. As the “keeping up with the Joneses” approach corporations take to this shopaggedeon curry this milieu of misery, the staffers are forced to deal with what comes out the other end.
On the whole, the people who work at these places are those without a lot of other options. They might be students in need of cash. They could be people who were “downsized” from a better-paying job or retirees whose nest eggs came up short. They might be people with families for whom these people are the only means of support. They don’t make a dime extra if they sell out the store or if the shoppers are happy.
They are, however, the people who get screamed at when a distributor understocked the new Xbox. They do restack the giant piles of sweatshirts and jeans that shopper after shopper plows through with the self-restraint of a honey badger on crystal meth. They do find themselves at the end of the day bone-tired, only to know that they didn’t make anyone happy and they aren’t getting paid enough for this shit.
My only hope is that there happens to be a threshold somewhere along the way where no matter how early they start the sales, the net profit doesn’t get any higher. We’ve gone from “Black Friday” (the color of corporate hearts) to “Brown Thursday” (the color of the shit workers have to put up with) to perhaps “Yellow Wednesday” (get pissed on before the day you were supposed to get off) all in the name of more and more sales.
If not, perhaps we can stanch the shopping bloodlust by giving the employees first crack at the sale items, plus another 10 percent off.
If the shoppers will truly do any insane-ass thing for a discount, maybe they’ll take a shift on the front lines to get the deals.
Then, they can feel the horrors they hath wrought.
Last September, Louisiana Army National Guard Spc. Sherman Crandle volunteered to deploy to Afghanistan for a year.
When the call came, he had been working customer services at Best Buy in Covington for five days, but he says he was told a job would be waiting for him when he returned.
Crandle said that was not the case when he stepped back on American soil two months ago.
"In those 10 days, I called Best Buy checking if I still had my job,” said Crandle, “At one point, they told me no. The only way you was gonna get your job back was if we needed you."
U.S. law states that returning service members are to be re-employed in the job that they would have attained had they not been absent for military service. A challenge with that resulted in Best Buy re-hiring Crandle, but even that, he said, hasn’t been easy.
"Throughout the rehiring process it took me about a month and a half to get my job back,” he said.
When asked what has happened since the return, he said, “I've worked a total like six days so far out of the last three weeks."
We first started contacting Best Buy last Friday for this story, starting with the corporate headquarters. We heard nothing through Monday, so we called and stopped by the local store in Covington. And still, we have had no response for this story.
I don't know about you but I'd rather leap into a vat of boiling peanut oil than shop on Black Friday. If you're insane enough to do so, you might want to skip Best Buy. I'm sure they pay pious lip service to veterans when it suits their needs, but when it really counted in this instance, they initially broke the law and then did the bare minimum to comply with it.
Some holiday spirit.