Tag Archives: Current Events

Pee wherever you want to––everyone!

Use whatever bathroom you want.

719Lk-kuT0L._SY355_I’m not talking to transgendered people––I’m talking to all of you and because I’m a man, even more so to the male of our species…

Haven’t you ever been frustrated when someone seems to have taken up residence in the men’s room?

As I move ever further beyond age 50 I experience this frustration more than ever. I wait and wait in genuine discomfort while the women’s room goes unused. Still––I won’t violate the sacred boundary. My mother taught me not to.

No more. If I need to go––I’m using the women’s restroom. Why not?

I’ve also decided that I’m going to join the shortest line at the ballgame. I’m going to use the closest facility at the highway rest stop. And if the men’s room is filthy, I’m trying the women’s––I don’t care how many stalls there are or who can see me or who may be uncomfortable with my presence.

In the hyper-emotional battle over transgendered use of public restrooms we’ve lost one coldly serious and important fact:

Our Constitution does not protect any group. It protects individual rights.

If you believe that people should be free to choose the facilities that best reflect their chosen gender identity––so be it. I’m tempted myself to cite gender fluidity as a convenient justification to use the girl’s room when I find myself in desperate straights.

ID-100345484I’m getting too old to stand on ceremony––I don’t have a problem announcing that I’m now gender fluid, non-binary, genderqueer or whatever it takes to save me the the pain and potential embarrassment associated with pissing my own pants.

Yes––my tongue is poking my cheek and I am purposely trying to instigate trouble here––but think about it…

Those on the open borders side of the gender identity restroom debate maintain that you can’t deprive a person of his or her or others civil right to use the public plumbing of his or her or others choice simply because his or her or others chosen sexual identity does not correlate with his or hers or others biologically plumbing.

That’s all fine too––but we don’t protect the “group,” and we don’t grant special privileges to particular groups––not in theory anyway. We’re not supposed to be creating protected classes of people or legislating privileges for a chosen few––on any grounds.

Our system is built on protection of rights for the individual.

The gay marriage issue turned on that very point. You simply cannot say that one individual citizen can enjoy a privilege recognized by the state while another individual citizen is denied the same privilege.

Racial discrimination is illegal on the same grounds. We did not create a special privilege that suddenly allowed black people the right to vote, for example. We simply got around to recognizing that once black people were considered citizens (another terrible injustice that needed correcting by the way) that there was no way their right to vote could be denied. The 15th Amendment does not grant a special privilege to the “group” of black citizens––it prevents the government from using it’s authority to deny the right of an individual based on race or color:

“The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.”

In the same way, we’ve recognized that if an adult citizen can be “married” under the law, then every citizen has the same right.

It seems only right that if we choose to legally recognize the right of a particular citizen to use a public restroom based on his, hers or others identity––or even feeling of identity on a particular day, then each of us has the right to use the public restroom of our choosing––regardless of the reason.

Seem ridiculous? Well, think of the problem from all sides.

To protect a right, you must consider enforcement. If you’re granting a privilege to a particular group, you must provide a practical means of enforcement.

In the case of driving on the public roads, we issue a license. Is this the solution to the trans-fluid gender restroom issue?

Should we issue special ID cards to transgendered and gender fluid people? Should they be required to show these cards to authorities when someone challenges their presence in a gender segregated area?

That would certainly be a solution. That would prevent me from using the women’s facilities––assuming I don’t qualify for a card.

Well, India, Pakistan, Nepal and Ireland have beaten us to the punch…

In each of these countries the official stand is that gender is nothing more than a declaration of choice and “neither male nor female” is a legally recognized option. And the official ID is anything but a joke, it’s a reality!

Ireland recently celebrated remarkable progress in the state sanctioned free-gender area according to TheJournal.com:

“…Ireland’s trans community celebrated a “historic day” when citizens were given the legal right to gender recognition based on self-declaration.

“It means that people who wish to have their change of gender recognised by the state – in birth certs, passports, driving licenses – will simply make a formal declaration to that effect.”

Still, even Ireland lags a little behind the times. TheJournal.com article continues:

“In this case though, individuals still only have two options; male or female. ‘M’ or ‘F’.”

Well––it’s a start.

We don’t live in Ireland or India and we’re still talking about restrooms and to this point, we’re not, as far as I know, issuing state gender ID cards.

Nor should we.

I don’t really have a solution––frankly, it’s not something I ever bothered to think about much.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I’ve always cherished the one remaining “safe zone” where I could retreat free from the onslaught of the opposite sex––naturally endowed or otherwise. I suppose those days are gone.

Yes, I’ve been annoyed when women jump the line at a concert to pee in my men’s room. Yes, I’ve strained every muscle in my body to keep from losing it waiting for the men’s room to open when the women’s room went unused. On one occasion I was caught off guard when I noticed the young woman washing her hands in the next sink was anything but––a young woman that is. I even dealt with concerns from the members of my martial arts center when it became obvious that a new student’s gifts of nature were inconsistent with her––I mean his choice of locker rooms.

We simply didn’t make much of an issue of it. But lets not flush the main point of this discussion down the toilet.

As I said––our system protects the rights of the individual, not the group.

If gender identity is a choice––

And if that choice is subject to the individual’s feelings on a particular day––

And if there is no requirement to obtain or produce any official documentation of one’s gender…

Then shouldn’t we all just pee wherever the hell we want to?

Another look at it…

Photo of transgendered many courtesy of Frankie42 and FreeDigitalphotos.net

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Institutional Racism and the Yale Halloween Hallabaloo––KNOCK IT OFF!

On November 12, CNN political commentator Sally Kohn published an article titled, “Don’t be too quick to judge Yale protesters.” In this article, Ms. Kohn defends Yale students who protested against their school’s alleged insensitivity in not banning potentially “offensive” Halloween costumes and the remarks of two of their professors who, in effect, told them to grow up.

Here is my response as posted on CNN.com:


I’ll focus on Ms. Kohn’s use of the words “institutional racism.” In this case, as in the case in Missouri and other campuses, this term is being applied with ferocity. Alternately, you may hear “systemic racism.”

Where, Ms. Kohn, does this “institutional racism” exist and what proof it there of it’s existence?

This is what

This is what “institutional racism” looks like. This is the official institutional welcome a civil rights protester received in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963.

Institutional or systemic racism implies a concerted and intentional effort to deny the rights and privileges of a particular group based on race and color. Is Missouri purposely excluding black students and faculty? Is Yale itself endorsing racist behavior on campus?

Or, in the case of the Yale professors, were they simply acknowledging that the institution plays a limited part in the lives of allegedly adult students and that the students themselves should address legitimate offenses, if and when they occur.

Remember that this entire furor started BEFORE there was any offense!

Should we be upset when, if and where we encounter or witness racism? Certainly, but protests and events of the past several years would have us believe that racism in 2015 is not limited to the few ignorant or entrenched bigots who still judge others based on color. No-the implication is that America is a nation of racists and our current institutions, both government and private, are perpetrating a clear and purposeful plan of discrimination and racial subjugation.

It’s not happening.

Ironically, I just visited the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. historic site in Atlanta. I sat in the Ebeneezer Baptist Church and listened to a recording of one of Dr. King’s most moving sermons. As I viewed the artifacts of Dr. King’s life and the images of people being beaten, hosed and attacked by dogs, I couldn’t help but think about what Dr. King and the people who stood with him would think about today’s movement.

I couldn’t help but think that they would be sickened––that what’s going on today is an affront to the real dangers they faced and the sacrifices they made––which in Dr. King’s case was, of course, the ultimate sacrifice.

Blacks in the 1960s did face “institutional racism.” There were actual courts and law enforcement officials who beat and arrested people because of their color and determined that white murderers, rapists and thugs would not be prosecuted or convicted––if, of course, their victims were black.

There was actual discrimination and segregation––despite the fact that these practices had been outlawed by the federal government and jim-crow was the functional law-of-the-land in much of the country.

There was a great hesitancy to prosecute these offenses on the part of even the President and his Attorney General for fear that to do so would inflame the situation. These leaders who were slow to bring the hammer of justice down were none other than the now revered Kennedy brothers.

THAT was institutional racism.

Dr. King himself was not welcomed as a champion of human rights––not at first. He was investigated by the government as an agitator. Many of his own people cautioned him that the time was not right to bring the issue to a boil––that this would only hurt the black cause.

In his book Why We Can’t Wait, Dr. King recalls the visit of one of Africa’s newly established black heads-of-state who was “called upon by a delegation of prominent American Negroes. When they began reciting to him their long list of grievances, the visiting statesman had waved a weary hand and said:

“‘I am aware of current events. I know everything you are telling me about what the white man is doing to the Negro. Now tell me: What is the Negro doing for himself?’”

Am I blaming the victim for the alleged crime? Am I implying that Dr. King was doing the same?

Absolutely not. What I am saying is that Dr. King’s message was one of responsibility. I am also saying that what today’s students are protesting is completely out of scale.

Dr. King and many others fought and gave their lives, figuratively and literally to end institutional racism and discrimination. Dr. King acknowledged in his time that it was all too easy for white society, and white government in particular, to simply say, “We’ve passed the laws, our work is done.” It wasn’t––the laws were still not being enforced. Racism was still an institutionalized and systemic practice.

The clothes Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wore when he knew he would be jailed at protests. Note the work boots.

The clothes Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wore when he knew he would be jailed at protests. Note the work boots.

He adds, “When he seeks opportunity, he is told, in effect, to lift himself up by his own bootstraps, advice that does not take into account the fact that he is barefoot.”

Dr. King and his peers didn’t stop at stamping their bare feet in protest––they started making shoes.

There was much work to be done––there is much work to be done––but to imply or even insinuate that there is an intentional, purposeful effort to practice and promote “institutional racism” is simply wrong.

If you make this implication, Ms. Kohn, where is your proof?

This effort would require a monumental and secretive plot the scope and scale of which even our most skilled intelligence operatives would be incapable of conducting.

I acknowledge completely that there is still work to do, but this work is societal rather than institutional. I respect the students who protest against racist behavior––but recognize exactly what you are protesting and as Dr. King and his colleagues did, study your adversary.

Are you fighting to educate the ignorant and cultivate greater understanding? To continue Dr. King’s work?

Or––are you tipping at institutional windmills? Are you fighting a phantom that exists more in your minds and hearts than in the offices of your college chancellory?

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A message to the Seattle rioters: F*#k you right back.

Seattle RiotsFrom an exchange between protestors at the Seattle May Day riots as recorded by KING 5 TV:

“Don’t f*#k with art. This is a protest against capitalism. Don’t f*#k with art.”

(I guess that captures some of the spirit of the thing. One protester/vandal had just spray painted the anarchy symbol on a sculpture in a public square. The other obviously took offense.)

“Did an artist make it?”

“F*#k you!”

“Were they paid to make it?”

“Ya!”

So that’s the issue? If someone is paid to produce a piece of art, that invalidates it and makes it fair game for vandals? Aren’t you the same people who just got done protesting for a $15 minimum wage so you’d get paid “fairly” to flip burgers?

Let’s get to the root of this thing. Every day on May 1st, protesters take to the streets to celebrate the workers movement. The May Day movement originated in a worldwide effort to secure an 8 hour workday and better working conditions to correct abuses from the early days of the Industrial Revolution. From marxist.org:

“May First (1889) was set aside as a day upon which the workers of the world, organized in their political parties and trade unions, were to fight for the important political demand: the 8-hour day.”

By 1907, Lenin writes:

“The role of a truly advanced class, a class really able to rouse the masses to revolution, really capable of saving Russia from decay, is played by the industrial proletariat. This is the task it fulfils by means of its revolutionary strikes. These strikes, which the liberals hate and the liquidators cannot understand, are (as the February resolution of the R.S.D.L.P. puts it) ‘one of the most effective means of overcoming the apathy, despair, and disunion of the agricultural proletariat and the peasantry, … and drawing them into the most concerted, simultaneous, and extensive revolutionary actions.’”

Note Lenin’s discontent with “liberals.” Yes––he does mean those who prefer individual freedom and liberty, or more poignantly––those who refuse to submit to the greater cause of the state. For the record, he had little tolerance for protests against his point of view––and your scholarship under his regime would determine your course of study based on the current needs of that same state.

Freedom. Right?

OK––even giving the benefit of the doubt that the origins of the Russian Revolution started with a sincere desire to redress the abuses of a ruling class against the peasantry––what the hell you protesting in Seattle?

Let’s start with the grade school chants against capitalism, which are seldom if ever supported by substantive facts in these protests. The capitalism you protest against is a far cry from the strict class system of Czarist Russia. Like most of the world at that time, monarchy was still the dominant political structure and where and when democracy was practiced, it was strictly limited in participation to those with money and connections.

Is that what you’re fighting against? Cronyism and nepotism certainly still exists––but you have recourse to check those abuses, where and when you find them. You can vote, you can run for office, you are free to create your own organizations and compete in what is still a relatively free market.

What is the alternative you seek?

“Fairness” is often the battle cry. I find it interesting that the vast majority of participants in these particular riots are college students––usually from middle and upper-middle class homes whose parents have the means to support their educations while they have the time to riot against their distorted image of oppression.

The Soviet ideals you embrace have failed in every attempt. In fact, everywhere Communism and even blended Socialism has been tried––it has failed––miserably.

The only examples where some form of political Marxism has had any sustainable run is when the ideology is imposed, often by brutal force and inhuman forms of violence, discrimination and coercion. The argument is that the “wrong” people gained control or that the ideology was imperfectly implemented.

Still––I’ll again give you the benefit of the doubt. Your chants say you want workers “rights.”

What rights are you deprived?

You have the right to live your life anyway you see fit. Contrary to the way life was under the Communist ideals you idolize, you can choose your career, you can vote for whomever you want, you can run for office without the approval of the state or party and you can even take to the streets to protest and voice your ideas or discontent.

Che-Guevara-Shirt1-394x500 Before you do, study some history. You don’t have to look back too far.

During the Russian Civil War if you disagreed with whoever was in power this week, you’d likely be killed––9 million people were.

Once Stalin “stabilized” the situation, he killed another 20 million––many of whom were forced labor and those who dissented against the Communist brand of “equality” and “fairness.”

Hitler also preached a warped brand of “people’s power” and led what was largely a worker’s revolution. Of course, that infamously led to the execution of some 5 million Jews, who were considered to have an unfair advantage in economic matters. His toll, however, is closer to 66 million when you factor in the human cost of stopping him.

Mao, whose image often appears on May Day protest t-shirts was certainly a champion of fairness and equality––so much so that he murdered 40 million to assure his version of perfect society.

Pol Pot, nearly 2 million. Kim Il Song, 1.6 million. Castro, 30 thousand––and I’m just counting those who advertised that their carnage served the higher purpose of assuring equality and true freedom for “the people.”

And let’s not forget the top selling t-shirt idol of the American Anarchist set, Che Guevara. This mass murderer is the darling of our freedom and equality set. He killed thousands, enslaved tens of thousands and forced over a million people into exile––to assure equality.

You do not have the right to interfere with the peaceful lives of others, destroy their property––private or public or do violence against those with whom you disagree or those charged with protecting their rights––and yours.

You are children. You stamp your feet because you don’t get your way.

DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!

Don’t like the way government is run? Run for office.

Don’t like the way business is conducted? Start your own. Want all your workers to receive equal pay, from the CEO to the janitor? DO IT!

(We’ll see how long you put up with that!)

You think everyone is entitled to free medical care and free food? Start an organization and provide it!

Perfect equality of outcome can be attained––by force. Equality of opportunity is a little messy––and it requires a lot more work from you.

You have the right to protest––I’ll even defend that, even as much I disagree with everything you preach and everything you think you stand for.

However––

Your right to protest does not give you the right to destroy my property or attack me physically any more than my right to keep and bear arms gives me the right to shoot you without due provocation.

If you feel your right to protest does give you the right to attack me or destroy property, we’ll just have to see how I might choose to exercise my rights in response.

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Chris Rock is a Racist: KNOCK IT OFF!

Chris Rock on white people:

“Owning their actions. Not even their actions. The actions of your dad. Yeah, it’s unfair that you can get judged by something you didn’t do, but it’s also unfair that you can inherit money that you didn’t work for.”

After generations of progress, by all sides- Chris, this is the type of rhetoric that continues to damage race relations and causes many good people to get just plain angry.

Chris RockCommenting on a New Yorker article, Inquisitr.com shared some of Rock’s tirade against white Americans.

Notable-

“Chris Rock goes on to say that white people aren’t only responsible for their “actions,” but must take responsibility for those of their racist ancestors.”

Well Chris, like many white Americans, I’m sure I did have some racist ancestors, but most of my family were anything but.

As far as any inheritance being “unfair,” well…

My mother’s family were Polish immigrants. When they arrived in America during the Great Immigration, they were treated, to use your parlance, like niggers.

They were discriminated against in every way imaginable. My mother grew up in urban tenements. I remember her talking about the first time they had an apartment with running water- until then the water was carried up three flights of stairs from a common well shared by several buildings.

Most of my Polish ancestors changed their names upon arriving in America. If they had a “ski” or a “wicz” at the end of their names, they were turned away from decent homes, jobs and schools.

The man I knew as my grandfather was my mother’s stepdad- her birth father having died from a heart attack working in Connecticut sweatshops, no doubt because he inherited so much from his immigrant parents.

My grandfather did inherit some money- which was taken away by Russian communists before he left Poland after the War, where he had spent his last couple of years as a POW in a German concentration camp.

He was a genius of a man and a genuine chess champion- but his name and his poor English limited him to a job operating a furnace in the Stanley tool factory.

My father’s side descends from French-Canadian stock. Many of them came to America to escape persecution of Francophones common in Canada for generations. Anglo-speaking Canadians in fact passed laws to convert French speakers and eradicate their culture.

My distant cousin, Maurice “The Rocket” Richard was a famous hockey player- who also found himself, somewhat by circumstance, as the symbolic leader of a civil rights movement in Canada to fight for equal pay, opportunity and treatment for French speaking citizens.

Some branches of my French family arrived before the Civil War. I’ve traced several to service in several Maine regiments during the Civil War, where they fought, as far as they were concerned, to end slavery and free America blacks.

Most of my French family settled in Northern Maine where they worked largely as potato farmers, many of them tenant farmers. As the potato business dwindled in Maine, many of these ancestors, whose inheritances were not what Mr. Rock would imagine, left to work the factories of Massachusetts and Connecticut. My father- obviously having squandered the riches of his inheritance, was part of that migration. That’s how he ended up in Connecticut and how he met my mother.

So-

My parents were the decedents of people who struggled for generations to overcome prejudice and discrimination. They started their life together with absolutely no money- their ancestors having struggled for generations to simply survive.

Mr. Rock…

What great inheritance are you speaking of?

What sins did my ancestors commit- especially those who gave their lives to end slavery?

Of course, that’s ancient history. Let’s talk more about my mother.

I wasn’t raised as a racist. My mother taught us that you judge people by their actions and character, not by their color, nationality or religious beliefs. She taught us that we were solely responsible for our own destiny and that the past, however terrible, was just that…

…past.

From this past my first real job was working in my father’s construction company- a business he built out of 18 hour days where weekends were largely for the weak. After that I worked as a pipe fitter in a shipyard building nuclear submarines.

Yes- jobs reserved for the privileged. I’ve worked hard for every dollar I’ve ever had and for most of my life I’ve had precious few above and beyond the bare necessities. Still- I’ve had a nice life so far and it’s getting better every day.

Mr. Rock, I am not a wealthy entertainer, but I do not begrudge you a nickel of your money. Frankly, most of the time I think you’re hilarious- even when you’re making white people the target of your humor. I’m a true believer in the free market and if the market says your work is worth millions- so be it.

I don’t know your past; maybe you did work menial jobs like I did and like my ancestors did. I do know that now you enjoy a life of privilege most of us can only imagine. 

I do, however, resent your characterization of me and my ancestors. You dishonor the abolitionists, the civil rights activists and warriors who sacrificed to assure fair human treatment for everyone, regardless of race. You show flagrant disrespect for those of us who have stood up for friends and strangers when they were mistreated or abused because of their color- and those of us who continue to do so.

And as far as our generation paying for the sins of the past- that sir, is outrageous on the face of it.

I do not know first hand the challenges of growing up as a black man in America. I did have friends who experienced the race riots of the 1960s. I do remember when there was still Jim Crow and overt, legal discrimination. I remember the integrations of schools and the busing riots. I have friends that did suffer under those conditions. I even have friends who had crosses burned on their front yards.

I am just a few years older than you are- you may have missed some of this action.

My generation and generations of white Americans before fought, many died and many more sacrificed and risked their lives and livelihoods to eradicate institutional racism and end discrimination. Many of us continue that fight…

…but frankly, many of us are sick of hearing that we’re still part of the problem.

So as to your assertions that all white people are racist, that all white people are responsible for the lingering effects of slavery and institutionalized discrimination- that all white people are still accountable for the difficult conditions still experienced by some black people, conditions you seem to have transcended…

We’ve paid the price, and many of our ancestors paid the bill before us…paid in full.

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How the Patriots cheated the Seahawks out of the Super Bowl

Brady 02 No doubt we’ll hear that and worse this week.

The problem with being a rabid sports fan is that you’re often forced to defend your team, which, when you think about it, is kind of ridiculous. I don’t play for the New England Patriots, I don’t have anything to do with their coaching and I’m quite sure that removing my hat did not assure that Tom Brady would bring the Pats back from 10 down…

…even though that’s exactly what happened…and I also took my hat off just before Brady rallied the Pats and Adam Vinatierri sealed the deal in ’01.

“It’s not weird if it works,” right?

Writers, pundits and fans will debate the outcome of Super Bowl XLIX for weeks- at least until they can find some mysterious conspiracy to explain how the Pats somehow cheated the Seahawks out of their destiny.

The Patriots won because of one thing, and it wasn’t the psychic abilities of un-drafted rookie Malcolm Butler. The Pats won because no matter what adversity they face, they live and die as a team.

The Hawks’ Bruce Irvin sums it up:

“I don’t understand how you don’t give it to the best back in the league and not even the 1-yard line. We were on the half-yard line. And we throw a slant. I don’t what the offense had going on, what they saw. I just don’t understand.” (The News Tribune)

Irvin was ejected from the game in the final seconds for starting a brawl when he should have showed some class in defeat.

He wasn’t the only one with issues about the Seahawks last minute strategy. Several Seahawks players voiced their displeasure with their coaching staff and the decision to throw that final pass instead of jamming Marshawn Lynch into the endzone.

The worst was probably Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell who was quoted as saying receiver Ricardo Lockette could have gone harder to the ball to make the catch. While true, it’s not something you want to say about one of your players after the last meaningful play of the season- at least not on national television.

The Pats have last two trips to The Game ended with similar last minute disappointment. Twice Eli Manning and his Giants tipped the scales with last second heroics to come from behind.

Did the Patriots criticize throw their teammates and coaches under the bus? No- they praised their opponent, went home to rest and came back the next year to do their jobs.

This game could have gone either way…

Frankly, even if the Pats lost, I would be saying it was one of the most exciting Super Bowls in history. If you doubt my sincerity, ask my wife, who has become a more intense Pats fan than I am, which is really saying something. I really pissed her off- twice, when I said that after each of the Giants’ wins.

The Pats stood together despite a psychotic hatred of all things Patriot. They rallied around one another while the NFL manufactured what is arguably the most egregious load of excrement ever dumped on a team before the Super Bowl in the form of Deflate-gate. They stood together after the embarrassment in Kansas City as the Boston sports press was hanging up Brady’s spikes, predicting the end of The Dynasty and proclaiming that Belichick’s mojo had finally run it’s course.

Most of all, they took the Seahawks’ best body blows and once again rallied from behind, just as they’d done several times this year.

Butler Pick 02Now as for Malcolm Butler…

Butler wrapped up the game in more ways than one. He admitted after the game that he knew that throw was coming in his way.

How could he possibly know this? More spy-cams? More Beli-cheat tactics?

No…

Study. Practice. Discipline.

Butler knew that throw was coming because he recognized the formation and the shift. The Pats had practiced this exact scenario dozens of times. They understood what Pete Carroll was doing- arguably even better than Carroll himself did.

I’m going to credit Butler not just for the interception, but for his embodiment of the never-quit attitude of this year’s Patriots- and it came on the play that put Seattle in position to win the game.

Butler fought Jermaine Kearse for Russell Wilson’s deep ball that highlighted Seattle’s potential game winning drive. Kearse won the battle and made arguably the best catch of the season.

At that point, all Kearse had to do was roll into the end zone. Of course that would have left Brady, Gronk and the boys two minutes to produce their own heroics, but instead Butler stayed with the play even after he was beat and kept Kearse from scoring the go-ahead TD.

Jim BullsIn football, it ain’t over ’til it’s over…and Malcolm Butler showed that not once, but twice.

The casual fan or the Super Sunday Only group will no doubt label the Pats lucky. Those who have played this great game, and those who know that football is game of inches where seconds last forever, appreciate the tenacity that guarantees Butler a place in Patriots history.

For those of us whose love of all things Patriots started long before The Dynasty- for those of us who proudly wore Pat Patriot gear and still have a warm place for the red jerseys, this one has a certain feeling of vindication about it. I won’t say it means the same as ’01…

…but it’s pretty damn close.

The haters will continue to hate. I’ll just leave you with the rallying cry that spread among Patriots fans over the past couple of weeks…

“You hate us…’cause you ain’t us.”

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Cowardice of the highest magnitude – The Islamist terror attack on the Charlie Hebdo magazine staff

“Three black-clad gunmen shouting “Allahu Akbar!” stormed the Paris offices of a satirical publication known for lampooning Islam Wednesday, killing 12, including its editor, three political cartoonists and a police officer whose cold-blooded murder at close range was captured on a disturbing video.” ~FOX News

CharlieHedboThree obviously well-drilled cowards wearing masks, body armor and heavily armed with Kalashnikov automatic rifles attacked the offices of Charlie Hebdo, a satirical magazine, to avenge the magazine’s depiction of their beloved prophet in a political cartoon.

That is three armed commandos attacking about a dozen, unarmed and unsuspecting citizens during a business meeting.

Cowards. Barbarians. Murderers. Any other description is inadequate.

As they fled, their final act of cowardice…

“Video footage posted to social media showed armed gunmen running through the streets of Paris, shooting with automatic weapons and shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’. According to an eye-witness, one of the gunmen shouted: ‘The Prophet is avenged.’” ~The Independent, UK

Avenged?

The most radical elements of Islam call for the death of anyone who offends “The Prophet.” From the website Islamqa.com…

“The scholars are unanimously agreed that a Muslim who insults the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) becomes a kaafir and an apostate who is to be executed.”

The issue doesn’t seem as clear if the offending party is not a Muslim, or want to repent for his offense:

“But they differed as to whether his repentance should be accepted in this world and whether that means he is no longer subject to the sentence of execution.

“Maalik and Ahmad were of the view that it should not be accepted, and that he should be killed even if he has repented.” ~http://islamqa.info/en/22809

It should be noted that the article I quote justifies the killing of a non-Muslim as an appropriate response to an offense against the Prophet.

This is NOT the prevailing view of leading contemporary Muslim scholars.

Just as most Christians would consider it wrong to stone a prostitute to death, it seems the recommended responses to blasphemous cartoons in our age range from ignoring the offense to taking legal action appropriate to the society in which one lives.

Anas Halayel, a leader of CAIR in Arizona, writes in MuslimMatters.org…

“In essence, the Qur’an is telling us that when it specifically comes to the issue of mocking the Prophet [SAW], which is exactly the issue that we are dealing with today. Don’t take matters in your own hands, rather, God will take care of those who mock the Prophet.” (emphasis added)

Dr. Zakir Naik, one of the world’s most popular Muslim leaders identifies 6 levels of response to an offense to the Prophet. The 6th, which includes violent force agains another person, kidnapping or murder, is, in his opinion, strictly forbidden.

According to leading Muslim scholars and the Qur’an, appropriate responses top people who insult or offend the Prophet is to ignore them, attempt to reason with them, boycott their business and seek legal or political redress…

…not to murder them.

“Be tolerant, command what’s right, pay no attention to foolish people” [7:199]

So how can anyone justify the murder of 12 human beings for their alleged insult to the Prophet Muhammad?

You can’t.

It’s an act of abject cowardice and murder. Period.

JeSuisCharlie

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Racist America – Fact or Friction?

michael brownDarren Wilson may not have been indicted last week, but once again America is indicted- for being racist.

Is America racist?

Was the shooting of Michael Brown an example of a systemic bigotry what we simply cannot overcome?

No- and no…

I won’t debate the facts of the Michael Brown case specifically. If you’re like most Americans, your mind is made up. If you’re the average person, it’s also likely that you have not read any of the grand jury disclosures, and unless you have, we’d only be arguing intractable emotions and feelings rather than facts.

I will first question the motives of an individual, Officer Darren Wilson…

To presume that Darren Wilson shot Michael Brown because he was black is to assume that he would not have shot a white man under the same conditions.

After extensive grand jury investigation and countless hours of media scrutiny, there is not one shred of fact or even innuendo to suggest that Wilson, as some allege, was a bigot. Nor is there one scrap of evidence that indicates, as some shouted after the incident, that Wilson “just wanted to shoot a black man,” or anyone else for that matter.

What we have here is not institutional racism, it’s a systemic failure of leadership…

I work with kids like Michael Brown as a volunteer in my state’s juvenile detention program. Not the 12 year old Michael Brown whose picture dominates the media, but rather the 18 year Michael Brown who attacked a police officer after committing a petty theft at a convenience store.

And yes, his background is relevant.

Young people black and white embrace the thug culture, especially in impoverished areas where they feel victimized and hopeless. They gain more credibility with peers by defying authority than by respecting authority.

I witness this defiance of authority on a regular basis. Do these kids have a reason for their attitude? Of course they do- they were taught to behave this way.

Leadership starts at home…

Nearly any leader who even suggests that these issues might be resolved by first focusing on the family is immediately painted as naive, or very often as a traitor to the African-American cause.

Anyone who suggests that the disproportionate percentage of single mothers, absent fathers, drug abuse and domestic abuse in these communities may be a more important cause of higher crime and arrest than race is vilified and tagged as racist.

People rightfully cite data that indicates a serious problem; blacks are arrested in numbers disproportionate to their numbers in the general population…

…but is this indicative of racism?

Not long ago you could make this argument.

In a case that has shamefully been associated with the Michael Brown incident, a young black man named Emmett Till was kidnapped, then brutally tortured and murdered by two white men in Mississippi in 1955 for flirting with a white store clerk.

In a sham trial an all white jury acquitted his murderers, Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam, of all charges.

Racism? Of the worst kind…

The Tills case ignited the furor for justice and civil rights all over America. We fought for years to eradicate institutional racism from our society- and we did it.

Separate but equal…Racist?

Yes…and made illegal.

Discrimination in housing and employment…Racist?

Yes…and made illegal.

Voting restrictions…Racist?

Yes…and made illegal.

Arresting people based solely on their race…Racist?

Yes…and MADE ILLEGAL!

My mother taught me to judge a person by his character, not his color. Inspired by Martin Luther King and other leaders, an entire generation picked up this banner and made sure that from those times forward, not only would institutional racism be eradicated, but that individual racism would be openly condemned and opposed.

You cannot legislate away bigotry, but you can make it illegal to discriminate based on racial prejudice…

…and we have.

Leaders who continue to beat the drum of inherent racism are ignoring another significant data set. Ferguson, like many of the communities experiencing continued issues involving race, are populated by a black majority.

In the wake of the Michael Brown shooting, many Ferguson residents expressed extreme dissatisfaction with the lack of black police officers on their police force. Others condemned their largely white representation in city government.

Ferguson is 65% black!

People have a right to be upset, but what should they be doing about it?

Just a few days ago I listened to an interview with a young man from St. Louis- I did not catch his name. He identified himself as a documentary filmmaker.

He talked about the lack of black representation in the Ferguson PD and in city hall. The reporter then asked why there was such a low voter turnout among blacks in Ferguson.

He answered that black voters felt disenfranchised, largely because white politicians largely ran unopposed. African-American voters simply felt- what’s the use? He said there are simply no good choices!

This young man was obviously intelligent, articulate and charismatic.

No choices? All I could think of was…

…Why aren’t YOU running for office?

If this were 1955, it would still be true that blacks would be prohibited from holding office in some communities. I have friends that still remember when they couldn’t use the same restrooms as whites!

It might also be true in 1955 that even if a community had a black majority of voters, those people would likely be intimidated into voting with the white minority or simply turned away at the polls without recourse.

This is not 1955. If a black person would run for office in Ferguson today, it might be impossible for a white candidate to win- unless of course, race were not an issue.

If meaningful leadership would emerge from the black community in Ferguson, it seems likely that the entire city government could be populated with black officials. They could then hire a black chief of police and fill the rest of the department with African-American officers…

…if, of course, race, or more specifically racism, were the only issue.

And as for white officials and leaders, stop thinking that you can solve all the problems in black communities!

This is not because you’re inherently racist, but simply because of the fact that while racism is not the problem, the racial composition of a community is still an important consideration.

One disturbing factoid making the rounds to support the idea that we’re still inherently racist is a study showing that within 3 months, most human babies demonstrate a preference for other human beings of a similar color.

Of course they do. It’s natural. Not too many generations ago- this was simply part of our survival mechanism.

Human beings are inherently tribal, this is not new information. We tend to trust and bind ourselves more strongly to people who look like us, speak the same language and as we develop, those who share the same fundamental cultural beliefs.

That does not mean we’re racist- it means we’re human.

This trick of evolution does not give you license to treat people badly because they don’t look exactly like you. It does not mean it’s right to discriminate against people who speak differently or act differently or believe differently.

Malcolm X once said;

“We are not anti-white. But we don’t have time for the white man. The white man is on top already, the white man is the boss already… he has first-class citizenship already. So you are wasting your time talking to the white man. We are working on our own people.”

Malcolm X was vilified by white people in his time, largely because of his militant tactics. In pre-civil rights America, was peaceful demonstration working? Was he not simply employing the same tactics to assert rights for blacks that the founders used in fighting Great Britain for theirs?

But we live in post civil-rights America…

Black communities need black leaders, not because they’re black, but because we need leaders who live and work in those communities- leaders who know the community and the authentic concerns of the people.

White leaders should not impose solutions, but rather support solutions brought forth from those communities wherever and whenever viable leaders rise to the task. If you are white and want to make a difference in a black community- then move into that community, earn the respect of the people and work from there.

Continued attempts to impose solutions from outside the community simply reinforce the same mistakes made, however well-intended, throughout the 1960s. As black leaders stepped up and organized their communities, they were largely discredited and ignored. Funding and support went instead to white activists and organizations working in black communities. Is it any wonder that some black leaders responded with militant activism and others became the leaders of gangs rather than than mayors and city councilmen?

We will never resolve black-white differences as long as we fail to respect those differences. Nor will we resolve those differences unless we are willing to fully acknowledge our sameness…

…our sameness as human beings.

We solve problems together only when we acknowledge our commonality and respect our differences.

Do we still have a race issue in America? Obviously.

Do we still have racism in America? Of course we do- and always will.

Is this racism promoted, accepted or tolerated?

No…

…not because there is no bigotry, but rather because there we no longer allow racism to infect our institutions and when it does, we do not hesitate to destroy the infection.

Ultimately, the important question is no longer whether there is systemic racism in America at large. There is not.

The important question is-

Are you a racist?

I am not.

“I’m for truth, no matter who tells it. I’m for justice, no matter who it’s for or against.” ~Malcolm X

This is leadership…

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The Great Ebola Panic

B_hazardWhy all the panic?

Weeks ago the CDC said that Ebola was acute, but not extremely contagious. It couldn’t be transmitted through “casual” contact. Then they said they said it could be transmitted by contact with surfaces touched by a contagious patient up to 72 hours after contact.

They first said it took 2 to 21 days for symptoms to develop- now it’s up to 48 days. First there was no danger contracting Ebola on a plane was only remotely possible, now they’re monitoring all 132 passengers on the flight the Dallas nurse took. The CDC first announced that no-fly restrictions were not only unnecessary, but could even diminish our ability to contain the virus in Africa. Now they’re considering a no-fly list for American citizens who have worked with Ebola patients…

…folks- I am usually the first person to debunk any conspiracy theories, and I’ll continue that stand.

I don’t believe this is a government plot against black people, or a plot to reduce the American population- or a plot to provide an excuse for martial law and the installation of a dictatorship. These ideas are absolutely ridiculous; not because they’re not possible, but because the federal government is simply incompetent and incapable of containing and executing such an intricate plot…

…so stop the foolish worry and focus on the issue.

What is evident is that the federal bureaucracy is simply too big and too complex to respond to threats like this efficiently. Leadership is hobbled by a continuing partisanship that prioritizes political turf wars and saving face above prudent action and reasonable response.

What’s happening here is evident of the failure of leadership on the federal level- and neither ruling party is exempt.

Want to calm the masses?

A) Tell the truth- the whole truth and nothing but the truth. We can handle it.

B) Do your freaking job! One of the few areas that it is prudent to act on the federal level is the operation of the CDC. However, instead of making excuses for being unprepared- difficult to accept given the level of confidence you all expressed in the beginning of this situation, get your act together and develop a plan. Now.

C) Stop moving the goals posts! What is reported as fact one day is modified the next. Ebola is not new. If you want us to believe that you’re being forthcoming, refer to item “A.”

D) Institute a reasonable quarantine for people entering the US from highly infected areas- before they get on a plane to come here. This is not racist or insensitive- it’s reasonable and prudent. It’s not about hating people, it’s about keeping as many people healthy as possible.

To Congress and the President:

If there was ever a time to put aside party politics and get to work, it is now. Knock off the turf battles and stop worrying about your reputations- you’ve only got a 16% approval rating- they’re as bad as they’re going to get.

And as for the excuses that travel bans or other similar actions will harm the economies and people of other nations- first of all, no it won’t. Their economies will be harmed much more if an outbreak here diminishes our capability to respond and send help. Their people are at far greater risk if our resources are tied up fighting an epidemic here.

Stop the bickering, finger pointing and reactive rhetoric. Just put aside your differences, lock yourselves in a room and get the job done.

Want to stop the panic? Start trusting us and stop changing the story every 24 hours…

…KNOCK IT OFF!

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On Robin Williams, Suicide and Wanting to Help

ID-100173636All this week social media has been inundated with well-intended gestures from people sincerely wanting to help.

“There’s always hope! If you’re ever feeling like you want to end it all, please reach out- I’m here!”

Or some such foolishness…

Knock it off!

Yes- I said foolishness.

I’m all for you being available to friends in need, especially when it comes to suicide, but play close attention…

Unless you’re a trained professional, the only thing you should be saying when a desperate friend actually reaches out is:

“Let me help you find some help.”

If you’ve never been seriously depressed, addicted or you’ve never actually considered taking your own life, you may not understand what I’m about to say. I’m talking from experience.

When you are close to suicide and you reach out to friends, this is what you’ll typically hear- and none of it helps:

“There’s always hope!”

Oh ya? If I thought that I wouldn’t be sitting here with a knife to my throat!

“Have you ever thought about how much you mean to the people who care about you?”



Well, I’ve thought plenty about how little I mean to them and how they might be better off without me!

“Suicide is stupid.”

F*#k you.

“Nothing can be so terrible that it’s worth taking your own life.”

Walk a mile in my shoes.

Depression is a medical condition…

A suicidal mindset is a critical symptom that requires rapid professional intervention. If someone shares suicidal thoughts with you, or you suspect someone you know is that desperate, here’s what you can do that will help:

#1 Listen…

Don’t judge, don’t offer trite self-help platitudes. Don’t share insipid positive thinking quotes or stories about someone you know who once thought about suicide who then went on to great success. Yup, heard ‘em all.

Most of all, don’t tell this person you know how they feel- even if you do. You may have shared the experience, but not the specific circumstances.

Just listen.

#2 Tell them you don’t have an answer…

Trust me- you don’t.

In an acute state of depression, most of the answers that make sense to you have no resonance with the person suffering. Logic is not part of the equation at this point, you’re dealing with someone who is operating from a primal state of emotion.

It’s OK to admit you don’t know what to do. Being there is enough- and probably already diffused the situation for the moment.

At this point, you may be feeling hopeless- as if there is nothing you can do.

There is…

#3 Connect this person with a professional…

This can be difficult and you’re going to have to be strong. Say that the best possible thing you can do is to help make a phone call.

Call someone this person trusts- you can start with their personal physician. Call any number of available suicide hotlines- ask for available resources in your area.

You can offer to drive them to the appointment. You can sit with them while they make a call to the hotline. You can offer to be available to listen or help them get professional help.

You need to understand that any and each of these supportive gestures can be significant and probably much more effective than trying to play the psychologist.

Robin Williams…

Oh ya, my headline promised I’d talk about Robin Williams.

Here’s what I posted in response to the social media onslaught…

Lot’s of angst and passion about Robin Williams today. Suffice it to say that unless you’ve been there, it’s difficult to understand, maybe even impossible.

Having been there and nearly done that I’ll say- don’t judge, don’t even try to understand- if you’re not there just be grateful. If you can reach out to someone in pain, do it- but don’t expect miracles and don’t feel guilty if you can’t change a mind set on the path of destruction. Strange as it sounds, that path sometimes feels like the path of peace.

And don’t condemn Robin as selfish. His life was his, not yours. He shared some of it with you- for that be grateful. That’s a gift, not an obligation. Unless you’re a personal friend, you weren’t there for him- that’s life…and he didn’t live for you…that’s just the fact.

We sometimes allow ourselves a false sense of intimacy with people in the spotlight. Just enjoy the good moments Robin gave you and do the best you can for you and yours.

Photo of woman courtesy of Marin and FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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The Fast Food Strike – KNOCK IT OFF!

???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????It’s finally here- fast food workers across the nation are taking to the streets, holding signs and petitioning for an increase in the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

To what end?

Patrick M. Sheridan writing for CNNMoney highlighted an example of the plight of a man trying to support a family on minimum wage:

“Frankie Tisdale, a 26-year-old worker from a KFC in Brooklyn said he will join the strike with fellow workers next week.

“Tisdale lives in his father’s house in Brooklyn with his girlfriend and two young children. He earns $8 an hour and works between 14 and 23 hours a week.

“With less than $200 a week, he sometimes has to choose between buying food for the family and taking his kids’ clothes for a wash to the laundromat. He said it’s too expensive to eat at the KFC where he works so he never does. ‘Everything costs more. Why can’t my pay go up?’ Tisdale says.”

Because you are not producing more.

I’m sorry Frankie, but that’s the cold, hard truth…

For the record, I have no problem with workers striking or protesting for higher wages. If a group of employees wants to pressure their employers and air their grievances by striking- more power to them.

I have several issues with mandated minimum wages.

Wages on mean rise with productivity. Every rise in income in America came on the crest of a period of increased productivity as a nation.

You can attempt to mandate wages- but you cannot mandate an increase in wages and protect jobs unless you are willing to also mandate employment. In nations that have attempted this, most notably the Soviet Union and Greece, the government must subsidize employers for excess labor.

Eventually, the system collapses under it’s own weight. It’s simple- cash needed to subsidize low productivity jobs at higher wages outstrips the revenues produced by that same labor.

Now specifically to Sheridan’s example…

If you intended to raise sympathy, you should have featured someone other than Mr. Tisdale!

Tisdale is sadly typical of the employee trying to “raise a family” on minimum wage, which, as a point of fact, is a very small percentage of all minimum wage earners.

Tisdale is living with his father and his girlfriend- note “girlfriend,” not wife, and the two children they produced without the means to provide for them.

To make matters worse, he’s working an average of only 14 to 23 hours a week. How many people can care for a family on 23 hours a week at any average job?

You can choose to address this issue on an institutional or societal level and simply mandate that employers pay more…

…or you can look at this on an individual level, which is much more beneficial.

First of all, the bracket that includes minimum wage earners is extremely volatile. The vast majority of people earning minimum wage today will be earning far more in less than four years.

Despite how it might appear on the nightly news, only about 5% of all hourly workers and 3% of all workers employed in the U.S. earn minimum wage.

If you’re currently working for minimum wage, there’s a very good chance that you’re single, under 25 working part time and still part of a family that makes more than $66,000 a year.

There’s also a very good chance that you’re a student. 62% of all minimum wage workers are enrolled in high school, college or vocational training.

That’s great! The single most important factor determining your earning capacity is your education, followed closely by work experience and job performance…

…which is exactly what minimum wage jobs are designed for.

These are jobs- not careers.

Employers don’t want to condemn you to minimum wage either. They know full well that people stuck at or near minimum wage are not satisfied, engaged or productive employees for very long.

I recently spoke with a representative from a growing restaurant chain who has no problem attracting good employees at minimum wage- as a part-time job or a step toward higher wages.

When I asked him about his take on the minimum wage debate, he basically told me that the math was very simple. In his chain, which is typical, the margin of profit to the franchisee is about 11 cents on every dollar. Let’s just round it to 10%.

A hike in minimum wage to even $9 an hour would be a 24% increase in labor costs.

The results?

Fewer hirings at the entry level and higher prices to the consumer.

It’s just math…

My focus is not on societal change. I’m getting too old to swing my sword at windmills.

My focus is on the individual…

What can YOU do- as an individual, to escape the trap of minimum wage?

#1 Stay in school… Your education is still the greatest determinant to your earning power. The vast majority of all minimum wage earners lack or have not yet earned a high school diploma.

#2  Don’t have kids…until you can afford them. The vast majority of people trying to support children on minimum wage are single mothers who had their first child under the age of 20.

#3  Develop your talents and abilities… Your earning power is determined by your value to your employer.

It really is that simple…

Or- you can pick up a sign and strike.

Just remember- no matter how high they set the minimum wage, it will always be the minimum.

Don’t settle for minimum- at any rate.

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