Monthly Archives: July 2007

Thanks, and Farewell Coach Walsh (November 30, 1931 – July 30, 2007)

I watched “the Catch“, live, and still remember me and my best friend in the world hugging each other and jumping up and down in unison. You can ask ANY 49er fan what the happiest years were for the organization, and they will all point to the Walsh years. I think it was more than winning, more than the precision and beauty of the West Coast Offense, and even more than the caliber of player that Coach Walsh brought to the Bay Area. I think he had to be one of the classiest guys in the league. I think that even fans of other teams liked him. My brother, a long-time Ram fan, and who thought Joe Montana was over-rated, had respect and admiration for Bill Walsh. I was proud of the Niners during those years, and I was proud to be a fan. Thanks Coach Walsh.

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Asked and Answered

Recently, our sorry excuse for a newspaper put out a call for opinions on this question: Is the IMMIGRATION DEBATE TOO HATE-FILLED? Illegal immigration is an issue that has made a lot of Middle Tennesseans angry. Do you think the tone of the debate becomes so harsh at times that it qualifies as hate speech? Send your thoughts to Tennessean op-ed page and issues editor Terry Quillen at tquillen@tennessean.com.

I actually know a couple of people penning responses even as I write this.  I opted out, because it was obvious to me that the Tennessean has no real concern whether or not the “tone is too harsh”, but is indeed happy to pose the question and wait for the inevitable avalanche of responses from both sides.  Was it intended irony for them to list this “article” on their blog watch?  How do they decide what blogs to feature?  Does anyone know this?  I read alot of Tennessee blogs.  I think I know who the most prolific bloggers are, on both sides of almost any issue. (Thanks, in part, to Nashville is Talking and now Music City Bloggers)  But I have never heard of ANY of these bloggers the Tennessean regularly features.  At first, I thought, well, perhaps the editors combed through local blogs, found some obscure but well informed writers to link to on their “blog watch”, but after reading Kevin Fisher, I’m convinced this isn’t the case.  First, it is so poorly written I find myself embarrassed for whatever University gave this guy a diploma, and, beyond that, it is chock-full of sweeping generalizations and jingoistic nonsense.  For instance, he states:

There is nothing(repeat NOTHING!)racist about law abiding, tax paying, flag waving Americans wishing to protect, secure and safeguard our culture, heritage and our very way of life.”

I’m always curious, what particular parts of the culture, heritage, and way of life do  the undocumented people threaten?   My parents, for instance, undocumented when they arrived here, worked, paid taxes, raised a family, donated to charity, and even hung an American flag on our front porch on the appropriate days.  What part of the “culture” were they not participating in?  Also, when Mr. Fisher speaks of heritage, what practices is he speaking of?  He then tries to justify his stance by taking a stab at acknowledging that the 9/11 hijackers were not Hispanic, and neither was the “Korean shooter at Virgina Tech.”  But this line gives him away:

So, it’s unfair to disregard argument s made against illegal immigration as racist against any one particular group when we see that crimes are being perpetrated by illegals (emphasis mine)of every race.”

Um,  Cho was a legal permanent resident.

Then, he says:

Because ,my friends, our system of social benefits isn’t set up to handle the need s of  some of our natural born citizens. We have people born here in America who go to bed hungry every night. We have children born here who don’t get necessary medical care, immunizations, well care checkups. We have elderly citizens having to choose between meals and medicine. We simply don’t have the resources to take care of everybody in the world.”

I had to laugh at this, if for no other reason that Mr. Fisher is a self described “Conservative activist.” Good Lord, I see us Libs have made progress getting Conservatives to acknowledge those things!  Yea!  But see how clever this argument is? The “illegals” are to blame for these social maladies, not myopic social policy!  Theres more:

“Our Judeo Christian ethic teaches us to be compassionate about one another. ” and, “But, we as a nation, cannot afford to continue our efforts in this manner until we first “Set our house in order” (2 Kings 20:1)

Anyone want to take a swing at that? I just want to ask, whose Judeo Christian ethic?  I ask because he then goes on to state this:

America is strong because of our diversity, not in spite of it.”  Indeed.

Lastly, to the Editors of the Tennessean, here’s all you need to read to answer your question, I found it in his last paragraph:

Unless we are willing to take necessary steps, like leeches attaching to a new blood supply, illegals will continue to overrun our borders, draining valuable resources earmarked for your children and mine, paid for with our tax money.

Too harsh?  Nah….

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Unnecessary Tragedy

I’m one of those rare birds that think a policeman’s death in the line is, while sad, not any more tragic than any other premature death.  That said, I read this story this morning and got a little hot.  Seems two different “news crews” were covering a police chase and collided with each other, killing all on board.  I feel terrible for the families of these pilots and reporters, but, good Lord, do we really need “live” coverage of a police chase?  There wasn’t a celebrity involved.  Hell, even a psychopath like O.J. Simpson had the good manners to elude the police in second gear.  No, this was some sad sack in flatbed truck, no doubt inebriated to the point where escape seemed plausible.  My anger here is that these people died exploiting some moron’s bad day.  What if they had collided with the Police Helicopter?  Like I said, I believe police personnel are paid to risk their lives, but let’s not make their job any harder, ya know?

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Because I Lack REM Sleep

I had hoped to get my head completely around this subject before writing about it, but I finally realized that I most likely will not be able to reach some definitive point with it, so, at the risk of sounding self important, here are my thoughts.  It goes by many names, for simplicity I will use the term Peak Oil.  I have been talking with family and friends a little about it, hoping, I think, that someone else will feel my sense of urgency.  What prompted me to write this morning was this post by Southern Beale.  She was reacting to various news reports and opinions that she feels seek to scare us all into thinking Armageddon  is just around the corner. It was kinda funny to me that she referenced the Mad Max movies, since she was the second person in just a week that brought them up.  I should also say that I really like and admire Beale, we used to hang out years ago on a National blog, and she was smarter than most of the regulars, and always came across as “real.”  I also liked her views on Christianity.

But dang it, Sister, you got this one wrong!

I kid.  A little.  (I know what you drive)  Ok, so in the comment thread (burn in Hell, Haloscan)  she admits that she believes that we are running out of this precious resource, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the end of the world.  She mentioned having faith that this country has a record of pulling together during a crisis and solving seemingly unsolvable problems.  Since I’m pretty sure I’m a Humanist, I happen to agree that we can “fix” this together, I think humans are capable of anything, particularly when the collective consciousness reaches a critical mass.  Whew. (Exador is going to have kittens over that phrase) But here’s the thing…this is where I part ways with just having faith, or Faith.  Our brains are amazing tools, capable of processing more information more quickly than any computer, and yet even when we experience that awesome power day in and day out, we somehow manage to minimize what we can do as human beings.

This was about Peak Oil, right?  I’ll get there.  But I feel compelled to address what I see as a major stumbling block for me with regard to applying faith where we need to apply thought. I WANT to have faith that it will “all work out.”  I have children, after all, and I want them to be happy and healthy and have a bright future.  I struggle daily to find balance with respect to making their childhood memorable, and preparing them to be ready for what life might hold for them.  And so I seek balance in my own life as well, though I’ll admit that I fall somewhat short most of the time.  (But at least we are journeying together, right?)  My point here is that I’d love to just have faith, but like that popular story about the man stranded on a rooftop, I’m gettin on the helocopter, pronto.

So, for a minute, lets imagine a blip in the availability of gasoline.  I remember sleeping in my car so that I wouldn’t lose my place in line at the gas station not that long ago.  Most of my current friends don’t remember that because they weren’t born or were small children at the time.  But it stayed with me for a very long time, that feeling of helplessness because I couldn’t get anywhere until I filled my tank.  (At the time, I didn’t know how dependent I was on oil and all of it’s by-products. ) Ok, so something causes a temporary disruption in fuel delivery to our gas stations.  Like I said, just a blip.  A few days.  A week.   Those with fuel already in their cars go about their business, and head to the grocery store, only to find it almost barren.  (Food moves on trucks, trucks use fuel).  Think back to any news broadcast on Dec 26th of almost any year, and I bet you remember some riot at  Walmart over the scarcity of some new toy.  Imagine the fun if there was a scarcity of food.  Most people I know shop week to week, few people stock much beyond that.

All of us felt pretty helpless watching the events following hurricane Katrina.  To me, the thing that scared me the most,  and I mean scared me, was the fact that one town, just across the bridge , dispatched it’s police officers to point their weapons at the refugees fleeing the horror that was New Orleans.  Part of me understands that an order like that might be given by some stupid politician, but no part of me understands how these guys obeyed it.  What part of them was so disconnected from those people seeking safety that they would point loaded guns at them to keep them out even if it meant their jobs?  Could you do it?

To me, the warning signs are everywhere.  I tend to be good at logistics, so I always look for ways to minimize wasted time or effort, and I am worried that most people have no plan in place to deal with even a short-lived oil shortage.  In fact, I’ll bet most people have no clue as to how much of their lives depend not only on a supply of oil, but a cheap supply.

I fear this is getting to long to read, so I will post more about this in the days and weeks to come, but for now I have to say that I don’t think it will take much more than a temporary gasoline crisis to provide a glimpse of what Armageddon might look like.  Boy do I want to be proven wrong.

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Doctor Won’t Be Prosecuted For Bravery

Unless I missed something about this story, I will never understand the attempt made by Charles Foti
to prosecute Dr. Pou for murder and conspiracy.  There is no evidence that she intentionally gave lethal injections to elderly patients suffering from dehydration, but, even if there were, is it not clearly a case of a compassionate doctor doing her best to alleviate needless pain?  I cannot imagine what that hospital would have been like in the days following Katrina.  No electricity, no food, no water, no end in sight to those conditions.  Yet, her and a handful of nurses stayed, risking their own lives, to tend to those unable to escape.  That fact should trump everything else.  Had this doctor been found liable for these deaths, I can tell you that I would hate to be a patient in a hospital when a disaster strikes.  What doctor would risk everything, and possibly face incarceration to administer some pain medication?  I’m happy the Grand Jury found no grounds for a trial in this case.

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Let’s Keep It Simple

Sorry, but my Google-fu (Thanks, Kate) is not strong.  But somewhere in the internets last night I read “The Reps” desperate argument about why so many that support the war don’t serve.  His argument, slightly/heavily paraphrased:

“I don’t have to play football for UT in order to be a fan, or go root for them to win, etc.”

Here’s the thing, Rep.  The UT guys don’t need you.  We should at least not keep sending the same boys back in time after time because we do not have enough fresh troops.  This is where you guys “rooting from the sidelines” come in.  We need more troops so that our guys catch a break now and again.  Can we count on you?  If not, your “support the troops” mantra rings hollow.

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Calling Ezra Klein!

My eldest daughter is a server for a growing chain restaurant.  I think it’s a good gig for her, and she is probably an excellent server, and I like the fact that she seems to enjoy her work.  Here’s the thing.  She told me that in California, the minimum wage is something like 7.50 an hour.  Apparently, there is no exemption for tipped employees.  So, she earns tips in addition to her hourly wage.  Great.  Now, California must be only second to New York with respect to the “costs of doing business”, yet, companies find ways to keep profitable there.  We visited the Nashville location of this restaurant, and she said that the prices were only slightly different, nothing truly noteworthy.  So, Ezra, tell me why that company can pay it’s help 7.50 an hour in California, where they have sky-high real estate prices, (thereby driving up costs) and a much higher tax rate, yet continues to not only operate, but experience record growth? It can’t be volume, I mean, you can only serve so many people a day.  Whenever I hear from Conservatives over the minimum wage debate, all I ever get is the argument that a government mandated wage floor would kill a company’s incentive to hire, and therefor, grow.

I was already thinking about this when I read that CostCo’s average wage was something like 18 dollars an hour.  What is Walmart’s?  6?  10?   Their prices are comparable, so how does CostCo do this?

(I’m asking Ezra because I am a fan of his, and he usually takes complex financial issues and writes about them in a way that a moron like me can understand.  But please, feel free to chime in if you have thoughts)

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Contractual Obligation?

Yikes, how the mighty have fallen.  I sat through Bill Maher’s new HBO special last night, and was embarrassed for him, for HBO, and for those of us on the Left.  Talk about phoning it in.  I can write better material than that, (and, without stealing jokes from other comedians) and I can hardly string 2 sentences together.  Bill, buddy, I’m a huge fan of your show.  Your last special was pretty good too, at least it was topical and clever and somewhat biting.  This one?  Rehashed old bits about W, and to a large extent he is hardly relevant anymore.  I’ll match my Liberal credentials against anyone’s, and I was actually uncomfortable through a good portion of your tired schtick.  I think you were obligated to do this one, right?  One of the things I like about Left leaning comedians is that they are head and shoulders smarter and funnier than anyone on the Right.  We own humor, they got the slogans.  Its all they have.  You saw what happened to Dennis Miller when he whored himself out to the Right?  He had to “dumb down” his material, and it killed his career.

I’ll watch you next Sept, though, your guests and New Rules make me laugh every week.  If you need to do another Special, see if Colbert can loan out his writers…

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Speak Now Against The Day

Rollin through my bookmarked sites this morning, saw this at TCP via Blue Collar Muse.

Here is an excellent recap, but I have a question for any lawyerly types out there.  Wasn’t this case deserving of a change of venue?  In fact, I’d like to see more of an explanation by the Public Defender’s office as to why this case wasn’t moved to another jurisdiction.

There is no justification for a six on one beating.  The boys that participated in it should be punished, but it is readily apparent that there is more than a little overt racism in that Parish, particularly with respect to the application of justice.

It’s worth noting that Jena is the site of the infamous Juvenile Correctional Center for Youth that was forced to close its doors in 2000, only two years after opening, due to widespread brutality and racism including the choking of juveniles by guards after a youth met with a lawyer. The US Department of Justice sued the private prison amid complaints that guards paid inmates to fight each other and laughed when teens tried to commit suicide.

Seems the adults there have done a poor job of protecting everyone’s children.

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Disclaimers Implied

I am beginning to be disturbed by what is, at least for me, a new trend of posting for manipulation.  I’ve seen way more of it than I think is healthy, but it wasn’t until I read Kat’s post that I decided to write this.  Seems she decided to delete a post she’d written so as not to offend the wrong people.  I understand that.  I have to say I applaud that decision.  (I should make it clear that I’m not saying Kat’s piece would have been manipulative, but, rather, I’m saying that she apparently felt that some people may have assumed, incorrectly, that the post was about them).

I understand that we all use manipulative techniques from time to time, but I’ve grown weary of lazily written “heartfelt” posts that really don’t say enough to make it clear what the author means, thereby inviting his/her readers to wonder if there is some “hidden message” meant for them.  Cryptic posts strike me as manipulative, intended to get the last word in, or to invite affirmations from loyal readers.  Maybe the posts are intended to invoke guilt in the hopes that the author can bring about some desired result.  I just have to say I don’t care for them.  And, I should say here, that no one author or post provoked this thread.  (Clearly, it takes effort to insure one is not being manipulative, as this post could be seen as somewhat manipulative.)

I’m sure someone will point out to me that in and of itself, manipulation isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  As an activist, I do intend to educate and sway, and yes, sometimes I am angling for someone to act.  I am hoping to separate this from the inter-personal though.  Then again, I could be way off base here.  Whoda thunk it?

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