Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Timing Of It All

In last Tuesday’s decision of the Supreme Court upholding Michigan’s constitutional ban on race-based affirmative action, Justice Sotomayor characterized the view of conservative members of the court as “out of touch with reality.”   She chastised the members of the court who “speak high-mindedly of racial equality even as they write off decades-old precedent meant to address the lingering effects of centuries of racial discrimination.” The reality, she wrote, is that “race matters.”
In 2006 Michigan voters approved a constitutional amendment banning affirmative action on the basis of race in admissions to public universities and colleges. Since then, the ban has already resulted in a 25 percent drop in minority representation in Michigan’s public universities and colleges, even as the proportion of college-age African-Americans in the state has gone up.
Part of the record before the Supreme Court ignored in rendering this decision was a finding of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in August 2007, that
The record and the district court's factual findings indicate that the solicitation and procurement of signatures in support of placing Proposal 2 on the general election ballot was rife with fraud and deception. [Nothing has been ] submitted  . . . to rebut this. By all accounts, Proposal 2 found its way on the ballot through methods that undermine the integrity and fairness of our democratic processes.”
In a 2007 opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race,” in a case striking down school integration efforts in Washington and Kentucky. “Things have changed dramatically” in the 50 years since the Voting Rights Act was passed, he wrote last year in another case which struck down a provision of that act.  Within months of that decision, various states throughout the south passed laws intended to limit the registration of black voters.
Robert’s quotes represent a distorted vision of racial justice. As Justice Sotomayor puts it, “we ought not sit back and wish away, rather than confront, the racial inequality that exists in our society.”
It is terrible irony that within days of the Michigan decision, the owner of a nearly all-black professional basketball team  asks a woman friend why she insists on parading her friendships with blacks, and at one point asks her not to bring “them” to Clippers games. The man chastises her for taking a photograph with Magic Johnson and asks her not to bring Johnson to any more games.

Then, in the same time period there is Cliven Bundy, a cattle rancher, complaining about blacks while at the same time receiving more than $1 million in public grazing time without paying a dime.  He claimed that African-Americans were ruined by government subsidies and might be “better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life.”  He then explained that his racist remarks were all the “freedom to say what we want. If I call — if I say ‘negro’ or ‘black boy’ or ‘slave,’ I’m — if those people cannot take those kind of words and not be offensive, then Martin Luther King hasn’t got his job done yet.”

I have written about my personal experiences with regard to hearing all-too-frequent racist comments from members of the elite country clubs to which I belong which make me sick.  The rhetoric has heated up in the past few days, however, as these various events have coalesced to create an “open season” on the disparagement of people of color, the descendants of slaves who were counted as less than 2/3 of personhood by our U.S. constitution less than 160 years ago.
Racism is alive and well, and we are a work in progress.  Unfortunately, the wheels have temporarily come off and the cart is moving backward.  That ignorant S.O.B. Cliven Bundy did get one thing right.  Martin Luther King hasn’t got [the] job done yet.”  Tell that to the Supreme Court.

Just saying . . .

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Farmer's Words of Wisdom

Life from the seat of a tractor;  An old farmer's words of wisdom...
  • Your fences need to be horse-high, pig-tight and bull-strong.
  • Keep skunks and bankers at a distance.
  • Life is simpler when you plow around the stump.
  • A bumble bee is considerably faster than a John Deere tractor.
  • Words that soak into your ears are whispered....not yelled
  • Meanness don't just happen overnight.
  • Forgive your enemies; it messes up their heads.
  • Do not corner something that you know is meaner than you.
  • It don't take a very big person to carry a grudge.
  • You cannot unsay a cruel word.
  • Every path has a few puddles.
  • When you wallow with pigs, expect to get dirty.
  • The  best sermons are lived, not preached.
  • Most of the  stuff people worry about, ain't never gonna happen anyway.
  • Don't judge folks by their relatives.
  • Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.
  • Live a good and honorable life, then when you get older and think back, you'll enjoy it a second  time.
  • Don't interfere with somethin' that ain't bothering you none.
  • Timin' has a lot to do with the outcome of a rain dance.
  • If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop diggin'.
  • Some days you eat the bear, some days the bear eats you.
  • The biggest troublemaker you'll probably ever have to deal with watches you from the mirror every mornin'.
  • Always drink upstream from the herd.
  • Good  judgment comes from experience, and a lotta that comes from  bad judgment.
  • Lettin' the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier than puttin' it back in.
  • If you get to thinkin' you're a person of some influence, try orderin' somebody else's dog around.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Green Cheese

The moon is made of green cheese.  I repeat, the moon is made of green cheese.  The chances of convincing a substantial portion of the American public that the moon is made of green cheese are very high if only I can find an extremely wealthy financier to give me enough money to bribe, (Oops, the Supreme Court doesn’t like that word), let me substitute ‘influence ‘ politicians that this Dr. Suess idiom is true.  To do so, I will also need the assistance of Fox TV and a ‘connector’. I would define ‘connector’ as a claim, whether true or not, that President Obama persists in denying that the moon is made of green cheese.  Given these criteria, all the elements will be in place.  Once the idiom is repeated enough times by the blonde news pundits on the various Fox ‘news’ programs, the claim will become an election day issue which will guarantee a large turnout from that group of people (known as Republicans) that, convinced the moon is made of green cheese, will vote, knee-jerk style, against anything Obama stands for.   If the Koch brothers and ALEC through bribery, (Oops, that word again), can get the green cheese issue on election ballots, Republican dominated states will declare, without a hint of shame, but with the usual righteous indignation, that the moon is, indeed,  made of green cheese.  For anyone who thinks this latter statement is too harsh, I invite you to name one thing, anything at all, that any Republican in the country is in agreement with something Obama has done or said in his six years as the president of our country when the contrary position has had the big-money backing of the Koch brother or Sheldon Adelson, a couple of fat-cats exercising their first amendment right to express themselves by letting their money talk for them rather actually saying something intelligent.

Take the ACA, the Affordable Care Act, for instance.  Less than a year after its implementation, the ACA is a demonstrable unqualified success.  This week more than 8 million Americans have already signed up to receive its benefits which include, among others, the right to be insured even if one has a pre-existing illness, the right to keep a child 26 and under on a parent’s insurance policy, and as the current Congressional Budget Office report estimates, the cost of the law will be $100 billion lower than expected and will significantly shrink the deficit over the next 10 years.

Now, take a deep breath and repeat after me; the moon is made of green cheese, the moon is made of green cheese.  The Koch brothers have sponsored this message that will be prominently advertised 400 times a day until election day and Koch-supported congressmen will vote for the 45th? time to repeal the ACA buttressed by Paul Ryan’s assertion that covering people with pre-existing conditions is too expensive.  (Note to myself: Remember to ask the GOP what do we do for those people).

Oh yeah, and I'm the tooth fairy.  Just saying . . .