May 20, 2010

“Do you try to evolve or do you try to know what you are?”   This was a question posed on tonight’s episode of NBC’s “Community”.  This is a real question, even if it was delivered in a Full House-esque manner.  You know, we all laugh when DJ and Kimmy get drunk and fall but then we cry when Danny reveals the seriousness of the issue and the real life people make a PSA after the episode.  It really boils down to whether or not we do what we should or what we are comfortable with.

Skipping the crap, ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION IS ILLEGAL.  Arizona’s new has created a rift not seen since the Team Jacob/Edward thing.  Tonight on NPR a lady claimed that this law illustrated “America’s fear of people with brown skin”.  You have to be kidding me.  Somehow, the enforcement of law indicated something wrong with America.  Maybe she is unaware of the former all caps statement.  The law simply indicates that if someone is stopped by police, the police have the authority to ensure they have proper documentation to be in the country.  This is barely different than when you are pulled over for speeding and the cops make sure you don’t have a warrant.  Should we stop that?

Let’s not worry about any laws because it makes us uncomfortable.  If people want to illegally come into a country let them, they are only trying to improve their situation.  So are people who steal.

I was once told “if you want sympathy, you can find it in the dictionary between shit and syphilis.  This may be funny and quippy but sympathy isn’t a bad thing.  I get it.  People want to improve their situation.  Good.  It’s human nature to want to improve but not at the expense of the law.

The mayor and city of Los Angeles have decided, because of the Arizona law, to boycott the state.  As wrong as they may be I applaud their sense of duty.  The city has banned all travel to Arizona for business and will not consider any future contracts with companies based in that state.  Good for them.  This generated a response from the Arizona Department of Energy.  Not the whole department but a member.  He offered to help LA with their new boycott.  You see, 20-25% of LA’s electricity is provided by two power plants located in Arizona.  The ADE rep offered to divert that power somewhere else in order for LA to not rely on Arizona for any services.  LA declined the offer.

This brings us back to our original question.  Arizona, has enacted a law, right or wrong, they have stood by their decision.  LA has started a boycott, right or wrong, and they are picking and choosing the bits that help them the most.  I am choosing to leave this slightly open ended to encourage some discussion.  I am not sure who reads this blog, but I would value your comment.  Which community is right?


The South is Back

May 16, 2010

The American South has often been thought of as the black sheep of the US.  Not just the slow kids but the racists, the fat ones and the closed-minded ones.  This was somewhat correct for quite sometime.  However, this has changed and is soon going to be completely in the past.  The South is slowly moving away from all the attributes listed above and here’s how.

The antebellum South  was behind from the start.  Decades of slavery had created a social and logistical norm.  This differed from the societal structure the existed in the North.  It is for this reason that the civil rights movement was so crucial to the South.  Not just fully welcoming a huge portion of the population into society but catching up to the North.  Finally, a century later, whites and blacks could coexist either happily or through legal requirement. There was a hidden bonus during the civil rights movement as well.  When MLK Jr. took the fight to Chicago he was nearly killed and met quite a bit of resistance.  Let me remind all readers that Chicago is not in the South.  So, therefore, there are racists everywhere, not only in the South.

The next step forward was the end of the Vietnam war.  I’ll make this short.  The US lost the Vietnam war, arguably by our own design, but we lost.  Now, all Americans have lost a war, not just southerners, and Native Americans.  Southerners tend to hold on to things, like the fact that we lost the war, so now that everyone has lost one together.  We’re like the small child who broke a lamp.  Mom dropped a vase, so now we can come out from under the blanket.

The South has historically been slow to adopt technology.  Cotton was king for quite sometime but started as just another crop, not as useful as we know it today.  Finally a northerner creates the cotton gin and we can begin to produce more.  As enterprising as southerners are why did no one make one.  Because the South enjoys the way things are now and reminisces about how things were.  On to my point, computers have been around awhile now.  I guess the south initially thought they may be some fad, or brief folly, like beta films, HD DVD or Ryan Leaf.  But we use them and love them and embrace them.  Last year 5 of the top 10 digital cities in America were fom the South.  Atlanta has previouly been recognized as one of the most advanced cities in the World.  This has something to do with the infrastructure that was installed leading up to the Olympics in 1996 but it still demonstrates advance.

The final reason that the South is able to catch up and become whole again, homogeny.   As I sit here and watch recorded episodes of NBC’s Thursday night line up I am fast forwarding through commercials for southern food.  There are several chains of southern food, it’s mostly fried stuff, but southern fried just the same.  Outside of Boston Market, there really aren’t a lot of regional food chains.  And to date, you can get sweet tea in all 50 states.  You couldn’t do that even two years ago.  Country music has become incredibly popular.  Pervasive to the point that Donald Trump had Trace Atkins on the Apprentice and Oprah speaks about Tim McGraw and Faith Hill like lifelong friends.  Immigration also adds to the homogenization.  Florida is barely a southern state and is known more for it’s latin heritage than being southern at all.    Textile manufacturing in North Carolina is done almost entirely by Hispanics.  This means several things but not the least of which is that there are all sorts of people in the South causing the politics to change.  It’s not just a big group of red states.

The South is no longer the slow, closed-minded, racist, fat kid.  This means two things.  The first, the South has made incredible progress and has broken the negative stereotypes that have defined the region for so long.  The second, the bumper sticker that reads “The South will rise again” is partially correct.  Which means that the slow, closed-minded, racist, fat guy driving the truck is partially correct.  When that guy is right, no one wins.  Maybe we haven’t come that far after all.

The Judge

May 10, 2010

The judge is more than a car or a phrase that appears in the guest book from my sister’s wedding.  It is a person, of which you are aware.  But I have little desire to discuss just any judge, especially today.  So I guess this should be called “The Justice”.  As a refresher there are nine Justices, one of whom is a Chief Justice.  They are appointed for life.  A president will nominate and the Senate gets to debate and approve.

Currently, with the retirement of Justice Stevens, all the them went to Yale or Harvard law.  Four of them hail from the five boroughs of Manhattan.  Not exactly what I would call diversity.  I am not saying that some should be Ivy League, some from a mid-major and  one or two with on-line degrees, but it would be nice to know that they had experienced something outside of the high stone walls of over-priced academia.  There is however good news on the diversity front.  There are currently two female Justices and a third has been nominated.  Not quite representative of the 51% in the rest of society, but at least the fairer sex is getting a leg up. But there is something even better going on.

I would hope that a wise White man with the richness of his experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a Latina female who hasn’t lived that life.  Does that sound a bit off to you?  Well that is a quote from Justice Soto-Mayor.  I have of course switched the white male and latina female bits.  When written as it appears here, it’s a bit racist, however when she said it, no one seemed to mind.  I did.  But it was almost a good thing.  We’ve got some real weirdos under the flag.  Why shouldn’t we have someone on the supreme court that represents the crazy ones?

Sure they all meet the Harvard/Yale standard but like a good batch of brownies, why not throw in some nuts.  Maybe Kagen has a lower back tattoo, or participates in roller derby.  Maybe they all deep fry a turkey each year while sitting on the tailgate of Justice Robert’s truck.  I bet there’s a Wii in the chambers and difficult deliberations are settled with doubles tennis.

This would represent America.  That’s what the supreme court is for.  The president was supposed to represent the people, but now only represents a single party and is practically forbidden from stepping across the aisle.  Congress can’t make decisions for fear that their party won’t support them when it comes to re-election.  The Supreme Court is our last hope.  They have a lifetime appointment.  There are like the old man who wears sweatpants tucked into his socks and hasn\’t brushed his hair this decade, they don’t have to care.  They can order a glass of milk at fine restaurants and wear velcro shoes.  Their decisions will be criticized but can’t be thrown in their face at election time.

So, as much as I don’t like Soto-Mayor and think Kagen may be way too out there, especially given the recruiting incident, they should be in the mix.  As a friend of mine once said describing “Lost”  “they bring you slowly into the crazy.”  I don’t want the justices all playing disc golf on the weekends, but they don’t all need to be card carrying members of Martha’s Vineyard country club.