Ferguson’s Affirmative Action Solution

Part of the fallout of the Trayvon Martin shooting was a change at the top for Sanford PD.  Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee first stepped down from his position, and then later, after offering to resign, was fired.  Lee was replaced by Cecil E. Smith as the new Sanford Police chief. In Ferguson, MO, Police Chief Thomas Jackson had his entire police department shunted to the sidelines as the Governor put the State Police, lead by Captain Ron Johnson, in charge.  The common thread of course is that in both racially charged cases, a white person was replaced by a black person.

Of course, in the never ending war on noticing, we…aren’t supposed to notice that.  It’s just a guy bungling the situation replaced by someone who is hopefully more competent.  But in both cases with black victims and an activated civil rights establishment on the march; literally on the march, it makes perfect sense that the head of the law enforcement agency in question be headed by someone who’s black.

And as a PR move, it’s worked great.

The media is full of respectful and flattering stories of Captain Ronald Johnson and it’s not just media hype, he’s achieved real results in bringing a boiling situation to a simmer and getting control of the looting after the Ferguson Police Department’s heavy handed military occupation-like attempt to gain control through superior firepower.  And although Johnson does deserve all due credit for that, the fact is that he would not have been able to do that if he were white.

In the post civil rights era, the realization of this started back in the infamous Rodney King beating and has continued up through the age of a Black President, from Trayvon Martin to Michael Brown.  Black people do not trust white cops.  They never have, and are unlikely to start in any of our lifetimes.  We can gnash our teeth of this, and try even more community outreach programs that will fail like all the ones before, but in a town like Ferguson, MO, with a black population of 67%, the police department is 94% white.

The consequences of this are that the black population feels like they are under occupation, and as demonstrated by the Ferguson PD overkill to the looting, they clearly think they are occupying hostile territory. Black President or no, this is an extremely racially divided country, and not because of this or that racial crisis that the media loves to gin up, but because that is our default position.  Sad to say, but the racial divide is normal.  It’s not just a media creation (although they do love to exploit it).  White people like to pretend that after the civil rights era it’s all taken care of, and will point to our Black President as proof, “See there?  Black guy; mission accomplished.”

Mission not accomplished and it may never be accomplished.  We can of course, go on and pretend that this isn’t a divided country, or we can stare down reality and admit that we have problems that another commission, or inner city funding, is not going to solve.

Civil society and all of the threads that make a society work depend on social trust.  That is increasingly in short supply in our society, but it is clearly missing in the relationship between Blacks and police, otherwise we wouldn’t have ‘The Talk.’  But, if we’re willing to accept these painful truths maybe we can do something to mitigate the damage these incidents play on our national psyche.  We need to recognize that Black people really want to be policed by Black cops.

I’m no fan of the concept of Affirmative Action.  I think it’s a legal and constitutional stain on the country, but you know, we have a lot of stains.  Maybe we ought to recognize that for black people, they need the trust in law enforcement that black law enforcement can provide and that white law enforcement, no matter how well meaning, will never be able to.  So what am I suggesting?  I think we need black cops to police black areas.  This would require a massive hiring of new black police officers to police these areas, so this isn’t something that would happen overnight.  It would take years to implement.  But I think the benefits make it worth pursuing, and we certainly haven’t come up with anything else that’s made much of a difference.

But a major nationwide recruiting effort with the subsequent publicity might make a lot of black youth consider a career in law enforcement that they wouldn’t otherwise have even considered.  And not for nothing, but these are considered “good jobs.” People in high crime areas might consider calling the cops more, and actually talking to them, instead of avoiding “snitching.”  If they can start trusting their local cop on the beat, maybe they can start trusting law enforcement at large.  Certainly if a black cop shoots a black suspect, it’s not going raise the ire of the civil rights establishment.  Eventually, when those incidents happen, maybe black people will have the same reaction to those shootings that white people have when a white or black cop shoots a white suspect; ignore it.  Generally we default assume the guy had it coming, not that the cop set out to specifically murder someone.

It’s a low bar of achievement I realize, but we have to accept that for our racially divided society, we can’t even reach that low bar.  We need to try something, even if means recognizing painful truths.

 

 

 

No Moderates in Palestine

I don’t think I’ve written specifically on the Israeli-Palestinian permanent crisis before; mostly because I just don’t have the background on the various agreements, history, and grievances that make this continuing conflict such a stain on the planet.  But as the latest Gaza War winds down, I’ve learned a few lessons that make it a lot easier to know which side to be on.

I’ve been on a web forum for politics for several years now that has an international flavor; there are posters from all over the world who show up to lodge their opinions.  So the Gaza conflict naturally brought out people from all over the world to post their opinions, which, it’s no surprise, were almost uniformly anti-Israeli.  Actually, I’m being kind by referring to the comments as “anti-Israel.”  The real basis of it is good old fashioned anti Semitism.

That’s one of the sad things I’ve learned about the world.  When I first started posting on this particular political forum, I was shocked by the amount of casual anti Semitism that was on display.  That was something that was rarely seen on American political web boards.  Or at least not that I’ve seen. But it really brought into focus one of those issues that confound students of history; namely, how could a civilized nation like Germany fall to such depths that it operated extermination camps for the purpose of mass murder of the Jews?  After a few months on that board, the real question is why aren’t those camps up and running now, considering the depth of hatred that currently exist all over the world for Jews?  It seems that outside of the United States (and I recognize that a slice of internet commentary isn’t the “real world”) that despite the various ranges of language, culture, class, ethnicity, and politics, the world is united in it’s antipathy for the Jews.

So during the Gaza conflict, I was enjoying a discussion thread with a Jordanian who, based on previous postings, was not in any sense, a fanatic. So I thought it would be enjoyable and enlightening to discuss the pros and cons.  I admitted that I didn’t know every in and out of the conflict, but of the two combatants, one was clearly representing civilization, and one was representing barbarity, so in a world of limited information, I’m on the side of civilization.

It was enlightening anyway.

One of the problems in discussing this issue is that the pro-Palestinian side is never honest about their endgame.  I’ve heard from foreign policy experts, diplomats, and pundits that everyone knows what peace will look like:  A two state solution.  The problem is that only one side really believes in a two state solution.  That was the case for this Jordanian, who after saying he supported a two state solution, ended up opposing the best two state solution, the original UN Partition Plan for Palestine, and the second best one, which was the Camp David Summit that took place in 2000 under Bill Clinton where he got Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat to hammer out an agreement that Arafat ultimately rejected.

My Jordanian friend explained that the Camp David agreement would only provide 92% of the West Bank, therefore was unacceptable.  I thought 92% was pretty good terms for the losing side.  And that’s what the Palestinians and their apologists don’t seem to get.  They not only lost the war at the partition and the declaration of Israel’s independence, they’ve lost every single war since then.  Of course, if they had won even one, Israel would no longer exist and it’s likely they’re would be a scarcity of Jews in the area.  For Israel, every war is an existential one.

But losing sides don’t dictate terms, they accept them.  Every other side that has been on the losing end of a war they started and lost territory; at least understands why they lost the territory.  Does Germany get to claim the Sudetenland or Danzig (now Polish Gdansk) back from the war they started and lost?  Nope.  Nor would the world tolerate ethnic Germans living in UN financed refugee camps in 2014 for a war they lost in 1945, whining to get those territories back. Germany makes a good example for another reason:  The Arabs sided with the Nazi’s during World War II.  There are no spoils of war for the losers.

The Palestinians have lost their war and don’t know it. Every other people who get defeated in war and lose territory…don’t get it back. The Mexicans are not getting the Southwest back. Nor were the Mexicans living on the US side of the border put in refugee camps for decades. They either became Americans or left for Mexico. Look how many times the borders of Europe have been changed due to war just in the past century. The losers don’t get do overs. Is the Ukraine getting The Crimea back? Nope. If the entire world was as crazy as the Palestinians, sitting in their refugee camps decade after decade, human life would be extinct. We would have nuked each other over and over until there wasn’t a human left. They should either accept the borders they have and declare themselves an independent state, or pack up and try to find a country to accept them. I don’t understand the entire world having to revolve around the genocidal ambitions of the Palestinians. There doesn’t seem a logical reason for it, unless  virulent anti-Semitism counts as a reason.

If Israel isn’t legitimate than none of the Arab states are since they were all drawn up the same way, on the drawing board of Europe.  And my Jordanian debater?  He eventually admitted that the real occupied territories are the ones Israel took with them on independence.  In other words, the entire state of Israel is an occupation.  So you can see, there is no room ever for compromise in the Arab mind.  The hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who live in refugee camps are not refugees from the West Bank, they are “refugees” from Israel, and their intention is to return home when there is no longer an Israel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu scored a good talking point in Western media when he said, “We are using missile defense to protect our civilians, and they’re using their civilians to protect their missiles.”  That’s the civilized side and that’s the side I’m on.

Why Elites Love Low Skilled Immigration

Let me offer a hat tip to the Lion of the Blogosphere for alerting me to a year and a half old column written by the New York Time’s house conservative, David BrooksCalling Brooks a conservative is a bit of a stretch.  As a Columnist for the New York Times and regular contributor to PBS’s News Hour, referring to Brooks as a conservative is akin to describing the Commander in Chief Barrack Obama as a soldier.  It’s probably more apt to describe his politics as me-too Republicanism.  That basically describes the Republican Party from the FDR era up until the age of Reagan.  They were for whatever the Democrats were for, only not as much.  Democrats would propose a program, the Republicans would say, “OK, but that program is too big. We need to trim it down.”  The Democrats would say OK and they would work out a number, not as big as first proposed, but still big, and there you go, bipartisan compromise.

English: David Brooks

English: David Brooks (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Me-too Republicanism.

As a commentator, Brooks seems to bring nothing to the table.  I’ve watched him many times over the years expound on the conventional wisdom of the day on The News Hour.  His opinions were banal and shared by everyone in his class.  He could have written the ‘Conventional Wisdom Watch’ column for Newsweek.  And of course, he was in love with Obama, famously deciding that Obama would make a great President after staring (too long I think) at the crease in Obama’s pants.

So it’s no surprise that Brooks is a supporter of amnesty and open borders immigration.  After all, everyone in his class is.  That’s the dominate view of the cocktail party set.  Brook’s column is loaded with a pablum of open borders clichés, and inaccuracies that have been debunked multiple times, but what got my attention was this comment:

 

“Thanks to the labor of low-skill immigrants, the cost of food, homes and child care comes down, living standards rise and more women can afford to work outside the home.”

 

That remark leapt out at me, so revealing as it was of the class that Brooks is a part of; wealthy, urban, liberal, and totally disconnected and unattached to the rest of the country.  Yes, food is cheaper.  But it’s cheaper because we are allowing growers to ignore actual agricultural visas and employ illegals far cheaper than they would have to pay foreign, but legal workers.  Child care, however, isn’t cheaper.  For the struggling middle class shopping for day care is as expensive as it’s ever been.  But Brooks doesn’t mean day care, he means nannies.  For that class, that’s what child care means.

Brooks is justifying a permanent underclass to keep him and his buddies in the cocktail party circuit awash in cheap nannies and arugula.  His cheap food and labor argument could have been used, and probably was used, by some southern senator in the 1850’s justifying slavery.  “Ahh say suh…(yes I’m imagining him as Foghorn Leghorn) the institution of slavery is needed to provide cheap and plentiful food and clothing for all, as well as mammies to raise ouah babies so we can pursue self actualizing careers…”  OK that last bit is more Brooks than Foghorn Leghorn, but you get the idea,

Putting it another way, Brooks could be saying, “Thanks to the labor of our slaves, the cost of food, homes and child care comes down…”Slaves, serfs, proles, no matter what you call them, a life dependent on keeping a permanent underclass so that you can live your dreams because you are crushing theirs is fundamentally un-American.  And unstable. The elites want a life of plentiful servants, just like they see on Downton Abbey, and to do that they are willing to crush wage rates among the native poor, working class, and middle class.

You can’t be an Eloi without the Morlocks, but eventually the Molocks will turn on you.

 

 

Wet Foot/Dry Foot Democrats

The ongoing and apparently not-close-to-ending border crisis allows once again the public discussion of immigration, illegals, amnesty… in other words a bunch of issues that the country is in near permanent deadlock about.  Although some of my friends on the right think  this border rush of streams of children and mothers from Central America is all part of some clever Obama scheme, it seems to me to be the dumbest clever scheme ever. If Obama’s intention was to use this crisis to pass “comprehensive immigration reform;” a code word for amnesty, he’s just screwed the pooch.

Gallup shows that the support for immigration in general has tanked since the beginning of the border crisis.

And Rasmussen shows that “59% of Likely U.S. Voters believe the primary focus of any new immigration legislation passed by Congress should be to send the young illegal immigrants back home as quickly as possible.  Just 27% say it should focus instead on making it easier for these illegal immigrants to remain in the United States.”

That makes me think there is a big gulf between what the American people think about immigration and what its elected officials think.  The problem is, it’s sometimes hard to tell what our political leaders think.  Pelosi’s comments when she visited the border patrol facility in Brownsville, Texas sounded incoherent.

“I wish I could take all those children home with me…” 

“We’re all Americans in this hemisphere, North and South America.”

Eh, what does that mean in terms of policy?  Does she support letting all of the children stay, regardless of the circumstances?  Is she planning to adopt them all?  Or does she mean everyone in the Western Hemisphere should be allowed to enter the United States? It sounds like a jumble of nonsense but the rest of the Democratic leadership is just as bad. Breitbart collected a list of the ramblings.  See if you can pick out a policy here:

“House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) claimed America already has “extensive border security” while Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, said the well-being of the illegal immigrant children “must be our first priority.”

Reps. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) “Yes, we need to match needs of our economy and our country’s values to our visa system.”

Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA) said taxpayers should pay for more lawyers for illegal immigrant children, and Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) went further, saying “every” illegal immigrant child should get legal representation.

Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) insisted that amnesty legislation would “raise wages” even though the Congressional Budget Office determined that the influx of more foreign workers would lower the wages of American workers.

If our political leaders are this stupid, one can only imagine how stupid the internet is on this issue.  I decided to collect the biggest reasons given for amnesty by left leaning folks on one of my political forums:

  • Americans are basically illegal aliens too and since we have no right to be here, we’ve no right to keep anyone else out.
  • Immigration laws are basically unenforceable so don’t even bother.
  • Border Control is too expensive. (I was shocked!  It was the first time I’ve heard anyone on the left concerned with how to pay for something.)
  • Opposition to illegal immigration is based on racism.
  • And related, to reduce the percentage of Whites in the United States.
  • The US has destroyed almost every country so people have no choice but to come here.

Compare the positions of these Yo Yos with our actual elected leaders.  There isn’t that big a difference, although the internet nuts are more direct, but it does give you, if you sift long enough, an actual position for Democrats on immigration.

Democrats seem to have an unspoken support for a form of Wet Foot/Dry Foot policy.  That policy, which we apply to Cuba under the Cuban Adjustment Act, allows Cubans who arrive in the United States to stay and apply for permanent residence.  However it doesn’t apply if Cubans are intercepted at sea.  So if a Cuban can get to the US, it’s like touching safe in a game of freeze tag.  They made it.  Democrats in policy and action sound like they want to apply that policy to every country in the world, not just Cuba.  They have not said it, yet, but it’s the most logical conclusion to their mish mash of statements.

 

My Post Vacation Links

Edward Snowden

Edward Snowden (Photo credit: DonkeyHotey)

I just drove back from vacation and boy are my…wheels tired.  OK admittedly that’s not exactly a keeper, but hey, I’ve been on vacation. But even on vacation, the learning never stops, so I’ve come across a few articles that I thought were insightful enough to pass on.

First up: ‘Revisiting Snowden’s Hong Kong Getaway’ in the Wall Street Journal.  Yeah I know it’s behind a pay wall but just Google the article title.  Sshh!  Don’t tell The Wall Street Journal this is their secret back door!

Although I try to keep up with the Snowden story, this had some tidbits I wasn’t aware of, such as Snowden vanishing from the time he arrived in Hong Kong on May 20th to the 31st of May.  Where was he?  There are no records of hotel or credit charges during those dates.  Mysterious…

 

English: American author and columnist Jonah G...

English: American author and columnist Jonah Goldberg. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Jonah Goldberg has a G File that is a testament to how good a writer he is when he can plug something worthwhile into an article that’s meant to be a throw away email newsletter. In, ‘The Importance of the Family,’ Goldberg argues that the family is the State’s biggest competitor and on the political level, Democratic political success is dependent on a disintegrating family unit.

 

 

English: Mark Steyn speaks at CPAC 2008 as Pam...

English: Mark Steyn speaks at CPAC 2008 as Pamela Gellar of Atlas Shrugs looks on. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

No links post could be complete without something from Mark Steyn.  In ‘Letting the IRS Get Away with it,’ Steyn points out one of the more troubling aspects of the IRS scandal; the release of donor lists of 501(c)3 organizations in order for leftwing activist groups to go after the donors personally.  It’s a chilling free speech issue.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

English: Bob Newhart in Norfolk, Virginia. Doi...

English: Bob Newhart in Norfolk, Virginia. Doing a personal appearance at a K-Mart store. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

And just for fun, a blog recently posted an old Bob Newhart classic bit, ‘The Driving Instructor.’  Comedy is one of those things that its practitioners can grow out of, either because they’ve worn out their shtick, they’re no longer creative enough to produce new material, or they just get too old period.  In the case of Bob Newhart, based on his recent appearances on ‘The Big Bang Theory,’ he is just as good now as he was over 50 years ago.  In Newhart’s case, his shtick is his delivery.  No other comedian has mastered the art of deadpan delivery as Newhart has.

 

 

It really is about Free Stuff

The Cochran Mississippi Republican primary victory is a week old and almost everything that could be written about has been written.  It was eye opening in several ways.  I have to say as a tactic, going after Democratic Black voters to vote in the Republican primary, was a brilliant one. It’s probably one of the most original campaign tactics I’ve heard of in years.

But that shows the depths of the hatred that the Establishment Republicans have for the Tea Party. This seat wasn’t in danger of going Democrat if McDaniel won, but the establishment so didn’t want another Tea Party candidate in office that they would rather smear their own base as racist and take a chance that the seat would flip to Democrats after these sorts of tactics. Think about that. The national party would rather a safe senate seat go to the other party than to the Tea Party!

Republicans are not usually this dirty towards Democrats.  Can you imagine Republicans sending out defamatory fliers like this out on a Democratic candidate?

 

 

Considering the dirty pool involved, I wouldn’t be surprised if a fair amount of Tea Party votes stayed home in November, putting the seat at risk.  But that was a risk the establishment was more than willing to take.

But the race was revealing in another way that I have not seen remarked on much since last week.  I often debate and view political debates online and a consistent charge from the right is that the Democrats win by promising “free stuff.”  This is of course highly insulting to Democrats since they think voters are attracted to the great ideas of the Democrats, not mere voter bribery, but in this case for the runoff, Cochran ran as the guy who could bring home the bacon and McDaniel would cut spending (insert shocked moan of the crowd here), yes cut it!  Promising to cut spending is usually one of those things that goes over well in a Republican primary or runoff, but in this case Cochran bet correctly that the new voters he was bringing in wouldn’t find that an attractive policy.  So in the war between “free stuff” and fiscal discipline, free stuff won hands down.

Normally I would at least enjoy the comfort at having been proven correct on many Democratic voters’ intentions, but it’s a rather sad commentary that voter bribery can still sway enough votes to swing an election.  And it’s dangerous for the future of the country. This runoff was a pretty good test case that free stuff is sweet candy and fiscal discipline is castor oil.  But if I had my way, I would rather take the castor oil now than the chemotherapy later.

Actually Excited About ‘The Last Ship’

Mild spoilers…

With the wave of new shows coming out for the summer, in general I’m somewhat “blah” about the new prospects.  It takes a lot to get my anticipation of a new or returning show up these days.  It has to be on the order of The Walking Dead.  In fact, it pretty much has to be The Walking Dead.  Television just isn’t doing it for me as much anymore. Even if the show concepts are good, the execution usually stumbles.  Defiance came back for season two.  It’s on my DVR.  It was just in the OK category. A new show from Syfy Dominion premiered last week.  Don’t expect a review of it from me.  I’m not a skilled enough writer to fill an entire review with all of the adjectives to describe how stinko that show is.  OK there’s one…stinko.

Falling Skies, Under the Dome… I’ll watch them but I don’t think they’ll get me excited to watch television.  With no Walking Dead and no Game of Thrones on, TV is only just TV.

Or is it?

TNT’s The Last Ship debuted last Sunday night, and sitting down to watch it, I expected just another OK show, but this was more than OK.  This was great!  So great that on the commercial breaks I turned to my wife and said, “This is great!”  My wife, who mainly tuned in for Adam Baldwin, who plays the ship’s executive officer, agreed, “Yes, Adam Baldwin is great.”

The gist of the show is a guided missile destroyer, the USS Nathan James, is sent incommunicado to the Arctic on the twin missions of some Top Secret weapons testing and to ferry along two scientists to study birds.  Now, when you put it like that, it sounds ridiculous.  I can see either having a Top Secret weapons test or having scientists study birds, but not on the same mission. You might think that the Captain should have at least raised that question, but it apparently raises no red flags.  But then, the Captain is there just to look good.  Played by Eric Dane, who formerly played…what, Dr. McCreamy or something?  In some Young-Doctors-In-Love show, he seems to see nothing unusual in combining bird watching and highly classified missile testing.

So after the completion of bird watching/missile testing, the crew is excited to return home and restore contact with the outside world, but a sudden attack by Russian choppers makes them aware of how out of contact they’ve been for the past few months.  The Captain, via teleconference with the President (a different President then when he left) learns that almost 80% of the world population is dead, and that most governments are no longer functioning, including the Russians, and that the two scientists had known the whole time, since they were not there studying birds, but looking for a primordial version of the same virus that was decimating the planet.  With the a ship that has the two scientists who may have the information to make a cure for the virus, the course of the show is set; if they can survive long enough.

So the pilot did a good job of setting up the premise, although I do have a quibble.  The ship comes across a dead in the water Italian cruise ship.  Hoping to loot it for food and fuel (diesel doesn’t grow on trees) they send a small boarding party; who has a member exposed to the virus.  Now I think this plot point could have been handled better.  It would have been a good opportunity to show what sort of skipper the Captain is by how he would handle the situation.  Should he abandon the crewman, kill him, set up quarantine on the ship and bring him back on board?  All of those are tough calls, but instead the crewman decides to shoot himself, sparing the Captain from making any hard decisions. That was a dramatic moment lost in my opinion.  And I would be surprised if that situation doesn’t arise again and again in the series.  Not everyone is going to decide to instantly kill themselves.  Then what do you do?

Anyway, I’m apparently not the only one who liked the show.  The premiere episode garnered 5.3 million viewers, which is big for cable.  Let’s hope the excitement can continue.

 

 

Iraq: Vietnam Redux?

I was too young to have any meaningful opinion on the Vietnam War.  I was just a kid.  But I do remember the last US troops leaving Vietnam.  Silly kid that I was, I thought that meant that we won the war.  It turned out that when the other shoe dropped, we lost the war.  The post Nixon Democratic surge in Congress killed meaningful military aid to South Vietnam, leading to the collapse of the South Vietnamese government within two months.  The North Vietnamese annexed the rest of the country, sent thousands into re-education camps, and launched a mass exodus of Vietnamese boat people. The iconic image is of US helicopters fleeing the American embassy in Saigon, a graphic symbol of our defeat and humiliation. The US suffered over 58,000 causalities, and ended up accomplishing nothing.

U1835718

U1835718 (Photo credit: tommy japan)

Here we go again.

I started to have that sinking, “here we go again” feeling back in January when Fallujah fell to the Al-Qaeda related group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).  Considering the effort that the US put into taking that town from Al Qaeda, that was a little heartbreaking.  For those involved in actually taking Fallujah, it’s a lot heartbreaking.

The romp across Iraq by ISIS has been stunning.  Outnumbered 20-1 by the Iraqi Army, they’ve taken Mosul and Tikrit, and are heading south, presumably for the big prize, Baghdad.  Meanwhile, back in Washington, as recently as two weeks ago the administration was still touting ending the war in Iraq and defeating Al Qaeda as their two major significant foreign policy achievements.

Of course, “ending the war in Iraq” doesn’t mean the conflict ends, only that the US isn’t playing.  I’m sure the Democratic House in the 1970’s also felt like they were ending the war in Vietnam, if of course; you count a pretty spectacular defeat as ending the war. It’s hard to believe that the Obama administration hated the Iraq war so much that they would rather have an ISIS governed Iraq rather than to try to help stop that advance.  Although they’ve already turned down requests from the Iraqi government for air strikes on militant positions. These guys just aren’t Sunni’s that want a piece of the pie, they have the serious goal of establishing an Islamic caliphate, the old Al Qaeda goal, except unlike Al Qaeda, ISIS actually controls real territory and has an actual army, not merely terrorist bombers.

Interestingly, the ISIS leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was detained by US forces in Iraq and released in 2009.When he was released, he said, “I’ll see you guys in New York.” That seems a lot less of a joke and more of a promise, particularly if ISIS succeeds in establishing its own terrorist state as a launching pad for worldwide terrorist attacks.

I hope that the Obama administration can put politics aside and take this threat seriously.  When we lost Vietnam it was a devastating blow and crippled US foreign policy for decades.  Although betraying another ally after we lost interest would be devastating for US foreign policy for decades to come, at least Vietnam didn’t become a terrorist state, threatening world security. If Obama doesn’t start taking seriously his role as world leader (and there is more evidence to the contrary than not over the last 5 years), the US and the world may find itself in a far more dangerous position than it has since 1939.  Obama has a choice to be Churchill or Chamberlain in the next few days, and I don’t have much confidence he’ll make the right choice.

 

My Netfix Review: Season 2: Orange Is the New Black

Season 2 of OINB dropped into the Netflix queue on Friday, and apparently plenty of people had time to go through all 13 episodes.

Sheesh!

I’m not a binge watcher and I think it’s unfortunate that binge watching has become a thing for our time shifted TV watching.  Frankly, I just don’t see who has the time to actually sit down for that many hours on a weekend to watch an entire television season.  Are there that many people with that much free time?  Or are unemployed hipsters the new must reach TV demographic?

So I’ve only seen three episodes so far, but I think it’s enough to know that I’m going to enjoy the season.  When last we left Piper she was beating the crap out of Pennsatucky in the yard, a season long culmination of evolution from prissy upper class WASP to what she she’s been all season and just hasn’t acknowledged; just another inmate.  Piper, with no knowledge of Pennsatucky’s condition, is roused from solitary confinement and flown via con-air to Chicago, all the while with no idea why she’s been sent there or when if ever, she’s coming back to Litchfield.

Back at Litchfield, things proceed without Piper, with interesting flashbacks on Taystee and Crazy Eyes to see what began their journey that would end up in prison.  And Red confronts a new/old rival who intends to take control of the prison.

One of the things I like about the show is that none of the inmates are who we think they are, including Piper.  Our impressions undergo a convergence.  It’s not that Piper becomes like her fellow inmates, it’s that she already had a part of her that was like them, and it slowly becomes uncovered.  And the other inmates?  They were always more complicated then we gave them credit for.

Any time there is a show with a diverse cast there will be some sort of racial controversy, however  in general, the reviews are fairly positive in that regard too.  The Root has a second season review called, Today’s Best Black Show has a White Star.  NPR’s review is New Faces Keep ‘Orange is the New Black’ Humming in a New Season.  This review is written by Eric Deggans, a man whose racial sensitivity meter is always turned up to 11, also gives a positive review of the show.  In a previous incarnation as writer TV & Media critic for the Tampa Bay Times, Deggans managed to almost single handedly get a syndicated radio show kicked out of the Tampa radio market because it crossed his racial line. So are we supposed to think there is a racial agreement on the merits of the show?

Not quite.

There is the show, and then there’s the image of the show.  One of the many blogs I frequent had, not a review of the show, but a review of billboard advertising of the show.  Particularly Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren (Uzo Aduba).

The gist being, based on the billboard advertising, Orange is the New Black is a minstrel show that debases and degrades the image of black women.  As Spike Lee might say, it’s “coonery and buffoonery.”  I waded into the discussion with the argument, based on watching the entire first season, that the idea that show degrades black women is a severe misreading of the show.  The intent of the show is exactly the opposite of that; however my knowledge of having watched the entire first season couldn’t counter impressions of the show made by a few images.  Normally I enjoy a good internet argument, but quickly saw that this one was already  doomed based on the way the commenter’s were taking this show personally, felt that feelings supersede actually viewing and knowledge of the show, and was told to stop by the blog owner.

That’s fine, and although I feel I’m correct that the show does the opposite of what those commenters said, the fact is it probably would not have occurred to me to view those images as offensive in any case.  I’m not even attuned to my image and representation being constantly shown in a degraded light by the media; just the opposite.  Of course I have many identities and some of them I am sensitive to their portrayal.  As a dad, I’m well aware that dads have been treated as clueless idiots in TV and movies since the early 1980’s.  It’s the rare TV dad that shows the common sense, wisdom, or maturity of Ward Cleaver or Mike Brady.

I’m also sensitive to the portrayal of military veterans; again because I am one.  Frequently they are shown as damaged goods, crazy, homeless, suicidal.  That’s not the typical story of military veterans in general, but it’s common enough on TV and movies.  Of course the argument could be made (and it has been) that the show really hates men.  All the good men are weak and useless; all of the strong ones are jerks. As a man however, I didn’t really care. I think those portrayals made sense in the context of the show.  Just because a show shows dumb dads, crazed vets, or evil men doesn’t mean I won’t watch the show.

And that’s the difference, I think.  Since my image isn’t generally attacked in media, I don’t view media impressions as a personal attack on me.  Clearly the image of white men in the media is positive.  For every Django Unchained or 12 Years a Slave, there are literally hundreds of other movies in which white guys are the heroes. Even if these white guys get arrested for a crime-they-didn’t-commit, they can be assured of facing a black female judge in court.

 

Why The Administration is Surprised by the Berghdahl Reaction

All the negative reaction to the release was of no surprise to me, but the administration was caught totally flat footed by the negative reaction of the military and the American public to Bergdahl’s release.  As Obama scribe Chuck Todd reports:

 

As Obama high priest Chuck Todd stated, the administration did expect some sort of pushback by the release of these five Taliban Gitmo prisoners, but why was the Obama administration caught so flat footed by something that the entire rest of the country felt uneasy about, the effort that went into the release of an apparent deserter?

I have two possible theories on that:

Theory One:  The Left regarded him as a hero, so Obama did too.

In 2009, when Bergdahl first disappeared, it was reported that he had left post without weapons and without permission, so from the very first reportage on this issue, we’ve known that he wasn’t just captured, but that he just walked away under suspicious circumstances.  At the time I used to argue politics with a lefty who actually posted the story on his blog and was troubled by his apparent desertion as well.  All very non-partisan right?   Then came FOX.

A few days after Bergdahl’s capture/disappearance/desertion, Fox News ran an interview with its Military Analyst, LTC Ralph Peters, who had some choice words on Bergdahl:

Peters called Bergdahl a liar and possible deserter.  If the blogosphere left needed to know what side to be on in this issue, Peters showed them; the opposite side from Peters and Fox.  I saw the left reaction to that near immediately when the same lefty who first posted the blog post on Bergdahl noting that he had walked off post suspiciously and that there was a lot more to this story, suddenly switched gears and attacked Peters for dare besmirching a captured American POW.

Private First Class Bowe Robert Bergdahl, Unit...

Private First Class Bowe Robert Bergdahl, United States Army. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I assume that 180 degree reversal came about due to some talking points that felt more hay could be made by attacking Peters and Fox for daring to attack an American soldier.  And of course, a disillusioned solder is the perfect lefty military icon.

So it makes sense that to the typical member of the Obama administration, all they would know of Bergdahl is that he’s an American hero that was attacked by Fox News years ago.

Theory Two:  An excuse to empty Guantanamo Bay

A few weeks ago I caught some video of President Obama being asked about his promise to close the US prison at Guantanamo Bay.  Obama seemed really heartfelt about his regret at not closing it.  Unlike so many issues, where it feels like he’s just reading off a teleprompter (OK he is), Obama sounded very sincere about still wanting to shut down Gitmo.  This wasn’t just a campaign promise; he really wants to do it.

But Obama has been stymied by Congress, and not just “obstructionist” Republicans, but Democrats as well.  He couldn’t get Gitmo closed when Democrats controlled both Houses of Congress, so the odds of accomplishing anything via legislation appear dim.  But even if Obama can’t close Gitmo, he’s the Commander in Chief.  He could empty Gitmo.

It’s possible that trading 5 Taliban bad guys wasn’t so much a trade as Obama giving away something he wants to get rid of anyway and pretending it’s a trade.  By all indications, these are some of the “worst of the worst.”  With those guys gone, it makes releasing guys not as bad easier.  With the Afghan War winding down, it’s possible that Obama is going to pretend that’s the end of the war on terror, and just let everyone go from Gitmo.

Although such a move seems highly irresponsible, so was releasing those five Taliban commanders and he did that, in spite of the recommendations of the military, intelligence, and foreign services.  If the Obama administration intends to do a back door shut down of Gitmo, he’s already gotten the worst out of the way.

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