Date ►►► July 31, 2013
When Worlds Collide
The fatal encounter between Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman was brought about by the opposing aspects of male identity that the respective principals were seeking for themselves. These identities, mostly idealized until the night of the incident, collided when both were acted upon.
Zimmerman desperately wanted to be in law enforcement, to be a protector of the community and seen as such. His law-enforcement studies, his carry permit, his neighborhood watch involvement, and his own statements attest to this -- and the prosecution and media disparaged him for all of these things.
Martin, ten years younger, wanted a different identity; his self-portraits with bling, a firearm, and marijuana suggests that he sought "street cred" and identified with activities and attitudes that he believed would confer such status on him. The gun and the interest in developing his physical combat skills could be completely unrelated to any desire for gangsta credentials; but in this case, taken together with his school suspensions, his attire, his mode of speech, and the photos on his cell phone, the connection seems clear.
It may well be that when young Martin set out for the store, only snacks, not trouble, were on his mind. But sometime between his first sighting of Zimmerman and the moment when Martin threw the punch that broke Zimmerman's nose, that intention clearly changed.
No theory of the encounter will comfort Martin's parents. No rehash of the facts will satisfy every protester or armchair analyst. Martin and Zimmerman could each have made different, conciliatory, or at least de-escalating choices at many points on the timeline. But these two facets of male identity are so antithetical to one another by nature, it is no surprise that they often collide in the field.
Given time and guidance toward better aspirations, Martin might well have outgrown his identification with the trappings of the gangsta lifestyle as a path to respect. But the door to that alternative future began to shut when Martin eschewed a clear chance to go home or just talk to Zimmerman, and instead lingered in anticipation of confrontation. The door slammed shut when Martin either threw the first punch (as I believe he did), or at least pressed the attack when Zimmerman went down.
In the final scene, Zimmerman fired a single, fatal shot, driving the deadbolt home. But given Trayvon Martin's life trajectory, the same sad ending might well have eventually happened, even if Martin had never crossed paths with George Zimmerman.
Date ►►► July 30, 2013
Yes, I know. Korso has been a tad hard to find in these pages lately, but I swear I've got an excuse! Lots of them, actually. But I won't bore you with any of that, not when there's plenty of other stuff I can bore you with. So let's get to it, shall we?
Ah, Tony the Weiner. What can I say?
We sure missed you, buddy. And after the all-Zimmerman-all-the-time coverage of the last few weeks, your return to the spolight couldn't have come at a better time. Sure, it must've been hard to top the last time your eminence came into prominence -- but you didn't let that hold you back, not for a New York minute. Carlos Danger? Sheer brilliance. And Sydney Leathers? That's just taking it to a whole new level, bro. You've given inspiration to legions of "Fifty Shades" fanfic writers. Salute your little soldier, my friend, cuz he done good.
Of course, not everyone is so enamored of the Weiner's return to pubic -- er, public -- life. One of them is Tina Brown, who posted her thoughts on the Daily Beast. While I certainly admire her coinage of the term "dicksmanship," the piece quickly descends into the kind of male bashing you might find on The View -- men can't be trusted with power, men take too many stupid risks, yada yada -- most of which is largely true, as anybody who has lived in a guys' dorm can readily attest; however, Brown's assertion that women aren't just as guilty of bad judgement in their own special ways strikes me as a bit sexist. Just ask Rielle Hunter. Or Monica Lewinsky.
Which brings us to my larger point: just why is it that we're seeing a vertiable sexplosion of risky behavior on the part of male politicians these days? After all, it's not just Tony the Weiner--there's Mayor Whatshisname Filner out in San Diego kissing the girls and making them cry. Al "Love Story" Gore also managed to squeeze in an affair while he wasn't asking his comely masseuse to release his second chakra. Then there's John Edwards. Jesse Jackson. Not to mention the Mack Daddy himself, Billy Bob Clinton. What is it with these guys?
Well, there is an answer -- but I don't think Tina Brown is gonna like it.
The reason these men do what they do isn't just because they're looking for nothin' but a good time (although that does play into it). The simpler -- and far uglier -- truth is that, by and large, they're allowed to get away with it. Take the Edwards example I listed above. Why would a man risk so much in the middle of his presidential nomination bid just so he could boink his videographer? Because he figured that because he was a Democrat, the mainstream press would dutifully look the other way -- and for a while, that's exactly what they did (until the National Enquirer did the job that "serious" reporters were unwilling to do).
And it's not only that. The culture also looks the other way, so long as the men behaving badly hold the correct political opinions. You support abortion and free birth control? Feel free to fool around on your wife and family! Hell, Teddy Kennedy -- that slice of bread in the famous waitress sandwich -- went to his grave lauded as a champion of women's rights, even after he let one drown in the back of his car.
So is it any wonder that Tony the Weiner thought he could get away with it? And even if he did get caught, did he have any reason to believe that he wouldn't be forgiven? Sorry ladies, but this is what enabling bad behavior in men gets you.
My advice? Expect more. You just might get it.
Date ►►► July 15, 2013
"Pinky" Reid: Confirm Our Appointees Or We'll Shoot This Dog
Your gangster government at work:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Monday that Republicans must confirm at least seven presidential appointees they've been blocking if they want to avoid a controversial change in Senate rules as early as this week.
A compromise deal to confirm fewer than those seven will not suffice, Reid said only hours before a planned bipartisan gathering on the deeply divisive issue.
The "controversial change in Senate rules" is of course the so-called nuclear option of barring filibusters of presidential appointees.
Majority Leader Harry "Pinky" Reid (D-NV, 90%) throws the GOP the bone of allowing, for now, filibusters against the president's judicial appointments. But if this first "taste" of extortion works, does anybody really believe that Reid will be satiated?
There exists an Iron Rule of Extortion and Blackmail: If once the victim gives in, the extortion will never, ever end. Having caved once, the demands increase in scope and frequency. Soon, every single appointment, even a thoroughly illegal "recess" appointment on a week-end or a holiday, will be accompanied by another brutal threat to confirm -- or else face the dreaded "nuclear option!" And the habit of acquiescence becomes harder and harder to break; incessant surrender is a narcotic.
The potential junkie in this case is of course the Republican conference in the Senate; will they have the intestinal fortitude to spit defiance back in Reid's face, making him actually resort to the nuclear option? That would surely be a better outcome than if the GOP crawls on its hands and knees, whimpering like whipped dogs, begging for another "fix" of surrender.
But would Reid actually pull that nuclear trigger? It's entirely possible that Republicans will pick up seats in the Senate in 2014 and perhaps even in 2016, especially if we win the presidency -- also a strong possibility. Do Senate Democrats really want to live under the very disabling rule that Reid threatens to install, severely limiting the power of the minority and making the Senate more like the House? Or is it that Democrats actually believe that they will control the Senate in perpetuity? After all, it has been eons since the GOP controlled the U.S. Senate... all the way back in the antediluvian days of seven years ago!
On the other hand, perhaps Reid himself plans to retire if Republicans regain the Senate, so he simply doesn't care about the consequences to the Democrats, the Senate, or the country. Après moi, le déluge!
Either way, I believe it shows extraordinary weakness, not strength, on the part of the Democrats: If they truly believed their arguments were strong and persuasive, they wouldn't need to extort support.
Date ►►► July 11, 2013
Barack Obama's Depraved Mind
- Total size of Sequestration-2013: $85 billion in total automatic budget cuts (Congressional Budget Office)
- "Bogus," fraudulent, and otherwise inappropriate federal payouts in 2012: $107.7 billion (Government Accountability Office; does anybody believe "bogus" payments in 2013 will turn out to be less than in 2012?)
- Yet we "needed" eleven weeks of a 20% pay-cut furlough in the Department of Defense in order to decrease the rate of budgetary increases because... ?
Mind, these bogus payments are not just disputed bills or an occasional overpayment; the federal government exhibits a criminal level of depraved indifference to how much of our money it pays out every year:
Comptroller General Gene Dodaro, who runs the Government Accountability Office, said his agency already has uncovered $107.7 billion in inappropriate and excessive payments in 2012, and that total is not yet complete.
Testifying before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Mr. Dodaro also said only 37 percent of federal managers knew if one or more of their programs had been evaluated in the past five years, and 40 percent were uncertain whether any review had been performed.
"Imagine beginning every month not knowing what money you have and not being able to track how much you’ve spent," said committee Chairman Darrell E. Issa, California Republican. "Yet year after year, that’s where the federal government operates."
It's actually significantly worse than $107.7 billion; that number does not include wrongful payments by the Department of Defense, which is perhaps the worst offender:
[Dorado] said the problem is particularly acute in the Defense Department: His agency has been unable to audit the Pentagon for 20 years because the military is so decentralized that there is no one source in charge of preparing documents for financial review.
And the GAO believes the Army is so disorganized that it does not know how many people it’s paying or whether soldiers and other personnel are getting the correct salaries....
But the GAO’s $107.7 billion waste estimate doesn’t include the Defense Department, Mr. Dodaro said.
If improper payments by the DoD were included into the total, and if the DoD level of fraudulent and bogus spending was the same as the rest of the government (though it likely is worse), then the real figure would be closer to $125.7 billion. (The DoD accounts for a little more than one sixth of the budget.)
But by golly, we had "no alternative" to reducing spending on the backs of low-level DoD employees! Barack "Deficit Hawk" Obama, who demanded the sequester in the first place, and who made sure the sequester would be as painful as possible on ordinary people (so he could blame the GOP later), assures us that his hands were tied: Look what those Republicans made me do!
Good thing Obama always keeps an eye on the little people; how else could he can find so many new and creative ways to nick even more money out of our pockets?
Date ►►► July 10, 2013
If Obama Had a Justice Department, It Would Look Like Trayvon
Here's a little gem: Turns out the Community Relations Service (have you heard of them?), a division of the Department of Justice (sic), aided and abetted a series of protests, marches, and rallies in the Miami area, calling for the prosecution of George Zimmerman in the Trayvon Martin shooting case; the CRS activities were paid for by (did you guess?) you. And me; and all other taxpayers. From the Daily Caller:
A division of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) was deployed to Sanford, Florida in 2012 to provide assistance for anti-George Zimmerman protests, including a rally headlined by activist Al Sharpton, according to newly released documents.
The Community Relations Service (CRS), a unit of DOJ, reported expenses related to its deployment in Sanford to help manage protests between March and April 2012, according to documents obtained by the watchdog group Judicial Watch.
So why was a division of the Justice Department agitating on behalf of Trayvon Martin and Al Sharpton, facillitating and urging that Zimmerman be prosecuted? What's next, a government-funded rally of illegals in favor of the Schumer-Rubio-Schumer immigration bill? A tax-funded mass protest (of professional "occupiers") in states that ban same-sex marriage?
According to the CRS's website, its nexus and justification was to heal "ethnic and racial tensions" following that Miami incident:
CRS was established by the Civil Rights Act of 1964. According to the CRS web page, "The Community Relations Service is the Department’s 'peacemaker' for community conflicts and tensions arising from differences of race, color, and national origin. Created by the Civil Rights Act of 1964, CRS is the only Federal agency dedicated to assist State and local units of government, private and public organizations, and community groups with preventing and resolving racial and ethnic tensions, incidents, and civil disorders, and in restoring racial stability and harmony."
Which they do by wading into controversial issues on the leftmost side after dubbing them "ethnic and racial," even if they have nothing to do with race, color, or ancestral origin, as with the Zimmerman case. (The only issue in that case is whether it was or wasn't self defense.)
Thus in small ways and large, the Obama administration has its thumb on the scale of virtually every aspect of American society. This "gangster government" goes far beyond the leftist cant that "the personal is political;" under Obamunism, the personal is accountable and subject to government intervention at any moment.
That is the context in which the NSA domestic spying program, the IRS "tea-party targeting," the Fast and Furious gun-running operation, the ObamaCare waivers and selective delays, and the incessant attempts to enact more "gun control" -- become scandals.
The danger is not that government has the ability to intercept "metadata" from phone calls -- for example, to see who in the United States is calling Ayman al Zawahiri; the danger is that this particular administration relishes the idea of using that power, along with the powers of the Internal Revenue Service, the Justice Department, Health and Human Services, and federal law enforcement, to intimidate, threaten, disenfranchise, and even destroy Americans whose only crime is holding the Constitution above the idle whim of the king.
Of course, the biggest scandal of all is that the American people elected this conniving fool with totalitarian tendencies to the highest office of the land. Twice.
The Marching Morons
...In which the Lizard continues to blow discordant notes into the cacophanous conclave of conservative correctness and communalism.
The principle argument against the Senate immigration bill wrought by the Gang of Ate -- a bill I utterly reject -- is apparently that allowing so many low-wage Mexicans and other Latin Americans into the United States would depress wages among unskilled, uneducated, native-born Americans. Can't have that.
In other words, a great chunk of the Right argues that the proper purpose of immigration reformation is protectionism for dropouts, teenagers, and pensionless retirees, so long as they are native-born Americans: Let's boost those minimum wages high enough to "incentivize" slackerdom and stasis! ("Jefty is five; he's always five.")
But since when did the conservative movement (or moment) stand for artificially inflating wages to encourage more ignorance and incompetence? Remember: What you subsidize (uneducated American workers with no useful job skills), you get more of.
Conservative "pundants" to the contrary notwithstanding, it would be an egregious contradiction of conservative principles to interdict immigration only to shield American losers and boozers from market forces; just as it would be to lay hefty tariffs on imported cars to shield American auto manufacturers from having to improve their product and reduce the price.
Conservatism should include reducing the size, reach, scope, and intrusiveness of government; not clinging to Leviathan so as to reorient it to privilege "our guys," instead of "their guys." So I am not on board with those conservatives who want to use our vast and barely controllable federal government to "help" unskilled Americans to remain unskilled in perpetuity. I don't buy that argument, not in the least.
But on the other hand, America is no longer an "industrial" nation -- and it never will be again. Current and future jobs will depend upon trained personnel with college degrees or even postgraduate studies. The U.S. has been evolving from the "factory worker" model to the "technology, health-care, and service" model; just as some time ago it evolved from "rural agriculture" to "factory worker."
Of course we still have some industry; but even in the contemporary factory, computer-assisted design and manufacture has become the norm; and such workers need education and training. Most of our jobs (whether filled by natives or immigrants) are service related, from doctors and health professionals to financial services to legal services to real-estate agents to help desks to sales clerks to food servers.
We don't need more migrants hand-picking grapes; we need more people to design better automatic grape harvesters.
With this perspective, it's irrelevant whether a low-skilled, uneducated worker comes from Oxnard, California or Baja California: Either way, by using government power to push higher the wages of work that is of less value every year, we create a bonanza of sub-minimal wage slaves. This may be great for those corporations that thrive on keeping workers ignorant, incompetent, and hungry; but it's terrible for a superpower that needs to move beyond nineteenth-century models of employment; and it's dreadful for those lured into becoming the modern equivalent of nomadic dust-bowl refugees.
The Schumer-Rubio-Schumer immigration immolation is vile, but not because it subsidizes the wrong set of throwbacks to the "dark, satanic mills." Its villainy consists rather in susidizing reactionary forces that would drive us back to FDR's New Deal. "If they only could, they surely would; um-hm."
What we really need is to let the free market work to shift us away from being a nation of "laborers," with all the baggage that term totes, and towards old and new Americans becoming educated and trained individuals. These individuals, cardinals instead of ordinals, will see themselves not as drones in a hive collective (ready to be infected with unionism), but as partners who have a real stake in the success or failure of the company that employs them. Or better yet, they will increasingly see themselves as independent contractors, or as entrepreneurs who own their own businesses and make their own contracts.
If there is inherent "dignity" in work, it resides not in brute force -- setting a man to do a mule's job -- but in the educated, trained mind that solves problems... for a price. Which kind of job should America encourage: standing in the Home Depot parking lot, hoping to be picked for day labor; or becoming a dental technician, a hydraulic fracking engineer, a teacher, a physicist, or an interior designer?
Any immigration reform should preferentially admit the intelligent, the educated, the trained, the successful, and above all those best able to assimilate into our Capitalist system, with its secular government and Judeo-Christian religious culture. But instead, this stupid and insulting Senate bill intentionally discriminates against such winners and in favor of life's foreign losers.
This is insane; why subsidize failure, whether foreign or domestic? We should make it harder, not easier, for the lowest and least workers to remain that way.
We must get our incentives in line with our ideology and with the capitalist ideal; that is the direction we must take to stay competitive and to fulfill the American Dream.
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