mercredi, novembre 30, 2005

Giving 'til It Hurts (Not!); or: Call Us Back in May, K? Thanx!

When you ask non-profits they say they do it because it works.

Do what because it works?

Oh, that they all ask for money this time of year because people GIVE at this time of year.

Fair enough.

Problem is, every night, we have at least two (and sometimes as many as five) appeals, and I’m not even counting the phone calls we ignore (with apologies to The University of Minnesota, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Our Neighbors' Daughter Who Is Going to Stay Up All Night and Wants $15 for it (she's in college and probably stays up all night for free all the time!), and the Disabled American Paralyzed Veterans of Foreign Wars Minnesota Peace Officers Police Firefighters Widows and Orphans Retirement, Trust and Educational Fund, Inc.).

And how mean are we? 95% of them go right into the recycle bin, unopened (with apologies for last night to the Carter Center of Atlanta, Georgia, the Sierra Club, and the Children's Museum).

Maybe this is a middle-class construct (and oh the luxury of complaining about how burdened you are by charitable appeals), but our outlay in December (apparently there is a holiday of some kind with traditions which mandate the we buy people DVDs, socks, Foreman Grills, books, chocolates, nose-hair trimmers and video games) is already outrageous. We don't get more charitable this time of year, we get less charitable, because we have less money to be charitable with. Excuse me, make that "less money with which to be charitable."

Bah humbug!

In fact, I charted our giving, and we are downright stingy on the following months:

January (1/2 car and home insurance due)
March (1/2 property taxes due)
July (1/2 car and home insurance due)
August (baby girls birthday - and you know we represent)
October (1/2 of property taxes due)
December (Jesus' birthday - and you know we represent)

So on these months? Don't aks us fer a durn thang. We ain't got it to give. You feel me?

Best month to ask? May. Why? Because we have no major expense in April, in May, or in June, and I'm guessing we feel pretty flush (where "flush" = charitable) in May. Ask in May. Yes, I would recommend May.

And I guess we could finance our way out of it, but you try doing that when your wife's ancestry is traceable to Scandinavia. It ain't-uh gonna happen! You work hard, you stay quiet about what's buggin' ya, and you avoid debt with all you've got (it's not a bad life actually). Plus all that, we've barely taken our Christmas tree down...the bills are just coming from Santa, and BOOM! it's January, and we have 1/2 of our car and home insurance due.

Anyway (after all that), to add to my list and yours, here are some neato groups I read about at a great web site. If you can’t give, at least read about them.

If you can give at this time of year, tell me how you do it.

mercredi, novembre 23, 2005

I'm Thankful...

On the eve of Thanksgiving day
Allow me a moment just to say
A few words and then a few more
Outlining what I’m thankful for

I’m thankful for my little girl
Her constant motion, her twist her twirl
Her smile, her sass, her spirit’s shine
And quiet nights, her hand in mine

I’m thankful for the blogosphere
And those within it I hold dear
You’ll find them here and here and here
And here and here and here and here

I read this blog and this one too
You know the 'landaz, that's my crew
I visit here; and though my state's blue
I read the right, ick and ew.

I'm thankful when folks say “gee whiz”
And see things as they really is
Our national situation is dire
And our “President’s” a liar.

I’m thankful folks ain’t all dumb
I’m thankful that the pendulum
Has finished its swing to the right
And is heading left: “dy-no-mite!

I’m thankful for the times when we
Across this richly blessed country
Recognize that we must share
And demonstrate how we can care

I’m thankful that I’m not a jerk
I’m thankful I have solid work
I’m thankful we have enough to eat
I’m thankful that my home has heat

I’m thankful for the life I lead
I’m thankful for the books I read
I’m thankful for the discs I spin
For the art world and all therein

But more than anything in my life
I’m thankful for my loving wife
Who supports every thing I do
Who shows her love for me is true

Who tolerates book club, poetry group, blogs
Who sleeps soundly while I saw logs
Who reads each draft of things I write
And holds me closely every night

And oh, dear readers, by the way,
I have one other thing to say
I’m thankful for each and every single one of you*,
Here's hoping your Thanksgiving is wonderful (times two).

* = My twin brother (the handsome smart one), LJC (!), Aerenchyma, Andrew, Crys, Dirty, erinberry, Jinx, JO, Kathy, thekeez, Sabatkes, SJ, TK and all the 'landaz: Panda, Mistor H, HAL, DJS, D.O.N, Bass Babe; as well as readers I don't know about and anyone out there I may have missed. I appreciate you; thank you; enjoy your day.

mardi, novembre 22, 2005

Pop Quiz: the AIDS Pandemic

Match the Continent/Region to its number of people living with AIDS:

1. North America
2. Caribbean
3. Latin America
4. Europe
5. Oceania
6. North Africa & the Middle East
7. East Asia
8. Sub-Saharan Africa
9. South and Southeast Asia

A. 1.8 million
B. 510,000
C. 720,000
D. 1.2 million
E. 25.8 million
F. 300,000
G. 74,000
H. 7.4 million
I. 870,000

10. Worldwide, how many people are estimated to have AIDS?

a. 13, 14, 15 million
b. 40 million
c. 176,000
d. 200 million

11. This is an…

a. increase of 2,000,000 over 2004
b. decrease of 2,000,000 over 2004
c. unchanged from 2004
d. alarming number

12. In Southern Africa, what percentage of pregnant women tested positive for the HIV virus?

a. 5
b. 10
c. 15
d. 20
e. 30

13. The number of people with HIV increased in every region except:

a. North America
b. Caribbean
c. Latin America
d. Europe
e. North Africa & the Middle East
f. Sub-Saharan Africa
g. South and Southeast Asia
h. East Asia
i. Oceania

14. In Swaziland, what percentage of pregnant women test positive for HIV?

a. 7
b. 11
c. 22
d. 43

15. True or False: in Kenya, Uganda and Zimbabwe, for 2004, overall HIV rates of infection decreased.

16. True or False: in Kenya, Uganda and Zimbabwe, education has helped. People are reducing the number of sexual partners and using condoms.

17. True of False: poverty and hunger are complicating factors in the Sub-Saharan war against AIDS.

18. Explain your answer to question 17.

19. Over the last five years, AIDS deaths in South Africa have increased:

a. 57 percent
b. not at all, AIDS is not fatal
c. 43 percent
d. a negligible amount

20. Find two role models who are raising awareness of the AIDS epidemic in Africa:

a. George W. Bush
b. Barbara Bush
c. George Herbert Walker Bush
d. Dick Cheney
e. Ashley Judd
f.. Pat Robertson
g. India Arie

21. since it was first identified in 1981, AIDS has killed how many people world wide:

a. 1,000,000
b. 10,000,000
c. 20,000,000
d. 25,000,000
e. 75,000,000

22. How many lives will AIDS claim in 2005?

a. Between 140,000 and 260,000
b. Between 1,100,000 and 3,800,000
c. Between 2,800,000 and 3,600,000
d. 0 – there’s a cure

23. How many children’s lives will AIDS claim in 2005?

a. Approximately 58,000
b. Approximately 165,000
c. Approximately 570,000
d. Approximately 0 – there’s still a cure

24. How many people will become newly infected in 2005?

a. 1,000,000
b. 2,000,000
c. 3,000,000
d. 4,000,000
e. 5,000,000
f. 7,000,000

25. These trends are:

a. negative
b . troubling
c. disconcerting
d. a call to action
e. all of the above

26. True or False: incidents of HIV yield to concerted and consistent educational efforts.

27. True or False: proof of how education reduces the number of people who become HIV positive is seen in work among men who have sex with men in Western countries, among young people in Uganda, among sex workers and their clients in Thailand and Cambodia, and among injected drug users in Spain and Brazil.

28. True or False: prevention programs are bringing down HIV prevalence in Kenya, Zimbabwe and urban Haiti.

29. True or False: working together, we can stop the spread of AIDS.

30. True or False: as with so many other things, education matters.

31. True or False: as with so many other things, poverty exacerbates the problem.

Answer Key:

1. d
2. f
3. a
4. c
5. g
6. b
7. i
8. e
9. h
10. b
11. a and d
12. e
13. b
14. d
15. True
16. True
17. True
18. Southern Africa is the region with the highest HIV rates in the world. The disease is multiplying the impact of poor rains on local harvests, adding up to a severe food crisis. AIDS is pulling productive people out of the fields either because they're sick or they have to care for the sick. Amid the shortage, some people desperate to eat are trading sex for food.
19. a
20. e and g
21. d
22. c
23. c
24. e
25. e
26. True
27. True
28. True
29. True
30. True
31. True

First source (recommeded reading)

Second source (recommended reading - 98 page PDF, 4.75 MB - the Introduction is available here)

lundi, novembre 21, 2005

Maybe All I Need Is a Shot in the Arm

[Closed Circuit to Jo who lives in a particular small town in Minnesota: it was good to see you last night – did you like my chili? Cooking for one’s mother-in-law (especially when she’s a good cook)…it can make one nervous, no?]

The Morning

Among the things said by my daughter, TinyE, on the way to school this morning (all at the highest possible volume):

“I hate you Daddy; I hate you so much.”

“But I’m not brave, I’m scared.”

“I don’t want to go to the hospital. Lots of people go to the hospital. I don’t want to go.”

“I don’t want a shot, and I don’t want them to prick my finger either.”

Palliative measures were employed. Soothing words were offered. No solace was taken. All of this for a flu shot.

When I got my flu shot a few weeks ago, the needle was so sharp I barely felt it (but yes, I'm 33 years older than she is).

It’s one of those classic moments when the suffering attendant to the anticipation/dread of a thing far exceeds the suffering occasioned by the thing itself.

I know this much is true: next year, I will employ all means at my disposal – both fair and unfair, not to grab flu shot duty (marriage is about give and take and compromise and more kind exchanges than unkind, but there is also this competitive part of it, and (embracing that competition) I will not hold the flu shot potato next year, watch). Second, if I do not succeed, I will not tell her in advance of the shot (as was suggested) where we are going and why. This approach was suggested to us. I think it works for most kids, but for TinyE, it really made a small trauma into a very large one. The poor dear…

A Recommendation

This CD is pretty, pretty, pretty good. It will appear in my top five this year (barring some amazing purchases in the coming weeks – and Duf ain’t exactly flush right now). In my experience, live albums (and concerts) take one of four paths: they duplicate the studio sound, they expand it, they simplify it, or they depart from it. Of the four, the only one that rarely works is the duplication path. As many observers of art know, a reduction can be an expansion – simplifying a thing can make it more complex, richer.

Anyway, no songs are duplications of the studio works, a few songs (like “Misunderstood”) are an expansion, many are simplified (“Poor Places” would be hard to replicate in a live show). There are no departures. Overall, I see this live album as a musical simplification, but as an emotional expansion. Wilco is very much a live band (even though their studio work is amazing), and front man Jeff Tweedy was going through rehab and singing in front of a home crowd. You could tell in the way the show built upon itself leaving a grand (if underappreciated) creation, you could tell when the crowd sang with him “maybe all I need is a shot in the arm,” which now has a cautionary quality it never really had before (the crowd’s joyous accompaniment felt misplaced to me) and you could tell in the quiet times of the album, when more than power, he needed to rely on feeling.

And he did too. He did.

vendredi, novembre 18, 2005

What Happens When You Rob from the Poor to Pay the Rich

I believe that there will ultimately be a clash between the oppressed and those that do the oppressing. I believe that there will be a clash between those who want freedom, justice and equality for everyone and those who want to continue the systems of exploitation.

Malcolm X

I was reading this well-meaning, but ill-informed blog this morning, when I found myself trying to answer a basic question.

Why does any person who is middle class or lower, ever, ever vote Republican? Ever?


Strike that, why does any intelligent person ever vote Republican?

Here’s what Republican’s value if you analyze the House budget cut bill (which passed by two votes yesterday):

Extending tax cuts on capital gains through 2008 (being rich is great!)
The war against Iraq (killing people...oops I mean spreading freedom is great!)
Alaska oil drilling (the earth is horrible and must be stopped!)

Here’s what they don’t value:

Medicaid (they're poor and they're
Food stamps (who would eat postage?)
Student loan subsidies (johnny can't read? not my problem)
Public schools (mark me down as against)
Resolving the flaws in the alternative minimum tax (the what in the what?)

Here’s what they tried to get away with:

Limiting eligibility for food stamps (nice, dare I say "compassionate")
Eliminating lunches for 40,000 students whose parents would lose their food stamp eligibility (hunger is the new black).
Making the poorest Medicare recipients pay more for their health care (sucks to be them!).

They wanted it in the bill, but they had to take it out in order to get it to pass by two votes.

Down to its most basic level, Republicans are lining the pockets of the super wealthy and Halliburton and big oil with a war they lied their way into, all the while cutting taxes.

The way they propose to pay for it is to sucker punch the middle class and the poor (the poor also get kicked while they're down).

Taking from the poor to give to the rich. Reverse Robin-hood-ism. And believe me when I tell you that the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer is not a recipe for harmony.

Better read your Malcolm, elephants...better read your Malcolm.

jeudi, novembre 17, 2005

Open Letter to "President" Bush

Dear Mr. "President,"

The majority of Americans think you misled the Senate and the American people as you made your case for war against Iraq. Perhaps an independent commission would set the record straight – you know, the truth shall set you free and all that.



Open Letter to Those Who Voted for Bush

Dear Bush Supporters,

It’s not that your boy is starting to stink. It’s that you’re starting to smell him.

Welcome aboard,


mercredi, novembre 16, 2005

I'm All Cereal, or Reverie Interruptus

So, I’m sitting in my office doing two of my favorite office things: (1) rocking out and (2) white-boarding.

Specifically, I’m listening to the first Pretenders album (which is soooooo good – ouch if you don’t have it, please get it, please…just trust me on this one) and diagramming a travel proposal for a new service model that we hope to deploy at some point in January.

Anywho, our Operations SVP comes in to talk to me about something, and I’m “all cereal” (you know, that commercial where the guy tries to fire the guy, but the guy he tries to fire is eating crunchy cereal and cannot hear so he doesn’t know he’s been fired). In fact, I’m “all cereal” whenever our Ops SVP is talking to me – I simply cannot be bothered to care - I might as well be eating crunchy cereal. So she’s talking, and I’m in a deep, deep reverie probably thinking about this blog.

When all of the sudden, Chrissie Hynde starts to sing:

“Trapped in a world that they never made”…

[and I snap out of it because I know what’s next and I think to race across the room to do SOMETHING - when all I do is call attention to my little CD player - just when Chrissie screams….]

“But not me baby, I’m too precious [I had to] fuck off!”


Maybe I Need to Chill Out

How many progressives does it take to screw in a light bulb?
Zero. Do you know that there are many people in the world without lights and electricity?

How many progressives does it take to screw in a light bulb?
Zero. I won’t screw in this light bulb until we either power it with clean, renewable, alternative energy, or until we join an electric cooperative!

How many progressives does it take to screw in a light bulb?
Speaking of screwed, we’re all screwed if we don’t stop burning fossil fuels and trapping greenhouse gases!

Many of you know I have this debilitating weakness for a wonderful horrible show on ABC called Wifeswap. It airs every Monday night at 7:00 central, and I rarely miss it. It appeals to my voyeuristic tendencies (no, not those kind), my nosey side, and my interest in all things anthropological, sociological and cultural.

If you distill the messages of Wifeswap, this is some of what you’ll come up with:

There are a lot of people who fail to understand that marriage and cohabitation require compromise. It is not unusual for one person to require everyone in a house to hold their values. This week, a wife decided to eat raw foods, and, without consulting anyone else in the house, got rid of the stove.

One in four persons has an obsessive-compulsive disorder. It manifests itself in diet, in cleaning habits, in all manner of things, but OCD is out of control in America.

It’s usually a woman. The messages can be a bit sexist on this show.

A man connected to an OCD woman is weak and despicable because he allowed his wife to have an OCD - he's not standing up to her. As I said, the messages can be a bit sexist on this show.

Christians are mean and judgmental.

People in the south love confederate flags and guns. LOVE them.

Vegetarians are so far out on the fringe that they can never be a part of normal society.

Progressives are uptight.

Now, let me underscore that these are not higher truths, but these are the messages of Wifeswap. And yes, of course, I understand that a show of two relatively normal families would not make good television (much better to juxtapose a family who intentionally lives on $6,000 per year with a family that is prolific in its consumerism).

But of the list, the one that seems most likely to be true is the last one. Progressives really are uptight.

We progressives are too serious. We’re overly obsessed with subverting the dominant paradigm. We eat strange food, watch weird videos, cry for animals, and, what’s worse – our marriages are horrible. We’re so busy philosophizing and shaking our fists at the man, that we forget to actually love up our lovie dovies. But really what is comes down too is being too uptight.

I know all this because I saw it on Wifeswap.

But in a way, it’s true. Here’s a case in point. This weekend, Mrs. Duf and I went to see the hit movie “Shopgirl,” and I didn’t care for it. The film itself was fine, but what bugged me, and what I could not get over was the politics, the message.


If you boiled the messages of “Shopgirl” down to their essence, this is what you’d come up with:

Women want men to protect them.

Men learn how to protect and converse with women through books and audio tapes.

Men protect women by holding them (there are five holds: the two-hand, full body hold is best (it makes the gals feel really safe) the least acceptable (but still acceptable) is the hand-on-the-stomach-look-her-in-the-eyes hold).

Rich men pay off women’s student loans in exchange for sexual relationships; expecting only that the woman understand that it’s a physical thing.

A woman, if she finds herself depressed, may talk to her doctor on the phone, and they may agree that she should not have stopped taking her meds, but if she wants to go to the doctor and begin recovery, then she’s going to need a man to take action and get her there.

Pete Sampras’s wife flat-out can-not act.

…and I think what we’re intended to do is enjoy movies on another level. And, I’m kidding about the progressive part, I know that the religious right is busy looking for hidden messages in PBS programs, to they can be uptight too.

Perhaps the lesson from all this: from Wifeswap and “Shopgirl” and politics and blogging is:

It’s possible to take things too seriously.
Extremism is rarely a good thing.
Balance is amazing and admirable and worth aspiring toward.
Happy cohabitation requires healthy compromise.

Maybe a dose of Sarah Silverman would help.

lundi, novembre 14, 2005

Missing the Mark; or: Those Devilish Discounters!

I have permission from my friend Florence to publish the following exchange.

Florence, who is one of my favorite people, wrote a letter to Target protesting their pharmacy policy which allows pharmacists to refuse to dispense medications on moral grounds.

This is what they wrote back:

Dear Target Guest

In our ongoing effort to provide great service to our guests, Target consistently ensures that prescriptions for the emergency contraceptive Plan B are filled. As an Equal Opportunity Employer, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 also requires us to accommodate our team members’ sincerely held religious beliefs.

In the rare event that a pharmacist’s beliefs conflict with filling a guest’s prescription for the emergency contraceptive Plan B, our policy requires our pharmacists to take responsibility for ensuring that the guest’s prescription is filled in a timely and respectful manner, either by another Target pharmacist or a different pharmacy.

The emergency contraceptive Plan B is the only medication for which this policy applies. Under no circumstances can the pharmacist prevent the prescription from being filled, make discourteous or judgmental remarks, or discuss his or her religious beliefs with the guest.

Target abides by all state and local laws and, in the event that other laws conflict with our policy, we follow the law.

We're surprised and disappointed by Planned Parenthood’s negative campaign. We’ve been talking with Planned Parenthood to clarify our policy and reinforce our commitment to ensuring that our guests’ prescriptions for the emergency contraceptive Plan B are filled. Our policy is similar to that of many other retailers and follows the recommendations of the American Pharmacists Association. That’s why it’s unclear why Target is being singled out.

We’re committed to meeting the needs of our female guests and will continue to deliver upon that commitment.


Jennifer Hanson
Target Executive Offices

This is my friend's reply:

Ms. Hanson:

I guess it's my turn to be "surprised and disappointed" now. I don't understand why you're so confused about the basis for what you label as a "negative campaign."

As an attorney, I am certainly familiar with Title VII. I am also familiar with the U.S. Constitution. As you may know, contraception is a right that the U.S. Supreme Court found, thirty years ago, to be Constitutionally protected. The "morning after pill" has been available for well over 20-25 years, and is clearly encompassed within this Constitutional protection.

If one of your employees has a "sincerely held" religious belief forbidding listening to rock music (as did my best friend in high school), can a cashier now refuse to check out a customer's CD purchases? How about if someone has sincerely held religious beliefs that prohibit playing cards (as my grandparents' church forbad)? Would a customer buying UNO now be told by one of your employees to get it at Wal-Mart or move into another line? How about condoms? Do employees who religiously object to birth control, to pre-marital sex, or to homosexuality now have a right to refuse checking those out unless proof of "approved" use is provided? I suspect that your alleged concern about compliance with Title VII is highly selective.

Your response is very, very troubling, and I will not be able to patronize Target this holiday season, or beyond, until I learn that this policy is revoked. I will also immediately send your response to my friends and colleagues so that they are fully informed as well.

And part of what kills me about this whole thing is this: I'm a pharmacist. I work for Target. I object morally to the morning after pill or any prescription. I refuse to dispense it, but I'm required to help people get it. Can you say "distinction without a difference?" As I wrote to my eloquent and beautiful friend: I'm not the dopeman, but I'm the dopeman's broker - when you die of an overdose, am I not culpable?

Capitalists! Vote with your dollars! If a company does something objectionable (like our Target friends here), spend your money elsewhere.

Citizens in a Democracy! Exercise your First Amendment rights! Send Target a letter telling them to do the right thing!

mercredi, novembre 09, 2005

Four Good Things, One Dumb Thing, One Admonition

Bush’s Boy Bites Bullet (Big)

Kansas is still dumb.

California is quite smart.

Virginia is for lovers, not for haters.

New Jersey says yes to liberty and prosperity.

Don’t rest; don’t get complacent.

mardi, novembre 08, 2005

Autumn Leaves, or: Rite of Youth

The title of this post is my favorite Miles Davis song (and what I would play for anyone who wants an intro to jazz. It has the classic elements: skill, passion, theme, abandonment of theme (or so it seems), theme expressed through different instruments, collaboration, improvisation, and return to theme, but it also is a very emotional piece.

Ignore the date stamp - I finally entered the right date and then turned it off.

Anyway, here's TinyE enjoying a rite of youth.

Maybe God's Trying to Tell Them Something

Accidents will happen.

jeudi, novembre 03, 2005

I'm Not Sure Langston Hughes Would be a Great Wide Receiver

“TCU ha[s] a lot more Afro-American players than we did and they ran a lot faster than we did…it just seems to me to be that way, Afro-American kids can run very well. That doesn’t mean that Caucasian kids and other descents can’t run, but it is very obvious to me that they run extremely well…you don’t see many minority athletes in our program.”

Fisher DeBerry, Head Coach
United States Air Force Academy Football Team

Mr. DeBerry went on to be reprimanded by the Academy’s superintendent. He was not fired.

Okay, so, you ready? I don’t think he should have been reprimanded or fired.

Before I launch in, I’d encourage those with sound to hear, the always insightful and provocative, Frank DeFord on this topic. Here’s the link where you will hear DeFord argue that DeBerry’s biggest error was not using the right buzzwords.

DeFord also argues that at some point, the abundance of African Americans (note, NOT Afro-Americans) in speed positions in sports suggests a gift in that regard. He talks about how we lampoon it in some settings (“White Men Can’t Jump” and "white man's disease") and deride it in others. I always enjoy DeFord, but this time he missed the boat.

Here are my observations.

Race is very difficult to discuss.

All points, when made using stereotypes become difficult, less salient, and less impactful.

Not all African-Americans are fast or athletically gifted.

First, to me, it is fair to challenge whether his analysis is fitting. Did his team lose because it lacked African-Americans with speed and athleticism, or did his team get beat by a team with more savvy and better execution of its game plan?

But, in general, what is troubling about DeBerry’s comment, to me, is not that he claims his team lost (48 to 10) because of its lack of African Americans, it’s that he speaks too broadly about African-Americans.

When these comments are elevated and when general comments about African-Americans are considered as a whole - when they become stereotypes - what emerges is a tendency to primarily praise us for how good we are at sports and for how well we entertain. We can run fast, and throw hard and well; we can sing and dance. We cannot swim, and, for lack of praise in this area, I’m not sure I’d pick us to be a CEO. In effect, an entire race of people are being damned with faint praise.

And the comments must be taken in context. This is the context. Africans were enslaved, in part because of the perception that we were suited to physical endeavors. And though DeBerry’s comments come 120 plus years later, they must be associated with those past misperceptions. Take it all down to the basest element, and both slave traders and DeBerry are saying the same thing. Please don’t misunderstand me there. One outcome was genocidal and horrible, and the other was just ill-informed, but, in-effect, both are saying the same thing - blacks are suited to physical endeavors.

And to me, in further disagreement with DeFord, what is troubling about DeBerry's comments is not that he made them, but that, in making them, he failed to understand the historical significance of his comments. Instead, he joined a long and tired string of only praising African-Americans for physical talents and of not recognizing that, like every other racial or ethnic group, there are, within our ranks, people who run fast, people who jump high, people who write well, people who sing well, people who are extraordinarily bright, people who have a flair for entrepreneurial matters, people who have knack for inventing things, people who make great doctors, people who make great lawyers, people who make great CEOs, and so on and so on and so on.

And in light of that, only praising Af-Ams for being good at sports is a shame. Those who do so should not be punished, but they should be enlightened. I would, instead of reprimanding DeBerry, encourage him to study black history.

SIDE NOTE: Mr. DeBerry’s comment regarding the lack of minority athletes at the Air Force Academy is worth further consideration. While I would not be one to argue that we need more minorities in the military, I think it is compelling that the majority of minorities who are in the armed services are not in the Air Force flying around in multi-million dollar jets. Instead, they are relegated to the ground troops where they see a lot of bullets and a lot of bulls--t. There’s plenty within that imbalance that should trouble us. If he sincerely wants more African-Americans on his team, I hope he will take steps to recruit them away from the Marine Corps and the Army, where they are disproportionately represented, and disproportionately targeted for the front lines.

mardi, novembre 01, 2005

A Referendum of Sorts (My Disagreement with D.O.N.)

First, on an unrelated topic:

Last night, for the first time, my little angel (dressed as a princess) and I went door to door begging for snacks. We went up one side of the block and down the other (and then added a few houses for good measure) - 23 houses in total. Walking in the cool October air, with my daughter's tiny hand in mine...well was bliss. Long shall I remember it.

Main topic:

"Do you spend time with your family? Good. Because a man that doesn't spend time with his family can never be a real man."

-Don Corleone

Next Tuesday is election day. I rock the vote - that's how I roll. I hope you rock the vote too.

Residents of St. Paul have a interesting question in the mayoral election. Our incumbent mayor, Randy Kelly, who is a centrist democrat, is running against another centrist democrat, Chris Coleman. It's shaping up to be a blowout, and here's why: our incumbent mayor broke ranks last year and endorsed President Bush for re-election (a link worth clicking for the editorial cartoon alone).

Should he lose his office for that?

"[Mayor Kelly], you're my older brother, and I love you. But don't ever take sides with anyone against the Family again. Ever."

-Michael Corleone (revised from the original)

By overall accounts, our mayor is pretty good. We've added affordable housing, and, in general, things are going well. He's held the line on property taxes (not that I care), but increased fees - in other words, he's had to be crafty. He took a tough and (among some) unpopular stance on opening an existing access road to daily traffic. Fire fighters are unhappy with him because he has cut funds to the fire department and staffing is low. Crime has gone up (but I usually see links between crime rate and political office holders as overblown), and our parks are a bit underfunded, but you'd only notice it with a keen eye.

My friend D.O.N. would write that Mayor Kelly is really supportive of the libraries (and D.O.N.'s wife is a tremendous supporter of the libraries), and Mrs. Duf would tell you that he is a tremendous supporter of the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory at Como Park.

I'm pretty sure my friend D.O.N. is voting for Kelly.

I'm voting for Coleman.

And I'm kind of ashamed of my reasoning, but unfortunately our mayor did two things that will cost him, and I think, in this race, it's okay that he pay.

First, he made a critical error in judgment. Republican financial policy is trickle down in more ways that one.

The first trickle down cuts taxes for the rich with the expectation that they will trickle down jobs and money to the remainder everybody else.

The second trickle down cuts funding at the highest levels - so it's not money trickling, it's financial burdens. If you are the President, then you cut federal aid to states. If you are a Republican Governor, you cut aid to counties and city. If you are a county commissioner or a mayor - either raise taxes or cut essential services. You cannot pass the burden down. You are the lowest rung on the trickle down ladder.

And any self-respecting mayor who would endorse a President who creates financial crises for cities, is...well...prone to errors in judgment (among other things).

Second, Mayor Kelly has turned the mayoral election into a referendum on the Republican agenda. If you live in St. Paul, you know that every other green and white yard sign reading "Re-elect Randy Kelly for Mayor" has been vandalized (usually in orange paint) with the words "supports Bush." And in a city where two democrats are fighting for the mayoral job, you can guess how a referendum on the Republican agenda is going to come out.

I think the mayor showed poor judgment - even if only in misunderstanding what motivates the electorate. Like most St. Pauli's, left with a choice between two candidates, both of whom would run the city fairly well, I can't see myself siding with the one who prostituted himself last fall.

So I'm voting for Coleman, but I suspect Mrs. Duf, D.O.N., and Mrs. D.O.N. will not. I can respect that.

"What have I ever done to make you treat me so disrespectfully? If you'd come to me in friendship, then this scum that ruined your [re-election campaign] would be suffering this very day. And if by chance an honest man like yourself should make enemies, then they would become my enemies. And then they would fear you."

- Don Corleone
As quoted in a draft of a letter from the Democratic Farm and Labor party to former St. Paul Mayor Randy Kelly (final draft to be delivered 9 November 2005).