Saturday Afternoon Links

Saturday, June 18th, 2011
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50 Responses to “Saturday Afternoon Links”

  1. #1 |  Aresen | 

    Governments can always find a sycophant who will tell them that they can do what they want.

    They rarely listen to those who tell them “No, that is wrong.”

  2. #2 |  Aresen | 

    From the “It’s different when we do it” link:

    At the end of March, Harold Koh, top lawyer at the State Department, used his keynote address at the annual confab of the American Society for International Law to make an announcement: the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles to kill suspected terrorists is legal. The drone strikes in Pakistan and Afghanistan are lawful because, Koh delineated, they are done only in national self-defense, their proportionality is always precisely calibrated, and they carefully discriminate civilians from combatants.

    Either smart bombs are a lot smarter than I thought or all those women and children were terrorists.

    (Or Harold Koh has his head so far up Obama’s ass that he’s looking out between his boss’s teeth.)

  3. #3 |  the innominate one | 

    Sounds like Obama’s incisors are preventing Koh from seeing the wrongness.

  4. #4 |  DoubleU | 

    A politician should represent the people they are elected to serve, the politician should never say “I don’t care what you think. I’m trying to do the right thing.” You might not agree, but as long as he/she does what the people elected him/her to do then he is doing the right thing.

  5. #5 |  EH | 

    DoubleU: So are you saying that everything should be put on the ballot, the officeholder should conduct a poll on every issue, or just listen to the loudest dumbfucks? Is there a fourth option?

  6. #6 |  John Jenkins | 

    @DoubleU: The audience for that quote was the group of reporters to whom he was speaking (and possibly just one of the reporters with whom he had been verbally sparring).

    As to the balance, the people elected him to exercise his judgment, which is exactly what he’s doing. Politicians *should* exercise their judgment without regard for the heat of the moment (they don’t, normally, because of re-election concerns), given that public sentiment is generally hard to accurately determine (questions with the same ostensible meaning often get wildly different answers in polls).

  7. #7 |  Just Plain Brian | 

    Roy McDonald had a quote
    K-i-c-k Ass
    Maybe the quote won him some votes
    K-i-c-k Ass

  8. #8 |  Just Plain Brian | 

    The politician should never say “I don’t care what you think. I’m trying to do the right thing.”

    Might as well not elect people then, we can just vote on each issue individually.

  9. #9 |  Marty | 

    Louis c.k. is even cooler than I thought- I loved his take on Tracy Morgan. Leaving whether Tracy Morgan is a homophobic jackass out of the equation, this was a class move standing up for him. And I hope Tracy Morgan isn’t a homophobic jackass…

  10. #10 |  DoubleU | 

    If he voted for lock boxes with all the keys for homes and business inside and told the citizens “I don’t care what your think. I am trying to do the right thing.” you would be screaming mad and upset with him. Because you support this issue, you have no problem with it. Funny how that always happens.

  11. #11 |  Rune | 

    DoubleU

    See, that’s called representative democracy. Don’t like it? Start working for more direct democracy.

  12. #12 |  Rune | 

    DoubleU

    And how exactly can you know that he does not speak for a majority of his constituents on this issue btw? And even if he doesn’t, as long as he is re-elected, then he has done his job regardless of his stand on this issue.

  13. #13 |  John Jenkins | 

    @DoubleU: I think you’re still missing the point, first, about whom he was talking to (the collected media), second about policy. The beliefs of the majority of people are irrelevant when determining whether something is good policy, unless your definition of “good” relates solely to a particular politician’s getting re-elected. I think Roy McDonald is right on this issue, so I support his stance of doing the right thing, even in the face of public opposition (it should be noted he is a politician in New York, where support of gay marriage is probably not that courageous from a political standpoint, but ignore that for the moment). If he were taking the same type of stance on something I oppose, I would oppose him, not because he’s going against “the will of the people,” but because it’s bad policy, just like I would oppose a politician going *with* “the will of the people” on an issue I disagree with. You’re acting like there’s something wrong with that, but that’s the essence of politics, so your position doesn’t really make sense unless you think that politicians should always follow the will of the majority, irrespective of what that brings. In which case you should make your argument explicit and we can tear that to hell and gone ( see, e.g., chattel slavery, miscegenation laws, etc.).

    Shockingly, what it comes down to is supporting politicians on issues with which you agree and opposing them on issues with which you disagree, which is…normal.

  14. #14 |  Maggie McNeill | 

    #4: “Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays instead of serving you if he sacrifices it to your opinion.” – Edmund Burke

  15. #15 |  Maggie McNeill | 

    #10: If you can’t see the difference between increasing the rights of a minority and increasing the right of the state to violate everyone’s rights, there is no point in discussing anything with you.

  16. #16 |  BSK | 

    Re: Peanuts comic

    Is that what political correctness looked like back in the day? “Please don’t show black and white kids together because some people are uncomfortable with desegregation?” Yikes!

  17. #17 |  croaker | 

    More eminent domain abuse:

    http://www.globalnews.ca/money/Canadian+oilsands+pipeline+upsets+land+owners/4966961/story.html

  18. #18 |  Greg | 

    Re: Peanuts comic

    Is that what political correctness looked like back in the day? “Please don’t show black and white kids together because some people are uncomfortable with desegregation?” Yikes!
    BSK,

    Seriously, it was a very polite and civilized letter compared to what really went on very openly well into the 80s. Especially in the middle-middle and beyond classes. There was zero social stigma applied when publicly demeaning anyone browner than the Coppertone Girl…

    I’m gonna guess you’re in your early twenties, have led a life in the shelter of acadaemia, or a state without them thar coloreds, like say, Montana.
    Nothing wrong with any of those things in the least, but yeah, it was really like that for most of the USA.

    People to this day still conflate education and, commensurately socio-economic status, with race. Do understand, that it was really easy (and pretty accurate, not “right” but accurate) to do that equation in 1969 when that letter was penned.

    ‘Natch the issue is to this day mostly chicken and egg – given equivalent parenting and opportunity, every race pretty much achieves the same. Study after study confirms that abstract. There are exceptions to this rule, but they are cultural, not racial. As culture is often connected to race, the reverse is (wrongly) assumed to be true, and the vicious (and viscous) cycle continues…

    Raise any child in past 8-Mile DET or the rural Appalachians, I’ll betcha a low-mileage Porsche most of them will never go far. Sure .01% will get out and kick ass, but the rest will simply not succeed like the average middle-class suburban white/black/whatever kid.

    Funny that, eh?

  19. #19 |  Greg | 

    Just to say what many think,

    Louis C.K. is a below average dude who makes no observations that a dozen of my friends don’t make verbatim about their kids on a daily basis. Wow. Life. Kids. What a concept…

    He ain’t close to new, no ground is broken, and frankly he makes Seinfeld seem funny – were that even possible…

    Jimmy Hendrix snore and vomit. At least Jimmy got to die instead of having to suffer through another Louis C. K. show.

    Ugh.

  20. #20 |  Nancy Lebovitz | 

    New topic: http://www.joebageant.com/joe/2008/06/a-sex-offender.html

    Interaction between the “justice system” and care of a sick dog. I don’t know about the reliability of the source, but the story sounds plausible.

  21. #21 |  BSK | 

    Greg-

    Not sure you really got my point.

    Yes, I am in my 20’s, though I grew up just outside a major east coast city in a suburb that was predominantly African-American. Obviously, I don’t have first hand knowledge of race relations prior to the late 80’s.

    I’m not going to delve into what you’ve said at the end; I disagree strongly with many of your assertions and conclusions, but that isn’t really the point of my post.

    Really, I was making a joke. Often times nowadays, people who raise objections to potentially racist, sexist, homophobic or other “controversial” subjects are deemed “politically correct” (often times rightly so). PC has become a knock on people deemed too sensitive to deal with uncomfortable or controversial topics and is generally leveled against liberals or others on the left who (wrongly) think people should never be confronted with offense or difficult subject matter.

    In the letter, the writer was raising objection to black and white children being portrayed occupying the same classroom, under the guise of “discomfort” with desegregation. To me, it looked like a role reversal of political correctness, wherein a racist was arguing that he should not be “offended” by the portrayal of non-racist or anti-racist content.

    Get it? It was a joke…

  22. #22 |  ClubMedSux | 

    I think the lesson here is to staff your administration with enough lawyers that at least one of them will give you plausible deniability to do whatever the hell you want.

    Reminds me of when Homer Simpson told Dr. Hibbert of his plan to gain 61 lbs. so he could go on disability:

    Dr. Hibbert: [gasps] My God, that’s monstrous. I’ve never heard of anything so negligen– I’ll have no part of it! [Turns his back on Homer.]

    Homer: Can you recommend a doctor who will?

    Hibbert: [turns around again] Yes.

  23. #23 |  Greg | 

    BSK,

    OK, I guess I have officially crossed over into ‘too old to get joke land’. Being in my mid 40s, I remember when overt racism really was politically correct.

    I am curious as to what part of my quickie basic observations on socio-economics and class mobility you take issue with though. Those conclusions are concurrent with the preponderance of quality studies that one would learn in any decent college-level sociology course.(And concurs with 30+ years of my own anecdotal observations which are irrelevant to you.) I really do wonder, what part do you find inaccurate and why?

  24. #24 |  freedomfan | 

    BSK (#21), I agree with your overall point that the face of political correctness changes depending on who is being offended. And, I think that political correctness is generally a pox, since the basic operational premise is that inoffensiveness is a higher goal than free expression and people are delicate flowers who need to be protected from uncomfortable ideas.

    But, I would note that, though the political left is more sympathetic to PC causes these days, I don’t know that things would have really been reversed in 1969. The history of race relations doesn’t divide cleanly along right/left lines and there is every chance that the writer of that letter had a big D on his voter registration card. Not that it couldn’t have had an R as well, but today’s perception about the issue is largely distorted by the big parties’ spin on their role. And also by statist assumptions in the media that encourage the idea that favoring a government program claiming to help some group of people is the same as helping that group of people (and the related bipolar fallacy that not favoring such a program is the same as being “against” that group of people)…

  25. #25 |  BSK | 

    Greg-

    “‘Natch the issue is to this day mostly chicken and egg – given equivalent parenting and opportunity, every race pretty much achieves the same. Study after study confirms that abstract.”

    I suppose my argument would be that it is nearly impossible to offer equivalent “opportunity”. Even if we put kids of different races/classes/cultures in the same families and the same schools, there are still so many ways in which their race/class/culture will impact their opportunities. So, yes, I would agree that all things being equal, we wouldn’t see much if any difference in outcome among different races (seeing as how race is a social construct and not based in biology/genetics the way it is often believed); I just don’t know that we can reach a point where all things are equal. As long as people look at the exact same behavior exhibited by a white kid and a black kid through very different lenses, opportunities are different. As long as we have laws that are clearly biased in both their wording and application, opportunities are different.

    There is obviously more to it, and I do think that there are internal dynamics within different cultures and communities that play a role (though I wouldn’t go quite as far as someone like Kozol in “Savage Inequalities). I think we would also need to look at the ways in which poverty and race are interconnected, which requires a historical perspective that many choose to ignore (the “no one alive today was a slave” argument); in a country that prides itself on property ownership, having been denied the legal right or practical opportunity to own land and property for generations still plays out for many people today.

    Back to the comic, yes, I’m sure things were very different 30 years ago (hell, they were different 5 years ago). I would say it was interesting that you described the letter as “polite” and “civilized”. I realize you were doing so relatively, comparing that letter to what others might have been saying at the time, but I’m generally not one to grade morality on a curve. Just because he wasn’t shouting, “Hang that n******* from a tree,” doesn’t make his argument any more valid.

    Happy to hear your thoughts/responses to my first part. Re-reading your statement I realized I didn’t disagree as strongly as I had initially though, as I agree with the general sentiment (equal opportunities will likely create equal outcomes). I just have issues as to whether we have or will ever achieve such equal access to opportunities.

  26. #26 |  BSK | 

    FF-

    Great point. I don’t know that my original thought was as deep as your analysis, but you offer an interesting position.

    What I was going for is that, currently, you often hear the right/conservatives accusing the left/liberals of being “politically correct” when the L’s attempt to limit speech or actions that some might find offensive or disagreeable. It is rare to see the charge levied the other way. For instance, if a modern Peanut’s strip showed Lucy scrubbing the floor while Charlie and the boys drank beer on the couch, you might have some folks (likely lefties) arguing about the sexism of such a strip while others (likely righties) arguing that such objections are nonsensical “political correctness”. In that letter, the writer was expressing what I think is pretty clear discomfort with “race mixing” and is asking that he not be exposed to comics in favor of or sympathetic to it. If the concept of “political correctness” existed in that time, I wonder if it would have been lobbed against such a sentiment.

    FWIW, I hate it when people (from either side) engage in what can legitimately be characterized as political correctness (as we have come to understand the term, largely as pejorative). I don’t think that people are entitled to freedom from offense or that any mention of a difficult subject should be avoided. At the same time, I hate when people (from either side) lob the PC term around any time someone attempts to point out offensive content as a way of defacing their opponent and poisoning the well. I don’t really have a dog in the fight with regards to conservatives vs liberals on this particular issue (I have my beliefs and leanings, yes); I really was just trying to make a joke based on my 20-something understanding of how conversations around potentially “politically correct” issues are generally presented.

  27. #27 |  BSK | 

    Also, I should ask the more experienced readers here… was “Negro” still considered an acceptable term in the late 60’s? I know that language surrounding identity is constantly changing, but how would a white person’s (or what I assume is a white person) use of that term in that way have been received in 1969?

  28. #28 |  freedomfan | 

    BSK (#27), I can’t claim to know what terms were acceptable in 1969, but your question about the acceptability of such terms reminds of a Bloom County comic from the late eighties, which I was old enough to read then.

    In the interest of amusement, here’s a summary of the strip. Steve Dallas, who is very politically correct at that point, is having a visit from his parents. His mom looks out the window and…

    MOM: That’s the most adorable little colored girl playing outside.
    STEVE: “Colored”? You’re saying “colored people” in 1988? You know better, Ma.
    MOM: Then why the “National Association for the Advancement of Colored People”? I don’t think Negroes mind at all.
    STEVE: Don’t say “Negroes”, Ma! You can’t say “Negroes”!
    MOM: Can I say “United Negro College Fund”?
    STEVE: You are baiting me, Ma!
    DAD: That’s it. We’re leaving.
    MOM: Stay put, Reginald. “Mister Socially Sensitive” isn’t finished shaming his parents into enlightenment.
    STEVE: Everybody just calm down. Let’s agree to use the New-Age term “People of Color.”
    MOM: People of Color.
    STEVE: People of Color.
    MOM: Colored people.
    STEVE: NO!!
    DAD: We’re leaving.

  29. #29 |  Les | 

    Greg, regarding Louie CK,

    I totally understand that there are groups of people who don’t find him funny, as that’s the case with all comedians. But the fact is that for most professional and struggling comedians, the man is at the pinnacle of the craft. He is considered by most in the business of stand up to be one of the very top comedians of our time, and, by many, to be one of the best of all time.

  30. #30 |  BSK | 

    Even if CK’s “schtik” isn’t original, there is a lot more to comedy than the material itself. Timing, delivery, stage presence… all are just as, if not more, important as the jokes themselves. And Louis delivers hard in all those areas. Personally, I don’t know that I buy his “defense” of Morgan, but I appreciate the perspective he offers, which I think is important in our knee-jerk-reaction culture.

  31. #31 |  BSK | 

    FreedomFan-

    Great comic. Personally, I think intent is what matters most, especially in the face of ever-changing language. Coupled with the fact that no group is monolithic and individuals will have different preferences, I generally try to use what I know to be the most commonly accepted term within the group and will ask individuals if they have a presence if/when the time comes to use such language. For instance, I know within Native American groups, there is a lot of disagreement over preferred terms. I try to take my cues from those within the group and apologize if I misstep. Mistakes will happen and, if we assume positive intent, we can generally move past them very quickly. Problems arise when people use deliberately offensive terms. And understanding is halted when we spend more time debating how we should say something as opposed to what we are actually saying (as articulated perfectly in that comic).

  32. #32 |  Laura Victoria | 

    Negro was THE accepted term in 1969 when I was in elementary school – black hadn’t been used yet. “Colored” was the un-pc term my mom and many others used all the time, and of course the n-word was around too. Harry Reid used the term “negro” in describing Zippy’s alacrity in going in an out of “negro dialect” depending on his audience.

    Personally, I like black. It’s one-syllable and is the perfect companion to “white.” African-American is cumbersome and suggests geographic ancestry rather than race. Obviously, there are lots of black Brits and Europeans. Most blacks I know use black (the blacks I know are not Dem elected officials).

  33. #33 |  Les | 

    This is a great back and forth between CK and Harry Shearer on Morgan.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/17/louis-ck-harry-shearer_n_879504.html#s294204&title=Harry_Shearer

  34. #34 |  BSK | 

    Thanks, Laura. You bring up a good point, namely that these terms aren’t all interchangeable. There are people who might consider themselves black but not African-American (and not just because of word preferences, but because those words mean different things). For example, a Haitian-American might consider himself black, but likely won’t consider himself African-American. I generally use black as well, though I’ll use POC if I’m speaking about blacks in conjunction with other non-white racial groups.

  35. #35 |  Ryland | 

    The whole PC thing reminds me of a picture that my daughter brought back from D.C. There was a plaque describing the slave trade at one exhibit, and it had a section on about how african-americans were captured and enslaved in their home countries and brought to the US on slave ships. I just couldn’t get past referring to someone in Africa as an african-american when they had likely never even heard of America.

  36. #36 |  Mannie | 

    #32 | Laura Victoria | June 19th, 2011 at 1:40 pm

    Personally, I like black. It’s one-syllable and is the perfect companion to “white.” African-American is cumbersome and suggests geographic ancestry rather than race. Obviously, there are lots of black Brits and Europeans. Most blacks I know use black (the blacks I know are not Dem elected officials).

    A White Afrikaner naturalized to a US Citizen is an “African American.” Likewise an Egyptian Arab.

  37. #37 |  parse | 

    Jimmy Hendrix snore and vomit. At least Jimmy got to die instead of having to suffer through another Louis C. K. show.

    Well Greg, you could always kill yourself and solve your Louis C.K. problem.

  38. #38 |  BSK | 

    Ryland-

    A few years back, during the riots in France, an American newscaster referred to many of the youth as “African-Americans”… ignoring the fact that most of them had probably never stepped foot in America.

  39. #39 |  paranoiastrksdp | 

    Nothing on the BART cop already getting out of jail?

  40. #40 |  Highway | 

    BSK, same thing happened after Lewis Hamilton won the Formula One World Championship in 2008. I heard at least two TV newsreaders refer to him as “the first African-American World Champion”, despite the fact that he’s British.

  41. #41 |  Just Plain Brian | 

    Courtesy of The Venture Brothers:

    Jefferson Twilight:Yes, I only hunt blaculas.

    Guild Candidate:Oh, so you only hunt African-American vampires?

    Twilight:No, sometimes I hunt British vampires. They don’t have “African Americans” in England!

    Candidate:Oh yeah, huh, good point.

    Twilight:So I hunt blaculas.

    Candidate:I was just trying to be…

    Twilight:Man, I specialize in hunting black vampires, I don’t know what the P.C. name for that is!

  42. #42 |  Radley Balko | 

    Maggie:

    I’m tempted to email your comment to the entire staff of National Review, if only for the thought of Stanley Kurtz’s bow tie spinning upon reading a professional escort aptly quoting Burke.

    Funny, related story: Up until the end of Mayor Barry’s final term, the place to pick up transsexual hookers in D.C. was in a little park on Mass. Ave. that featured a statue of Burke.

    (I feel I should point out that I only know this because the park also happens to be in front of Cato. When I started working there, the staff loved to tell this story.)

  43. #43 |  BSK | 

    Highway-

    I still know people who didn’t know that someone could be Hispanic/Latino and black. And that such people might not identify as black. I used the example of David Ortiz, who at first glance most people would conclude is an African-American. Telling them his name, they might recognize him as someone of Hispanic origin. Telling them he’s from the Dominican Republic, they must then conclude he is black, but not African-American. Tell them that he does not consider himself a black man and their head will spin. Obviously, Big Papi is predominantly if not entirely of African ancestry, but identity politics is a deeply personal matter. And it is amazing how woefully ignorant so many people remain on the subject (and I say this as someone who is at least mildly ignorant).

  44. #44 |  Maggie McNeill | 

    #42: LOL! Please do! Though I have a good memory for quotes in general, I particularly remember that one because of its prominent use in one of the climactic scenes in 1776. :-)

  45. #45 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    the place to pick up transsexual hookers in D.C. was in a little park on Mass. Ave.

    No, that was where regular hookers hung out.

    Wait a minute…shit.

  46. #46 |  croaker | 

    @45 No, the regular hookers hung out between 14th and 16th Streets and H and I NW. Right next to the Washington Post building, which made a huge deal of sense come to think of it…

  47. #47 |  albatross | 

    Boyd, I think you win the thread.

  48. #48 |  JOR | 

    “But, I would note that, though the political left is more sympathetic to PC causes these days…”

    I’m not too sure about that. The left might be more interested in brandishing “political correctness” (though I find that term is far more often, these days, simply used to poison the well and avoid honest engagement with liberal critics) as it relates to, say, blacks, or women, or gays, or whatever. But take a look at the way the right treats criticism of the military, or of its preferred wars, or of cops, or just look at the massive persecution complex and sense of victimhood indulged in by Conservative Christians or, say, the corporate elite. Any of that makes all those communist college professors and the servants of the Gay Agenda look like repressed stoics.

    (You’re certainly correct that this is all very transient though; The Left and The Right as we know them are shallow, fluid things, to say nothing of their shifting ties to political parties, voting blocs, etc.)

  49. #49 |  Greg | 

    Well Greg, you could always kill yourself and solve your Louis C.K. problem.

    Parse,

    Or I could kill him and just solve the Louis C.K. problem. Just kidding. Sort of…

    Look, if it makes you laugh it’s humor. I truly believe that. Personally, I see far less irony, social commentary, or political critique in anything than I have seen on the worst episodes of Family Guy or South Park.

    If Family Circus makes you chuckle, then c’est la vie, it does.

    As someone who grew up on Doonesbury (pre-Pauly), Dennis Miller (pre-sellout), Bloom County/Outland, and Cronkite delivering the nightly body counts from ‘Nam, my expectations are a bit different.

    I don’t know a soul (myself included) who has friends as pathetically boring as those on FRIENDS. Seinfeld’s Cosmo couldn’t hold a candle to the daily wackiness of several I hang with.

    Maybe I’m just blessed/cursed with interesting friends. But please explore your world. find the “weird” people and you will be light-years more entertained than you will by the pablum put forth by the mainstream entertainment establishment.

    Just a thought.

    Or, you can consider me a complete dick and hate me forever. I’m fine with that too.

  50. #50 |  Greg | 

    BSK,

    Perhaps we play the same tune from a different instrument.

    You are correct, there is absolutely NO way to ever truly correct for the racism/tribalism inherent to the human condition.

    History shows that all viewpoints are relative. Regardless of the completely ignorant (Bachmann/Palinites) there was a point in recent history where a great many educated humans actually believed there was a “god” that created the world and all its creatures.

    A bulwark of the evolutionary existence that got us this far is that we are hardwired to work against (frankly, kill) others who aren’t like us, or not in our tribe unless it is in our own self interest.

    Regardless of how trivial that difference may be.

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