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Posted by on Jun 24, 2018 in Blog, Essays, Politics, Restaurant Reviews, What's Left | 16 comments

The Fine Line Between Civility and Civil Disobedience

 

 

Should public figures, including people we despise, always be entitled to normal common courtesies?  For example — what if the most offensive human being you can think of suddenly walked into your place of business?  Would you serve him/her?

 

I’m torn down the middle by the Sarah Huckabee Sanders-Red Hen restaurant controversy.

In case you didn’t hear, President Trump’s federally-funded falsifier and simpleton stonewaller, otherwise known as Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, planned to dine out over the weekend at a posh restaurant in Virginia’s Shenandoah Mountains.  When Sanders arrived, she was firmly but politely told she wasn’t welcome by the establishment.  The Red Hen’s owner steadfastly refused to serve Sanders.  The decision was based purely on politics.  In other words, Sanders would have been welcome at the Red Hen had she been any lower-level employee, someone anonymous, or just about anyone else in the universe.  She was refused service for one simple reason — because she holds a high-profile position in the Trump Administration, which is viewed by millions of Americans as the epitome of evil and incompetence.

I’ll veer around the legal debate and skip obvious comparisons to wedding cakes.  Recall the recent Supreme Court decision which effectively now allows any business to openly discriminate against customers based on personal objections to their lifestyle (a gay couple was refused service at a bakery, leading to a lawsuit).  It seems that if a bakery owner can tell someone to “leave” because of some confusion about where certain body parts belong, then a restaurant owner can say “goodbye” to someone who’s unremitting lies to the press and the public have turned the White House into a laughing stock that’s no longer funny.

Predictably, Trump supporters were outraged by what happened.  Right-wing media bubbled over like an overflowing toilet.  No one would even have even known about the isolated incident, except that Sanders blasted out the following tweet:

That’s one perspective.  The other side had quite a different interpretation of events.  The restaurant owner called the refusal to accommodate Sanders an act of civil disobedience.  The owner-citizen had become so fed up with Sanders’ serial lies and constant deflection that he felt a moral obligation to take a stand given the unique opportunity presented when Sanders unexpectantly walked into his restaurant on Friday night.

Was Sanders treated unfairly?

How you answer is likely based on tribal reflexes rather than an objective evaluation of what refusing service to someone really means and most certainly ignores much broader and far more serious implications of carrying out such measures to the extreme.  Not only is humiliating people wrong in most cases, disturbances of the kind could very likely result in an escalation of hostilities and open season in what’s become a culture war.

So, if lines are to be drawn, where should we draw them?

I think most will agree that just about everyone should be entitled to fair treatment.  Otherwise, society can’t function.  The Sanders controversy aside, I can’t imagine any successful business owner refusing to serve a customer based solely on politics.  The reason for broad acceptance of differences and collective tolerance is simple:  Banning a customer is bad for business.

We’re also likely to agree that public figures, including political leaders, should be treated with common courtesy in everyday life.  This fundamental tenet is bipartisan.  No matter what we may think of an elected (or appointed) public official, governing in a civil society demands some degree of decorum.  People should enjoy the right to private time with their families and friends.  They should be extended the same level of service and professional courtesies as any typical patron.

But wait.  Are there limits to normal expectations of civility?  We’re about to pressure test them, now.

What if you’re a restaurant owner and this man walks in and asks for a table?

That’s David Duke, a former Ku Klux Klan leader, an avowed White supremacist, and the former Republican gubernatorial candidate in Louisiana.

Would you allow him to dine at your place of business?

Proving this is a non-ideological exercise, instead, let’s suppose this man walks in and requests a table.  Would you serve him?

That’s Louis Farrakhan, an anti-Semite, a Black Nationalist, and leader of the Nation of Islam.

Would you permit him to dine at your place of business?

Duke and Farrakhan may be on opposite sides of the political spectrum.  But consistency rather than hypocrisy probably demands that your answers be the same.  If you refuse to serve Duke, then you probably should also refuse to serve Farrakahn, and vice versa.

Here’s one more prospective “guest” to ponder:

That’s Martin Shkreli, the douchebag punk (and now a convicted felon) who bought a patent to a rare pharmaceutical drug prescribed as a matter of life and death for its patients and then hiked the drug’s cost 56 times the original price.  A few years ago, Shkreli even “won” a poll asking “who’s the most hated man in America?”  Obviously, that poll came out before Trump became a serious presidential candidate.

If you owned a restaurant and Shkreli walked in wanting a table, would you serve him?

What about Harvey Weinstein?  What about Bill Cosby?  What about the jackass who takes Safari selfies after shooting a giraffe?  Would they be welcome at your place of business?

Indeed, there are many cretins, crooks, and con men who go through daily life unmolested in public places.  There are countless racists and rapists who frequent fancy boutiques and upscale restaurants and receive impeccable treatment.  There are some moral and ethical ambiguities at work here when we admonish a partisan political figure and then give a free pass to others who have committed well-documented disgusting acts.

Of course, doing nothing is always the easiest option.  Non-confrontation is the easy way out.  Ignoring the evil deeds of the wicked and overlooking the terrible harm they do — often at the expense of the helpless who have no power nor voice — is a natural human instinct.  We’ve become subject to mass desensitization, to not only to our basic human responsibilities of decency but also willfully blind to awareness of misdeeds.  Sometimes, scandal has even become a cause for celebration.  We covet meeting anyone who’s famous — be they a mob boss or a Kardashian.  O.J. Simpson can’t go out in public without being hounded by gawkers waving smartphones.  Fact is — famous people never get turned away at restaurants.  It doesn’t happen.

Except now, for Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

I do wish we could return to a much healthier and more productive time when political differences weren’t obstacles, but opportunities.  Perhaps after the Trump nightmare ends, we can return to a culture of civility and cooperation.  I hope it’s not too late.

Unfortunately, Trump and his supporters have gutted all the rules as to how the political game is played.  Starting at the very top with a constant bombardment of impulsive tweets and petty personal attacks on just about everyone, from movie stars to Gold Star families, he and his sycophantic personality cult have annihilated the traditions of common civility.  Defaming, dividing, and ultimately destroying all opposition is Trump’s modus operandi.

Call what happened at the Red Hen what it is — a small payback.

Those, like Sanders, who not only carry out acts which debase the culture and willfully deceive an entire nation must be subject to the consequences of what they are doing.  Political protest isn’t pretty.  It’s not polite.  It’s not meant to be pretty and polite.  Political protest, through peaceful acts of civil disobedience, is intended to entice a broader debate and inspire others to take similar action.

Let the civil disobedience begin.  And let’s also remember — to keep things civil.

 

 

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Posted by on Jan 28, 2018 in Blog, Essays | 7 comments

The Worst Idea in Sports History

 

 

Seriously — has there ever been a worse idea?

I just read carnival barker and ham-hocked huckster Vince McMahon announced that he intends to bring back the XFL.

He hate me.

XFL TO RETURN GIMMICK-FREE in 2020 [ESPN]

For those who took enough time to blink back in 2001 and missed the XFL’s short-lived, disastrous spring season which was wildly entertaining for all the wrong reasons, the McMahon-NBC mutant was an abomination.  It was a twisted hybrid between something labeling itself as “football,” blended with staged-fake wrestling, with a dash of The Jerry Springer Show.  It was a shaken and stirred shit stain.  Fortunately, McMahon’s XFL suffered a well-deserved humiliation and lasted about as long as a bad case of the chicken pox.

We thought the nightmare was over.  But — no.

When I read the XFL plans to relaunch in 2020, I thought this had to be a joke.

This is like the Ford Motor Company bringing back the 1958 Edsel.  It’s the roll out of New Coke again.  It’s like investing in Sony BetaMax machines.  It’s remaking the box office disaster that was Ishtar.  It’s the worst idea in the history of sports.

Some people have more money than brains.  Some people never learn.

Fact:  No one wants to watch this clown’s bullshit football league.  Even those who are temporarily pissed at the NFL right now (dwindling numbers by the way, that by next season can probably fit inside a telephone booth) will not become fans of new football teams based cities with bad airports filled with rejects who can’t make it either in the Canadian Football League (CFL) or even get signed to the practice squads of real pro football teams.  It’s a goddamned sandlot league.  Like the Pottstown Firebirds.

Whether we like it or not, despite its awful rules and terrible owners, and in spite of the major television networks milking the public’s patience with way too many commercials and talking heads, the NFL remains the 800-pound Godzilla of American sports.  Other than the American Football League (AFL) so brillilantly created and managed by Dallas’ Lamar Hunt, which merged with the NFL in 1970, every attempt since then to tap into America’s love affair with football has been a total disaster:

—– [1974-1975] Ever heard of the World Football League (WFL)?  Remember the Hawaii Rainbows and the Shreveport Steamer?  This league signed lots of NFL stars, then ran out of money.  Then, the broke NFL players had to crawl back to the real football league.  Most were never the same again.  Calvin Hill, Larry Czonka, Paul Warfield, John Gilliam, and so many others who jumped leagues never did much after they left their iconic teams in the NFL.

—– [1983-1985] Remember this bomb of a sports league killed off by someone who’s now famous?  The United States Football League (USFL) was ruined when New Jersey Generals owner Donald Trump took over control in the second year and switched games to the Fall to go up directly against the NFL.  Some businessman.  He got slaughtered and bankrupted the entire league.  Here’s a short walk down memory lane:

—– [2009-2012] The short-lived United Football League (UFL), which at one point in 2011 had FOUR teams, lasted just three, mostly invisible years. It even had a team based in Las Vegas called the Outlaws.  I watched one of the UFL games on television with like 2,220 people in the stands.  It looked like a high school game, without the bands.  It was morbidly fascinating to watch.

—– [2001] The XFL was a laughingstock.  They lost billions.  Remember “He Hate Me?”  Cringeworthy.  In their second nationally-televised game from the Los Angeles Coliseum, the live feed went black.  NBC went to a test pattern nationwide because of a local power failure. Apparently, a generator truck supplying the power for the entire broadcast parked outside the stadium powered down and wouldn’t restart because someone working at the XFL FORGOT TO PUT GAS IN THE TANK.  True story.  Here’s a short trailer of this mess of a football league:

 

Now, the same huckster who ran the XFL into the ground the first time is back for more punishment.  On second thought — perhaps this WILL BE fun to watch……fun to watch as in like a dumpster fire.  The saddest thing is — lots of D-grade players will view the XFL as a real opportunity and will jump on this tinker-toy train running off a cliff, and likely be hurt.

Listen, no one wants to watch a bunch of nobodies wearing weird-colored uniforms playing football in third-rate stadiums in the middle of June.

The XFL is fucking garbage.

It’s the worst idea in the history of sports.
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Posted by on Aug 15, 2017 in Blog, Essays | 2 comments

My Thoughts on “Southern Heritage”

 

 

THOUGHT OF THE DAY:

If you believe a “heritage” that committed traitorous acts against the United States of America costing 620,000 innocent lives during a hellish military struggle that was fought solely to preserve a perverted economic system based solely on keeping people in chains is worth honoring and defending — there’s not just something wrong with your heritage….

There’s something wrong with YOU.

 

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Posted by on Jul 28, 2017 in Blog, Essays, Politics, What's Left | 1 comment

John McCain’s Glorious Revenge: Arizona Senator Bitch Slaps Trump

 

 

Late last night in front of the entire country and the whole world, Sen. John McCain bitched-slapped the President of the United States.

He did it with a defiant thumb turned upside down, signifying a vote of “no.”

This glorious act of sweet revenge may have been the senior Arizona senator’s finest hour ever on Capitol Hill, especially after years of waffling all over the political gridlock since he was humiliated as captain of the painfully inept McCain-Palin shipwreck that ended up getting iceberged back in 2008 by Barack Obama.

Indeed, just about everyone outside the Right-wing fringe with a stranglehold over Republican Party politics had given up on the so-called “maverick” politician.  Two decades earlier, Sen. McCain made quite a name for himself for his willingness to compromise on important issues in order to get things done and even worked with members of the opposition party — noble virtues considered heresy inside the poison well of our political culture today.

Sen. McCain’s moderation seemed to be a thing of the distant past.  That was until late last night, at about 1:45 am local time in Washington, during a late-night roll call vote on a spellbinding motion to move a controversial bill forward that might have gutted the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. “Obamacare”).  As the names of senators were called one by one, everyone knew the vote would be razor close.  Even though Republicans control the Senate, they needed just 50 “yes” votes for the bill to pass.  Trump’s Vice President, Mike Pence would have cast the fateful deciding vote.  But the bill fell just ONE VOTE short.

Somewhere along the line, Sen. McCain either came to his good senses or recognized the Trump-led Republican Party for what it’s truly become — a shit show.  He’s come to realize there’s a madman running the American government’s three-ring circus.

We may never fully know the reasoning behind Sen. McCain’s surprising decision to break away from the members of his own party.  Indeed, he did appear to change his mind on this issue.  However, one has good reason to suspect this was a heavy dose of sweet revenge.

Two years ago, then-candidate Donald Trump made what many believed was an appalling political gaffe when he stated:

“[John McCain) is not a war hero.  He was a war hero because he was captured.  I like people who weren’t captured.”  [READ MORE HERE]

From 1967-1973, Captain McCain was locked up Hanoi inside a North Vietnamese prisoner of war camp after being shot down as a Navy pilot.  He endured unfathomable torture dished out by his captors which resulted in lifelong debilitation of the full mobility of his arms.  Meanwhile, within that same time frame, Donald Trump dodged the draft and took FIVE military deferments to avoid service in Vietnam.

You tell me — who’s the hero?

McCain’s “heroism” would make an astonishing encore appearance, this time in a very different act of defiance against an adversary, not foreign but domestic.  The greatest irony of all was this was supposed to be “heroes week” at the message-marketing White House.  Finally, a promise was delivered.

A few days ago, less than two weeks after undergoing emergency brain surgery to remove cancer that’s lodged behind his left eye socket, Sen. McCain made a triumphant return to the Senate floor, the stage of many his previous battles.  However, this battle might have been his greatest victory, both personal and political.

Sen. McCain — so derided by critics for so long both on the Right and Left, so often the victim of his own compromises, so ridiculed for his confusing stance on many important issues — finally stood up and asserted that faint but flickering glow of independence.  He passionately argued for bipartisanship and urged his colleagues to come together.  Then, late last night in that roll call vote, he backed up his words with decisive action.  That’s leadership.

While he spoke to the full chamber watching in silence, one couldn’t help but notice Sen. McCain’s gruesome scar across his forehead.  But that wasn’t the biggest scar in Washington, this morning.  Indeed, a far more ghastly scar was inflicted upon the spiteful, petty, bully of a showman with zero legislative accomplishments in his first 7 months in office who was just schooled about how to really “make deals.”

Making good deals starts with this, Mr. President — treating people right.  This is something the man who took credit for his ghostwritten biography entitled The Art of the Deal” knows nothing about.

Thank you for rising to the occasion, Sen. McCain.  This may have been your finest hour.

 

___________

MORE:  Listen to the audible gasps from the U.S. Senate when Sen. McCain walks into the chamber, asks for the attention of the clerk, and casts his vote:

 

 

 

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Posted by on Feb 18, 2017 in Blog, Essays, Politics, Rants and Raves, What's Left | 10 comments

Where’s Your Outrage? Where’s Your Decency?

 

 

You’re looking at one of the last photos ever taken of James Foley.

He was a war correspondent who reported on the Syrian Civil War.

On August 19, 2014, some 44 days after being captured and taken into captivity by ISIS, he was forced to his knees at an undisclosed location in the desert.  An evil man wrapped in a black turban wielded a mighty sword, lifted his instrument of death towards a gorgeous blue sky, and then thrust the blade violently downward, instantly severing off the head of an American.

James Foley was 40 years old.  [READ MORE HERE]

 

 

You’re looking at a picture of Chauncey Bailey.

He was a reporter for The Oakland Post, who regularly covered events within the African-American community.  Bailey was highly-respected by peers and readers alike for his tireless work ethic.  He was particularly adept at uncovering local corruption and was then working on a story that was particularly sensitive to people known for violence.

On August 2, 2007, Bailey was walking from his apartment to work, just as he did every morning.  While strolling up 14th Street, a lone gunman wearing black clothing and a ski mask approached Bailey and blasted three bullets into his body, which killed the journalist instantly.

Chauncey Bailey was 57.  [READ MORE HERE]

 

 

You’re looking at a photo of Cynthia Elbaum.

She was a correspondent with Time magazine assigned to the war in Chechnya.

Elbaum worked as a photojournalist.  She captured the horrors of that terrible failed war for independence in the breakaway state of Chechnya.  Elbaum was particularly remarkable for her courage, not just a willingness to risk her life in one of the world’s most dangerous regions, but also because she was one of the few female journalists daily in the line of fire.

She paid the ultimate price to bring us news, sending back images that most of us barely gave a glance at, perhaps only for a few fleeting seconds while parsing through an old issue of Time while waiting in a doctor’s office.  We don’t think much of the dangers and sacrifices it took to bring us the things we read and see.  We’re oblivious to those risks taken by the brave.

Cynthia Elbaum was 28.  [READ MORE HERE]

 

 

You’re looking at a picture of Michael Kelly.

He wrote from The Washington Post and The New York Times.

On April 3, 2003, Kelly was traveling in a Humvee along with American troops dispatched to a war zone in Iraq.  The vehicle hit a land mine, and exploded into flames, killing everyone trapped inside — including Kelly.  Thus, he became the first journalist who was killed in Iraq.

Michael Kelly was 46.  He left behind a wife and two children.  [READ MORE HERE]

 

 

You’re looking at the wall of the Newseum’s Journalists Memorial, in Washington, DC.  This is just a partial collection of members of the media who have been killed doing their jobs.

Indeed, this could be a much longer article.  In fact, it could stretch on and on with hundreds of thousands of words.  In all, a total of 2,291 writers, journalists, photographers, cameramen, and other members of the media have been killed in the line of duty.

Two-thousand, two-hundred,, ninety-one.  Let that figure sink in.

The 2,291 gave their lives largely out of insatiable curiosities to which we — the readers and viewers — were the ungrateful beneficiaries.  Rarely thanked, but so often criticized, they trekked into zones where others dared not to travel.  They asked questions others dared not to ask.  They took photo and video of events that were not supposed to be seen.

The least one might expect for this work and those who do their best follow in their hollowed footsteps is — a little respect.

 

 

You’re looking at the screen shot of the tweet that was sent out yesterday by the President of the United States.

He called the mainstream news media, “the enemy of the American People!”

I have received a fair amount of criticism lately for my harsh words and many of the brutal things I’ve said about President Trump.  I recognize that my actions and use of language is not suited for all tastes.  However, as a regular consumer of daily news and someone who has known and worked with a great many dedicated members of the media, I can’t help but be profoundly disturbed by the events I’m witnessing.  I can’t help but get emotional about such a grotesque lack of respect and dignity, by the President, no less.

Where’s your outrage?  Where’s your sense of decency?

 

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