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Posts Tagged ‘Opinion’

Time to weigh in: The mosque edition

In Uncategorized on August 20, 2010 at 2:52 am

Where I’m at: Arlington, VA

What I’m doing: watching the Reds go for 6 in a row (and by “watching the Reds,” I mean Colleen is using the TV to watch “Project Runway.” Ugh)

Why I’m posting: because you’re dying for a rant…I just know it :o)

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Well, everyone has given their two cents at this point. Palin, Newt, Beck, Pelosi, and finally Obama. And that’s just the political players. Seriously, everyone and their mother had something to say about the proposed mosque (actually, Islamic community spiritual center) near Ground Zero. We even talked about it in my French class. In French!

So what’s to say about the mosque that hasn’t already been said? Actually…nothing, at least as far as I’m concerned. That’s because President Obama said what really is the right thing (the first time anyway). America was literally founded on the idea of religious freedom. This is a country that will never be physically beaten by terrorist attacks. And honestly, I’ve stopped believing that we could even have our confidence cracked beyond repair (USSR anyone?).  Many Americans, however, do seem to be willing to permit a victory of terror by allowing their fears to dictate their feelings. No, Ms. Palin, it’s not okay for us to just say, “Well this one time, let’s put basic freedoms on the bench.” If zoning laws permit a mosque to be built in the area, and interested parties could raise the funds to purchase the property, etc. etc. etc., we can’t use the Constitution as a sword of last resort. The Constitution is a shield, if not a protective bubble that protects us from government, government from other government, and sometimes even us from ourselves.

Part of me wants to concede that it is okay to feel anger or even uneasiness in this, an admittedly rare situation. But if at this time, when our basic beliefs and freedoms are so clearly laid on the table, we can’t give in to rash feelings. Unfortunately, in this situation, the feelings aren’t even rash; they’re just plain wrong. Senator Gravel (D-AK) pointed out – bravely, since he’s a Democrat – that President Bush was good at drawing the distinction between the perpetrators of the hideous acts of 9/11 and the Muslim world in general. It’s not okay to conflate the two. It diminishes 3 billion people in the world, and perhaps more importantly here, it diminishes another 3oo million: the U.S.

We’re better than this. When we give our word as a country, we’re supposed to mean it. But when we promise ourselves something, we definitely better do it. Religious freedom is a basic right. And in DeMark’s hierarchy of rights (conveniently backed up by the Due Process Clause), our rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are sacred against the conveniences or biases of others, so long as our rights don’t impinge upon theirs. Ignorance is not a right. Nor is fear. But practicing one’s religion is. And thus to me, the issue is simple and clear.

But what do you think?

Perhaps a personal breakthrough

In Uncategorized on August 9, 2010 at 12:08 am

Where I’m at: our apartment in Arlington, VA

What I’m doing: perhaps stupidly posting my new address for friends/family

Why I’m posting: I may have reached a (baseball) breakthrough…

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Many of you will know this about me: that my distaste for the Chicago Cubs is rivaled by a (sports-related only) dislike for very few other things. I’ve long detested most everything about the Cubs.

Or so I thought. You see, as a 5-year resident of Wrigleyville in Chicago, I got an up-close verification of 2 things I formerly believed – and now know – to be true: the Cubs stink and their fans stink worse.

Now, I give a caveat here: really good Cubs fans – like the really good fans of any other team or thing, the ones who know players’ names, records, generally are aware of when a baseball season is or what the game of baseball is – are actually fantastic fans. They’d have to be to keep coming back for the same abuse year in and year out. Unfortunately, what probably represents the majority of Cubs fans are the people who go to games to be seen, constantly have to be reminded that a game has 9 innings, think they’ve heard of players like Ryne Sandburg or Andre Dawson but think they’re still on the team, and call their team “The Cubbies.” I’ve done numerous studies (trust me on this) and these fans actually like it when the Cubs lose. They like to consider “their” team lovable losers and wear the moniker like a badge of honor. I can’t stand that for so many reasons, but the biggest is probably that it makes all the good, really good, fans look bad by association. It’s the same reason I hate bad lawyers, bad politicians, bad doctors, etc.; the bad ones make the public forget about the good ones. Unfortunately, unlike lawyers or doctors, there are far far far more bad Cubs fans than good ones.

Which is too bad. And thus I arrive at my breakthrough. You see, while hating on the Cubs for many years and texting fellow-ND alum Steve Bart-man to screw up Moises Alou’s theoretical franchise-changing catch, I’ve unfairly lumped all of the good things about the Cubs in with the bad. Wrigley Field: heaven on baseball earth. The announcers (from Harry to Len and Bob): top-notch. Day baseball: it should always be. A huge payroll: if only for the Reds (we’d be the Yankees of baseball!).

But while watching my Reds predictably obliterate the Cubs for a sweep in Chicago this weekend – which the Reds finished off today by starting their “B” line-up and still scoring 11 runs – I felt a strange feeling (at least in the realm of sports): pity. Not for the fans, mind you, but for the team itself. Being from Cincinnati and being friends with people from Cleveland and Philly, I can appreciate the feeling of losing. All the time. For years and years. But I always told myself that the Cubs infamous losing streak either somehow served them right or that somehow seeing other teams in the city succeed made up for it. I delighted in a fallen rival, as any sports fan would. But at some point, I questioned whether it was fun any more. Sometimes the greatest joy in sports is actually just winning, rather than winning and pouring salt into the wounds of your rivals at the same time.

At this point, though, there’s so much salt in Chicago that the Morton Salt factory along the Dan Ryan Expressway had to add a new wing. It was great seeing the Cubs bloop their way through a couple decades when winning wasn’t expected of them. But for years now, they’ve had an enormous payroll (1st in the NL this year) and now their losing is a by-product of chronic underachieving good players and over-projecting poor players. And for the first time today, that wasn’t fun for me to watch.

So maybe it’s my age or maybe it’s because now – finally – the Reds are back on track and winning is enough. Whatever it is, I’ll make this amends: “Dear Chicago Cubs (team, not fans), I forgive you. I’m of course never going to root for you, but I’ll stop actively rooting against you, at least until you learn how to defend yourself. Maybe we’ll see you on the right side of .500 again someday. Maybe not. But I’ll just say thanks for the memories, awful as they were, and don’t let the door hit you on the way out of clubhouse come October.”

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Who said it: George Will, the political commentator and baseball lover-supreme

Why it’s relevant: because I still don’t forgive Cubs fans and wish the number was higher

The quote: “Chicago Cubs fans are 90% scar tissue.”

How much “free-berty” do we have with English?

In Uncategorized on July 19, 2010 at 9:01 pm

Where I’m at: D.C.

What I’m doing: finishing up another day of French

Why I’m posting: testing the bounds of my native tongue after another day of butchering my new tongue

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Perhaps my favorite American has struck again. I am, of course, talking about Sarah Palin. And by “favorite,” I mean I have an emotion for her that must rhyme with “soul-wrenchingly disturbed by her grotesque inability to do anything, ever, worthwhile to promote America as not the dumbest country on Earth.” (Please someone respond in the classic “Celebrity Jeopardy on SNL” style of “light urple.” You tube it. It’s funny.)

Anyway, she once again tried to use the word “refudiate,” which is one of many words she’s tried to invent. For some people, Twitter is a very dangerous thing indeed. Not to mention that it was posted as part of an inappopriately anti-religious (except to Christians perhaps) tweet. The general laughter at her gaff caused her to make another gaff, followed by an attempted salve where she compares herself to Shakespeare (article here: http://voices.washingtonpost.com/44/2010/07/palin-invents-word-compares-he.html?wpisrc=nl_pmpolitics) and says that English is a living language.

And you know, she’s kind of right. Languages (except Latin) are alive and do change, though I question the wisdom of letting Sarah Palin be the one to change ours. After all, people like Stephen Colbert, Ray Kroc, Steve Jobs, and others constantly add words to our lexicon. So I wonder, who should be allowed to add words to English? Is there an IQ minimum? An accomplishment minimum? A popularity minimum? Can I do it? I mean, I make up lots of words and phrases…should I call Webster’s?

Post your thoughts/answers:

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Who said it: Steve Miller, who speaks of the “pompatous” of love

(censored)

In Uncategorized on May 26, 2010 at 4:23 am

Where I’m at: DC (stuck in my Falls Church apartment- Thanks HR Dept for not sticking up for me)
What I’m doing: finishing off a ribeye at midnight (why not?!)
Why I’m posting: because I need to speak out!
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I had another softball game tonight. Our team is awesome! Three games, three run-rules, 3-0. More importantly, it’s a great team because I love my teammates. Great people, all of them.

However, they may not feel the same about me. Now, they’re not ones to make generalizations, but at least 2 of them commented on their dislike for diplomats tonight after the game. Though these weren’t directed towards me, the general comments are in fact shared by many around the world. The comments roughly boil down to “Diplomats are pretentious.”

Now, as a bleeding heart of all types, a lawyer, and perhaps someday an elected official, I’m accustomed to being prematurely labeled for the foibles of others identified of the same persuasions. And that’s fine. But…

…Well, the “but” here is that usually I’m able to speak out in other ways to (a) defend myself, (b) improve the criticized system, and (c) maintain my sanity. But I’m embarking upon a new career where that’s not really that possible. Even here, on my own blog, I need to be concerned about fully airing my views and opinions because of my readership.

So what am I going to do? For now, yell out loud. But my neighbors insist that I come up with something…better.
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Who said it: Homer and Marge Simpson
Why it’s relevant: who wouldn’t lose it in such a case?

The quote: [in a room filled with thousands of “No TV and No Beer Make Homer Go Crazy” scrawled on the walls]
Homer (wielding an ax): No TV and No Beer Make Homer…something something.
Marge: Go Crazy?
Homer: Don’t mind if I do!

The new normal?

In Uncategorized on February 9, 2010 at 7:42 pm

Where I’m at: Chicago (until late March)
What I’m doing: frustrated at BarBri’s technical support
Why I’m posting: gauging public opinion
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As the intro states, I’m gauging public opinion on something. And since the entire public reads this blog (my mom and wife = the entire public), I thought I’d use this forum to ask. If you have thoughts, please post them in the comments, email me, or call me.

So President Obama and Congress are considering a number of efforts to reduce childhood obesity. There’s been talk of a soda tax, more money for public schools that provide healthier lunch options, more money for preventative health, etc. Heck, ol’ Barry was even in one of those NFL “Play 60” commercials promoting 2 hours/day of TV and 1 hour of outdoor time. [Note: there’s more than a foot of snow on the ground in Chicago right now. One hour of outdoor time = negative 2 toes]

My question is this: is this all misplaced? There’s wide acknowledgment these days that obesity is a problem in the U.S. It’s even officially a disease (mostly for insurance purposes). But the problem is so widespread that a full 2/3 of America is officially overweight, nearly 30% is obese, and the numbers for children is quickly catching up (about 50% and 20%, respectively). It thus appears that for once in our great, but sometimes manic history that we’re discriminating against the majority – or soon-to-be-majority – on an issue of this sort [Note 2: that comment should draw some criticism, people]. So should we care? Is overweight the new normal? Obese the new overweight? Not overweight the new dangerously skinny?

It seems a ludicrous concept to become accustomed to, but we’ve done it before. As these blogs posts have already pointed out, we’ve frequently come to widely accept ideas that relatively recently had been blasphemous to many.

I could say a lot more about this, but I’d rather hear from others. So there’s the question: will fat be the new normal?

(PS: Scroll down and keep posting to the polls!)
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Who said it: Michelle Obama, First Lady and a pretty good lawyer herself
Why it’s relevant: She just rolled out her “Let’s Move” initiative designed at “conquering” childhood obesity in one generation

The quote: “This isn’t about politics…I’m talking about commonsense steps we can take in our families and communities to help our kids lead active, healthy lives.”

Corporations United

In Uncategorized on February 2, 2010 at 11:45 pm

Where I’m at: Chicago (t-minus 51 days)
What I’m doing: figuring out where to live in D.C.
Why I’m posting: venting about judicial hypocrisy
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So due to a variety of factors – namely my mom’s and bro’s birthdays, studying, and oh, not having a blog – I didn’t write anything about the “Citizens United v. FEC” case that came down from SCOTUS (the Supreme Court of the United States) last week. For those that don’t normally care about court decisions, you probably should care about this one because it very may well be one of those cases that we all debate for years down the road (think Roe v. Wade). That serious, DeMark? Well, maybe. For those that want the short version, SCOTUS’s decision removes most restrictions from corporations making political campaign donations (primarily by striking down McCain-Feingold’s law). In other words, if Pfizer decides it wants Candidate A, it doesn’t matter how much you and your friends support Candidate B because his bankroll will look like a pittance.

Okay, that’s the Justice Stevens-in-dissent-take (god I love that little bow-tied man). But the reason everyone should be up in arms about this decision is the way it happened. Now, I’m all for freedom of speech. In fact, I believe (like Justice Black did) in absolute freedom of speech…of people. But opening the way for corporations to have the same standards of speech diminishes all our speech. It is not that I can’t see where the conservative wing of SCOTUS chose to extend that right through its 5-4 decision, but that they chose to do it when they didn’t have to. Basically, “Citizens United” should have been a minor, targeted decision, but Justices Roberts, Alito, Scalia, Thomas, and Kennedy (who wrote the opinion) chose to overturn 2 precedents, a popularly-elected Congress’s statutory action, and it spit in the face of all those conservatives that rant against judicial activism. I’m not disappointed in Kennedy because he doesn’t hold precedent in the same regard. Nor am I disappointed in Thomas (because he’s already such a waste of space) or Alito (because I have so little respect for him already and he’s already shown a propensity for this type of thing, notably trying to overturn Roe v. Wade through Casey v. Planned Parenthood when he was on the Ct. of Appeals). I’m disappointed in Roberts and Scalia. Even though I don’t agree with them, I respect their measured approaches to jurisprudence and their regards for stare decisis (basically, precedent). That they would both go beyond the narrowly-tailored decision that would have been required to broadly make judicial law is disappointing.

I’d just like to see where the John Birch Society is now. The JBS was infamous for plotting to kill Chief Justice Earl Warren and other Justices for their “judicial activism” mid-century in such efforts to recognize rights of privacy and strike down segregation. It was a fringe group until George H.W. Bush courted their membership to reform the GOP in Texas and flip the formerly blue state to the red state bastion it is today. Let’s see if those wackos will go after one (or two) of their own. By using their speech, of course. It’s free after all.
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Who said it: Chief Justice John Roberts during his confirmation hearings
Why it’s relevant: See above, re: “judicial activism”

The quote: “Judges are like umpires. Umpires don’t make the rules; they apply them.”