Saturday, January 2, 2010

The slippery slope

Eyes Let me say right off the bat that I'm very glad the Underpants Bomber failed in his attempt to blow up a plane. I also believe that we need to do as much as we can to prevent such attempts.

However, the rightwingers immediately began clamoring for profiling based on ethnicity and religion...and sometimes even because of names. Radio host Mike Gallagher (ugh...wingtard) said, “There should be a separate line to scrutinize anybody with the name Abdul or Ahmed or Mohammed.” New York Congressman Peter King said, “100 percent of the Islamic terrorists are Muslim, and that is our main enemy today. So why we should not be profiling people because of their religion?” [italics mine] My personal favorite comes from Newt Gingrich, who called for ethnic profiling and wrote:

Today, because our elites fear politically incorrect honesty, they believe that it is better to harass the innocent, delay the harmless, and risk the lives of every American than to do the obvious, the effective, and the necessary.

I just love how they toss the word "elite" around as an epithet. It's so cute.

Such profiling only serves to alienate an entire group of people, it's dangerous, and it's stupid. It's stupid because then you'd be leaving out people like Timothy McVeigh and Ted Kaczynski. Those guys blew shit up and killed people and amazingly enough, they were white (and although I don't know if they identified themselves as Christians, I'm certain they didn't consider themselves Muslim).

Japanese Why is it dangerous? Do we really want to walk down that pathway? The one where we target a specific group and create enmity and distrust against all who belong to it? The one that creates hatred because of someone's skin color, religion, or what we perceive as a "funny name?" I'm talking about the pathway that led to Japanese internment camps during World War II, right here in our own country. At the risk of Godwinning myself, it is also the pathway that led to the Final Solution and six million dead Jews.

I was discussing this with a friend online the other day, and while I agree that we need to do what we can in order to stop such terrorist attempts, there is a very fine line between safety and respect for other cultures and religions. You can't just target someone because of their religion! That goes against everything we stand for as a country. I speculated above as to whether or not Timothy McVeigh called himself a Christian. If he did, how do you think it would have gone over to have people calling for the heightened scrutiny of anyone who designates themselves as Christian, based on the actions of one disenfranchised lunatic? If you call yourself a Christian, how would you appreciate going into any federal building in your city and being directed to a different line for special screening?

District 9I'm guessing you wouldn't care for it too much, and would probably start raising holy hell (so to speak) about being persecuted for your religious beliefs. That is exactly what these fucktards are wanting to do to an entire group of people. If you don't speak out against it, there may come a time when someone really tries to do it to you, and you can believe that I would speak out against that, too. The internment of Japanese-Americans in the 40's is roundly condemned now. My friend noted that there were probably one or two saboteurs among those who were rounded up. I agreed, said I wouldn't doubt it...but that is no justification for removing an entire ethnic group (or religious group) from their homes and confining them to a camp. We must learn from the mistakes of our past and not repeat them. (By the way, I think we mostly agreed on this issue. It was just a matter of playing devil's advocate.)

On a related note, I watched "District 9" last night, and found it very pertinent to this discussion. I won't give anything away, but it involved a spaceship full of aliens basically stalling out over Johannesburg, and their subsequent treatment at the hands of humans. It was a classic science fiction theme, in which the aliens are immediately distrusted and despised because of their "otherness." (Also a very interesting take on the theme, because of the Johannesburg Gortsetting. I recommend the movie highly. Some cool Brundlefly moments, too.) I keep hoping that someday the xenophobia will fade, but we seem to have a penchant for hating anyone and anything that is different from us. Klaatu barada nikto, my ass. I'm guessing most people would want to shoot first and ask questions later.

Different is not bad. It's just different. Sometimes you can manage to learn a few things if you can get past your fear and distrust. My cousin was married to a Japanese woman for several years. His father (my uncle, a member of the WWII generation) hated her because the Japanese were still the enemy, even years later. I spent time with them, had a wonderful time learning about her culture, was pen pals with her niece in Japan for a while, and learned to love Sukiyaki, even dipping the meat and vegetables into raw egg yolk. For a small town junior high girl, it was eye-opening, fascinating, and made me want to learn more about other people and cultures in the world.

Crotch-sniffing dog Our planet is not Americacentric, you know. I believe we do important things (at least when we're led by someone other than a low-wattage bulb), but there are a lot more non-Christians than Christians, non-whites than Caucasians, and I question the self-righteous superiority of those who would call for profiling based on the fact that there are people who look or believe differently from some of us. I don't question the need to track terrorist activity or to screen more thoroughly at airports. Hey, bring it on. Screen everybody. I'll stand in front of one of those full-body scanners and show you my hoo-ha. I'll let Bruno the Bombsniffing Dog have a sniff at my crotch. But don't target a group because of the way they look, how they believe, or because you don't care for their name.

We can't operate that way. It's wrong. It's just...wrong.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Always Be Closing

Glengarry Glen Ross Don't you hate it when you miss a great movie? For whatever reason, it escapes your radar. You hear people say, "Oh yeah, that's a great movie," and you try to remember to pick it up at some point, but keep forgetting.

That is what happened to me with "Glengarry Glen Ross." It was released in least I can say that I managed to watch it in this decade! Recently, I've been reminded of the movie by Detroit Mark and Darren (we share similar tastes in movies, and I trust their judgment), as well as a piece on "60 Minutes" in which they interviewed Alec Baldwin. Baldwin, as Blake, has only one scene in the entire movie...but it is definitely a memorable one, including this gem:

Dave Moss: What's your name?
Blake: Fuck you. That's my name.

This movie immediately shot onto my list of all-time favorites. I'm usually not a fan of "talky" movies (I don't want any smartasses commenting on my age and mentioning silent movies, okay? Okay.), and this is definitely a talky movie. But the dialogue is so fascinating and compelling, delivered by characters like the smooth-talking but desperate Levene*, an aging salesman who is trying to hang onto his job. If I ever get a chance to see the play of this, I will jump at it, because I'm sure the play version would be even more intense. The characters and the actors in the movie version are just...perfection.

Glengarry Glen Ross2 Don't believe me? Here are the main actors in this movie: Al Pacino, Jack Lemmon, Alec Baldwin, Ed Harris, Alan Arkin, and Kevin Spacey. I adore each and every one of these guys as actors, and they are all incredible here. Pacino won the Oscar for best supporting actor for this movie, but I think each of them deserved such an award—what an incredible cast. I was amazed and riveted, whether the conversation was intense and heated, or cold and calculating. I know that there were a few times when I sort of laughed in delight at a particularly well-done scene or turn of phrase or delivery. I was blown away. I won't put up the longer Alec Baldwin "motivational speech" (although it's worth a look if you get a chance), but instead will put up an excellent Al Pacino rant. [Warning: language content.] Thanks for the recommendation, Darren and Mark. It was well-warranted, and you gained even more credibility as movie buddies. :)

Just remember: it takes brass balls to sell real estate.

*Trivia note: Although Jack Lemmon plays "Shelley" Levene here, Alan Arkin played Sheldon, a.k.a. Shelly, in another of my favorite movies, "The In-Laws." Peter Falk's character utters the immortal line, "Serpentine, Shelly, serpentine!"

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

This Hoosier doesn’t claim him

Chuck Norris In his continued quest to morph from third-rate actor to third-rate political activist, Indiana native Chuck Norris weighed in got it...the war on Christmas. Ol' Chuck takes it up a notch, though, and seems to feel that it is now President Obama's War on Christmas (a.k.a. POWOC). In fact, he sees POWOC in even more general terms. The President doesn't just hate Christmas; he hates Christians and Christianity. I guess Chuck forgot the part where the President said that he is a Christian and believes in God. Too many roundhouse kicks to the head, Chuck? I suspect Chuck buys into the "Obama is a secret Muslim" conspiracy bullshit.

Chuck waxes nostalgic for the good old days when everyone viewed America the way our founders did...and by everyone I guess he means white Christian males. At the time of the founding of our republic, remember that women couldn't vote, and blacks were not considered "complete" people. In Chuck's utopian world-that-never-was, everyone showed their love for America by declaring "a good ol'-fashioned Christmas proclamation of Christ's birth."

I've already written about that, so I won't go into Chuck's obvious ignorance of the truth of the matter. I will, however, say that I find his particular brand of intolerance and his failure to comprehend that America consists of more than kickboxing white male conservative Christians to be dismaying and all too typical of what way too many others believe.

President Obama (Yeah, Chuck, I know you're having a hard time dealing with it, but he really is the President...and he's your President! Dig it!) caught a lot of flak a while back for saying that we are not a Christian nation. As hard as it may be for people to accept that, it's the truth. We are a nation of many faiths, including those who have no faith at all. It doesn't mean that anyone of a different faith or lack thereof is less of an American or a "bad" American. They're still American.

Beware of Dogma In fact, it's never been a Christian nation. People love to claim that our founding fathers established this nation on Christian principles. They didn't. The First Amendment states that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." This is usually interpreted to mean that the Congress is prohibited from the establishment of a national religion, or the preference of one religion over another, or the support of a "religious idea with no identifiable secular purpose." If you recall, the Puritans came over here because they were sick and tired of the Church of England bossing them around and telling them how they should believe. The last thing they wanted was to have some sort of national religion.

Thomas Jefferson, in the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, wrote:

That no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burdened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.

I feel that Jefferson was one of the most visionary men in history; regardless of his own feelings about religion or how he practiced it, he realized that true freedom could come only when a government does not have the power to coerce any citizen into a certain type of belief system, or into any type of belief system.

Jefferson's far-thinking words are perverted by groups like the Discovery Institute, who insert themselves into political issues and whose main goal is to promote the teaching of intelligent design in public schools, despite claiming to be a secular organization. According to their Wedge Document, they want to "defeat scientific materialism and its destructive moral, cultural, and political legacies" and to "replace materialistic explanations with the theistic understanding that nature and human beings are created by God." What the hell is "scientific materialism," anyway? Do they mean things like proven scientific facts? Those pesky scientists and all their fancy book-learnin'. "Everyone would have fallen in line and believed like we told them if it weren't for you meddling scientists!" [shaking fist]

The Treaty of Tripoli, signed by President John Adams in 1797, states in Article 11:

As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion [italics mine]; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen; and, as the said States never entered into any war, or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties, that no pretext arising from religious opinions, shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.

(This last one is particularly apt concerning a future topic: religious and ethnic profiling. Stay tuned.)

Chuck Norris cat I get frustrated when I hear people (yeah, I'm talking to you, Chuck Norris) assert that our country was founded on Christian principles. It is not the President's job to "stand up for Christianity"; it is his job to lead our country and provide a worldwide leadership presence, to faithfully execute federal law, and to command our troops. Part of faithfully executing federal law is to protect our Constitution and all American citizens from fucktards like you who think they have the right--the God-given right--to shove any sort of religion down anyone's throat. You have no such right.

You can bitch about it all you want, Chuck, but if you'd bother to do a couple of hours of research or attempt to move beyond your apparently limited capacity for comprehension of even the most fundamental of concepts, you might find out that your ramblings are just so much bullshit.

You're also a crappy writer.

(Note: A special thank you to my Facebook and Blogger friends such as Darren, Diana, DB, Alex, Tim, and anyone else who has been there for discussion, information, and links. I love to have my horizons broadened, and you're all damned good at it!)

Monday, December 28, 2009

A furry belly and a hollow body

Beth and Baxter My family Christmas was at my niece's, and I got to meet their new dog, a bassett hound named Baxter (the same as Kim and Steve's kitteh...hi Baxter!). He was such a big sweetie, so affectionate and loving! We bonded, and as I rubbed his furry belly, he laid his head down on my foot and seemed very happy and content.

I am definitely a cat person, but I have to say that this dog was a total charmer. He was a tad bit drooly, and sniffed my crotch once, but all in all, just a cool and sweet dog. He let me flop his ears around, and if I stopped petting him, he'd lean his head back and look at me with those big brown eyes, like "Why did you stop, brown-haired lady?" Heehee! Just a wonderful, sweet dog. But shhhh, don't tell Sheeba I said so...he's laying on my lap taking a nap, and I don't want him to read about how I loved on another pet...! Please keep your lips zipped, or he might slash my carotid while I sleep.

I'm not kidding. Do not tell the cat.Divider bar My Colts lost yesterday, after they took out the starters midway into the third quarter. I'm really not all upset about it...they could have gone for the undefeated season, and I suspect that Peyton wanted them to, but it doesn't make sense to risk injuring him or any of the other starters just for an undefeated regular season. They've clinched the home field advantage for the entire playoffs, and what matters now is getting to and winning the Super Bowl. It would have been fun to see an undefeated regular season, but I'd be happier to see them in the Super Bowl.

Jamie and Beth3 I stopped watching part way through the fourth quarter, because my friend Jamie came over and we went out for a little pool, a few drinks, and a lot of talk. It was her birthday! So go on over and wish her a happy one, if you haven't already. I so totally suck at pool, even though we have a table that I could practice on if I got motivated enough. I did okay early on, hitting a couple of shots that I impressed myself with, but as the night wore on and more drinks were consumed, I really got bad. Haha! I actually won a game or two (through no talent of my own, believe me), and once when I broke, the cue ball veered right off into the back corner pocket. I was like, "Fuck, I couldn't do that again if I tried! Can I get a do-over?" Jamie was kind and gave me a do-over. Sure as hell, I did the same thing, cue ball in the same damn pocket. I am the anti-talent when it comes to pool!

The picture is for our friend Darren. His request was for us to each have either a White Russian or a Whiskey Sour for him. The plan was for a White Russian, but the place had no milk, can you believe that? So a Whiskey Sour it was. I really don't do whiskey after a couple of bad--very bad--experiences in college with Jack Daniels, but I was a good sport and a team player, and so was Jamie. It was actually quite tasty, but I'm afraid that it didn't sit well with Jamie...although I think she's feeling better now. It was a lot of fun to get together and have some fun--after a while, there wasn't much pool going on, it was just talk, and it was great. I know it was your birthday, Jamie, but I had fun, too, and I'm glad we went out! Divider bar Finally, since I was watching the Colts yesterday, and then went out, I didn't play any Rock Band. Played some today to make up for lost time and to alleviate withdrawal symptoms. I decided to buy a new guitar (Since I'm making some bucks and gaining a lot of fans you know why? 'Cause I ROCK, that's why!), although I was diggin' my basic Fender Big Block Strat. Since Brian Setzer is my favorite famous guitarist, I thought I'd choose a Gretsch in his honor, and got this awesome hollow body. Check it's pink! That's my cool new outfit, too. I've always loved the leopard print.

Rock on, people.

Rock Band2 avatar2

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Would you?

Duct tape I think we were all interested in the story of the guy who tried to set off a bomb on the flight from Amsterdam. Interested and somewhat frightened--it was a reminder that these nutball assholes are still out there and still want to blow shit up and kill people.

What got me to thinking (stand back!) was hearing about the Dutch guy who heard a pop, saw smoke, and just went after the guy and took him down. Don't you just love stories like that? I read something else about an unruly passenger who was tackled by others and restrained with duct tape. (I think this picture could be also be taken in a serial killer sort of way, but I'd rather think about subduing murderous fanatics.)

It made me wonder what I would do. It's hard to say until you've been in such a critical situation, but I would hope that I would be brave enough to step up like the Dutch guy did on this flight, or the passengers on the doomed United 93. I'm not a big person, so I usually tend to err on the side of self-preservation and not put myself in harm's way. (Or as one dumbass I used to be involved with liked to say, "in arm's way." I rolled my eyes every time he said it.) However, I also have quite a temper, and it really pisses me off to see others mistreated--especially loved ones, but even complete strangers. I don't lose my temper often, but when I do, you'd better run. [grin]

Norman I would hope that if I were in such a situation, I would do whatever I could to help, even if it were just using my innate klutziness to trip in front of the dude and make him fall over me. Over the years, I've learned to control my temper, but in that sort of situation, I would think it would serve me well. I'm not joking about learning to control my temper...I may have my moments here where I come across as angry, but that is nothing compared to what I'm capable of. I'm glad I've mellowed. Why are you laughing?

People talk about losing their tempers so thoroughly that they lose their minds...can't think straight, don't remember what they said or did, or what happened. I tend to focus like a laser beam, with things remaining clear and my thought processes sharp. I would imagine that witnessing someone attempting to blow up innocent people in the name of their psychotic religious fanaticism would definitely make me see red, and I'd like to think that I'd either do what I could, or be a part of whatever group decided to make a move. How can anyone sit idly by as they witness such a wrong being done? I hope I would do what was right.

How do you think you would react?