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The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,500 times in 2011. If it were a cable car, it would take about 25 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

From the moment I first heard about the Weiner’s weiner story, I believed he should resign from Congress. Not because his admitted actions reveal a disturbed human being (I think they do). But rather because Anthony Weiner has become an object of national ridicule.

My thought was that if Jon Stewart can spend over a week’s worth of programs finding endless hilarious material for ridiculing Weiner, then Weiner’s political capital was completely shot. Staying in Congress, under this rationale, would only hurt his party.

But then, hiking with a friend on Sunday and discussing this matter, I reversed course. I now want Weiner to stay in Congress. Don’t resign. Continue in his progressive political gadfly role.

Not because I now believe that he won’t be ridiculed. But, instead, precisely because he will be ridiculed. He will be ridiculed within Congress, and, more importantly, he will be ridiculed within the press, which will report on the ridicule he receives within Congress.

Why will it be good for Weiner to be ridiculed in the press? It’s because his progressive views will get an airing in the press. In other words, the press will report: “Weiner was raising [progressive issue X] in Congress when the whole House broke out laughing, drowning out the Congressman.”

That way, progressive issue X will see the light of day in a Corporate press that would otherwise bury it. And maybe, somebody will shame the press into covering the issue.

Bottom line, Anthony Weiner has one of America’s biggest microphones. True, it’s because he’s an object of national ridicule. But, hey, it’s 2011, and a microphone is a microphone.

Stay Anthony!

Seems the 2011 Tuscon Shooting has kicked Wikileaks off the front page over the past week. And for good reason. It was a rather singular action, with resonant meaning for America.

Reading the coverage, it seems clear once again that this nation is incapable of subtle, grey-shaded, ambiguous thinking. Is Jared Lee Loughner politically left or right? Is the root cause of the shooting Loughner’s schizophrenia, the violent political rhetoric of the far right, or the too easy availability of semi-automatic guns?

How about a little bit of all of the above, and even more. Including the elephant sitting in the room that no one in the mass media is mentioning.

Here’s the question that I’d like to see answered: Was Jared Loughner on SSRIs?

Because if he was (and I’ll bet my left nut he was), that would fit him in nicely with all of the other crazy shootings that have plagued this country since  SSRIs began hitting our cabinets in the early 1990s.

Go spend an hour on ssristories.com. That site is to SSRI-driven mass murder what the Complete 9/11 Timeline is to 9/11. The latter site is simply a compilation of news stories appearing in the press the world over, concerning 9/11. Spend a few hours reading various press stories on that site, and you might come to the conclusion that there is a lot about 9/11 that never made it to the nightly network news.

Do the same on SSRI Stories, and you can’t help but wonder: Are SSRIs like Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft et al actually one of the root causes of crazy mass shootings like the one in Tuscon?

Read the rest of this entry »

I spent last weekend in Pasadena attending a celebration of Judge Alfred T. Goodwin’s 40 years of service on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. At 87, Judge Goodwin is still spry, and an active judge on this circuit.

The celebration was organized and attended by Judge Goodwin’s clerks from over the past 40 years, and even from the 1960s, when he was a state judge in Oregon. There were 80 or so of us, including some spouses and children. Our ages ranged from fresh-faced law school grads serving as his current clerks, to 70-somethings, and every age in between. In this way alone, it was a unique gathering.

Moreover, everyone seemed open, gregarious, congenial, intelligent, and kind-hearted. I sort of suspect this is because of Judge Goodwin himself. I mean, those adjectives describe the man, and I suspect we former clerks kind of fall in line with his demeanor when in his orbit.

But the gathering was even more significant to me for another reason.

At the Saturday night dinner, there was an open mike. Many former clerks got up and told funny stories about their interactions with the judge.

I didn’t get up. This must have been the first open mike in 25 years of weddings and other gatherings at which I passed on an open mike.

It wasn’t that I didn’t have anything to say. Instead, it was that, frankly, I just didn’t remember any conversations from 1991-92, when I clerked. My memory doesn’t work that way.

Early Sunday morning, after sunrise, I walked around the streets of Pasadena. As I did, my thoughts about the weekend crystalized. Why, I asked myself, was I so eager to attend these events celebrating Judge Goodwin? From where did this eagerness arise, given that I had left the practice of law in 1996, never to look back, and that I couldn’t even remember much about my time with the judge?

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Two young American men, both of Middle-Eastern descent, both in their 20s. Ali grew up in Washington state and attended high school in Iowa; Omar grew up in Alabama. Ali’s father came from Iran; Omar’s from Syria. The moms of the two kids are standard-issue white-bread Americans. Both kids seemed to have been relatively popular in high school. Both are “cool kids”.

That’s where the surface similarity ends. Google Ali Farokhmanesh. Google Omar Hammami.

The first story lifts my heart; the second saddens it.

But both stories make me think. Both ask a pressing question: What makes children turn out to be who they become?

Yet both stories make me proud to be an American. I like Ali’s path; I don’t like Omar’s.

But I like that each kid chose his own path. I know this to be true because this is America. Culture does not chose our path for us. Family does not choose our path. We choose our own.

In America, by the time we reach our 20s, our path is our own. And it reveals truly who we are.

This weekend, I’m looking forward to watching Ali in the Sweet Sixteen.

And thinking about Ali this weekend will bring Omar to my mind. I will pray that Omar experiences yet another dramatic reversal in his world-view, this time toward peace.

But Omar’s path is his own. As is Ali’s.

What’s my socio-political forecast for the New Year? What he said.

It’s scary reading. Quite dire in outlook. But, IMHO, definitely in the ballpark of what’s to come.

But where I differ significantly from Mr. Kunstler is in his apparent ignorance of the upside of the demise of American culture. He notes that, unlike the rest of the world, and unlike America of the 1930s, America of 2010 has no cohesive “culture”, in the way history has understood that term (i.e. same race, food, heroes, religion, behavioral norms, national identity, etc.).

In bleak times, tight cultures can survive because people waste no time in pulling together to help each other out. Everyone is everyone else’s brother in these cultures.

Since America has no cohesive culture, people like Kunstler see clearly the chaotic threat of collapse.

But what I’ve long said is that, while America has no culture, it does have a dominant meme. Namely: freedom, baby, freedom. Freedom is the ability to decide, today, that we will change everything about how we live. Change what we eat, what we do, how we do it, how we behave, how we interact, with whom we interact, etc.

Everywhere else in the world, freedom is curtailed by the headwind of culture. Making those kinds of profound changes anywhere outside of America, people must buck their own cultures to do so.

But in America, there is no culture to buck. And everybody is “us”. There is no “other” left to scapegoat in the America of 2010.

So unlike Mr. Kunstler, I’m completely bullish on the prospect that, when the time comes, and the times leave no alternative, we Americans will radically change how we live, and do so in a way that is more efficient than not.

Indeed, our national lingo has ready-made aphorisms for prodding those among us who are slower to change: “Get over it!” “Just do it!” “Go for it!”

Yes, America may be a cultural wasteland. But we are the People of Change.

[Photo of me in my underwear deleted upon the sage advice of a business colleague. Guess I missed out on the Facebook thing in my teenage years (circa 1980), so I never learned the downside of publicly displaying flesh, even for academic, rather than salacious, purposes.]

“WTF?”, you’re saying. Here is the explanation for this picture. I’m re-posting here since I have a number of friends who visit this blog from time to time.

  • In: Uncategorized
  • Comments Off on Wow! Slam Dunk Racial Profiling

Check out Gates Case Shocker. Here’s the money quote:

The 40-year-old woman whose emergency call to Cambridge police sparked the arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. and a raging national debate on race relations claims she never said “black” men were breaking into his house.

“This woman is 100 percent clear on what she said,” said attorney Wendy J. Murphy, who is representing 911 caller Lucia Whalen. “She never said she saw two black men. She said, ‘It never crossed my mind that there were two black men.’ ”

Whalen said she couldn’t have reported the color of the men’s skin, because she was too far away and viewing them from behind, Murphy said.

Well, put that together with my legal translation of “Would you step onto the porch” (= “I think you are a perp …”), and what we have here is slam dunk case of racial profiling. No “probable cause” to overcome the 4th Amendment’s prohibition against cops entering our home — as Sgt. Crowley did when he entered to follow Gates into the kitchen. Nothing here but an ugly case of “the nigga must have done it”.

Will be interesting to hear how the ring-wing nut jobs spin this new twist in the story.

Still looking forward to the beer on the lawn.

UPDATE; Check out the video that commenter Jason provides on the post called Henry Louis Gates: The System is Racist. That video has the 911 audio which makes out an even clear case of racial profiling than does the quote above.

Check out the video at 0:33. Officer Crowley recounts his version of the incident with Prof. Gates. He says, in a calm, non-threatening, voice: “I asked him if he could step outside and speak with me”. He says this as if the request is an entirely reasonable and straightforward one. Maybe Crowley even believes that himself.

But the lawyers who set up the police operating procedures know that that is no straightforward request. It has huge legal significance. Sorry to quote myself from a couple of blog posts ago, but here is the legal translation:

Cop says: “Would you step outside onto the porch.”

Translation: “I know you might be the owner/resident of this house. But there seems to be something fishy about you (e.g. maybe you’re running a drug lab inside). The 4th Amendment requires that you be outside in order for me to legally search you.”

There’s no reason why Crowley couldn’t speak with Gates across the threshold of Gates’ home. Gates didn’t need to “step outside” simply to speak with Crowley. Asking Gates to step outside just “to speak” is a euphemism for “I see you as a potential perp”.

So when Crowley says this in a completely innocuous way, it makes me wonder. Is he just a simple-minded cop? Does he ask this of every resident of every home that he approaches in Cambridge? If so, then truly there is no racial animus here, systemic or otherwise.

But I’m picturing a little old white lady, in a grand old house, standing inside the house, across the threshold, opening the door to a cop like Crowley. Would the first thing out of Crowley’s mouth be: “Would you step outside onto the porch”? I have a hard time believing that.

I guess we’ll never find out.

  • In: Uncategorized
  • Comments Off on Did Crowley Ask Gates to Step Onto the Porch?

For me, the whole Henry Louis Gates Jr. arrest story comes down to the first 10 seconds of the interaction between himself and Sergeant Crowley. In Gates’ own words, those first ten seconds went like this:

So I went over to the front porch still holding the phone, and I said ‘Officer, can I help you?’ And he said, ‘Would you step outside onto the porch.’ And the way he said it, I knew he wasn’t canvassing for the police benevolent association. All the hairs stood up on the back of my neck, and I realized that I was in danger.

Is that true? Were those the first words out of Crowley’s mouth? I don’t care how he said those words. I care only whether he did say those words. Because if he did, then we all but have our answer about systemic racism. The reasoning boils down to the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

The 4th Amendment prohibits cops from entering your house without your permission without a warrant issued by a judge. Obviously, a week ago Thursday, Crowley did not have a warrant to enter Gates’ house.

So what it did it mean for Crowley to ask Gates to step out onto the porch?

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for the money has gone too far

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