Letters from the Lunar Outpost

He who is brave in daring will be killed. He who is brave in not daring will live. Of these two, one is advantageous and one is harmful. Who knows why Heaven dislikes what it dislikes? Even the sage considers it a difficult question...
- Lao-Tzu, Chinese Philosopher, Founder of Taoism (fl. B.C. 600)

Monthly Archives: January 2014

New Jersey Don't Get No Respect

 

 

Poor New Jersey. That state is the Rodney Dangerfield of the fifty states. I have never witnessed a state so slighted and ignored in the way that New Jersey has been treated in the run up to the Super Bowl. As just one brief example, check out Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carrol during a Super Bowl press conference referring to his days as the coach of the Jets:

“I’ve always loved to play in New York,” he said. “To have a chance to be a head coach in New York is an extraordinary honor, because of the history and the following and that goes along with that.”

Minutes later, however, a retired Jersey City cop, in a distinctive “r”-less Jersey voice, piped up from the back: “Coach, I just want to say something. I’m Rich Boggiano with the city council. You said yowah glad to be back in New Yawk. I just want to remind you, yowah in New Jersey. Awlright?”

“You’re right, my bad,” Coach Carroll sheepishly replied. “I’m talking to all the people on the West Coast who don’t care about that. But you’re right.”

source: csmonitor.com

Uh no, Coach Carroll, that’s the same New York bias that’s being transmitted from coast to coast. If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard people in the media talking about the “Super Bowl in New York”, I could probably afford front-row tickets to the game, especially when you consider how ticket prices are dropping as steadily as the plunging temperatures.

Part of me wants to laugh at New Jersey as the poor, neglected stepchild to New York’s fraternal grand eminence, especially when I think of the kind of blue collar rock Jersey has belched onto the American scene through acts like Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen – especially Bruce Springsteen – God, how I despise that kind of Joe Six-Pack working class rock, but to be fair, the Garden State was also the fertile soil which sprung forth Count Basie and Frank Sinatra.

Music aside, I can identify with the people of New Jersey having to suffer insult from the sports world because as a lifelong resident of Orange County, I witnessed in my own backyard the most ridiculous name change in the history of sports when the Anaheim Angels became The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim? Seriously, Arte Moreno? You can slap the label of L.A. on the team all you want, you’re not fooling anyone. No one in L.A. considers the Angeles a Los Angeles team and for the people of the O.C., the snub is undeniable, for both the people who have supported the team to a guy like me who’s not even a fan. So I know what it’s like to see a city insulted by it’s very own sports team.

When it comes to New Jersey, it was the Giants and the Jets who, in 1976 and 1984 respectively, chose to flee the oppressive taxation of New York to have their teams play just across the border in New Jersey. The fact that both teams decided to move but still keep the New York in their names? That to me is like giving their new home state a backhand, year after year after year.

The Jersey Giants? The Jersey Jets? Even the names had a ring that lent themselves to adopting the name of the new home state. Heck, New York Mayor Ed Koch was so upset with the teams moving that he threatened to force them to drop the New York from their names, but still the teams managed to keep pretending they were from New York, denying New Jersey any credit for hosting their games.

Poor New Jersey . . . when it comes to Ellis Island, the historic entry point for 40% of our nation’s ancestors, even that great landmark was commonly known by almost everyone outside of Jersey as a New York landmark for nearly one-hundred years until the Supreme Court finally set things right in accordance with an 1834 compact between the two states and still, even today, most people still think of Ellis Island as being in New York.

Super Bowl XLVIII Program CoverIn what would be a proud moment for most states, when New Jersey lands a Super Bowl, the entire NFL and the media apparatus have endlessly spoke of the big game as being played in New York. Even the artwork on the program cover and the tickets for Super Bowl XLVIII is bordering false advertisement, enough to lead someone who didn’t know any better to believe that the game is actually being played in Downtown Manhattan.

Poor, poor New Jersey. That state just can’t catch a break. No respect, I tell ya, no respect.

Now for the obligatory Super Bowl prediction – everything is the first of my 2014 predictions to come true so I’ll double-down on it and tell you that Peyton Manning will lead the Denver Broncos to victory this Sunday. It’s kind of weird for a lifelong Raider fan to find himself rooting for the Blue and Orange of the Broncos but honestly, I could never root for a football team that dresses in neon green. Sorry Seahawks fans, but that day glow green just has to go, there’s nothing manly about wearing neon colors.

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Black Rednecks and White Liberals

 

 

 

I think there is a special place in hell reserved for people who build their entire careers profiting on peddling grievances to different ethnic groups, pushing people into adopting a victimhood mentality and serving to widen the racial divide all the while.

Thankfully, a book like Thomas Sowell’s collection of six essays entitled, Black Rednecks and White Liberals does a wonderful job in bringing balance to the skewed perspectives and in obliterating the lies the race hucksters have managed to push into popular circulation.

Allow me to share just a few small samples from the preface and the first essay in the book. I hope it inspires you to read and learn from what Mr. Sowell has to teach.

 

(Black Rednecks and White Liberals is available in print, as an ebook or as an audiobook.)

 

First, from the preface: . . .

Race and rhetoric have gone together for so long that it is easy to forget that facts also matter – and these facts often contradict many widely held beliefs… The purpose of this book is to expose some of the more blatant misconceptions poisoning race relations in our time. The reasons for these misconceptions range from simple, innocent ignorance to reasons that are far from simple and far from innocent.

From the opening lines of the very first essay, I was completely drawn in:

‘These people are creating a terrible problem in our cities. They can’t or won’t hold a job, they flout the law constantly and neglect their children, they drink too much and their moral standards would shame an alley cat. For some reason or other, they absolutely refuse to accommodate themselves to any kind of decent, civilized life.’ This was said in 1956 in Indianapolis, not about blacks or other minorities, but about poor whites from the South. Nor was Indianapolis unique in this respect. A 1951 survey in Detroit found that white Southerners living there were considered “undesirable” by 21 percent of those surveyed, compared to 13 percent who ranked blacks the same way.

You hope that every person gets a chance to be judged on their own merits as an individual, but in the common practice of judging groups of people, it is interesting to note from these examples that most people are far more concerned with the reputation a group earns by its behaviors than by any difference that might exist in skin color.

Sowell shares this, however, as a flash forward before beginning an exposition on the origins of common white American southerners:

Most of the common white people of the South came from the northern borderlands of England — for centuries a no-man’s land between Scotland and England — as well as from the Scottish highlands and from Ulster County, Ireland. All these fringe areas were turbulent, if not lawless, regions, where none of the contending forces was able to establish full control and create a stable order. Whether called a “Celtic fringe” or “north Britons,” these were people from outside the cultural heartland of England, as their behavior on both sides of the Atlantic showed. Before the era of modern transportation and communication, sharp regional differences were both common and persistent.

Now had Sowell been a white man describing blacks in the following passage, the charges of racism would be unending. Thank goodness that as a black man, Sowell has the freedom to paint an honest picture here:

The cultural values and social patterns prevalent among Southern whites included an aversion to work, proneness to violence, neglect of education, sexual promiscuity, improvidence, drunkenness, lack of entrepreneurship, reckless searches for excitement, lively music and dance, and a style of religious oratory marked by strident rhetoric, unbridled emotions, and flamboyant imagery.

My favorite part in that passage is that when you see it written in print or in the ebook, you’ll see that every single descriptive phrase is cross referenced to historical sources for a total of ten footnotes in just this one sentence alone. The book is meticulously researched and you can rest assured that Mr. Sowell is not just pulling these characterizations from thin air.

Centuries before “black pride” became a fashionable phrase, there was cracker pride — and it was very much the same kind of pride. It was not pride in any particular achievement or set of behavioral standards or moral principles adhered to. It was instead a touchiness about anything that might be even remotely construed as a personal slight, much less an insult, combined with a willingness to erupt into violence over it. New Englanders were baffled about this kind of pride among crackers. Observing such people, the Yankees “could not understand what they had to feel proud about.”

Can’t you just imagine northerners encountering these southerners all puffed up with pride and the Yankees just shaking their heads trying to figure out what the heck these crackers have to feel so proud about in the first place? (Note: if you’ve ever read William Faulkner, his stories abound with vivid portraits of just these kinds of redneck southerners.)

As in the previous passage, Sowell proceeds to back up his characterizations with many recorded observations from then and now. It’s amazing to me though, imagining that all that false bravado and boasting you hear in the typical rap song could really have come from the influence white southern rednecks, a centuries old rehash of braggarts trying to compensate for feelings of inferiority stretching back to their origins as the downtrodden fleeing England.

Cue the white liberals:

Those who provide black rednecks with alibis do no favor to them, to other blacks, or to the larger society in which we all live. In American society, achievement is what ultimately brings respect, including self-respect. Only for those who have written off blacks’ potential for achievement will alibis be an acceptable substitute. The liberal vision of blacks’ fate as being almost wholly in the hands of whites is a debilitating message for those blacks who take it seriously, however convenient it may be for those who are receptive to an alibi.

We’re just scratching the surface here, that’s just half-a-dozen quotes from the very first essay and as you get to know him, you’ll find that Sowell’s real genius is how he elaborates and expounds upon his assertations. After the essay, Black Rednecks and White Liberals from which the book is named, the book continues with five more essays on race and history:

  • Are Jews Generic?
  • The Real History of Slavery
  • Germans and History
  • Black Education: Achievements, Myths, and Tragedies
  • History Versus Visions

I can’t even do the rest of the essays justice with a quick one or two line summary (the Wikipedia page does an admirable job at that) so I’ll suffice it to say that not a single essay among them isn’t thought provoking and most of them will challenge what you thought you knew about race relations and history. I can’t recommend this book highly enough.

Black Rednecks and White Liberals book
Black Rednecks and White Liberals for Kindle
Black Rednecks and White Liberals audiobook

Thomas Sowell

This blog is not endorsed by and probably never will be endorsed by Mr. Thomas Sowell. I remain a big fan regardless.

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ewok-walk
               

Schadenfreude is an ugly thing, I avoid it as much as I can but I cannot lie here, it brings a smile to my face to hear reports that the Obamas are headed for divorce. That’s terrible, isn’t it? But it’s the honest truth, that’s just how I feel. Barack Obama had a monumental opportunity to be a great uniter and healer for America, but instead of uniting us, his strategy for winning elections was focused on dividing Americans and pitting us against each other. Barack Obama could have been the great uniter, but instead he has been the most divisive politician of our age. In everything he’s done as president, he has worked to place government as the all-powerful center of every aspect of our lives and then he scornfully accused any fellow American who dared disagree with him as the “enemy”.

So yeah, I will readily admit that seeing him have to divide his own house will bring me no small amount of pleasure.

Are the stories to be believed? Well, if a picture’s worth a thousand words, there’s no denying the stories told in the sequence of photos here:

Just clowning around taking selfies during a funeral, no big whoop, right?

Just clowning around taking selfies during a funeral, no big whoop, right?

He's thinking, yeah, I could get a piece of that danish.

He’s thinking, yeah, I could get a piece of that danish.

Glad you're having fun, but uh, can't you feel the rumbling of that volcano on your left?

Glad you’re having fun, but uh, can’t you feel the rumbling of that volcano on your left?

If looks could kill, Michelle would be facing a murder rap right now.

If looks could kill, Michelle would be facing a murder rap right now.

The bomb has dropped.

The bomb has dropped.

Oh shit, I really fucked up this time.

Oh shit, I really fucked up this time.

You haven't even BEGUN to grovel . . .

You haven’t begun to grovel . . .

Will the Obama’s become the first couple ever to go splitsville after being elected First Family? Your guess is as good as mine as to whether they stick it out, but I can tell you this, if Barack Obama does get divorced, don’t be surprised when he blames it on Bush.

Do you think the Obamas will get a divorce?

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“More Americans, 42%, say they are financially worse off now than they were a year ago, reversing the lower levels found over the past two years,” Gallup announced Wednesday.

“Just more than a third of Americans [35 percent] say their financial situation has improved from a year ago,” Gallup reported.

The Gallup report helps explain the recent sharp drop in Obama’s polls, and adds to other evidence suggesting that public is shrugging off Obama’s persistent claims that President George W. Bush’s policies are still dominating the economy.

“It’s been more than five years since a devastating recession cost this country millions of jobs, and it hurt North Carolina pretty tough,” Obama said during a Thursday speech in North Carolina.

“I say this can be a breakthrough year for America, the pieces are all there to start bringing back more of the jobs that we’ve lost over the past decade,” he insisted.

Source: Daily Caller

When Obama talks about “bringing back more of the jobs that we’ve lost over the past decade,” does he honestly have no clue who it is who’s been in charge for the majority of that decade? It’s almost as if the man is so consumed with all his endless vacationing and campaigning and fund raising that he’s completely oblivious to his role in the job he was elected to do as chief executive.

It’s now your sixth year on the job, Mr. President. Will there ever be a point where you stop whinging about the job you applied for and finally take ownership of your presidency?

The Mess Obama Inherited

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Not satisfied with the labor participation rate suffering the deepest plunge in American history under their watch, Obama and the Democrats in Congress are now pushing for an extension of unemployment benefits.

Not satisfied with the labor participation rate suffering the deepest plunge in American history under their watch, Obama and the Democrats in Congress are now pushing for an extension of unemployment benefits.

This latest “news story” out of the Associated Press doesn’t even try to mask its agenda in pushing for an extension of unemployment benefits:

A cutoff of benefits for the long-term unemployed has left more than 1.3 million Americans with a stressful decision:
 
What now?
 
Without their unemployment checks, many will abandon what had been a futile search and will no longer look for a job — an exodus that could dwarf the 347,000 Americans who stopped seeking work in December. Beneficiaries have been required to look for work to receive unemployment checks.

The article tells us that beneficiaries are “required to look for work to receive unemployment checks” hoping we won’t roll our eyes when we read that it’s “required”. The truth of the matter is, that requirement has all the thoroughness of the government taking people’s word for it when they say they’ve been looking for work.

Next, we’re told that not extending the benefits will actually decrease the amount of people looking for work:

Without their unemployment checks, many will abandon what had been a futile search and will no longer look for a job.

Of course, the article fails to mention that the reality for many is that:

Without their unemployment checks, many will abandon their couches and televisions and begin looking for a job.

In true propagandist fashion, the article then tries to humanize the story by sketching vignettes of the plights of some everyday Americans, “people like Stan Osnowitz, a 67-year-old electrician in Baltimore . . .”

We’re then given one economist’s opinion that extending unemployment benefits is good for the economy:

Jesse Rothstein, an economist at the University of California, Berkeley, who has studied the long-term unemployed, has found that extended benefits help both the recipients and the economy – by fueling consumer spending.

(Gee, if it’s so good for the economy, why don’t we just extend unemployment benefits forever?)

Predictably, no mention is made of the many studies which have shown that extending unemployment benefits provides a disincentive for people to return to work.

For all the efforts of the nameless hacks at AP in trying to drum up support for extending unemployment benefits, there’s one glaring question the article fails to answer:

How could we possibly need to extend the longest extension of unemployment benefits in our nation’s history when the Obama-loving media keeps telling us we’re in the middle of a recovery?

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Currently Listening To:

Team of Rivals
by
Doris Kearns Goodwin