Friday, June 27, 2008

On the Supreme Court interpreting the 2nd Amendment

Justice Scalia calls himself an originalist. How is it "originalist" to delete the first half of the Second Amendment?

Moreover, a true originalist would abide by the meaning that the words of the Constitution had when they were written.

Well, in 1800 or thereabouts guess what "arms" meant?

Flintlocks. Flintlocks that took one or two minutes to load after each shot, and that required yard-long barrels to have any accuracy. The Second Amendment guarantees the rights of state militia members to own flintlocks. That's what the Founders meant. They'd be aghast at seeing the horrors that one man with an M-16, a duffel bag full of ammo clips, and a scope sight could do.

All this has nothing to do with whether I think people should have the right to own a gun. I qualified as an expert on the M1 (which dates me, I realize) in the Army, and enjoyed firing and even maintaining my rifle.

Rather this has to do with whether the Supreme Court's conservative majority is actually conservative.

It's not. Not by a long shot. So to speak.

Actual conservatives wouldn't edit the Constitution to their liking. They wouldn't overturn a century of consistent appellate court opinions without blinking. And they wouldn't re-define the Constitution as if its authors spoke modern English with modern meanings.

If people want to own guns for private use, fine. Amend the Constitution to say so. But to simply repurpose it to fit one's predilections is the very essence of judicial activism, which all five of those justices claim to abhor.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Creationism uber alles

Creationism may seem ridiculous to Daily News readers (Earth is only 6,000 years old? Really?), but a majority of Americans believe Creationism's claims, as poll after poll shows. And no wonder. Our evolution isn't taught (or is only mentioned half-heartedly) in a majority of American public schools.

A 2007 survey of high school biology teachers ( says "A majority either avoid human evolution altogether or devote only one or two class periods to the topic." And no wonder, since 62% of our biology teachers told the pollsters they're either Creationists themselves or advocate "Intelligent Design" (Creationism's masked twin). Even teachers who accept evolution often don't teach it, succumbing to relentless harassment by Fundamentalist students and parents.

Creationists have largely quit trying to enact their anti-science worldview in state legislatures or even local school boards. Instead they work in the dark, where the national media doesn't look. Besides bullying individual teachers they've also cowed all major textbook publishers and state textbook selection committees, which work without public oversight. Consequently everything "controversial"like evolution gets soft-pedaled or deleted from texts and tests. So our government fails in its duty to protect Fundamentalists' kids from being brainwashed. And the resulting glossy textbooks are such inoffensive pap that they turn off most other kids to science.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Journalistic Objectivity

The Washington Post published an piece by their ombudsman refuting complaints about a WaPo piece on supposed ICE mistreatment of detainees. I wrote this in response:

True journalistic objectivity requires not just true facts but true context. The most common failing of journalists comes from turning their focus on something that's true but unrepresentative, or which obscures a deeper, more important truth.

This is just another example of the relentless parade of stories that focus on the sufferings of illegal immigrants, promulgated by the Washington Post, the New York Times, the LA Times, and most other mainstream news outlets, along with our local public TV station.

The defense is invariably the same: "What we said is true."

Well, say I follow you around taking photos of you. I get a thousand shots. 999 show you looking fine. The thousandth shows you picking you nose. I publish that.

OK, you did pick your nose; the photo wasn't doctored. But the CONTEXT was doctored, because that shot wasn't representative of you (hopefully).

Likewise, if the WaPo and other mainstream outlets also did articles on illegal immigrant crime, disease transmission, driving down blue collar wages substantially, drowning our schools in the Southwest with peasant children who know little and don't learn much; if the human interest stories also covered the victims of illegal alien identity thieves and drunk drivers and rapists and murderers; if the mainstream press covered the ethnic cleansing going on in LA neighborhoods by Mexican gangbangers driving out blacks; if the human interest stories about illegal immigrants covered anyone but the saintliest, most hardworking ones...then I'd be fine with series like this.

But the coverage is 95% in favor of illegal immigrants. So you're lying with the truth, pointing the reader's attention to stuff that supports only one side of the debate.

The irony is that this isn't really a liberal bias. It's supporting Mexican citizens whose efforts to help themselves are harming American citizens. But the Americans hurt most by this invasion aren't Washington Post readers. They're blue-collar workers, especially in California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas.

And they aren't just being economically assaulted. They're being culturally displaced as well. I'm not knocking Mexican culture. Actually I've studied Mexican culture at the University of Mexico in Mexico City. But why should it be allowed to supplant American culture?

And by "American culture" I don't mean only EuroAmerican culture. Our culture has become multiracial, multiethnic--one of the richest melanges in human history. But in the Southwest this is being displaced by ethnically homogeneous Mexican communities. For example, in LA today the most-watched TV station is Telemundo, which broadcasts only in Spanish.

The academic left dismisses such complaints as "nativism" --a term which, as far as I can tell, means "liking one's own culture." Horrors.

Dismissing one's adversaries with namecalling...hmmm...I thought only Republicans were supposed to do that.

Racism Shmacism

Yes, there's still racism--by whites against blacks, blacks against whites, Mexicans against blacks, blacks against Mexicans, light-skinned Indians against dark-skinned ones, light-skinned blacks against dark-skinned ones, Mexician mestizos against Mexican Indians (quite intense BTW)...

There's also sexism. After all, blacks got the vote in 1865. Women had to wait until 1920. Blacks got a presidential candidate in 2008. Women? Well, not yet. And the misogyny Clinton got dwarfed the racism Obama's gotten.

But wait, there's more! How about classism? Try getting a decent white-collar job if you talk like a hick and scratch where it itches. A white like that hasn't got a chance against a college-educated, well-spoken black.

It doesn't stop there. How about looks-ism and obese-ism? Try being ugly and/or fat? How do you suppose Denzel Washington would go in a job interview against an equally qualified ugly fat woman?

Then there's accentism. People with impenetrable Chinese or Indian accents can only get civil service jobs and then drive the rest of us nuts at the Post Office or the DMV as we vainly try to grasp what they're saying.

And intelligence-ism. I grew up in blue-collar neighborhoods. I looked like the other kids but had about twice their IQ. I was shunned and harassed nonstop until I went to college. Even the teachers gave me a hard time. (Okay, constantly correcting them didn't help.) I would have been far less discriminated against if I'd been a black with a talent for football and no excess smarts.

And handicapism. Try being deaf, or blind, or crippled. Try having, say, one hand deformed. Any of those will result in vastly greater discrimination (outside rural Alambama) than being black--especially if you look like Beyonce Knowles or Kanye West.

Or heightism. Even seen a short guy who slouched? You never will. Why do you think Tom Cruise is such a head case?

Or try being Arab American. Or a Sikh with a turban.

And why is it blacks talking about racism never talk about their own racism? I remember back in college in the 60s, when a black guy in our dorm went around selling tickets to a party at his black fraternity. My Jewish roommate and I thought these were actually tickets to a we went. Try to imagine the reception we got. Woo hoo.

And the blacks I knew in college despised the African exchange students. Called them spear-chuckers.

Then in the 70s I worked as a substitute teacher in ghetto schools. I remember being unable to convince my black 5th grade class that there were more than a dozen stars. They'd never seen more. And they knew all whites lie--their parents had taught them well--so they certainly weren't about to believe anything a white teacher said. And just as whites back then would affect a black accent to portray someone stupid, the black kids would affect a Mexican accent to portray someone stupid. And their mothers tried to keep the Mexican mothers out of the PTA.

Later I taught in a ghetto junior high school where whites were a persecuted minority who skulked around always with their backs to a wall. Heaven help them if they wore a nice coat to school. I guarantee you they wouldn't get to end of the day still possessing it.

So yes, there's racism in America. But there are many other -isms here and everywhere else, and those other ones may well have a far greater effect on someone's life.

There's a similar situation in Canada, where most Canadians have had it up to here with Quebequois whining and exceptionalism and demands for special treatment.

Everyone tends to magnify the slights and snubs they've experienced, while excusing the slights and snubs they've handed out.

So how about this deal: I promise to take your grievances seriously if you promise to take everyone else's grievances seriously--and quit acting like your group is the only group that's had it tough.

Otherwise, get over yourself (-elves). We all have our trials.

And ultimately how does all this blather boil down to policy? Either we go the affirmative action route or the difference-blind route. I'm starting to think blacks would have done better in the long run if we'd gone the difference-blind route. Because affirmative action has mainly served just to extend the slave mind in black American culture.

Remember Malcolm X talking about the slave mentality? If you're a slave you can't advance yourself. All you can aspire to is to shirk work and make excuses. I'd do that if I were a slave. But unfortunately cultural artifacts tend to outlive their usefulness, and black American culture preserves the slave mind like a fly in amber.

My postman is a Mexican-American citizen, and in a moment of candor he mentioned to me how the blacks at his post office do as little as possible while the rest bust their humps. That's the slave mind still at work.

Work on that.


PS: I got a comment on this post from Eric's SoulFunkPunk Experience, but I couldn't post it as is because it was full of obscenities. However, here's an, um, redacted version, followed by my comments:

>>Stop being an @#$%^*! Mormon boy, nobody cares about what you have said except your dumb white paranoid %$^!!! Anyone who would worship a religon based in New York is a @#!$%@!## along with their supporters quoting Malcolm X is not going to impress me in any way shape or form, Pasting your blog posts on WaPo is intellectual laziness at it's worst.I love how you quote your Mexican friends on black people being lazy, I have worked with more lazy white people than I care to remeember. You are what I call a condesending white person. Just admit you are a bigot like every other American who is $%$##! over Hillary Clinton. I am all for racially separate Lands on American Soil, get your state Senator and supporters who don't like Blacks and get 38 states to pass it and you will have 'racial harmony'.<<

Okay, let's see:

1. I'm not Mormon. Never said I was. My spouse is. Perhaps the gentleman was upset over my remarks and not using his full faculties. In fact most religious people would consider me an atheist (I explain how that's not true in a post on this blog).

2. At least one person cared what I said--this gentleman. Even took the trouble to address my points. Mainly with ad hominem attacks, but hey, you take what you can get.

3. Seems reasonable to assume a black separatist--which this gentleman said he is in his reply--wouldn't be impressed by anything a white person said about anything, particularly race relations. So me quoting Malcolm X is irrelevant. Actually someone who'd truly studied Malcolm X would refer to him as El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz. I didn't for the sake of communication, since so few know him that way. But that name reflects his abandonment of black separatism as a result of the spiritual enlightenment he experienced on his haj. Such a journey might help Eric etc.

4. Actually I don't paste my blog posts on WaPo, I paste my WaPo comments on my blog, and I attribute them correctly as WaPo posts if the remarks depend on that context. They didn't here.
This practice seems like a way to drive traffic to my blog as I reach out different audiences in newspaper forums. It would be intellectually lazy if what I wrote was just a rant and not germane to whatever article I was responding to. But I'm not, it's not and it is, in that order. Usually people accuse me of overthinking stuff. Being called intellectually lazy is a first for me.

5. I never said black people were lazy. Only that the slave mind hasn't died out yet, in part due to the South re-winning the Civil War during Reconstruction, such that southern blacks at least were largely kept in near-slavery conditions until the 1960s or thereabouts. And of course the welfare state serves unintentionally to perpetuate the slave mind. That's why the Grameen Bank microloan people can't do it in countries like ours that have a social welfare safety net.

6. There's an abundance of lazy people of all races and ethnicities. I've seen plenty of entry-level workers in offices I've worked at coming in with a slacker attitude.

But the slave mind is different. Truly lazy people are just mentally inert. Human vegetables. The slave mind often works hard at not working, and often does this not working with a lot of attitude--daring others to challenge it/him/her/them. It's slacking as an expression of resentment against historic wrongs--a way of extracting reparations from the great-great-grandchildren of Massa down on the plantation. You really should read what Malcolm X had to say about this. And, today, of course, Bill Cosby (I bet you love him).

7. Condescending? Hmm. Could be. But it's more a sense that I don't belong to the same species as most people around me. As a kid I'd read science fiction and dreamed of my real parents coming to take me away from this mudball. Since then I've found peers and a mate who's as smart as me and generally feel a lot better about the human race. But still when it does try my patience when I see people arriving at opinions without using thinking to help form them.

8. All Clinton supporters are bigots? Really? Including the hundreds of thousands of blacks who voted for her in the primaries before Obama caught fire? As for my own bigotry--I live in one of the most multiracial/multiethnic regions on Earth and in history, and I live here because I like this. Unfortunately, most actual bigots do think all blacks are lazy. They must have never seen James Brown. But it's possible to believe the slave mind is alive and well today and not be a bigot. Unless you define bigot as "white person." But that would be, um, bigoted, wouldn't it?

9. Oh, and I'm not a Clinton supporter. Nor an Obama supporter. Nor a McCain supporter. Because all three of them believe that Mexico's ruling elite ought to be allowed to determine America's demographic composition by outsourcing their overpopulation crises and entire social welfare infrastructure to the United States. I believe all three of them have betrayed American working-class blacks and whites--and Latinos for that matter--because the policies all three support have led to working class Americans' wages falling by 5-25% (depending on job and region) due to competition from illegal aliens. If I had my way blacks would be a lot better off because we'd make it impossible for people who aren't here legally to work here.

10. And if we did it your way, perhaps we'd have "racial harmony" but we wouldn't have gender harmony! Nor looks harmony. Nor age harmony. Nor religious harmony. Nor political harmony. So why focus on race? Well, for you, perhaps it's because to a hammer everything looks like a nail. You might try asking the black women you know if they'd experience "harmony" if all they had to deal with were black men. I believe Mary J. Blige has had quite a bit to say on the subject.
BTW can we keep Mariah Carey and Kelis and Obama? Since all three are 50% biracial and you're a black separatist, surely you wouldn't want them in your black paradise. And of course all the self-identified blacks who aren't as dark my friend from Kenya are part white or Indian or something. So they'll have to go too. And that's a majority of self-identified blacks in this country. Most of them wouldn't even be considered black if they visited Africa.

Might be a mighty small paradise.

[I do know one guy who approves of your plan: a white separatist named Jared Taylor. Look him up. Actually he wants the whole South to secede again and give a state to the blacks--Alabama, I think he said.]

BTW when Kanye West said Bush "doesn't care about black people" he was dead wrong. He cares deeply about black people if they're Republican. And he doesn't care in the least about all the white people who are Democrats. He also doesn't care about poor people, as New Orleans discovered. But he doesn't discriminate against blacks. Hello, both his Secretaries of State were/are black.

Yet another proof that looking at everything through a racialist lens is putting on blinders.