Wednesday, April 30, 2014

1324 The Tokowitz Tapes

A guy named Horowitz meets a guy named Sterling at Schul, is apt to think “I wonder what his name used to be.”

In this case, the case of Donald Sterling, it used to be Tokowitz.  And as Tokowitz the young lawyer, no white shoe firm would hire him.  So he started his own practice.

You’d think something like that would sensitize a guy to discrimination, but not this big mouth octogenarian fatso who made his fortune as a divorce lawyer and in real estate and owns the Los Angeles Clippers of the National Basketball Association and now has been banned for life.

You’d think it. But if you did, you’d think wrong.

Okay, so Sterling doesn’t want his girlfriend to accompany black guys to Clippers games.  You’d think after how many miserable seasons of empty seats he’d want everyone… and even if he didn’t would keep his mouth shut.

But if you did, you’d think wrong.

The gossip site TMZ put up that recording of Sterling after his … um… “special friend”  Vanessa Stiviano put a photograph of herself standing with Magic Johnson on Instagram.  Just a picture.  Magic Johnson, fer cryin’ out loud.  You’d think Sterling would love the publicity.

You’d think wrong.

There’s still a chance the tape is a fake.  Digital audio is easy to edit.  You’d think Sterling would cry “foul” if it were.  

You’d think wrong.

Reports say he’s confirmed that’s him talking.

You’d think advertisers would run like rats deserting a drowning ship.

You’d think right.

Red Bull, State Farm, Kia, Virgin America, CarMax.  Can you blame them?

Advice to Sterling: Sell the team. It’s a good buy for someone.  It’s having its first ever really good season.  
You’ll make a killing.

He paid about 12 million bucks for the Clippers 30 years ago.  That’s about 35 million in today’s money. But the Forbes list puts the team’s current value at over $500-million.

Take the money and Stiviano and Shelly, your estranged wife of fifty years and fight among yourselves somewhere where no one has microphones.

So now, Tokowitz becomes an absentee landlord.  And as such he might likely behave like many others with that label.  

-Burn out the tenants.  

-Turn the “building” back into a slum, which it’s been under most of his ownership.

-Stop paying taxes and let the government sell the lien on the property.

Facts and comment on other aspects of this story:

The new NBA Commissioner, Adam Silver, evidently is much tougher than he looks or sounds.  Silver looks like the kid who carried a huge top-frame briefcase to school even in Kindergarten, was bullied all through school and grew up to be the CPA for a mob-run private carter.

He is none of that.


If Sterling wanted to shrink into the shadows, he can always change his name again. Tokowitz would be one choice.

Stiviano wasn’t always “V. Stiviano” as she has come to be called. According to a suit Sterling’s wife filed against her, she was born Vanessa Maria Perez and has used the names Monica Gallegos, Maria Monica Perez Gallegos and Maria Valdez.  More changes than Tokowitz.

Here’s the recording that made the Clipper owner infamous.  Warning. Adult content, adult language and it’s almost 10 minutes long (courtesy TMZ):


You’ve probably seen the pertinent parts already.

And here is the Instagram picture (Rated PG 13 or maybe G)


Oh, and the Clippers won their game against Golden State 113-103 and lead the first round playoff series three games to two.

I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2014

Monday, April 28, 2014

1323Hate Part II: To My Critics

And wow, are there more than enough of you. The mail was still coming in as this response was being posted.


To reiterate:  Wessay #1322 said the Supreme Court decision on affirmative action amounts to a license to hate because it codifies an exclusionary approach to state run colleges and universities and helps unlicensed haters justify and legitimize their feelings.  Affirmative action was and is a good idea poorly executed.  Minority kids deserve better than they get.


Further, and perhaps insufficiently emphasized:  civil rights are about removing barricades and stumbling blocks that should never have been in place and not about advancing one group over another.


Which brings us to the first of the major categories into which received criticism falls.


Legal:


What the court did was remove the states from the reach of the federal civil rights laws, or remove the Justice Department from enforcing federal anti-discrimination laws at state owned schools.


So this all becomes a states’ rights issue.  If Michigan can change the meaning of discrimination, that means certain citizens in Michigan lack a protection that, say, residents of Minnesota or Utah have.


This brings us to the idea that the constitution doesn’t permit the advancement of one subset of the population over another.  It may not.  But it doesn’t say so explicitly.  So constitutional constructionists, the fundamentalists of Constitution-as-holy-writ have no case.


Civil rights laws were passed to compensate for past unfavorable treatment.  How far or how long that should continue is not a state matter.


The second category is color.  Some critics consider this a black/white issue. Civil rights laws protect all kinds of. The total US population is a little over 316 million according to the Census Bureau’s 2012 figures, the latest available.


The breakdown in round percentages:
White alone: 78%, Black or African American alone 13%, American Indian or Alaska native 1%, Asian alone 5%, Native Hawaiian or Pacific islander alone two tenths of one percent.  The bureau chart includes a footnote that Hispanics can be of any race and are therefore included in the “alone” designation for whichever race applies.


Third category, “Color blindness.”  The United States is not a confederation of autonomous regions, it is a country. It is not the Balkans.  Or the Irelands.  Or India and Pakistan. It’s not even the Hatfields and the McCoys.  But we do have differences, and some of them are based on race or ethnicity. While in an ideal world, we would either ignore them or learn from them we’re not living in an ideal world and disparities have to be dealt with.


Fourth category: the Peter Principle.  Laurence Peter wrote that we are promoted (in work including education) to the level of our incompetence and remain there doing damage.


This is the basis of the complaint that incompetent members of minority groups are gumming up the works.  The answer: stop majority idiots working at their level of incompetence from hiring minority idiots who ultimately will do the same; then insist on normally capable majorities who hire normally capable minorities.


So, what’s the solution, if there is one?  No clue.  But it’s not anything that can be implemented tomorrow or next week. Or anything widely recognized at least for now.


But if we are an actual country and not a set of floating administrative areas, it’s time to rethink the role of the states on this and many other issues.


I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments and any additional death threats to wesrichards@gmail.com

© WJR 2014  

Friday, April 25, 2014

1322 A License to Hate

A lightbulb clicks on in the head.  Hey, it’s okay to be a bigot.  The supreme court says so.

The court’s ruling on affirmative action will have far wider consequences than the justices seem to think, maybe than they intend.  Or not.

It’s a narrowly focused and technical decision, typical of the Roberts and Rehnquist courts. And on the surface it’s simple: affirmative action admissions policies at state universities are the business of the state.

The case came from Michigan.  But the ruling applies elsewhere and will influence thinking nationwide.

Affirmative action has always seemed nothing more than a codified version of the old whites’ network it seeks to counterbalance.

But like much else that we attempt, it is a good idea badly executed. Or executed too slowly.

Critics call it reverse discrimination.  It can be when taken to extremes.

They say it cheapens and taints the accomplishment and ability of minority men and women.  That’s a white perception and a forced one at that, although there’s a large and growing group of black conservatives who subscribe to it.

You can find instance after instance of anecdotes that make it seem true, but no real statistics.

Critics say it’s a quota system.  In a way it is.  A quota system replacing a caste system.

The decision wasn’t one of these party five-to-four votes, also typical of the Roberts and Rehnquist courts.  

With only eight of the nine justices voting, the opposition was limited to Sotomayor and Ginsburg.

Sotomayor says she wouldn’t have gotten as far as she has without affirmative action.

Thomas says the same, but he voted with the majority, essentially against himself.

Kagan worked at the Justice Department and recused herself from this case.  Had she voted, she likely would have opposed the ruling, which would have made it 6-3 instead of 6-2.

But again, it’s a narrowly focused ruling, though with huge consequences.

It justifies the feelings of every racist, legitimizes them.

It is a license to hate.

Those who think that way -- feel that way -- will soon begin to act that way, something they’ve held at bay for the most part.

Does affirmative action put less competent or able blacks ahead of more competent or able whites?  It can, it has.  There’s that bad execution again.

Like so much in civil rights, we often push some ahead when what was meant was removing a barricade that never should have been there.
In many cases, those barricades remain.  

(Charles Richards contributed reporting to this post.)

Shrapnel:

--Let’s see if this passes the accuracy test.  The US is over in Afghanistan to help a legitimate government defend against terrorists and one of that government’s armed security guards shoots and kills three Americans working in a hospital.  And we’re there, why, again?

Grapeshot:

-Conservatives call the liberals “libs,” so why don’t the liberals call the conservative cons?

-The newly minted measles outbreak will come as no surprise to readers of Wessay ™1315, but measles cases are way up according to an AP report and it’s because people aren’t getting vaccinated.

I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®

Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2014

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

1321 Dancing with the Star

When a school district has a zero tolerance policy about weapons and a kid brings a gun to school, he’s punished and should be.


When a school district has a zero tolerance policy about weapons and a kindergartener brings a rubber knife to school… what?


Well, is a rubber knife a weapon?  No, of course not. It’s a novelty toy.  But it LOOKS like a weapon. So the kid should be talked to about not bringing stuff like that to school.


But in many districts, that kid will do time in the attendance office or be sent home with a frightening warning.  Maybe even with a suspension.


And administrators will huff and puff and say things like “it’s out of our control.” Or “it’s policy. It has to be enforced in every case.” Or “We didn’t really do that,” when they did.


But zero tolerance is not limited to weapons and drugs and smoking and sexual harassment.


Here’s a case you may have heard about:


Patrick Farves is a geeky looking 18 year old high school senior in York, Pennsylvania, where so little happens that when a celebrity comes to visit, even a minor celebrity, it’s big news.


The celebrity in this case is Nina Davuluri, the current Miss America.  Ms. Davuluri is a certifiable babe, not the kind likely to give Patrick a second look, even if he weren’t five years her junior.


But Patrick has more guts than his nerdy appearance might lead you to think.  And during an assembly, he rose from his seat, a plastic rose in his hand, and to the cheers of his classmates, asked Miss America to accompany him to the senior prom.


Davuluri politely did not accept the invitation.


School officials -- not so politely -- handed Patrick a three day in-school suspension because he had been told not to do what he did and did it anyway.


Davuluri is of Indian-American heritage.  She was there to give her stump speech on the virtues of diversity.


But diversity is more than just about ethnicity.  It’s about thoughts and deeds and ideas and art.


And high school is not just about history and science and math and languages, driver ed, booze, pot and football, it’s about life.


What’s the lesson Patrick got from this incident?  Be sneaker than your nature dictates.  Learn to deal with rejection, but still shoot for the moon.


MissAm has asked the school to not go through with the suspension.


Someone saying she is an administrator in Patrick’s district, writing on facebook, attempts to “clarify” the situation by first denying anyone told the kid not to make his public invitation and then saying there have to be firm rules and if there weren’t, the district would be accused of lawlessness and failure to teach respect.


That paradox kind of sums up what goes on in schools these days.


Too bad the kid’s a senior and his college applications probably submitted.  If this were a year ago, it would be an attractive add to his extracurricular activities list.


I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2014

Monday, April 21, 2014

1320 Earth Day

Anyone here remember Hugh Scott?  Scott was a congressman and then a senator then a high ranking senator from Pennsylvania.  He was a Republican in an era when there still was a Republican Party.

And on Earth Day in 1970 -- the first of them -- Senator Scott was a leader of the ceremonies.

Find someone like that now and you’ll be Diogenes with his lantern.

But despite the anti-environment climate change denying crowd today, Earth Day persists.  It’s tomorrow in case it’s not on your calendar.

We are to honor our planet or at least give lip service to honoring our planet.

Without getting into the details and petty disagreements, you can safely say that climate change exists even if you’re not sure how much of it people really cause.

You can recycle.  You can drive a hybrid.  You can question fracking.  You can install solar panels and windmills and you will do no harm.  But who knows if you will do any good.  Maybe you’ll make a little dent in the problem, maybe not.

Forty four years of Earth Day has helped shape awareness of our fragile existence.  But can we actually DO anything?

Acid rain is a thing of the past.  Rachel Carson’s book the Silent Spring may have been partly off the mark, but it made us aware. It made us think.  It made us act.  Or maybe overact.  Malaria is up since DDT has been down and out.  Is there no compromise?

Whether that action will ultimately do any good is an open question. Maybe we can live here without destroying the environment.  Maybe we have no control even over the small part we play in that game.

Maybe it pays to remember Hugh Scott.  Imperfect.  Sometimes wrong headed. But someone who took seriously our status as residents of Earth.

We have, of course, made progress.  Those bags made of recycled plastic are so easily broken they’ve become useless for suicide and murder.

And those reusable grocery bags are such an excellent breeding ground for bacteria, you have an excuse for continuing to use the almost equally dangerous antibacterial liquids.

But we’re still waiting for hybrid cars that run on double-a batteries.  GM is working on that.  Those cars will have no ignition switches.  And since it’ll have about 500 batteries, you’d better be careful about which face up and which face down.  Only one of them in the wrong direction will make the car useless.  And which one of the 500 did you insert wrong?

Shrapnel:

--Taxi driver Rodolfo Sanchez, 69 of Long Island City, Queens is the kind of crook we all like the cheer for.  Sanchez found a way to avoid paying tolls at New York City bridges and tunnels and did it 4,000 times and skipped paying 28-thousand dollars before getting caught  according to the district attorney.  We won’t tell you how he did it.

Grapeshot:
-Said with a straight face by an on-line retailer of compression hosiery used to reduce leg swelling: “(Merchandise) returned after 30 days will be subject to a 20% re-stocking fee.”

I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2014



Friday, April 18, 2014

1319 American Values

We're always hearing about "American Values." I once thought I knew what at least some of them were, although I admit that my porthole view is based pretty much entirely on the era in which I grew up, and in the places.

We take care of our own with safety nets and don't rely on the whims of the charitable to do that for us. We offer opportunity for those willing and able to see it and use it.  We don't mind rich people, but we'll throw bricks when their greed gets so overwhelming that we can feel their heels on our throats.

We mine, we make things, we think things up, we farm and we try to do it in ways that don't hurt us or others. Mostly.

We take care of our friends around the world when they need us and ask for our help.  And we don't expect our generosity to be repaid at high interest, if at all.

We don't care where you go to church or if you don't. We're learning not to hate you because of your skin color though some of us do better than others.

We value intelligence.  We don't lionize ignorance and stupidity.

We aren't perfect and we know it. We believe that "no man is an island," even if we never heard of John Donne.

And we know that lifting yourself by your own bootstraps violates the laws of physics, even if we don't know the laws of physics.

We've always had our hucksters and con men and crooked financial types.  We've always had bum politicians (is that redundant?)  and bad teachers and medical phonies and sellers of snake oil.  We’ve had hysterical preachers thinking in tongues and raking in millions.

But it's only recently that we have ceded control of our lives to them. We hear them yelping about keeping the government out of our lives -- except our bedrooms.

We hear that our push to reduce remote-control violence is born not of a respect for life but of a fear of firearms.

And they use our terms to beat us senseless.  Freedom of choice (except for abortions.) Freedom of action (but let’s build even more prisons.) Freedom of speech (as long as you have the money to buy it.) Freedom of belief (except some of you.) Freedom of religion (but not FROM it.)

What has happened here?

Obsession with celebrity. Obsession with sports.

And worst of all, obsession with making ends meet, born of necessity. So much of our limited attention needs to be focused on survival there’s little left for anything else, and no energy.

The unnecessary unemployment crisis.  Stealth inflation at the supermarket, the gas station and the heating fuel supplier.  No matching increase in wages.  Stealth inflation in taxes (except for corporations and high figure “earners.”)

Are we heading down the highway toward making things worse?  Yes, not only heading down the highway, but heading down the Autobahn where there is no speed limit.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2014

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

1318 The Jew Test

Three Kansas Nazis walk into a bar and order up.  One says to the others “I’m in the mood to kill some Jews.”  The second one says “sounds like a good idea, but this is Kansas… where you gonna find any?”  Third one says “hey, isn’t there some kind of Jew church down the road near that old folks home?”


Well, yes there is. So Adolf gets into his truck, heads for the synagogue, takes the rifle off the gun rack, gets out of the F-150 and starts firing at people outside.


He wounds a few and he kills three; heads back to the bar where his friends remained.


“Got me a bunch of them,” he says.  Addy has left a pretty easy trail to follow.  A couple of Jim Beams can get even the most dedicated Fuhrer careless.


The cops come in, they haul him off.  And when #2 and #3 visit him in the slammer, they have bad news:


“No one you killed was a Jew.”


“Y’all gotta be kidding, right?”


“Wrong, mein Herr.”


“Then why are they charging me with a hate crime?”


Well, it’s because of what you meant to do on top of what you did.


Unfortunately, there is no Jew Test.  And most of us look like any other white guy. Helps a lot while we work quietly and in covens to take over that small sliver of the world we don’t yet control.


You know what I mean.  The banks.  The media.  The legal profession, the medical profession the teaching profession, the courts the federal government.  All those things on which you True Patriotic Americans count on and/or revile.


Time was, there was a test.  You just take a guy into the woods and drop his pants.  But most people today get circumcised so the test has become unreliable.


Time was, some of us dressed funny.  Some still do.  But you can’t tell the Hasidim from the Amish until you’re close enough to see the whites of their eyes.


And those name changes… we use them to throw you off, sneaks that we are. When Shlomo Katzenburg, born in Kansas, changes his name to Steve Carson, man… how underhanded is THAT?


So you and Mr. Beam take your chances.  Afterall, who would hang out at a “Jew church” but Jews, right?  Wrong.


Oh, almost forgot to mention:  Y’all get charged with murder, as well.  You may not have taken Jewish American lives.  But -- good Christian that you claim to be -- you took lives.


The other day, they decked you out in an anti-suicide smock, and rolled you into court on a wheel chair.  But you’re no suicide “risk,” though many -- Christians and Jews alike -- would like you to have the chance if you want it.


The big bulky smock keeps you toasty-warm but it’s not a straight jacket… heavy as it may be, you can still move around.  


Achtung, sweety, your goose stepping days are over.


I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments, threats, hate mail and anti semitic diatribes to Wes Richards@gmail.com
© WJR 2014