Saturday, November 28, 2015

Friday, November 27, 2015

Black Friday

The only thing I have planned is to take the Mustang in for a small repair (at least I hope it is) and then go out tonight to some friends’ home for their annual Leftovers Party where we bring … you guessed it … Thanksgiving Day leftovers.

(Yeah, it’s about Christmas leftovers. Still true.)

Anyway, if you go out and brave the crowds and the malls, be safe and remember where you parked.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving

I’ve been looking back through some of my Thanksgiving posts over the years for some inspiration and perhaps a perspective on the holiday. Taking a day off to express thanks and brace ourselves for the rest of the holidays is a good time to reflect and be grateful for some of the good things we have and the memories. The post below is from Thanksgiving 2007, when I was looking back at a special holiday weekend.

When I was a kid growing up outside of Toledo, we had some relatives in the area, and we also belonged to a local tennis and social club that served as a gathering place for a group of families like ours and we often went there for holiday dinners. It relieved my mom from cooking one of the two big meals at the holidays; if we had Thanksgiving at home, then we went to the club or another relative’s place for Christmas, or vice versa. We also would have the Thanksgiving meal later in the day — usually around the normal dinner time — because we had season tickets to the Detroit Lions football team, and we would go up to Detroit to sit in the freezing cold bleachers to watch the Lions play their traditional Thanksgiving Day game, then come home to the dinner.

It’s been a while since my family has gotten together for Thanksgiving. We’ve all moved on to different places and have our own families. It’s been many years since my entire immediate family — Mom, Dad, and my three siblings and their families — were together for the occasion.

However, there was one Thanksgiving that I’ll never forget: 1967. I was a freshman at St. George’s, the boarding school in Newport, Rhode Island (and also alma mater of Howard Dean and Tucker Carlson). It was my first extended time away from home and I was miserable. My older brother and sister were also away at school; one in New Jersey, the other in Virginia. My parents made arrangements for us all to get together in New York City that weekend, and they booked rooms at the Plaza Hotel. We saw two Broadway musicals — Mame with Angela Lansbury and Henry, Sweet Henry with Don Ameche — and a little musical in Greenwich Village called Now Is The Time For All Good Men…. We went shopping in Greenwich Village, took hansom cab rides in Central Park, had lunch at Toots Shor’s (and got Cab Calloway’s autograph), dinner at Trader Vic’s and Luchow’s, and saw all the sights that a kid from Ohio on his second trip to NYC (the first being the World’s Fair in 1964) could pack into one four-day weekend. Oh, and we had the big Thanksgiving dinner in the Oak Room at the Plaza with all the trimmings. That night we went down to the nightclub below the Plaza and listened to smoky jazz played by a trio and a lovely woman on piano…could it have been Blossom Dearie?

It was a magical weekend. To this day I still remember the sights and sounds and sensations, and the deep sadness that settled back over me as I boarded the chartered bus that took me back to the dank purgatory of that endless winter at school overlooking the grey Atlantic Ocean.

I’ve had a lot of wonderful and memorable Thanksgivings since then at home and with friends, everywhere from Ohio, Michigan, Colorado, New Mexico, Florida, and even one in Jamaica, but that weekend at the Plaza forty years ago will always be special.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Palling Around With Terrorists

Back in 2008 the McCain campaign made a lot of noise about Barack Obama’s nodding acquaintance with William Ayers, a college professor, anti-war activist, and co-founder of the Weather Underground (a name now used — with ironic intent, I’m sure — by a very good on-line weather forecasting service).  The campaign’s mouthpiece accused Sen. Obama of “palling around with terrorists.”  This caused twitterpation among the Very Serious People who were concerned that the candidate might be associated with unsavory people who had been active in illegal activities forty years before.

Like most campaign memes, the concern about Mr. Ayers and his association with the candidate proved to be about as long-lasting and tenuous as the connection itself, and the people who really cared about it moved on to more important issues such as the missing birth certificate and Mr. Obama’s secret gay Muslim lifestyle.

Stories like that, though, tend to make us indifferent to candidates who do associate themselves with truly unsavory and possibly dangerous people.  For example, Rachel Maddow noted last night that Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) has received the enthusiastic endorsement of Troy Newman, an anti-abortion activist who co-authored a book that speaks approvingly of the murder of doctors who perform abortions.

Mr. Cruz has embraced the endorsement of this man who openly advocates first degree murder, and so far his campaign hasn’t shied away from seeking out like-minded individuals such as Kevin Swanson, who preaches that gay people should be put to death.

The question now before us is why hasn’t Mr. Cruz received the same kind of attention for palling around with people who are, to this day, actively promoting murder and execution as compared to the furor that was raised when it was revealed that Mr. Obama once shook hands with a man whose last days of anti-war activity took place before the Beatles broke up?

Someone ought to look into that.

First Degree Murder

It is disturbing how casual the murder of a man can appear on film.  [Warning: the film is graphic.]

A white Chicago policeman was charged with murdering a black teenager on Tuesday, hours before authorities released a graphic video showing the youth walking away from officers as he is shot 16 times.

The footage of last year’s shooting, taken from a camera mounted on the dashboard of a police car and made public under orders from a judge, prompted mostly peaceful street demonstrations in Chicago.

The clip showed 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, who authorities said was carrying a pocket knife and had the hallucinogenic drug PCP in his system, as he was gunned down in the middle of a street on Oct. 20, 2014.

McDonald is seen jogging away from patrol vehicles pursuing him from behind, and then veering off diagonally at a walk as two more officers pull up in a squad car ahead of him.

Two policemen are shown jumping out of their vehicle in the center of the road, and drawing their weapons while advancing toward McDonald, who continues to move away. Within seconds he is struck by bullets, spins and crumples to the ground, his body jerking as he is hit by additional rounds of gunfire.

The officer charged in the case will get his trial wherein the presumption of innocent until proven guilty will apply, as it should in our justice system.  It is a presumption that was denied Mr. McDonald.

Not In A Vacuum

Is it just a coincidence that white supremacists showed up at a Black Lives Matter encampment in Minneapolis looking for trouble in the same news cycle that the leading Republican candidate told several large crowds and the news media that a Black Lives Matter protester “deserved to be roughed up”?

I am sure Mr. Trump will say that he had nothing to do with the shooting in Minneapolis — either the one by the neo-Nazis or the one by the police that started the demonstration.  In fact, he and his supporters probably think that they’re the ones who are the victims here because none if this would have happened if those uppity protesters knew their place.

This kind of thing does not happen in a vacuum.  Mr. Trump started it; he can end it.  But that would mean ending his campaign, so it’s not going to happen on his part.  That leaves it to the rest of us.

Short Takes

Turkey shot down a Russian warplane.

Two men were arrested in Minneapolis as suspects in the shooting at the Black Lives Manner protest.

The State Department says the global alert for overseas travelers will be in effect until February.

A Chicago police officer has been charged with murder in the death of an unarmed black man.

A federal court has ruled that Wisconsin’s abortion law is unconstitutional.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Roughing Up

Via the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

Five protesters were shot late Monday night near the Black Lives Matter encampment at the Fourth Precinct police station in north Minneapolis, according to police.

Those who were shot sustained non-life-threatening injuries, said police spokesman John Elder in a statement.

Miski Noor, a media contact for Black Lives Matter, said “a group of white supremacists showed up at the protest, as they have done most nights.”

One of the three counterdemonstrators wore a mask, said Dana Jaehnert, who had been at the protest site since early evening.

When about a dozen protesters attempted to herd the group away from the area, Noor said, they “opened fire on about six protesters,” hitting five of them. Jaehnert said she heard four gunshots.


The protesters, angry over the fatal police shooting of 24-year-old Jamar Clark on Nov. 15, have maintained a presence outside the police station ever since.

Eddie Sutton, Jamar’s brother, issued this statement early Tuesday morning in response to the shootings:

“Thank you to the community for the incredible support you have shown for our family in this difficult time. We appreciate Black Lives Matter for holding it down and keeping the protests peaceful. But in light of tonight’s shootings, the family feels out of imminent concern for the safety of the occupiers, we must get the occupation of the 4th precinct ended and onto the next step.”

I would hope that Donald Trump will denounce this type of “roughing up,” but I wouldn’t bet on it.

No Matter What

It’s often said that if President Obama came out in favor of sunshine and puppies, the Republicans would accuse him of promoting skin cancer and hating cats.  Think that’s an exaggeration?  Check this out.

The examples of the GOP’s reflexive opposition to President Obama’s agenda are many but this may be the best one yet: by a 27 point margin Republicans say they disapprove of the President’s executive order last year pardoning two Thanksgiving turkeys (Macaroni and Cheese) instead of the customary one. Only 11% of Republicans support the President’s executive order last year to 38% who are opposed- that’s a pretty clear sign that if you put Obama’s name on something GOP voters are going to oppose it pretty much no matter what.


“Thinking Something Differently”

Sharp as a tack:

Hours after Ben Carson told reporters he remembers seeing American Muslims celebrating the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, his campaign said the GOP presidential candidate was “thinking something differently” and does not remember such reaction in the U.S.

“Dr. Carson does not stand by the statements that were reported today. He was hearing and thinking something differently at the the time,” Carson communications director Doug Watts said in a statement on Monday. “He does, however, recall and had his mind focused on the celebrations in the Middle East. He is not suggesting that American Muslims were in New Jersey celebrating the fall of the twin towers.”

Watts added that Carson apologizes to “anybody offended by that.”

Earlier in the day, Carson said that he, like fellow GOP candidate Donald Trump has claimed, has seen “newsreels” of American Muslims celebrating the attack in New Jersey.

Trump raised eyebrows this weekend when he said he saw “thousands” of people cheering as the twin towers fell on September 11th.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump is sticking to his story and demanding an apology from anyone who says he didn’t see the non-existent video.