Saturday, August 31, 2013

White Crime: Where's the Celebrity Outrage?

Latest Newspaper Column:  The Pilot 

George Zimmerman was acquitted of the charge of murdering unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin by a jury of his peers. You would think that, for at least a little while, that verdict might calm the resentment and incessant claims of victimhood by some of my fellow white Americans.
You’d think that. But you’d be wrong.
Certain members of the most privileged race in the most privileged society on this planet just don’t seem to be happy unless they’re pretending to be members of an oppressed class.
The most recent and most noxious manifestation of this is the way they’ve begun treating every crime involving an African-American or Latino. “Why doesn’t President Obama (or Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson) comment on (insert name of crime here)?” they grouse. “He talked about the Trayvon Martin case!” — as if the fact that the president commented on one case that had an emotional effect on him now requires him, Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson to form a Special Black Flying Squad to jet to the scene of literally every murder in the country and deplore it.
Take, for instance, the tragic case of Chris Lane, the college student and baseball star from Australia who was gunned down Aug. 16 by three teenagers in Oklahoma. This was a horrific and senseless act, made even more so by one of the shooters’ flippant “explanation” that they did it because they were “bored” and “didn’t have anything to do.”
Sadly, just as they did with the murder of Ambassador Chris Stevens, the American right wing didn’t even wait till the body was cold before they began making hay of the tragedy for political points.
“Where is Obama’s statement about Chris Lane?” asked an Aug. 26 front page article on the conservative website Real Clear Politics. Also on Aug. 26, both Sean Hannity and Fox News hostess Martha MacCallum of “America’s Newsroom” questioned why Obama had “failed to speak out” and accused him of a “double standard” since he’d dared to comment on the Martin case. Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin said on “Fox News Sunday” that it would be a “nice gesture” if Obama would express condolences.
Well, as it turned out, he already had. “As the president has expressed on too many tragic occasions,” an official White House statement released Aug. 24 said, “there is an extra measure of evil in an act of violence that cuts a young life short. The president and first lady’s thoughts and prayers are with Chris Lane’s family and friends in these trying times.”
Not that you saw or heard that on Faux News. Nor is there any chance that such a statement, even with its mention of an “extra level of evil,” will placate the haters. Nothing will. The president could dress in sackcloth, sit in the ashes, and renounce his status as an African-American, and it still wouldn’t be enough self-abasement to satisfy those suffering from Obama Derangement Syndrome.
It’s not that they’re racist, you see; it’s just that the fact that the president once mentioned that he’s a black man, too, causes them to lose their freaking minds whenever they think about it.
By the way, I’m sure Chris Lane’s family is deeply moved by the right’s heartfelt concern for them, expressed as it was in their immediate use of their family member as the poster child for white butthurt.
Later, it turned out that one of the three teenagers charged in the killing is white, which raises the question: Which white celebrity is responsible for speaking out against whites killing people? After all, if black politicians and celebrities are required to comment on every murder involving a black suspect, shouldn’t the same apply to white suspects? Who is responsible for deploring them?
I nominate washed-up rocker Ted Nugent. Since Mitt Romney avidly courted the support of the talent who gave us such musical gems as “Wang Dang Sweet Poontang” and “Yank Me Crank Me,” and since the Nuge has announced that he himself has considered running for the GOP presidential nomination, I think only he has the gravitas and the Republican street cred to be called upon to weigh in every time a white person is involved in a crime.
After all, like the president, he did comment extensively on the Trayvon Martin case, calling Martin a “gangsta wannabe” who “got justice.”

That’s the criteria, right? Comment on the Martin case, and you become responsible for commenting on every crime committed that involves a member of your race from then on. So c’mon, Nuge. Speak up about the white guy. I mean, fair’s fair. Right?

Friday, August 30, 2013

The Face That Was Made for Radio Returns

I'm interviewed by ace book blogger and podcaster Pam Stack at Authors On The Air, where we talk about the writing process, newspaper columns, trying to make marketing interesting, and what I'd be doing in an alternate universe. Check it out, and don't miss the Final Five.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Attacking Syria: Moral, Maybe. But Not All That Legal

I want to start off making one thing clear: there are excellent moral reasons for attacking the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria. Assad, like his father before him, is a brutal dictator. He tortures. He viciously represses dissent. And now, it appears, he has crossed the line and used chemical weapons against his own people—against civilians, which is a savage and barbaric act. Assad could drop dead today, and I would not shed a single tear.

So President Obama has compelling moral reasons for a strike on Syria to stop the killing and even to knock out the Assad regime. What he does not have is any legal justification for doing so.

Now, I know it’s fashionable among the ignoramii to mock the idea of a lawyer like me demanding that things be done according to “technicalities”—unless, of course, those “technicalities” can be used against someone they don’t like. Then, it’s all about “the Rule of Law.” But when you’re talking committing American sons and daughters to a conflict, the law’s kind of important.

First off, attacking Syria would be, by definition, an act of war. Now, it’s true that over the years, Presidents both Republican and Democrat, have taken more and more of the war-making power to themselves, and Congresses, both Republican and Democratic controlled, have ceded it to them. (This, by the way, is the subject of Rachel Maddow’s well-researched and thoughtful book Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power,  which I recommend wholeheartedly).

But even given that fact,  the War Powers Resolution only allows the President to commit American forces in the event of “(1) a declaration of war, (2) specific statutory authorization, or (3) a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces.” None of that has happened here. It’s true that multiple Presidents have violated the Resolution and that the Congress has fussed, fumed, and deplored, while failing  to take any legal steps to stop those actions, calculating no doubt that the political costs would be too great. That doesn’t make it any less the law. President Obama himself acknowledged this in his 2007 candidate Q & A to the Boston Globe: “The President,” he wrote, “does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation…. In instances of self-defense, the President would be within his constitutional authority to act before advising Congress or seeking its consent.” Self-defense does not in any way include “preserving the credibility” of the United States or of the Obama Administration’s “red line” statement of a few weeks ago.

 But hasn’t Assad violated international law by using chemical weapons? You betcha. But Article One, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution states that “The Congress shall have Power to ...define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offences against the Law of Nations.” Now, you and I know this Congress is about as useful as teats on a bull, but it is what it is. The President can do a lot of things by executive Order, but “punishing offences against the Law of Nations” is, by black-letter law, given to the Congress.

Then there’s the problem that the United Nations has also failed to provide us even the flimsy cover a resolution authorizing an attack would provide. Given the support that Russia and China have provided Syria (one of their biggest arms customers), they’re unlikely to do so. See “teats on a bull,” above.

So why be picky about the law when there’s evil like Assad’s to be addressed? Because when the President, any President, takes military action with no legal justification because “this dictator is bad and it’s the right thing to do,” then he has untethered his power from the law. It makes the use of power an extension of what the President feels in his “gut,” to use the phrase applied to George W. Bush’s criteria for action. And power untethered by anything but one man’s “gut” is despotism. It may be benevolent, well-meaning despotism from one who, for the moment, is a Good King, trying to Do Good. But if there’s one thing that history teaches us, it’s that Good Kings are often followed by Bad Ones, and once power is untethered, it’s hard to get it back on the leash.  

Having drawn the "red line" at the use of chemical weapons (which I said at the time was a bad idea), President Obama may very well feel that he has to follow through with a military strike or else be thought weak. But the credibility of neither the President nor the United States is enhanced by unilateral action that flies in the face of not only the law, but the President’s own statements on the law. 

The Party of Love, Once Again

Maine Town Official Visited  By Secret Service For Posting "Shoot The Nigger" Over a Picture Of President Obama

"What I really meant to say is, 'When are we going to get rid of this (expletive),'" Marsters added. "I should have said, 'I hope the bastard dies.'"

Oh, that's much better. 

But don't ever forget, it's the liberals who are filled with hate. 

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Barack Obama: Time Traveler

Latest Newspaper Column- The Pilot Newspaper:

Listen: Barack Obama has come unstuck in time.
Recently, the polling outfit Public Policy Polling did a survey of self-identified Republicans in Louisiana. They were asked whether they called themselves liberal or conservative (not surprisingly, 88 percent said they were either “somewhat conservative” or “very conservative”) and who they supported for the 2016 GOP nomination (also not surprisingly for this early stage, answers were all over the map and inconclusive).
But one question resulted in a truly jaw-dropping answer. When asked, “Who do you think was more responsible for the poor response to Hurricane Katrina, George W. Bush or Barack Obama?”
Trick question, right? After all, at the time of the hurricane in 2005, The President Who Must Not Be Named was chief executive. The commander in chief. The Big Kahuna. And, let us not forget, he was the guy who appointed the infamously inept Michael “Brownie” Brown as director of FEMA and told him, “You’re doin’ a heck of a job, Brownie,” as people died. Barack Obama was only an up-and-coming but still junior senator from Illinois.
I guess this should probably come as no great surprise. This is, after all, the party that blamed President Obama for the Great Recession, even though the U.S. National Bureau of Economic Research (the people who keep an eye on such things) pegged the beginning of the recession at December 2007. And lest we forget, John McCain Who Was a POW ran ads blaming Obama for high gas prices during the 2008 campaign.
By the way, did you know that Obama is also to blame for all current racism in America? Yes, the latest Republican trope seems to be that because Barack Obama commented on the verdict in the Trayvon Martin case by observing (accurately) that a lot of young black men have been viewed with suspicion and fear by white people for years, and that that’s actually happened to him, we are now “divided along racial lines,” and it’s all his fault.
Because, as we all know, racism never existed before the Leader of the Free World “stuck his nose” (as they put it) into the issue. Apparently, the right has barely learned to tolerate the president being black; having him mention that he’s had experiences common to black men in America is grounds for yet another explosion of white self-pity and butthurt.
And, of course, it’s an article of faith in the land of Wingnuttia that Barack Obama was personally involved in the IRS “targeting” of conservative groups (even though all the evidence now shows that both conservative and liberal groups were scrutinized). It’s also an article of faith that he personally issued a “stand down” order calling off a rescue attempt in Benghazi and therefore caused the death of Ambassador Chris Stevens.
When I say “faith,” by the way, I’m using the word in the sense of “nutty things they believe and will defend even unto death even in the face of all evidence to the contrary.”
But this idea that, apparently, Barack Obama can travel back in time to screw things up is a new mutation of Obama Derangement Syndrome.
What will the GOP try to blame next on Time Traveling Barack Obama (hereinafter referred to as TTBO)? Will Darrell Issa claim to have discovered TTBO’s voice screaming “Kill Whitey” on the newly released Watergate tapes?
Will we hear Glenn Beck blubbering that TTBO knew ahead of time that the Japanese were going to attack Pearl Harbor and did nothing because he wanted to promote a liberal racial agenda by getting America into a war that would eventually result in the desegregation of the U.S. military?
Will Michele Bachmann announce the finding of a secret scroll that implicates TTBO in the assassination of Julius Caesar because he wanted the African empire of Carthage to win the Punic Wars? (I know, Carthage was defeated nearly 50 years before Julius was born, but this is Michele Bachmann we’re talking about here.)
What? You think any of this is too crazy for even the Republicans to say? Friends, in a world where a full 73 percent of the GOPers in the Pelican State either think Barack Obama was in charge of the response to hurricane Katrina or are willing to believe that he was, there is no such thing as too crazy.