24 June 2012

All Thumbs

Well, I am on the road and reduced to using my iPad, which while being better than a smart phone for typing us still not a full sized keyboard. Add in my four finger typing style, big fingers, and you get a very slow and imprecise typist.

But I am not actually writing about typing. I am writing about change. Real change, the sort than changes the game not just the score, takes a very long time. I can also be imprecise. This morning I saw an old news report from 1973 on Gay Liberation. Forty years have passed, and the struggle is not won. Yes, progress has happened, but every step forward has been resisted, and in some ways the more progress gay folk make the more intense the resistance from some. We could say the same about race, which is far better than it was a century ago but still is a major force in our society.

And if it is taking an excuciatingly long time it is because these are game change movements. They make the whole show different, for everyone, and that means those who prefer the game as it is must redouble their resistance because such changes seem to them not game changers but game enders.

What is hard for those working for change is to see that change always takes a very long time because everyone is involved. Those who do not want change have to resist. We all would, and have, and will. Seeing the resistance of others is part of the process of change, it is hard, and seeing it as inevitable is essential. Those who seek change should expect resistance, honor it, and yet continue.

It's a bit like childbirth. It takes a long time, involves pain and uncertainty, and no baby ever cooperated with the process. But the result is good for everyone in the end. Mothers know that, even if babies don't.

17 June 2012

No, I am Not Being a Prude

Sometimes I utter a foul oath in frustration or anger, and someone who hears me waves a rhetorical finger, saying, "Aren't you a man of God?" or some such thing.  Leaving aside the option of saying ww are all 'children of God' and the odd assumption (given the endless parade of pastoral perverts) that clergy are natrually more prudish, I do think it is best for public people (clergy being only one form) not to employ coarse language in public.  Here's why:

A term that generally means jerk, but actually refers to a female sanitary device (I hate to be more explicit) has become a favorite among left leaning critics of the political order.  I ran into this morning in a piece about a Tulsa employer who is overtly rejecting non evangelicals as employees, which is an illegal form of discrimination.  He writes,

"The idea that they can act with impunity toward the law by trumping the civil rights of others is typical of these Fundamentalists. Fortunately, for Mr. Wolfe, these particular douchebags acted in a way that ended up with them getting caught."

My problem is with the highlighted word, not the story itself.  And not because it is coarse, but because it is misogynistic. 

This week our esteemed speaker of the Michigan House of Representatives silenced a duly elected member for using the word 'vagina' on the floor.  She was literally ruled out of order and prohibited from speaking on the floor for a whole 24 hours because of her indecorous language.  Fortunately, there is a lovely uproar about  this.  Read the story here.

But how good are those on the left if they use the above term as an epithet?  I have heard it bandied about on "The Daily Show" and seen it in commentary on various news sites.  And that's only because other terms are still too coarse to be used in public discourse, two of the worst of which are also female centered words. 

Folks, it is time to listen to the lady and show a little RESPECT.  If the worst words we have to utter have something about women in them, we need better words...

11 June 2012

They Wanted To Pump Us Up

I am either quite the dolt or just a complete outlier, because today's story in the NYTimes about the drop in people's net value back to the 1990s is not news to me at all.

Long ago, when I worked out a real body building gym (because it was close to work not because I was a body builder myself), it was hard to avoid learning about steroid use.  Many pros used them to enhance their results and the magazines showed the result - men and women with startlingly huge physiques, well beyond what had been seen in the years before.  But the price they paid was also the stuff of gym talk - liver problems, shrunken testes, enlarged internal organs, and more. When they stopped using, they lost their massive size and strength, even if their health overall was better than when they felt and looked strong.  

I believe the era from 1998 to 2008 (roughly) was a time of national financial steroid use.  Cheap money and easy rules pumped up the economy rapidly, making us feel big and strong.  But in actuality we were getting sicker not healthier.  When the supply finally ran out in 2008, we went into withdrawal and our steroid fed economic muscles shrank and shriveled.  

What seems like a loss, the big beefy prosperity of cheap borrowed money that artificially pumped up housing prices and made us feel strong, was not real.  What we are now is where we would have been in 1999, if we had not given in to the promises of easy wealth and gain.  Like the body builder or athlete who returns to normal size.  

The real shame is that we spent most of 15 years on an economic steroid binge and forgot what reality looked like.  And like the body builder who had to quit when the supply ran out, we may only be this way until the next supply of false prosperity comes along.  After all, isn't looking big and powerful really what matters?

09 June 2012

I Told You So…

Sometime ago, a couple of years at least, I used this auspicious banner to suggest that lawyers ought to donate a portion of their professional time to public legal service (pro bono as they like to say, showing off their knowledge of Latin – meaning an assortment of phrases unique to legal jargon but don’t expect them to translate the Aeniad). 

It turns out that the chief judge of New York State said something very like that on May 1, as referenced in this article - Better Pro Bono Plan - NY Times.com

Now, far be it for me to boast, but it also turns out a new book by the former president of Dartmouth College (!) argues, as have I for years, for a national service program. 

Do the math, ok?  I anticipated both the chief judge of New York and an Ivy League College president. Of course, I could also say I guessed the winner of every presidential election since 1968 (often to my dismay) a month in advance but there is no objective evidence for that.  So look back in the growing record and see what’s coming.  And when it happens, tell them you read it here first.

01 June 2012

…But Whose Economy?


We all remember when the Clinton campaign said “It’s the economy, stupid” reminding themselves that this was most powerful force in the election.  Now, both parties work with that dictum, only that it is has been modified to read, “It’s (what I tell them) the economy (is, because they’re) stupid. 

Today we started with: the “Worst U.S. Job Data in a Year Signals Stalling Recovery - NYTimes.com”  And by noon the Speaker of the House was on the air saying,

Republicans have a Plan for America’s Job Creators designed to remove the government barriers holding back economic growth and hurting job creation

That plan is as curious as it is simple, according to Paul Krugman (who I know is disreputable in Republican circles.  But since I linked you to their thoughts, it seemed only fair to offer another vantage.) 

Now, here is my key thought today:

Those who are battling with each other over this issue do not have differing view of the economy, but see different economies

We are watching a kind of religious crusade, yes I mean that very word, where one side believes the other is wholly, entirely, and completely wrong.  Mind you, I do not believe it is a symmetrical zeal.  One is far more intense than the other.  You figure out which…

And in such conflicts, collateral damage is irrelevant.  Zeal allows one side literally to scorch the earth to win.  If actual people (innocent civilians we used to call them) suffer that is the price that must be paid to insure the righteous prevail.

This leads me to wonder, cynically, if one reason the economy is sputtering now is that some economic movers and shakers are willing to let the economy suffer until the election in order to shape the outcome.  So much wealth and power reside in so few, and they have so much as stake because they are so powerful and few, that it actually makes rational if despicable sense for them to keep the economy as weak as possible for now. 

If the result is a stronger conservative government, they win.  If the result is a weaker conservative government they can let the economy sink even further.  In either case, they have nothing to lose.

I hope I am wrong, but that I can even think it tells me how odd our nation is right now.  Who ever thought “American Exceptionalism” might mean something like this?