Friday, May 18, 2012



I’ve been treating these blog entries like traditional journalistic op-ed pieces, writing stuff hard on the heels of what crosses my radar.  Yet events and information continue to unfold.  So here are some random updates:

Pieces of a Semi-Conspiracy Theory (May) 
The FBI is investigating notorious Maricopa County (AZ) Sheriff Joe Arpaio on racial profiling allegations.  A Mesa, Arizona, high school baseball team won the State Championship because the opposing team forfeited the contest on the grounds that the Mesa squad included . . . a girl! Sidebar to my tentative theory about contraception and white supremacy:  last year, for the first time, there were more non-white births in the U.S. than white births.  I imagine this statistic (released May 17, 2012) is sending some elements of the far, far right into paroxysms of rage and I-told-you-so panic.

False Equivalence (April)
There’s a new book by (bipartisan political scientists) Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein that absolutely reinforces my point.  And it came out AFTER I wrote my little blog.  Hooray for me!  In It’s Even Worse Than It Looks:  How the American Constitutional System Collided with the New Politics of Extremism (published May 1, 2012), Mann and Ornstein assert that false equivalence has obscured the fact that, in reference to Congressional gridlock and related issues, Republicans have been much, much, much more responsible than have Democrats.  And that the ‘false equivalence’ fallacy has muddied or buried accurate reporting.

Catfish, Cheesy Grits, and the Question of Authenticity (March);
The Official Mitt Romney High School Behavior Quiz (May)
Now that Mitt Romney has secured the Republican Presidential nomination, he should be able to be more authentic, more himself.  The jury’s out on whether this is happening, or if it is, whether it’s helpful to his candidacy.  On the one hand, ‘authentic’ details . . . such as his high school bullying career . . . do not endear him to most voters.  (Plus they put his wife’s claim that he’s really a ‘wild and crazy guy’ in a rather unfortunate light.)  On the other hand, he remains unable to talk naturally about things that seem to be honestly important to him, such as his Mormon faith (see his recent commencement address at the ultra-Christian-fundamentalist Liberty University, in which he couldn’t even mention the name of his church).

The Trayvon Martin Case (April)
The ALEC-sponsored block-the-vote legislation in Florida is having the desired effect . . . almost 100,000 fewer new registered voters this year than in 2008.  Governor Rick Scott has vetoed legislation to ban concealed weapons at the upcoming Republican Convention (don't worry:  you can still be jailed for carrying a water gun).  George Zimmerman was arrested for Martin’s murder but is out on relatively low bail, amid controversy that he committed perjury about his purported indigence. Some recently released medical evidence can be interpreted to support Zimmerman’s version of events. In the mean time, Marissa Alexander, a young African American mother – who shot a gun into the ceiling to try stopping her husband (with a history of domestic violence) from attacking her (no one was harmed) – claimed protection under Florida’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ law but was convicted a week ago and sentenced to twenty years in prison.

Santorum Keeps Marching Along  (April)
He didn’t.  As predicted, he ‘suspended’ (read: quit) his campaign right before the potentially embarrassing Pennsylvania primary.  Santorum’s much delayed endorsement of Mitt Romney was many degrees south of tepid.

Elegy on a Country’s Wild Card (March)
Newt Gingrich also ‘suspended’ his campaign.  Ditto the last sentence, above.

The Little Rocket that Couldn’t (April)
After investigating more closely the science underpinning the Unha-3, I realized that I hadn’t made one thing clear (because it hadn’t been completely clear to me).  There is/was no way that North Korea’s ‘communication/weather satellite’ launch was anything but a (failed) test drive of ICBM delivery technology.  Reason?  North Korea has no tracking stations and therefore could not adjust the satellite’s orbit (in this case, a polar one rather than the now standard geosynchronous [more or less equatorial] one). Even for countries with advanced technology, it takes weeks, maybe months, to nudge a satellite into its desired orbit.  Without tracking stations (either its own or ones ‘borrowed’ from allies), this essential step cannot be accomplished because no one can locate a satellite that simply has been hurled into space (so no one can correct its course).  North Korea’s previous attempts to launch such ‘satellites’ have not only been failures but have also been invisible to the vast existing systems of tracking stations (systems unavailable to North Korea), which suggests that they were never programmed to reach orbit heights.  In contrast, ICBMs are more or less flung toward a target, in the way that resembles a giant slingshot.  They don’t need tracking systems or in-orbit adjustments (they don’t go into orbit).  When they blow up seconds after launch, all we can conclude is that the missile-delivery systems being tested remain fatally flawed.

George Gershwin and N.C. Amendment One (May)
Amendment One passed, and North Carolina looks really, really backward and bigoted.  The next day, however, President Obama endorsed gay marriage.  I suspect that a big reason (despite Vice President Biden’s jumping-the-gun) for this endorsement’s timing was the N.C. vote.  Mitt Romney has been widely criticized for not condemning outrageousness when it’s smacked him in the face (a supporter saying that the President should be tried for treason, for example; Rush Limbaugh’s lubricious slurs against a young woman advocating the health aspects of contraception).  Because the Democratic Convention will be held in North Carolina, President Obama was honor-bound to call out the chosen convention state for its retrograde vote, even if in a somewhat elliptical but probably more game-changing way.  

Ritual Humiliation (March)
Somehow, Republicans in Congress cannot figure out that it might be a good idea to authorize the previously bipartisan ‘Violence Against Women’ act.  As far as I can understand (and it’s hard), the major sticking points are that reauthorization would include possibly ‘illegal’ immigrant women and women not in a traditional marriage.  Maybe even (gasp!) gay men.  Plus American Indian women (here the problem is in part jurisdictional).  [Cross-reference with ‘George Gershwin and N.C. Amendment One.’]

Beer in the Bullpen (March)
Alas, and yet again, and again  . . . this appears NOT to be the Cubs’ year.

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