Monthly Archives: July 2013

Obama’s Curious Call To Honor Trayvon Martin

Obama’s Statement.

The death of Trayvon Martin was a tragedy.  Not just for his family, or for any one community, but for America.  I know this case has elicited strong passions.  And in the wake of the verdict, I know those passions may be running even higher.  But we are a nation of laws, and a jury has spoken.  I now ask every American to respect the call for calm reflection from two parents who lost their young son.  And as we do, we should ask ourselves if we’re doing all we can to widen the circle of compassion and understanding in our own communities.  We should ask ourselves if we’re doing all we can to stem the tide of gun violence that claims too many lives across this country on a daily basis.  We should ask ourselves, as individuals and as a society, how we can prevent future tragedies like this.  As citizens, that’s a job for all of us.  That’s the way to honor Trayvon Martin.

The statement is rather…tepid when it comes to the jury’s decision. Obama simply notes that the jury “has spoken”. Yes, we know that. What the President should have noted but failed to, is that as a nation of laws we must respect the jury’s verdict and accept it as the final word on what happened on the night in question.

As for this somehow being a part of a “tide of gun violence”…nonsense. This was a case of a man being beaten by another man and using a firearm to defend himself to avoid being killed. A gun was not used to commit an act of criminal violence. It was lawfully used to stop an illegal and potentially fatal assault. To call this an act “of gun violence” you have to be unable to discern, as William F. Buckley used to say, the difference between someone who shoved an old lady out of the way of an on-coming bus and someone who shoves an old lady down while stealing her purse. You simply can’t call them both, “a person who shoved an old lady”.

Things really go off the rails in this statement with the notion we should “honor Trayvon Martin”.

What precisely about or for Travyon Martin should we being honoring him ?

That he had pot in his system?

That he was on suspension from school?

That he used racially offensive slurs?

Or that he was administering a beating to someone so violent, a jury ruled that shooting Martin to avoid having him kill a man was lawful?

Which of these things does Obama think is so honorable? So worthy of our national attention and effort?

I think it’s terrible that Martin was killed. He was a 17 year old young man. He may not have led an exemplary life to date but he will never have the chance to learn from these mistakes, to improve himself, to find his way to a better life. That is a tragedy. George Zimmerman took that opportunity from him and for that we should all feel a sense of loss for what might have been.

That does not mean I want to see Zimmerman honored.  He had absolutely no reason to target Trayvon Martin that night. His overreaction (calling the police) based on nothing but erroneous assumptions set in motion a series of events that led to a young man, imperfect though like the rest of his he may have been, losing the opportunity to grow older and wiser. We will never know how Trayvon Martin would have turned out and that is a tragedy. George Zimmerman is morally, though not criminally, culpable for that.

He is not a hero, he’s a survivor. No more, no less.

But to say that we as a nation need to find a way to “honor Trayvon Martin” strikes me as a dangerous message to send.

BuzzFeed’s Race Baiting

BuzzFeed does what liberals often do, reduce  serious arguments to race.

Subtle right? No need to deal in complexities but no one expects much more from Team Listicle.

Of course this only goes one way. You’ll never see  a headline like this at BuzzFeed or anywhere (nor should you because a policy position shouldn’t be reduced to the race of a Representative or their constituents):

Lawmakers Who Really Oppose Food Stamp Reform Come From Really Black Districts

But if you did, you’d see a link to this Congressional Black Caucus Statement.

On behalf of the Congressional Black Caucus and the Americans we represent, we oppose devastating cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and urge you to consider our strong opposition to any SNAP benefit cuts as the House Agriculture Committee reauthorizes the Farm Bill.  More than 46 million needy Americans depend on SNAP for nutrition.  Families with children account for nearly 75 percent of SNAP participants and more than 25 percent of SNAP households include seniors or people with disabilities.  As the conscience of the Congress, we will not allow the budget to be balanced on the backs of the poor and most vulnerable.

Jobless, homeless and hunger rates continue to increase.  These rates are disproportionately higher in urban, suburban and rural communities where minorities and low-income Americans reside.  SNAP is an essential lifeline for these Americans and others struggling to make ends meet.

We urge you to consider this letter and the people we represent as you reauthorize the Farm Bill.  The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is not the program to cut at a time when Americans across the country are in considerable need.

And then there’d be a cutesy graphic showing that some members of the Congressional Black Caucus, who really don’t want to see Food Stamps cut (wink-wink) represent districts that are overwhelmingly black (nudge-nudge).

majority AA districts

Now this is from last year and some of the district/Representatives may have changed somewhat (like Jackson Jr and Steve Cohen wasn’t allowed to join the CBC because he’s white) but you get the idea. I’m not spending time finding something more up to date because it’s an idiotic notion and I’m just trying to prove a point about BuzzFeed’s dive into racial politics. Maybe someday I’ll get that crazy LolCat money and hire a hack to do my Google busy work for me but until then you see the point.

So yes, it’s true some amnesty opponents come from white districts but that alone doesn’t account for their opposition. Of course BuzzFeed will say they never claimed it did. That’s true. They are just counting on their barely literate audience to make the connection. No doubt they will.

Long live the tyranny of the low information voter and racial arsonists!

Please Stop Pretending US Aid To Egypt Matters Much

In the wake of the military coup/non-coup against the Morsi government in Egypt a fight has broken out over whether the US should suspend it’s roughly $1 Billion in aid. Here’s my take: It doesn’t matter.

As Americans we constantly overestimate our ability to control or even influence events around the world. The political classes here seem to think that what we do with that aid money will affect the course of Egypt’s political future. It really won’t. Here’s two stories from the last two days that demonstrate how much we overestimate our influence.

Story 1:

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday announced a total of $8 billion in economic aid to help shore up Egypt’s military-backed interim leaders after Islamist President Mohamed Morsi was removed in a coup last week.

Story 2:

My admittedly weak math skills tell me that’s $12 billion oil rich Arab countries just tossed over to Cairo. I’d bet anything that money comes with a lot fewer strings than the us money does.  It’s also doesn’t come with the taint of “western imperialism” either.

So tell me again how pulling a billion dollars in targeted aid from the US is going to make or break the Egyptian Army and its political plans.

Americans need to get over the idea that if we just pull the right strings and push the right levers we can control something as complex and volatile as Egypt’s chaotic political process.