Saturday, June 27, 2015

Sharia, American Style

The above link will lead to a site that makes the case against against marriage inequality. It is a Bible based organization that seems to think that their religious views are morally superior to secular laws. It appears that they believe that this society must be based on their religious precepts as they interpret them.

But what about this?

Any attempt to impose religious laws on a secular society is wrong headed and doomed to fail, ultimately. It was never more true that freedom of religion must also include freedom from religion. 

Can I Get a Witness?

I am not black. I am not of the south. I am not a christian. I am not a believer.

In spite of all this, I was totally enthralled by the eulogy that President Obama gave for Clementa Pinckney, one of nine victims of the recent Charleston slaughter of members of a black church's Bible study group by a gun wielding maniac.

By the end of Obama's remarks, I felt I was part of the experience, at one with that congregation present hundreds of miles away.

It was a moment I'll always remember.



Friday, June 26, 2015

Lame Duck

American politics has many problems. Unrestricted money flowing gives the one percenters outsized influence. Gerrymandered districts serve to disenfranchise minority groups. Voter apathy allows incumbents nearly guaranteed victories.

One particularly galling problem is how politicians of all parties spend all their time pandering to various constituencies. They will say anything, promise anything, do anything to get elected and retain office.

President Obama is in the second half of his second and last term, a lame duck. He can not stand for re-election, and therefore, he has no need to self edit what he says. He does not have to do what politicians must do in the American system and pander to every group as a matter of course.

Today, Obama gave a eulogy for one of the victims of the recent Charleston mass murder. The speech he made was from the heart, and full of grace and hope. It was a memorable speech that electrified all that attended or watched. It was a dynamic speech that revealed the true Barack Obama, a thoughtful and empathetic leader with an exacting take on the situation and issues at hand.

It makes one wonder what this country might have achieved were it not for the racist obstruction of the radical conservatives that have taken hold of the Republican party. Instead of tackling the great issues of the day, Obama's opponents in Congress have spent the last six and a half years freezing all government functions and failing miserably at their only job, to govern.

In spite of this unrelenting opposition, Obama has an impressive record of achievement. Passing the Affordable Care Act and surviving multiple challenges to it in the Supreme Court, drawing down troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, avoiding war in Syria and Libya, bringing Osama bin-Ladin to justice, just to name a few.

Now as a lame duck, the political shackles are off, and Obama is free to shine. There's not much time left, and his political opponents will give no quarter, yet it's hard not to have confidence in the man that is Barack Obama. History will look kindly upon the Obama administration, and I expect his stature will grow even larger as the years pass.


Five to Four

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A landmark Supreme Court decision that will go down in history, marriage equality is now the law of the land. This country is a step closer to it's founding principles of all men being created equal.

I guess I'm nitpicking when I focus on the decision being so close. By a too close for comfort five to four margin, one of the most important social and civil rights cases of our time was correctly decided. Correctly to me and most progressive thinking people, of course, but not to nearly half of the Supreme Court, and a significant but minority of the general population. That's not only disappointing, but it's scary too.

What was seemingly self evident to the founding fathers, has been tarred with systemic hypocrisy for centuries. Starting with the abolition of slavery, women's rights, and now gay rights, the journey to true equality has been a slow and often bloody slog. We're still not there yet, but what's a couple more centuries anyway? We won't be around to see it, but maybe our children, or their children's children will see the progress that in hindsight will be hard to imagine things were not always so. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Katz, Now and Forever


I played my father's record as a kid many times. I didn't understand the Yiddish Katz was singing, but it made my father laugh, so I laughed along with it too. Oy, the earworms!

Sleight of Hand

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You simply have to hand it to the NRA and their minions. In just a matter of days following the latest in the unending string of mass murder with guns in this country, the focus of the entire nation has been shifted away from the absolute necessity of gun regulation to the painless and goofy need to introduce a law that would bring the confederate flag down from a flagpole in South Carolina.

The confederate flag is an offensive symbol of race hatred and white supremacy. That it flies above state capitols in this day and age is a testament to lingering unreconstructed racism extant in the south. Unfortunately, the current focus on it is simply a misdirection.

The free and unfettered availability of guns in this country, and the deaths caused by guns in this country is not just an offensive symbol. It is the mark of a sick and fetishistic society that is unsafe for innocent people of all races. The insanity of the status quo is astounding. 

The Fault in Our Stars

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I don't mean the celestial stars. I'm talking about celebrities.

On Broadway, it's believed that one way to have a profitable show is to have a star in it. A Broadway star is nice, but better still is a TV or a movie star. The thinking is that the more famous the star, the more people will be clamoring to buy tickets.

It's a theory that often succeeds. This season we had Larry David clean up on Broadway, as did Bradley Cooper, and others. This will obviously continue to be seen on Broadway.

The "star in the show" doesn't always work, unfortunately. Sting, Chita Rivera, Vanessa Hudgens were stars whose shows did not prosper in their reflected glow. It's always puzzling when the gambit fails, because stars are, well, stars.

The best thing for any show, obviously, is when it thrives with no stars. The show itself is the star. The biggest hits of today are long running shows with no stars. The Lion King, Wicked, The Book of Mormon exemplify this.

There's no way to bottle the magic dust that certain stars have, or what makes certain shows capture the imagination of audiences.

Ooops, wait. I forgot. Disney can and does it more consistently than anyone. Maybe some producer can hire out Mickey Mouse for a limited run somewhere?

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Old Timer's Day Ages Out


Old Timer's Day in Yankee Stadium is always a magnificent celebration. No other team has the depth and breadth of greatness to draw upon for the day's festivities. As a matter of fact, I believe that they are the only MLB team to have an annual Old Timer's Day. I wonder, though, is it time to end the tradition?

Yes, that sounds blasphemous. End Old Timer's Day? One might as well allow instant replays, have timers to make pitchers speed up, or have hitters not adjust and continually hit into grotesque defensive over shifts.

If you look at the above photo from today's event, you'll notice how many empty seats you can see in the bleachers. I watched the gala on television, and every section of the stadium was just as sparsely filled. It was a misty day, not great weather, but it's clear that fans today have lost interest in honoring the great players of the past. I think a promotion of free tee shirts shot out of a cannon would have brought out more fans than I saw in the stands today.

In the modern world of sports attendance, when prices of everything from tickets to concessions have sky rocketed, the corporate owners of most of the best seats are not fans in any sense of the word. If the weather is not perfect, or if a game will be preceded by two plus hours of Old Timer festivities, they have no interest in attending. Vast expanses of empty seats make a poor backdrop when an appreciative honoree extolls the "greatest fans in the world".

The modern world of MLB has no need for the anachronism of an Old Timer's Day. Fan interest has waned, and teams should give the fans what they want; ear splitting music, commercials on the scoreboard, and loads of swag, shot out of a cannon if possible.

Dirty Sweet


Perfect for a midnight listen.