32 posts tagged opinion
I am willing to admit that I am but a simple man in the pursuit of happiness, but mama taught me two simple truths: paste ain’t for eatin’, and Americans don’t negotiate with terrorists. And well, by lord, Dale Earnhardt and the other founding fathers must be twisting in their graves over how far this nation has strayed.
Honestly, it’s these ham-soaked American idioms that are just going to drive our country into a trash heap. Ridiculous sayings that are supposed to stiffen our spines but only hold us at the bronze-level in the mental Olympics. That classic Americana like “America doesn’t negotiate with terrorists,” “These colors don’t run,” and “Cousins aren’t for kissing’” cement us into a way of thinking that has no where to look but back. The simple fact is that not only does and has the United States negotiated with terrorists, we’ve settled pleasantries with folks a lot worse, too.
The word terrorist is just semantics. It’s a hazy way to think that nation states can’t carry out the same heinous activities and wonton disregard for human life before cozying on up at the bargaining table.
Pragmatism trumped ideology on the battlefield even when we dealt with the baddest of the bad - despite being the universally renowned cretins that they were, even some Nazi’s were able to cut deals to keep their lives and necks intact after the war. On May 2, 1945, card-carrying Nazi and undisputed German science fair champion Wernher von Braun surrendered to the U.S. Army. Fearing that the incoming Soviets wouldn’t appreciate his scientific acumen as they let von Braun starve in a POW camp, the Nazi scientist traded his rocket knowledge to the U.S. in exchange for a life on this side of the dirt. Von Braun and his men were scrubbed clean of their Nazi coats and shipped to the U.S., where they were shuffled between various bases while toiling away and laying the groundwork for the American space program and NASA.
But let’s rewind the tape, this was not the stereotypical pocket protector science nerd that the United States negotiated safe haven with. Von Braun was complicit in using concentration camp slave labor to build his infamous V-2 rocket. Tens of thousands died during the creation of von Braun’s weapons, and that’s not even to mention terror the rockets rained down over London and Antwerp. Luckily for von Braun, we were in a giving (and taking) mood when it came to his projects.
As I’ve argued before, history doesn’t begin and end with the Nazi’s, and there are plenty more contemporary instances of the United States cutting deals with regimes that don’t have the “terrorist” label but are just as morally stained. The first that springs to mind is the kingdom where happiness is as rare as a good haircut - North Korea. For years, the U.S. has been offering up treats to the Kim clan in exchange for them to quit performing mad-scientist nuclear activities in their basement, with nary a word or thought given to the cavalcade of human rights abuses that litter the DPRK. An estimated 400,000 have died as political prisoners in North Korean labor camps through a mixture of starvation, torture, and execution; all while the flamboyant gnome-people in charge hold their hands out to accept gift bags from the west in exchange for “halting” their nuclear program. At least, if only for a second.
So what’s the distinction? Why is it ok to negotiate with terror-minded nations but not with terrorists? Both have the same end goal - to rule with fear. If terrorism is the act of influencing submissiveness through threats and violence, then I see no difference between a roadside bomb or jailing 3 generations of a family for 1 “crime” in a forced labor camp for speaking against the government. Germany, North Korea, Iran, Egypt, and the list goes on of all the countries that enrolled in the U.S. gifts-for-monsters program, but negotiating with terrorists is off the table. Perhaps it’s because none of the aforementioned nations have attacked us on our own soil. Or, it could be that the terror themed marketing campaign of the 2000’s to maintain support for war-cations in the Middle East was a rousing success.
Well it’s time for some people to start taking in the news with a drink of their choice, because negotiating with terror groups is going to have to happen.
Specifically to the point that ignited this debate - prisoners of war. It’s perfectly acceptable for some to be concerned about the 5-for-1 deal in the Bergdahl swap. But what isn’t acceptable is to turn this into another Obama “oh no you didn’t, girlfriend” because he released prisoners at all. Our collection of POW’s that we’ve been collecting have to go. As Foreign Policy recently explained: “Under the laws of war, the legal authority to detain unarmed forces ends when the conflict ends.” With U.S. combat operations ending in Afghanistan at the end of this year, those held captive need to go somewhere. It’s not like we can just take the prisoners down to the local supermarket and exchange them for 10 cents a piece, and as much as some would like, we can’t just destroy them. So, that leaves you with the option of milking them for all they’re worth now in negotiations or just hold onto them and playing political games at the cost of the POW’s human lives, similar to what took place after the Korean War.
A more cynical reason to approach the need to negotiate with terrorists would be that the Middle East is boiling over in a butternut shit soup. Terror groups are running rampant through Syria and Iraq, and while I would never suggest that “getting on the good side” of terrorists is ethical or even possible, they may need to start being treated somewhat on par with nation states or political parties if the countries they are blazing trails of violence through prove unable to get a grasp on them. Because unfortunately for us, our patented 20th century “kill ‘em all” style just doesn’t fly anymore in public opinion, even if the resources were there to begin with.
Chief Snyder has made his decree - the name stays. Responding to Harry Reid and his rabble-rousing band of congressional troublemakers, Dan Snyder - medicine man of the DC Metro sports complex - is battling again for the Redskins’ name. Feeling a strong sense of deja vu, Snyder is hitching his bandwagon to the idea that the Redskins name is beneficial and beloved by Native Americans. Sort of like the Kix cereal of sports - white guy tested, native approved. Except of course that it’s not, and Snyder is getting all of the profits while Native Americans are getting a big helping of “respect," which is usually P.R. speak for "nothing."
The funny thing about the Snyder talking about surveys in support of his team name is that his stats seem to come from pure junk. The American University Washington College of Law has an interesting takedown of the 10 year old Annenberg survey that Snyder is clinging to like it’s an 1880’s gold-mining deed to a native’s property. Some of the issues cited in the breakdown of the sloppy survey include it’s small scope (only 768 people were polled), the question asked was a confusing double negative, the poll was delivered using landlines, and what I find most damning, it relied on the participants to self-identify as Native American with no follow up.
A sad fact of being Native American is that for centuries your people and culture have been on the chopping block, and once you’re near wiped out, everyone claims to be one with you. There’s a good chance that anyone who has ever ridden in a van with Steppenwolf blaring form the stereo will call themselves Native American. Doubly so if that individual has a wolf tattooed on them. Grandfather in a picture smoking American Spirits? That could make Gran’pappy O’Doyle a Cherokee Chieftain. I witnessed a firsthand case of indian-claiming when my tattoo artists daughter stormed into the shop and inquired about “how much indian” they were so she could apply for some scholarships. But those are now the breaks of history - Native Americans have had others speaking for their best interests since the encroachment on their lives began. In the past it was for their “assimilation” into society, and now it’s telling them that they actually like the name Redskin and should be happy with it.
This is neither here nor there, though, because I have a solution to what currently ails Snyder. While it was a nice gesture for Snyder to buy Native Americans heavy jackets at the tail end of winter and a backhoe to till their dry dirt over 100 years after the Dawes Act pushed them onto the sub-par lint-trap land plots, there lays something more substantive. Something that can touch what seems to be the true matter here - marketing. It’s a plan that would allow the Redskins to keep their logo and color while only sacrificing the name, and it’s a solution that can be found in Utah.
The Ute Indians inhabited the Western desert, roaming the “land of the sun” for centuries before European explorers would transform the continent into an apple-pie eatin’, football-loving America. And when other franchises were swooping up Native American identities like it was a $5 DVD bin at Best Buy, the Utes were able to work a deal that was beneficial for all parties involved. The Ute tribe and the University of Utah have between them a signed “memorandum of understanding" which allows the school to use the Ute name with certain perks for the tribe. On the University’s end, they have pledged to fund scholarship programs for Native Americans, educate people about the Ute tribes past, and promote fan behavior that doesn’t degrade American Indians - i.e. no dressing up in head dress and drunkenly shouting "how" for 2 hours.
So would something like this be feasible for the Redskins? While they certainly aren’t a school, I would think that the team has ample revenue to create some real, effective outreach programs (they are the NFL’s most profitable team). Snyder’s just going to need to take chastity belt off the piggy bank. And c’mon, the D.C. area isn’t lacking in a rich American Indian history that could be promoted by such a name change agreement. Perhaps the Powhatan - the native people who lived among the first English settlers at Jamestown. Certainly that’s a history that could benefit from a deal similar the Ute-Utah memorandum and have some money put into educating fans on their history beyond the “Pocahontas” movies. Why not partner with the local tribes to establish a scholarship open to all Native Americans while setting up a larger educational program based on the Powhatan tribes or go to their even broader Algonquian umbrella. And since we’ve established that a football team is not a school, the scholarship could be awarded once a year and the educational aspect could be through print collateral and summertime events. It is even conceivable to think that Snyder could remain a stingy cheapskate and not have to pay for new branding/advertising since his team would retain the Native American theme. All that would need changed would be the typography for the new name, and old merchandise could be recycled through a buyback/trade in program - similar to what the New England Patriots did after Aaron Hernandez turned in his cleats to become deaths right hand. The Washington Powhatan, it could grow on me.
Admittedly this plan is a longshot, skimming the edge of the galaxy of likelihood. Too many parties would have to come together and meet in some sort of an agreement, something that no one seems able to do when it comes to the Redskins. But, it is a plan, and that’s one thing we can agree that Dan Snyder will need. As much as he fights it, this issue has penetrated the sphere of influence, and changes are bound to happen. When you have a band made up of 50 U.S. Senators, the Oneida Indian Nation and the National Congress of American Indians circling you, it will be almost certain that you’ll have one hell of a fight before you to retain the status quo.
I long for the day when the motorists of Northern Virginia wake up to the fact that they’ve turned owning a BMW into the equivalent of having a shiny, relatively new Toyota. When snooty yuppies realize that the inanimate object that they’ve loaded up as their personality conduit is no longer impressive, it’s like taking in the dark humor of a 16th Century German etching masterwork. Albrecht Durer in his prime has nothing on Thadrick waking up to the sad dawn that his 4 Series Gran Coupe will no longer be an acceptable excuse for him being an animated turd, as he speeds down the road at 92 mph.
But let’s not kid ourselves, that moment of introspection will never occur. We will have to contend with D.C. road warriors and their dime-a-dozen snob vessels for the time being - or at least until private jets become more affordable and they can abandon us unwashed on our dirty cement rectangles completely.
Phew … I feel at this point it must be said that in whatever malice I am excreting towards these particular car owners, none of it is driven by any sort of jealousy or class-envy. They could take 10 Bentley’s and meld them into an ultra Bentley-tron 5000 for all I care. No, the reality is that every ounce of ill-wiil I hold for Washington, DC’s high-end car owners is based solely on the simple truth that they are the absolute worst drivers on the road.
How bad is that, you ask? Well to put it into context - in 2013, Allstate ranked D.C. drivers the worst in the nation for the sixth year in a row. The study sites the D.C. motorists tend to smash up their cars every 4.8 years, as opposed to the national average of every 10 years. So when I say that high-end car owners are the worst, essentially you need to imagine the worst driver that you can, and then imagine someone even worse.
And no my friends, this is not just the imaginings of some passive-aggressive motorist raving from a keyboard, there is scientific proof to back me up here. Researchers in California conducted a study to see if those who one high-end cars were getting a bad wrap or if being a road-dick just came naturally. The findings - published in 2012 - noted that 8 out of every 10 cars followed the law at the observed conditions. Those outstanding 2 cars who decided that the rules of the road are just so blasé? You guessed it, they tended to be the higher end status-mobiles.
I’m having fun with the topic, but driving really is a hair-raising ordeal here. And with the area continuing it’s economic boom, there is the underlying fear that D.C.’s antiquated infrastructure will keep being flooded with people whose driver licenses were written in crayon on the back of a Kool-Aid packet.
So when you see a BMW zoom by you on the 295 shoulder because all of the Honda drivers had the gall to drive near (nobody here drives at) the speed limit, or the Mercedes owner taking a brave stand against those pesky pedestrians in their daring crosswalks, you’re eyes aren’t deceiving you - drivers really are just that atrocious here in the nation’s capital.
A used diaper, a half-eaten banana and a ripped shirt. The significance of these three items could be anything, depending on the person. But for me, these random objects represent a glimpse of the trash that could be littering my neighborhood at any given moment.
I have a new Op-Ed in the Baltimore Sun about Baltimore and its affinity for litter.
Reading news recently has been somewhat of a trying experience, and I blame it all on the article comment sections. I feel like a character in a Cormac McCarthey novel, trudging my way through a trail of misinformed dreck, waiting for a family to take me in and tell me that the road has been wrong all along.
The comment section is a hierarchical tree of superuser badges and favorite commenter awards, all of which can be attained by scrawling such nonsensical junk as “Sarah Palin-in comparison, am I right?” Woah, make sure you sign that gem. Don’t want anyone to steal it. It can be comparable to a whitetrash caste system – the more furniture you have in your yard, the higher up you are. Having 12 couches on your porch will grant you the position of town Brahmin, much like having 12 super user badges will net you 13,000 followers on Huffington Post.
Now, before I quickly derail my intended purpose for writing this, I should get to what inspired this post. It is not to combat all comment section writers, I want to hone my scorn in on a select few. Listen up Baltimore Sun commenters, this PSA is for you:
There you have it. That’s October, the month that comes after September and before November. It’s the 10th month of the year. It rhymes with Shmoctober. Please quit inferring that the bill has taken effect every time you take to your Utz salted keyboard and type “How’s that gun control working out for ya?” on every single article that comes into your line of vision. It is a ridiculous question, and unless you are Professor X strolling through comment boards while your gifted mutants are in study hall, it is an unanswerable question.
This is a city that’s so eloquently nicknamed “Bodymore, Murdaland,” so you can imagine that city news outlets would provide acres of articles for such asinine comments to roam free. Normally I just sit and stomach them, but one finally broke me. It was an article about the fatal shooting of a 1 year old in the Cherry Hill neighborhood. Even the comment calling it the “gun grab” bill is incredibly wrong. A key tenant to the Maryland gun bill is that owners get to keep any gun owned or ordered prior to the Oct. 1 date.
What there is a severe lack of in comment sections is an understanding of what the writers are lobbying for. The least you can do is know when the law of your ire is set to kick in (In this case Oct. 1. Remember, rhymes with Schmoctober). After that date, feel free to say that it’s worthless, try and tie it to President Obama, or you can blame it on GNC being out of Gov. O’Malley’s favorite flavor of Muscle Milk. But until that date comes, you’re just a troll shouting into the wind.
This Tuesday is scheduled to be the Senate vote for defense secretary nominee Chuck Hagel, finally one step closer to the ending of this incredible storyline and letting Hagel take the nap that his face has been screaming for since it started.
You are probably familiar with the accusations that have been trotted out against Hagel, everything from the Dan Friedman “Friends of Hamas” joke that went viral in the Senate halls to the idea that Hagel hates Jews (the monster probably didn’t even cry during Schindler’s List). Tactics that don’t even involve Hagel have been used to block Hagel, such as Sen. Lindsey Graham vowing to block the nomination until he receives more information about Benghazi. Don’t worry though, every other embassy attack during 2012 is ok in Graham’s book.
Most of the holdups on Hagel’s nomination have been purely cosmetic, an effort by a handful of Republicans to make sure we know they still exist after the election. But then you get to the real criticism against Hagel, and it seems that he is being punished for being ahead of the curve when it comes to disowning George W. Bush.
The Tea Party movement and new Republican ideology was (supposedly) spawned in part by a party upset with the direction that had been taken under Bush’s lead. And don’t forget that the 2012 Republican National Convention hid Bush in a closet like was a young Harry Potter. And yet, Hagel is being put to task for his tendency to go against the Bush Administration, primarily when it came to the Iraq War.
Fast forward 2009, and the whole Republican party had turned their negative opinions of everything that happened during the Bush Administration into the Tea Party movement. Anti-immigration, anti-government, and anti-spending. Logic would tell you that Hagel would be the “not in the mainstream” wet dream that Republicans are always trying to brew up in their dusty cauldrons.
Unfortunatley for Hagel it seems that he was ahead of the trend. And as with fashion, no one gets credit for predicting a trend, it’s not cool until it’s accepted by groups in the know. Hating Bush 10 years ago only made Hagel the guy in a coffee shop with a handle bar mustache trying too hard.
I’ve been watching the new Netflix series “House of Cards.” A quick synopsis for those unaware: “House of Cards” is a political thriller/drama based on various characters dealing with life and business in Washington, DC (The main 2 characters being House Majority Whip Frank Underwood and reporter Zoe Barnes.)
To be honest, I love the show and have become completely enthralled with it. But, every time I watch the show the same question rings in my head - “What political world does ‘House of Cards’ exist in?” You see, “House of Cards” is a show populated with handsome men, beautiful women, and all are definitely not left wanting in the coolness category. Juxtapose that with the political world I worked in which consisted of a bunch of dudes eating Cheeze Nips in a small office bathing in their own smells. Sure, everyone was nice, but I feel like I missed out on a party.
Now granted, the political scene of Florida is probably a very different scene than that of Washington, DC. But still, every character looks like they just got off of an L.L. Bean photoshoot and are on their to an Aerie video shoot. Has anyone actually looked at the political elite while watching the news? At best they look like a mannequin pulled out of a Marshall’s store window. On average, they’re like watching a turtle exhibit at the National Aquarium.
Also, I feel like the bravado and intent on display by the characters is a bit of a fairy tale. Main character Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) is a calm, cool, and conniving Southern Democrat. He’s what we would’ve gotten if Charles Bronson ran out of death wishes and ran for Congress. His wife, Claire Underwood (Robin Wright), is a supermodel who heads a non-profit. The closest real life example I can think of to this power couple is the Gingrich’s, and the coolest thing they can boast is that their hair hasn’t moved out of place since the 90’s.
Obviously this is just nitpicking, and the show is a great watch. It especially is worth checking out if you are tired of the same dull real life story lines of Washington do nothings that seem to be on a repeat track these days.
Last night while catching up on the days news, I was introduced to the concept of the end of the NFL. The article in question, an interview with Ravens Safety Bernard Pollard, predicts that the end of professional football will come at the hands of disgruntled fans who will grow tired of the games rules and regulations.
Further investigation lead me to read articles predicting that parents will quit letting their kids play football due to new research linking brain damage to the game, eventually drying up the talent pool.
I for one am inclined to brush the doomsayers to the side, if only because people who usually make such bold predictions fail to realize that their opinion is one of a handful. Take for instance professional wrestling. Despite numerous crippling injuries and suicides, the WWE still thrives as a half-naked multi-million dollar toy machine.
There have been many theories on how the NFL can “save” it’s game, whether it be more rules or less tackling and pads (which, as a former rugby player, I can say first hand does not stop bad head injuries).
If I could postulate my own opinion, I believe that the NFL should implement size restrictions on it’s players. Now hear me out. Throughout the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s, the NFL had a love affair with it’s fans because it wasn’t watered down with rules as it is today. I believe that the onset of such rules came about as players morphed from larger than average men into striated industrial appliances. An impact from Jack Lambert would hurt, but not nearly as much as one from a modern Universal Soldier like James Harrison.
Just look at a position comparison. Compare linebacker legend Mike Singletary to modern day linebacker Ray Lewis. Singletary, a Hall of Famer, looks like your uncle who works construction. On the opposite end, Lewis looks like a monster who was pulled out of a Universal Studios warehouse.
If the NFL pushed more natural bodied players over performance enhanced monstrosities, and couple that with the new helmet designs that will undoubtedly be developed overtime to help absorb shock, perhaps the NFL would no longer have a need to keep thinking of the best ways to protect the players from each other.
To me, the biggest scandal about the new NRA attack ad is that the election has been over for 2 months and I’m still saying the words “new” and “attack ad.” Lord help me if I open my mailbox tomorrow and find a piece of campaign mail.
The ad starts out by asking “Are President Obama’s children more important than yours?” As anyone who’s ever seen the movie “First Kid” knows, the answer is yes. We as civilian children didn’t need the combat expertise of Sinbad because we stood a far less chance of being held hostage by Timothy Busfield everytime we snuck out of the house.
This ad also highlights Americans strange view of police authority. We want to outfit our schools like a Riker’s Island inmate housing facility. But, whenever we get pulled over for driving 75 mph in a 45 mph zone while instagramming our steering wheel, we scream that we are being downtrodden by big brother’s muscle.
I’m really confused by Ann Coulter’s career. She is a prominent media figure, but never has anything of worth to say. Imagine if you will, the Mumm-Ra of the political media class. It’s as if whenever she opens her mouth, all I hear is the sound of a shop vac sucking up nails. The things she says are just disgusting, but she’s allowed to have a career because she’s one of the only female talking heads that Republican media can cart out who isn’t thumbing through a pamphlet for the National Institute of Senior Centers.
Saying things like non-whites are “nitwits who deserve lives of misery and joblessness” are especially bold statements coming from someone whose job is to be a contrarian while looking like a piece of chewed gum stretched over a pretzel rod.
Most recently, Coulter acted out in a paycheck induced outrage on Sean Hannity’s show. She went on to suggest that since the New York Journal news published a list of gun owners, then they should publish a list of people who have had abortions so that people would know who would “murder a child.” Despite what your or my opinion is on gun ownership or abortion, this statement is incredibly stupid for the sake of filling empty space. In New York, gun records are public, and obviously abortion records are not. But yet, this haggard saltine cracker will receive yet another paycheck for just saying words, regardless of their validity.