sitting on the edge of the sandbox, biting my tongue

March 29, 2012

A Battleship Potemkin Village

Filed under: journalism, parenting, politics — edge of the sandbox @ 4:58 pm

One of the consequences of a rush to judgement is making a total donkey out of oneself.  A very large number of people in this country heard of the Trayvon Martin shooting from the media and got outraged.  And what is there not to be outraged about: a black teenager carrying a bag of Skittles and a bottle of iced tea for his little brother was shot and killed by George Zimmerman, an overzealous white neighborhood watchman.  When the demagogues from the Black Panthers to Barack Obama whipped up the crowd, mass rallies ensured demanding “justice for Trayvon”.  I want justice for Trayvon too, and justice means weighing the evidence.

One disturbing element of the rallies was presence of kids, often in the front rows, with signs that drew a comparison between the slayed teen and the often much younger sign holder.

Who is Trayvon?

Even if the story as initially reported by the media was true, does it justify propping up your child with a sign like the ones above?

I get impression that the kids were told that they could be easily shot just for being black.  Which is a horrible thing to teach them because the great majority of white Americans pose no threat to black children.  I suspect that the kids have to know that they are unlikely to share Trayvon’s horrible fate because they have never met anyone who was killed by a “white Hispanic” neighborhood watch captain.  In fact, white on black (and black on white) crime is rare.

Although I don’t believe children belong at political rallies, I respect parents who think otherwise.  Parents might want to teach their sons and daughters about political activism or may simply end up taking their children along because they don’t have alternative childcare arrangements.  Staged pictures of kids posted online to further a political goal is something quite different.  The internet is teeming with photographs of tykes holding up Trayvon-related signage:

trayvon kid

How do you get your kid to stare at the camera this way?

Another example of the meme:

trayvon martin kid

This protege must have wrote the sign himself. Good job with drawing the squares -- way ahead of his peers in fine motor development!

Hey, kids support Trayvon too!  The internet says so.  If the quality of pictures above does not satisfy the audience, how about a professional take?

I am Trayvon photoshoot

DC photographer Eunique Jones snaps portraits of people, many of them kids, wearing a hoodie

Major media noted the result:

trayvon martin

Presumably the tot himself shared with Eunique his dream about future occupation

Not quite the Odessa Steps scene from Battleship Potemkin, but still can squeeze a tear or two from a voter.

The rationale for the kids-in-hoodies trend is to make a point that the late Mr. Martin, whose childhood pictures are used to illustrate the mainstream media stories was a minor.  These representations obscure the fact that Trayvon was not a baby or a child; he was a teenager, which puts him in a different category completely.

How about this collection of Trayvons?

who is trayvon?

Kids being kids, they smiled for the camera. They probably found ways to have fun at the somber rally, too

Now for a family  family of white (possibly a “white Hispanic” baby) Trayvon wanna-bees:

Trayvon Martin family

Feel strong enough about the Trayvon tragedy to use one's own child as a prop?

Why would any parent want to give her child “I am Trayvon” sign is beyond me.  My heart grows cold when I think that my son might grow up to be like the late Florida teen.  Unlike the candy and non-alcoholic beverage kid we met in the media accounts, the real Trayvon was suspended from school for smoking marijuana — not exactly an extraordinary occurrence, but not a portrait of innocence either.  Trayvon’s school trouble doesn’t end there; a bag of woman’s jewelry and a screwdriver were found in his school bag and passed on to the police.

Trayvon tweets

The picture Trayvon Martin had chosen for his twitter account: Still baby-faced, already thuggish

His twitter accounts exhibit teenage bravado, giving us a glimpse at behavior that probably doomed him at the end.  Police videotape shows Zimmerman’s scared head, corroborating the shooter’s account of the scuffle.  I gather from the emerging evidence that the young man’s behavior had something to do with his tragic death.  I don’t expect my kids’ teenage years to be easy, but dear G-d, please not let them be Trayvon.

I find myself amazed by the grown ups who use Trayvon’s untimely end to get their own 15 minutes:

trayvon martin rally

She must really be cool with black people because nobody in this predominantly black crowd broke *her* nose, at least as far as we know

Something smug about her.

There is no justice in teaching kids to identify with a delinquent youth; it will not help us avoid future violent deaths:

Trayvon Martins

Democratic Underground calls it "Powerful". This picture was posted on Facebook

The parents in picture above said:

We dress our children in hoodies because we want them to grow up to share the burden we feel. [Italics are mine, -ed.]

You mean it wasn’t the kids’ idea?  Nothing wrong with teaching kids one’s values, even if parents are misinformed, but making a display of it is exploitative.  If parents get the story wrong it’s also counterproductive.

UPDATE 3/29/2012: An insightful post at Other McCain, particularly:

My bedtime reading lately has been The Future Once Happened Here, Fred Siegel’s brilliant account of how liberal social policy destroyed America’s cities. Siegel’s book was a major resource for Chapter 8 of Donkey Cons, and is full of insights on the development of our contemporary attitudes about poverty, race and crime. On page 58 of his book, Siegel writes about “a cultural shift” that occurred in the 1960s:

“[O]lder ideas about shame were starting to be replaced by a new concern for self-esteem. Christopher Lasch wrote that formerly “shame was the fate of those whose conduct fell short of cherished ideals.” But in the 1960s, the new age of moral deregulation and therapeutic ethics, shame came to refer to whatever prevents us from feeling good about ourselves.”

Am I the only one who sees the Trayvon Martin carnival in this context? Liberals have turned the case into a sort of public festival, a self-congratulatory celebration of their own moral superiority. And they have arranged the symbolic elements of the narrative so that to criticize them — the shameless media moralizers — is to become implicated in George Zimmerman’s presumed guilt.

They are using the corpse of Trayvon Martin as a human shield to conceal their ideological agenda and protect themselves against criticism.

A shift from shame to self-esteem occurred primarily in middle class families, the kind that can be seen parading their white children in hoodies holding up “I am Trayvon” signs.  They are the ones who use Trayvon’s death as a “public festival” of their “moral superiority”.  They also teach their own kids to avoid unnecessary violent confrontations.  Their culture is run on guilt.

Trayvon Martin, on the other hand, is a product of a different environment.  His tweets offer a clue:

F*** a b***.  Any b***.  who you want? take yo pick. but you gone have to take yo time.

Or:

Lol so Daisha think she a boss cause she walked in class late 2day. …. I do dat everyday

He’s very much full of pride, only he’s proud of something that should be a source of shame.  It’s probably his misguided pride that eventually led him into the confrontation with George Zimmerman.  How subversive it is that sanctimonious white families stoke the fire of wounded pride in black children!  They are working to make sure that countless young black men will lose their lives — to other blacks, to Hispanics, to whites or anyone else, really.

Must-Embed of the Day

Filed under: politics — Tags: , — edge of the sandbox @ 2:46 pm

Another sign that our President needs new speechwriters (via Always on Watch):

I admit I’m a bit disappointed that he didn’t seem to say that Israel punches above its weight.

March 26, 2012

The VAWA Extention Battle (PARTIAL NUDITY)

Filed under: feminism, politics — Tags: , , , , — edge of the sandbox @ 2:23 pm

This one should be a no-brainier, but it’s not.  Here is Jenny Erikson on re-authorization of Violence Against Women Act, or VAWA which the Senate Democrats are trying to speed thorough, but Republicans stalling:

Republicans trying to stall VAWA are bound to come off looking like jerks. Why do you hate womyn, Mitch McConnell? Why won’t you help these poor battered ladies escape their abusers, Chuck Grassley? What is wrong with you guys?

There’s nothing wrong with Republican Senators that don’t support VAWA, there’s something wrong with the legislation. Originally passed in 1994, the act has had bipartisan support through two 6-year reauthorizations, but this time around it contains new provisions and fails to protect against potential fraud and abuse.

The new legislation, sponsored by Vermont Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy, would create 5,000 additional “U-visas,” which are awarded to both legal and illegal immigrants who aid in criminal investigations. Except that people who apply for these visas don’t actually have to ever assist law enforcement. So an immigrant facing deportation could just apply for a U-visa. What does that have to do with helping battered women?

Another section of the bill invites marriage fraud. Most everyone knows that the quickest route to American citizenship is to marry an American citizen … heck, they’ve made movies based on this “marriage of convenience” premise. Normally, the foreign spouse has to rely on their American partner to file the paperwork, but in cases of abuse, the petitioner may file for themselves with a VAWA Self-Petition. I’d like to think that no one would ever falsely claim to be abused in order to get a visa, but it’s a well-documented fact that sometimes people suck.

VAWA is an example, albeit a small one, of the irrationality of our immigration policy.  When women who marry American citizens are admitted to this country and processed for residency, they are given interviews and asked to prove that their relationship is real.  In other words, we already suspect that some of the women are here for the green cards, and we want to make sure they are not.

American citizenship is part of the appeal in great many of the cases.  Still, most women, including the notorious mail order brides, enjoy good relationships with their American spouses.  They make home and start families in this country, and even if their marriage did not begin with earth-shattering romance, they live happy, fulfilling lives together with their American husbands and children.

Unfortunately, things can go South, as they often do, whether or not the American man is married to a foreign woman.  VAWA assumes that it’s the promise of American citizenship is what keeps the woman in an abusive relationship, but real life is more complicated.

Take, for instance, the recent high profile case of Ross Mirkarimi and Eliana Lopez.  It turned out that Mirkarimi, a California Green Party co-founder, who for some reason was elected San Francisco sheriff, was violent with his Venezuela-born wife on at least one occasion.  Eliana refused to cooperate with authorities, blaming dirty politics and — imagine that! — comparing America to Venezuela.  In the video recorded by her neighbor, however, Eliana showed her bruised arm.  The two are no longer together — because judge barred Mirkarimi from visiting his wife.

family violence SF

Eliana Lopez shows off her bruised arm in a video recorded by her neighbor

When I worked in immigration, I heard some very liberal attorneys opine against VAWA not only because of the possibilities of abuse (fraud and abuse was our major concern) but also because they disagree with the underlying presumption that a foreign woman is entitled to American citizenship simply for marrying a rotten man.  Yes, she hoped for a better life, but sometimes when things just don’t work out it’s time to move back.  Work with asylum seekers who, unlike the battered foreign women, have nowhere to go tends to put things in perspective.

It’s interesting that VAWA is such a feminist issue, considering that some of the women in question entered the United States in arranged marriages, which some feminists oppose.  I have to command American feminist establishment for welcoming foreign competition.  Presumably, there is a demographic of men look for foreign wives precisely because they are not feminists.

femen protest

Ukrainian feminists protest arranged marriages -- in this case through a reality TV show

Snark aside, it’s not surprising that VAWA enjoys bi-partisan support.  It’s a highly charged political matter, and that’s the end of it.  Or it should be the end, anyways.  I don’t think Senate Republicans should pick this battle.  When it comes to immigration reform, they should take on bigger issues, like border security.  What’s another 5000 U-visas when we have 12 million illegal immigrants in this country?

Must-Embed of the Day

Filed under: politics — Tags: , , , , — edge of the sandbox @ 8:21 am

Herman Cain’s Sick of Stimulus project released a new video.  Via Professor Jacobson who says “Fix the tax code or we’ll shoot another rabbit”:

Happy Monday, my friends!

March 23, 2012

Free Speech Bay Area

Last night DH was looking over one of the two free local papers we still get delivered to our door.

“Is there anything I need to read?” I asked.

“Meh.  If you want to, you can check out the letter here about a “free speech” event for Jew-bashers.”

Under the heading Breaking Down Barriers I read the following:

For more than a year, visitors to the Saturday Alameda Farmer’s Market encounter bright orange traffic cones with notices proclaiming one small place at the very end of the vendor area a “Free Speech Zone” — all this fuss with signage and color that shouts “caution,” for one citizen’s effort to talk about matters of peace in Palestine and peace in the Middle East.

For those who desire to know more about the situation in Palestine, non-violent efforts to resist the military occupation and the international boycott; divestment and sanctions movement that is gaining steam around the world, I would like to extend an invitation to the Sabeel Conference tomorrow and Saturday, March 23 and 24, at Sunnyvale Presbyterian Church, 732 West Fremont Ave.

The conference will offer an opportunity to hear many voices of conscience — American, Israeli, Palestinian, Jewish, Christian and Muslim.

You won’t be put off by seeing “caution” cones or feel yourself restricted to talk “freely” in a small designated area. Instead you will be greeted with invitations to talk with people who live and work in Israel and in the Palestinian territories You will have the opportunity to learn to challenge the status quo, and act to promote freedom, justice and equality.

You might even find yourself challenged to hold onto this issue and join the ever growing call for peace in the Middle East here in the streets of Alameda! Additional information can be found at http://www.barriers-conference.org.

— Paula Rainey

I’m curious about these orange cones: did I missed something entertaining a year ago?  Ms. Rainey is a local proponent of the boycott, divest, sanction effort currently in vogue with Israel’s enemies, and she did have an event planned at the Farmer’s Market at some point.

Not sure what boycott of and divestment from a besieged tiny nation has to do with  “peace in the Middle East” or “breaking down barriers,” if by barriers we mean barriers towards peace or at least  security, and not the defensive wall Israel had erected to protect her citizens from terrorists attacks in 2004.  Most of the said barrier is actually a fence, and it did effectively end the “Second Intifada”, or the wave of terror that swept Israel in the second half of the last decade following Yasser Arafat’s rejection of a generous Israeli land offer.  Those opposed to the Jewish state have been railing against Israel’s non-violent defense (which is what the said wall/fence has been since it was built).  The wall part of the construction is prominently pictured on the conference’s website.

The conference will feature a variety of speakers with consistent anti-Israel bias.  Who else signs on to promote the boycott of the sole democracy in the Middle East?  This event is being billed as some sort of an open mike.  Interesting that they feel censored, scary orange cones and what not, because there is another free speech twist.

In May 2010, the Turkish Islamist government sent a ship called Mavi Marmara, loaded with weapons and unusable medical supplies, to break the legal blockade Israel imposed on Gaza Strip in lieu of Hamas terrorists regularly firing rockets on Israel.  The IDF boarded the ship, were attacked and killed several armed crew members.  International outrage ensured as the media outlets the world over had the public convinced that Mavi Marmara was carrying peace activist with humanitarian aid.  Since it is Friday, here is the terrific Caroline Glick and Latma TV with “We Con the World,” a parody inspired by the incident:

Paula Rainy, who at least at one point was a member of the ultra-left Green Party, has long been obsessed with the Jewish State.  She was signing anti-Israel petitions as far back as 2001.  When, following the Mavi Marmara incident, lefties everywhere called for retaliatory boycotts of Israeli ships, Ms. Rainy participated in the East Bay Area efforts.  She wrote letters to local papers about the “historic achievement” of hers: together with her buddies she picketed a ship of Israeli Zim line, preventing it from docking in the Port of Oakland for 24 hours.

We read her letter in the Alameda Journal, another free local paper delivered unsolicited to virtually every household, and DH was pissed enough to write a response.  He did express some doubt before hitting that “send” button (“Basically, I am giving my name and address to every leftist organization in the country”), but mailed the letter.  Not surprisingly, Alameda Journal didn’t print it.

A week later we stopped receiving the paper at our door.  It is still delivered to all our neighbors as well as the empty, abandoned and foreclosed property in the vicinity.  Evidently, defense of Israel around here is beyond the Pale (pun intended).  Needles to say, the local papers and people writing letters to editors had no problem with Assad slaughtering his own people or the Muslim Brotherhood seizing power in Egypt.

Oh well, it could have been worse, we could be living in a real life people’s republic.

March 22, 2012

Vote for a Non-Paul

Filed under: politics — Tags: , , , — edge of the sandbox @ 4:40 pm

Sometimes I wonder why I bother to vote.  Living in deep blue Alameda County in deep blue California, I know that my vote won’t matter much.  Public opinion is more or less unanimous here, and in most cases the voters chose opposite of what I want.  But this Primary season I feel empowered.  Even if Mitt Romney will emerge as a clear winner before the California Primary, my voice will matter.  I will be voting for anybody but Ron Paul.

I am very interested in libertarian economics, and find Thomas Sowell’s argument for ending the Fed persuasive.  But Thomas Sowell endorsed Gingrich for President (h/t Uncle Samuel).  Like Sowell and many other conservatives, I think that Paul’s foreign policy views are at best naive and at worst bigoted.

It’s naive to think that the world will be a better place if the US would pursue a policy of non-intervention.  We are a force of good in the world full of genocidal tyrants.  It’s short-sighted to expect that if we don’t engage our enemies at an opportune moment, they will not attack us when convenient to them.  We all but ignored Al Qaeda when it was at war with us in the last decade of the 20th century — until the country woke up on 9/11.  If we recall, Paul spent that last decade of 20th century courting Neo-Nazis.  His campaign video smearing our armed service members is pure bigotry.

Beyond foreign policy matters, on issues like immigration, extension of constitutional protection to terrorists and legalization of heroin, Paul is squarely outside the conservative mainstream.  (I actually agree with some of ideas he champions, in theory at least.  For instance, entitlement reform will take care of immigration reform because illegal labor is subsidized through various federal, state and local channels.  But who are we kidding?  California might be well on the way to bankruptcy, and we will not touch the welfare state we created.)

As was the case in 2008, Ron Paul is not running to win the GOP nomination.  In ’08, Paul wanted to built a political movement, which he did, gaining about 10% of the popular vote at the primaries and coming up in the 4th place by the number of delegates.  That year he refused to endorse the Republican candidate, and although he didn’t actively campaign for President, Paul amassed tens of thousands of write-in votes.  His relative success at the primary elections reflected the fact that the good doctor remained in the contest long after John McCain had won it, when the Republican primary became a two-person non-race and turnout was low.

Ron Paul’s support has grown dramatically since November ’08.  Paul capitalized on the libertarian-minded Tea Party movement, although the Tea Party appears to be lukewarm to his foreign policy ideas.  Here he is being booed at the CNN Tea Party Presidential Debate:

Ron Paul’s campaign is courting disaffected Democrats.  See here, for instance, the Paul campaign crediting their success in Vermont where he got 1/4 of the vote, the state that sent a socialist to the United States Senate, to the Taxes Republican’s appeal to Democrats and independents.  According to the Iowa Primary exit polls, Paul won about 40% of participating moderates and liberals.  He did better than anyone else with people who never attended a caucus.  Likewise, in New Hampshire Primary he won the largest share of self-identified  liberals, and second smallest of the very conservative demographic.  This is two states where Paul did very well, ending up with more than 20% of the vote.

Pundits agree that Paul’s 2012 game plan is to come up with the largest number of delegates possible to secure a prominent place at the Republican National Convention and force his agenda on the Republican party.  It’s his version of the Gramscian Long march, if you will.  While, as I said, I am very open to many Libertarian ideas, his foreign policy position alone should disqualify him from speaking at the national convention.  I fail to see how having Paul speak at the convention will help the Republican brand.  Somewhere between the Ron Paul Newsletter and legal heroin he will turn off most of the country.  Plus, considering that Paulistas caused a ruckus in the recent Missouri caucus, can we expect them to behave on national television?

The Republican establishment will be in a dire straits trying to placate Paul in order to secure his endorsement of the Republican nominee and keep the convention palatable to both the conservative base and the mainstream of the country at the same time.  Because Paul’s son is now building his own career within the Republican party, Paul will probably be a good sport and endorse the winner.  But why tempt fortune?  I don’t want him to be in a position to bargain.  I expect Mitt Romney to solidify his lead by the time of the California primary.  Although I doubt I will be determining the winner, I will turn out to vote for a non-Paul.

March 19, 2012

Vote for Us (and RT)!

Filed under: blogging — Tags: , — edge of the sandbox @ 6:02 pm

I want to invite my readers to vote for me and other conservative bloggers in Circle of Moms Top 25 Political Moms by clicking on the button on the right.  Other conservative moms running in this contest are The Lonely Conservative, Political Junkie Mom, Michelle Malkin, Backyard Conservative, Little Byte News, Zilla, Melissa Clouthier, No One of Any Import, A Traditional Life Lived, Lets March for Scott Walker, Thoughts from a Conservative Mom, Katy’s Conservative Corner and last but not least Atlass Shrugs.  Check them out!

An American Housewife in London and Maggie’s Notebook should be nominated.  I hesitate to enter them because Circle of Moms is asking for blog description, and knowing me, I’m going to write something quirky.

Help us promote conservative women!

UPDATE: Forgot to mention another awesome conservative mom — Intolerant Fox.

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